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Guest Artist Reception

Mary Newhouse: A Retrospective

Mary Newhouse ~ paintings & ceramics
Spring Street Gallery Aug 28 - Sept 3 2018

Mary Newhouse (1935-2010) was born & raised in Fitchburg, MA, and attended Smith College, where she received a BA in Art in 1957, with advanced studies in printmaking with the renowned teacher and artist Leonard Baskin. Her love of the ocean began as a small child, when her family summered in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. She grew up working summers in this small coastal town. She married Robert Newhouse, an ophthalmologist, and they lived in New York City, raising 3 daughters. Mary worked continuously on her own art, which included: oil and acrylic painting, photography, sculpture, wood and linoleum block printing, sewing, and hand-formed ceramics. Mary also worked as an elementary and high-school art teacher. In the 1970’s, Mary helped to found G.A.M.E (Growth through Art and Museum Experience) with Bette Korman.  G.A.M.E. brought art programs to public schools throughout the city. At this time, NYC was in a fiscal crisis, and art programs were eliminated from many public schools. With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, G.A.M.E eventually became the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Its audience has grown to 325,000 visitors each year, which includes 30,000 children who visit as part of a school group and more than 34,000 children served through offsite outreach programs.

Mary and Bob first visited Block Island in 1978, on the advice of friends. They immediately fell in love with the island, and began looking to purchase a property. With some trepidation, they ended up purchasing the Sea Breeze Cottages on Spring Street in 1979. The whole family worked hard fixing up the property’s cottages and planting the gardens.

The Sea Breeze Gallery was first established on-site in 1980. It comprised two rooms in the building that is closest to Spring Street, with art openings happening in the front area by the hedges. The Sea Breeze Gallery soon became a showcase for a wide variety of artists working in many different mediums, and was the first of its kind on the island to show mixed-media exhibits. It was also the first to feature an annual exhibit of artists from RISD, including graduates and faculty members. Artists from RISD include: Eve Kaplan, Barry Gerson, Trina Bumiller, Jack Wax, Gary Niswonger, Willie Dexter, Hank Adams, Liz Pannell, James Watkins and the infamous Dale Chihuly.  The Sea Breeze Gallery also showed the works of many other artists including: Margaretta Mitchell, Hank Adams, Tim Prentice,  Christopher James, Renate Winston, Robert Ellsworth, Francesco Clemente, Robert Kushner, Mary Harty and Peter De Rosa, and jewelry by Thomas Mann. Block Island artists included: Ben Wohlberg, Gayle Goldsmith, Sean Hartnett, John Urbain, Josie Merck, Bill Padien, Jerry Powers, Sharon Lehman, Tom McAleer, Marilyn Bogdanfy, Stu Littlefield, and Cynthia Bloom.  

The establishment of The Sea Breeze Inn, a 10 room intimate bed and breakfast, followed soon after, and continues to thrive under the management of Andrea Moynier, the Newhouse’s youngest daughter. All of the guest rooms at The Sea Breeze contain original artwork culled from over 30 years of gallery exhibitions. 

Mary was inspired by the beauty of the natural world around her, and not only conveyed this through her painting, but also through her volunteer work on the island. Mary was one of the original founders of The Committee for the Great Salt Pond, and spearheaded the “no-dumping” movement to protect the clean waters of New Harbor from vessel sewage. New Harbor is a breeding ground for many species, including the horseshoe crab. Thanks to Mary’s hard work, New Harbor is now a federally recognized No Discharge Zone, which protects aquatic habitats and makes pumpout facilities for boaters available. Mary was also a co-founder of Scenic Block Island, another grass-roots environmental group that grew from a desire to protect the island’s beautiful open spaces, small-scale architecture, and keep over-development at bay.  

In the summer of 2009, Mary unexpectedly succumbed to a rare bacterial infection. After a 6 month battle in the hospital with an aggressive treatment, her family chose to remove her from life support in February of 2010. 

Mary’s selected exhibitions include: Chase Gallery, Baltimore; Exit Gallery, NYC;  Alonzo Gallery, NYC; Bell Gallery, Greenwich, CT; Giraffics Gallery, Sag Harbor; Hatay Gallery, Northampton, MA;  No. 6 Depot, Stockbridge, MA; Virginia Breier, San Francisco, Scott Pfaffman Gallery, NYC, Terrapin Chelsea Gallery, NYC, Grey Art Gallery, NYU, Encore Gallery, Block Island, Sea Breeze Gallery, Block Island; and The Island Gallery, Block Island. Collections include: Smith College, IBM Corporation, Delouitte and Touche, Chase Manhattan, and the Fitchburg Art Museum.  Commissions include : Manhattan  Lab Museum, NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs, NYC Youth Festival, NYC Public Library, and many private collections. 

Most recently, her work was shown at the Deja Vu Gallery on BIock Island, in 2013. Her family is delighted to be sharing her paintings and porcelain ceramics with her beloved island once again. 

Earlier Event: August 25
Member Artist Reception
Later Event: September 4
Guest Artist Reception