September 27, 2021

Beauty in the Rough a New Display at Belmont

Study for The Nativity, wash drawing, by Gari Melchers

Study for The Nativity, wash drawing, by Gari Melchers

Fourteen preliminary sketches and studies executed by local painting legend, Gari Melchers, are on view at Belmont, the Gari Melchers Home and Studio until June 1, 2021.

The collection at Belmont is the largest Gari Melchers inventory of its kind, including hundreds of sketches and studies that document his personal creative methodology. When working out a conceptual plan, the artist considered one or more design elements at a time, such as composition, proportion, form, light, color and perspective. Many of his experimental drawings eventually found their culmination as easel paintings, and the comparison of preliminary to finished works gives one the sense of looking over the artist’s shoulder as he gains new insights, eliminates undesirable pictorial effects and discovers better solutions. What’s also apparent is that his sketches and studies can have so strong a visual appeal due to the spontaneity of the effort that many of his examples can stand alone as works of art.

University of Mary Washington Museums to Reopen March 15

Fredericksburg, VA: Two museums administered by the University of Mary Washington—Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the James Monroe Museum—will reopen to the public on Monday, March 15 after a three-month shutdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both museums will be open to general visitors only, with no public programs or facility rentals through the end of June, 2021. They will operate with physical and policy adaptations to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 as required under #ForwardUMW and Forward Virginia Phase 3. Measures include increased cleaning, provision of hand sanitizer stations for visitors, limitations in group size, and adjusted traffic flows. Visitors will be required to wear masks inside museum buildings and practice social distancing. Specific COVID-related details are noted on the museums’ websites.

“All of our staff members are eager to welcome visitors back to our museums,” observed Scott Harris, Executive Director of UMW Museums. “We significantly increased our online educational content during the pandemic, and will continue to provide these resources, but nothing equals the thrill and impact of visiting in person.”

FBI Returns Gari Melchers Painting Stolen by Nazis to Owner’s Heirs

A version of the original Skaters, owned by PAFA, is on display.

A version of the original Skaters, owned by PAFA, is on display.

A Gari Melchers’ painting, “Winter,” originally owned by the Mosse family in Berlin, Germany, and looted by the Nazis when they fled the country, has been repatriated to the owner’s heirs. As reported in a 2019 media release, the FBI seized the painting from the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York, who was unaware of its origins.

The painting’s successful restitution has been widely covered in the press. Here is an article sampling.

Gari Melchers painting stolen by Nazis is returned to family of original owners (The Free Lance-Star, October 16, 2020)

Painting returned 87 years after Nazis stole it from a Jewish family in Berlin (CNN, October 16, 2020)

Jewish family’s painting looted by Nazis in 1933 is returned (Associated Press, October 15, 2020)

United States Secures Return of Artwork 87 Years After Nazis Looted it from Jewish Family in Berlin (United States Department of Justice, October 15, 2020)

FBI returns painting stolen by Nazis to owners heirs (Houston Chronicle, October 15, 2020)

Gari Melchers cribbed from his original oil painting Skaters (owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, or PAFA) to create our watercolor version by the same name. The stolen Winter is a related version.

Museum Partners to Create Virtual Content

Image of Gari Melchers Home & Studio Events - Arts and Flowers, Floral Design, Preschool Palette's I Am Yoga book, and Michelle Crow-Dolby.Although Gari Melchers Home & Studio, Belmont, reopened to the public on September 14, the museum’s education department continues to produce online content. GMHS Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby is partnering with community members to deliver diverse online educational products.

Two of the most recent initiatives focus on museum programs that currently cannot be offered in person due to COVID-19 concerns:  Preschool Palette and Picturing New Connections. The popular long-running Preschool Palette classes introduce children ages 2-5 to art galleries and process art projects. Since finding art supplies might be challenging for some households, Crow-Dolby opted for a different route for the online offering. She joined forces with children’s yoga instructor and Lafayette Upper Elementary School teacher Christine Garman to produce a video about yoga for children. In the video, Crow-Dolby first reads the book I Am Yoga in Belmont’s Summer House, then Garman leads an engaging yoga class in the Studio room.

Working with Lori Meyers, Regional Director, Fredericksburg Office, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond, VA, Crow-Dolby also presented a recorded Zoom version of Picturing New Connections, a program for people with memory loss, their families, and care partners. Art, photography, music, and taste were all used to explore the theme of visiting county fairs.

In addition, when the garden was in full bloom, local floral and landscape designer Carolyn Helfrich helped create two videos. Helfrich artfully taught viewers the basics of floral arranging as well as how to interpret a painting through flowers.

“While we are thrilled to once again offer on-site tours, I am grateful to my collaborators for sharing their talents and expertise to generate much needed virtual experiences,” summarizes Crow-Dolby. Visit the museum’s LEARN page to explore all their online offerings.

Gari Melchers Painting Stolen by Nazis Finally Returned to Family

"Winter" by Gari Melchers.

“Winter” by Gari Melchers.

A painting by Gari Melchers that was looted by the Nazis 87 years ago was returned to the heirs of the Jewish family to whom it belonged, according to an Associated Press article. The painting, “Winter,” was among more than 1,000 pieces of art and artifacts stolen in 1933 from the Mosse family, prominent Berlin residents who were persecuted and forced to flee from Germany. The work bears a stunning resemblance to a Melchers’ painting, entitled “Skaters,” that is in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ (PAFA) permanent collection. “Winter” was later auctioned off in New York City to Bartlett Arkell, the founder of the Beech-Nut Packing Co., who in turn, donated it to his museum in upstate New York, where it remained until recently. Read more.

Study for Iconic Melchers on View

In the Dunes by Gari Melchers

In the Dunes by Gari Melchers

A painting entitled In the Dunes is on display at Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Belmont, as a companion to Melchers’ monumental In Holland through January 3, 2021, thanks to a generous loan by the Sue C. Lang Family Trust.

In 1887, Gari Melchers began experimenting with the concept of rustic figures meeting on the dunes of Holland. The survival of several sketches in Belmont’s archives indicates that Melchers produced numerous iterations for what would become his iconic painting In Holland. In the Dunes is just such an example, an almost exact replica of In Holland though on a far smaller scale. In the Dunes was unknown to experts until it resurfaced in a private auction in Hamburg, Germany, in 2018 and sold to a local Fredericksburg collector. Because of its cursory application of paint it presumably started life as a small-scale study for In Holland, but the artist probably returned to it later, giving it enough finish to stand on its own as an easel painting.

Gari Melchers Home & Studio Offers Digital Learning for All Ages

Gari Melchers Home & Studio (GMHS) is one of the best-preserved artist homes and working studios in the country. Although it is currently closed to the public in an effort to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, it is looking for new ways to engage the public.

GMHS is responding to rapidly changing times by compiling existing online material and creating new experiences under their new LEARN webpage found here at garimelchers.org/education/learn, which was featured in a recent Free Lance-Star article.

Included on LEARN are links to Preschool Palette and Picturing New Connection lesson plans, activities based on the museum’s collection, videos, printable coloring pages, popular blog posts, and a virtual tour of the museum’s wedding and reception event space.

Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby, inspired by the global #MuseumfromHome movement, ramped up the museum’s social media presence by sharing posts meant to educate, stimulate, and inspire. Gari Melchers’ many floral still life paintings star in #MuseumBouquet while the artist’s atmospheric paintings star in #MuseumMomentofZen.

Assistant Director and Curator Joanna Catron practiced proper social distancing while recording her Facebook private studio tour.

“Our mission is founded on preservation and education,” adds Scott Harris, executive director of University of Mary Washington Museums. “During this virus emergency, as we ensure the safety and integrity of our museum and its collections, we’re striving to fulfill our educational mission creatively online.”

Gari and Corinne Melchers lived through another worldwide virus crisis, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. The couple was familiar with quarantines, the wearing of protective gear, social distancing, and other aspects of life during a pandemic we face today. Watch the video.

Follow GMHS on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio to Offer Memory Loss Art Program

Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the Alhzeimer’s Association are partnering to present Picturing New Connections:  An art program for people with memory loss and their caregivers on Thursday, March 7 at 10:30 a.m.

“I recognized a need in our region for a museum-based memory loss program and have been researching and developing a blueprint, on and off, for a few years now,” says Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby.  This Picturing New Connections pilot study will combine sensory-rich guided discussions in Gari Melchers’ studio with an art making experience afterwards.”

Inspired and guided by the original Meet Me at MoMA  model, museums across the country are working to create arts engagement programs for people with Alzheimer’s Disease, along with their family members and care givers, to explore and discuss art.  Studies have shown that engaging with art in a social setting has a therapeutic effect on individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia.

“Social engagement programs such as this one promote social interaction and companionship by offering a fun and comfortable way for people living in the early to middle stage of Alzheimer’s or other dementia to get out, get active and get connected with one another through a variety of social events and community-based activities tailored to individual needs and interests of the participants,” according to Lori Myers of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Admission is $5 per person. To register, please contact Lori Myers, Director, Fredericksburg Office, Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond Chapter at lmyers@alz.org or 540-228-1502.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

Free Holiday Admission for UMW Families

UMW employees and their immediate family members will be admitted to Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the James Monroe Museum free of charge (UMW ID required) during the winter break (December 19 – December 30), and are eligible for 20% off Museum Store purchases.

UMW Flute and Guitar Ensembles to Perform in Melchers’ Studio

Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the University of Mary Washington Music Department are partnering to present an evening of music on Wednesday, April 25, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  at Gari Melchers’ Belmont.

The UMW flute and guitar ensembles will perform at Gari Melchers’ Studio at Belmont on Wednesday, April 25. Photo by Norm Shafer.

The UMW flute and guitar ensembles will perform at Gari Melchers’ Studio at Belmont on Wednesday, April 25. Photo by Norm Shafer.

In celebration of National Guitar Month and National Jazz Appreciation Month, the UMW Guitar Ensemble will present a spring concert featuring arrangements of classical, jazz and contemporary works under the direction of Bruce Middle. The UMW Flute Ensemble will perform selections from Baroque to contemporary, including Latin American selections under the direction of Doug Gately.

Admission is free to the public. Please make reservations by contacting Meghan Pcsolyar at mpcsolya@umw.edu or 540-654-1848.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.