The Enchanted Garden: Colors in Motion
Sculptures by Dorothy M. Gillespie
The Catherine Konner Sculpture Park
Oct. 15, 2021 – Oct. 2023
Free to the Public, Dawn to Dusk
RoCA is proud to present the The Enchanted Garden: Colors in Motion exhibit as a part of a tribute to the 20th Century artist and feminist, Dorothy Gillespie. The exhibit will open October 15th in The Catherine Konner Sculpture Park at RoCA.
Dorothy Gillespie’s joyful and brilliantly colored starbursts glimmer hanging from the trees as well as lining the pathway. The pieces create an enchanted garden of colors in motion. Though stationary they seem to possess a kinetic quality. Two larger pieces can be seen at the entry to RoCA. The exhibit was partially installed this summer and will be completed for exhibit October 15th. The exhibit will remain on display through October 2023.
Gillespie (1920-2012) was born in Roanoke, VA and lived in Nyack during the later years of her life. She pioneered joyful, new directions of metal sculpture and is best known for large-scale, colorfully painted arrangements of cut aluminum strips curling, radiating, or undulating in giant arrangements of ribbons, enchanted towers, or bursting fireworks. She was well known as a painter, sculptor and installation artist whose work incorporated many significant 20th-century trends in art.
During Dorothy Gillespie’s youth … “girls did not attend art school, at least not ‘nice’ girls,” said Gillespie in 2010. Nevertheless, she was determined to be an artist and attended the Maryland Institute College in Baltimore. She was more fortunate than women sculptors in the 19th Century who were mostly hired as studio assistants by established male sculptors with few exhibitions. Harriet Hosmer, Emma Stebbins, Edmonia Lewis, Frances Grimes and Helen Mears were some of the few who made names in the arts as women during that time. They did not pursue monumental work as frequently as men did and mostly produced works in bronze and consistent middle-class demand for small-scale sculpture to decorate the home and garden. Today many more women are now entering traditional male dominated sculpture roles in metal, wood and stone, thanks to the pioneering activism of women like Dorothy Gillespie in the 20th century.
An influential force in the women’s movement, Gillespie encouraged more women’s art in museums and art in public spaces. In 1970, Gillespie joined Women in the Arts and created picket signs protesting at the Whitney Museum demanding that the curators choose more women artists for their “Annual exhibition. The demonstration worked, and more women artists were chosen for the show. Although the increase was very slow, over time it increased from 8 percent to 40 percent. Gillespie was the Founder of the Women Artists Historical Archives of the Women’s Interart Center in NY, NY, filming and taping interviews of some of the most important women artists of the 20th century as well as presenting her own radio show. Gillespie along with Joyce Weinstein founded a group called the NY Professional Women Artists. The 14 members lectures at Universities and wrote articles to encourage other women artists.
Gillespie also coordinated a course to educate and enlighten women in the visual arts, after being invited to teach at The New School in NYC. The intent was to prepare women for a new, more aggressive role to function in the art world. Due to her already busy schedule, she asked artist Alice Barber to share the task of revealing to the young students the ‘system’ that drove the NY art world and how to succeed. In 1974 she organized an innovative outdoor exhibition, Walk Through Art, mounted in Central Park, Battery Park, and Rockefeller Center, then travelling to fifty colleges, universities and street fairs. Compelled to involve viewers in her work, she created large 7 ft high triangles of art for people to walk through the sculptures. Gillespie has held positions of designing programs as a Professor of Art, being a Board of Trustees for more than one college or art center, as a visiting artist in residency and as the Chairperson of the Fine Arts Committee for the International Women’s Art Festival.
Dorothy Gillespie’s career spanned seven decades, always at the forefront of the American Art movement. She studied at the Maryland Institute College in Baltimore before moving to New York City, where she studied at the Art Students League. Her works grace many institutions, museums, colleges, universities and public spaces, including the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the United States Mission to the United Nations. She was one of the first artists to offer her art to the world through displays in the lobbies of public institutions and governmental centers such as the Mayo Clinic, Epcot Center, Warren Wilson College, Fort Lauderdale Airport-Delta Terminal, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, the Miami Public Library, United States Mission to the United Nations, and the Court House Square – Roanoke, VA and Universities across the country.
Among her many honors, Gillespie received the Alice Baber Art Fund, Inc. Grant Award: a Doctor of Pedagogy from Niagara University in Niagara Falls, A Doctor of Fine Arts (Honoris Causa) from Caldwell College in Caldwell, NY, an Allied Professions Award from the Virginia Society, the American Institute of Architects in Richmond, VA., the Distinguished Alumni Award from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, the Outstanding Services Award from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art, and the Gala 8 “Distinguished Woman” Award at Birmingham Southern College.
The Catherine Konner Sculpture Park is open from dawn to dusk, free to the public. Brochures can be picked up at the registration desk. For more information visit: www.rocklandartcenter.org or call 845-358-0877.
This exhibition was made possible thanks to the generous support of The Dorothy M. Gillespie Foundation and Gary Israel.
RoCA’s programs are made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Funding is also made possible by the County of Rockland.
RoCA gratefully acknowledges support for its programs from The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation, M&T Bank, The M&T Charitable Foundation, The Dorothy Gillespie Foundation, Peter & Rebecca Lang, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C., Luxury Kitchen and Bath, Golden Artist Colors, Inc., QuietEvents, the Estate of Joan Konner, Lighting Services Inc., Sarah and Stephen Thomas, the Mark and Jessie Milano Foundation, Zaklin Family Charitable Fund, The County of Rockland, Simona and Jerome Chazen, Art Services Group, RoCA members, donors and business members.