The Gallery: Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

The MCL is proud to offer The Gallery, a space for the exhibition of original works by local and regional artists. The Gallery has the same operating hours as the Library as a whole, and hosts openings when new artists take up residence on our walls.

Current Gallery Exhibitions

“For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection” – On display June 14th – September 7th

From June 14th to September 7th the Manchester Community Library is honored to present a new iteration of “For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection.” The 2023 debut exhibition of paintings, prints, and drawings from The Lyman Orton Collection was a blockbuster hit, breaking all attendance records at two southern Vermont museums. The Manchester Community Library exhibition is bringing forth almost 70 artworks that were not previously exhibited locally.

Lyman Orton, best known as the proprietor of The Vermont Country Store, said, “The response to ‘For the Love of Vermont’ last summer was nothing short of overwhelming, and since then people have been contacting me asking to see more of the works in my collection. These scenes of Vermont and Vermonters resonated with everyone, and this summer I am delighted to partner with the Library to display many more works of art, including quite a number of new acquisitions.” Manchester Public Library is located at 138 Cemetery Avenue in Manchester, Vermont; the artwork on display is viewable during regular Library hours and admission is free.

“For The Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection” features works of Vermont scenes created between 1910 and 1970, a period that Lyman Orton calls the “Golden Era” of painting in Vermont. There will be works by well-known painters and printmakers.

Lyman Orton said, “I want folks who perhaps have never attended an art exhibit to come and enjoy what they see and read about the art. The best example of this is a comment from last year by a woman who wrote me and said, ‘I had to drag my husband to the see the art show, and then I had to drag him out!’”

Edward Surjan, Executive Director of Manchester Community Library notes that “MCL is thrilled to host the FLOV collection this summer with many new and previously unexhibited works. As with all of our Library events and programs, the exhibition is free and open to the public, consistent with Lyman’s vision of making the art available to the widest possible audience. The stories these works tell are part of our shared collective cultural memory, both past and present, celebrating what makes Vermont resonate so deeply with those who live and visit here. The collection inspires families and friends to add their memories, reflections, and information, further enriching the exhibition and our Vermont legacy.”

Shawn Harrington, curator of the Manchester Historical Society has been instrumental in making the selections from The Orton Collection for the Library exhibition. He said, “It was an extraordinary opportunity to be involved with the exhibitions of The Orton Collection in 2023. To partner with the library this year with many new pieces that Lyman has acquired since last summer, coupled with works that haven’t been publicly displayed here in Manchester brings everything full circle.”

To make the point, Harrington added, “The Historical Society and Library have been associates since 1897, many of the works were created by artists who called the Northshire home, and whose subjects are in the landscape all around us. I am looking forward to hosting talks at the library during the months that the exhibition installed making those connections between the artists, their lives here, and their legacy. We’ll take a look at how some of those scenes appear today … scenes that have stayed the same and what has changed.”

Gallery exhibitions of artworks from The Orton Collection, and as shown on the website fortheloveofvermont.com, are arranged by theme, rather than by individual artist. This way, Lyman Orton said, viewers can enjoy how different artists have captured everything from barns, churches, country fairs, and sugaring, to logging and even laundry drying on an outdoor clothesline. He said, “In the descriptions of the paintings, I want to tell stories to the viewers using everyday language, skipping all the academic ‘art talk.’ I want people to tell us their stories most of all. Every painting has a story, and stories are history, and so we curate each exhibit to relay visual and written experiences that express and even inspire the love of Vermont.”

Throughout the weeks that the artwork is on display, the Library and the Historical Society are planning a series of public programs that will provide both cultural and historical context about the importance of The Orton Collection. The schedule is available at the Library and on related websites: mclvt.org, manchesterhistoricalsocietyvt.org, and fortheloveofvermont.com

For everyone seeking even more of The Orton Collection, there is a concurrent exhibition of about 80 more works from The Orton Collection at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier. That exhibition is open from July through the end of December this year, with public programming by the Vermont Historical Society.

ABOUT LYMAN ORTON

Lyman Orton’s love of Vermont runs deep, built upon seven generations of his family in Vermont and through his passion for the art of storekeeping and his family’s business, The Vermont Country Store. “Every sale I make to a customer in my stores carries my self-imposed responsibility to uphold the honor of Vermont,” he declares. “It’s the reason for our success, which enables me to allocate my personal resources to thoughtfully building and maintaining this art collection. I have recently established a nonprofit that will preserve and protect the artworks, while making it possible for Vermonters and visitors alike, to continue to enjoy the art and take pride these scenes and stories of Vermont for years to come.”

For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection. More than 70 artworks from “The Golden Era” of painting in Vermont. A new selection of artwork not previously displayed in Manchester. Manchester Community Library, 138 Cemetery Avenue, Manchester, Vermont.

BOOK:

The companion publication to the exhibition is titled For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection. Published in 2023, the hardcover, 220-page book was written by co-authors Lyman Orton and Anita Rafael. There are more than 100 illustrations of the artworks in The Orton Collection, along with several vintage and historical photographs. The book will be available for sale at the Manchester Community Library during the summer exhibition.

THE LYMAN ORTON COLLECTION

How Lyman Orton, proprietor of The Vermont Country Store, saves the art of Vermont from leaving his home state and, at the same time, repatriates dozens more artworks that have been scattered across America during the last century –

There is no need to speculate about Lyman Orton’s motivation in collecting the “lost” art of Vermont; he started collecting and continues to collect for reasons practical and sentimental. On the practical level, saving bits of history worth saving is forever a noble cause – saving things, from the land itself to rusty old farm tools and empty jelly jars is an ingrained behavior attributable to most Vermonters. They are proud of it. As for sentiment, Lyman’s love of collecting the art of Vermont is inseparable from how he feels as a seventh-generation Vermonter, and to have lived and worked in Vermont all his life. He collected paintings of Vermonters hard at work: logging, milling, sugaring, and farming. He collected paintings of Vermonters, well . . . being Vermonters: bidding at front-yard furniture auctions, spending a day at the village fair, and walking to church.

There is no dominant theme among the artworks in the collection other than it is an art collection about places and life in Vermont. Lyman Orton has found remarkable etchings, oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, illustrations, and mixed-media works. Certain artists in his collection were commissioned by the publishers of the ever-popular Saturday Evening Post magazine to paint Vermont for their cover art, and he collected the original paintings. Other artists living in Vermont were engaged to illustrate books. Their art prints are part of Lyman Orton’s collection, too.

Some of the signatures on the art spark recognition straight away – well-known artists who enjoyed nationwide fame through their presence in the renowned group of men and women painting at Rockport, Massachusetts, or from the group known as the White Mountain Painters of New Hampshire. Some of the works are by artists with regional fame, that is, Vermonters well-known among Vermonters. Not surprisingly, a significant part of the collection, about one-fifth, is artworks of Vermont by Vermont women, as well as by other women who journeyed into the mountains to draw and paint. The artists in The Orton Collection captured what they loved most about Vermont and what mattered most about Vermont in their eyes and hearts. Hundreds of their artworks depicting Vermont are in the collections of major museums across America.

The scope and attributes of the art collection of Vermont images that Lyman Orton has built have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. He has loaned works from his collection to Bennington Museum, Southern Vermont Arts Center, Shelburne Museum, Fleming Museum of Art, Dorset Historical Society, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Kimpton Taconic Hotel, and Amy Tarrant Gallery at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts in Burlington. Works from the collection have also been shown at the GRACE Gallery in Hardwick, Vermont, and at the Bickford Building in Dorset.

Images in the event slide include: “Sharpening a Scythe” by Robert Noel Blair, “Painting Vermont” by Henry Schnackenberg, collection owner Lyman Orton, and “Quarry Opening (Freedley Quarry, Dorset)” by Edwin Burrage Child.

Upcoming Gallery Exhibitions

TBA. Stay tuned for upcoming exhibition information.

Contact

To get information about The Gallery or pitch an exhibition, contact Paige Vignola at pvignola@mclvt.org or (802) 549-4574.