Beaux Arts Barrett

Barrett Art Center works with college interns to further their interests in visual art, education, art history, and archives and preservation. Summer 2019 intern Hailey McLaughlin, Wells College,'23 conducted primary research in the archives and art collection. Starting with one pen and ink drawing from our collection of over 1,000 works on paper by Thomas Weeks Barrett, Jr., she compiled this article.

TWB, Jr., Beaux Arts Ball Invitation submission, 1931

TWB, Jr., Beaux Arts Ball Invitation submission, 1931

The Beaux Arts Ball was held annually in New York City to raise money for scholarships for young architects. Usually, the Beaux Arts Ball had a theme pertaining to a specific historical time period. The 1931 Beaux Arts Ball was special because for the first time, the theme was focused on the future. The title of the 1931 Ball was “Fête Moderne- A Fantasie in Flame and Silver.”

Invitation , Beaux Arts Ball, NYC, 1931

Invitation, Beaux Arts Ball, NYC, 1931

Architects showed up dressed as their own building designs and made up the skyline of New York City. Chester Aldrich dressed as the Union Club, William F. Lamb came as the Empire State Building, Leonard Schultze came as a Waldorf-Astoria tower, Ely Jacques Kahn came as the Squibb building, Ralph Walker came as a Wall Street tower, and Joseph Freedlander came as the Museum of the City of New York. Most came with the same generic tunic made to look like windowed skyscrapers with the shape of each building worn as helmets. William Van Alen stole the show dressed as his Chrysler Building. Van Alen actually used elements from his building such as inlays of wood from the building’s elevators.

Tom Barrett entered a contest for the cover design of the 1931 Beaux Arts Ball program. His entry depicts a person dressed as a building with smoking towers in the background. Most of the program is in black and white with a few squares of red. It is mostly made up of straight lines. It is very modern-looking and simplistic compared to the winning program by James E. McDonald. His program showed dancers gathered around a band in the middle of the city.

Hailey McLaughlin, Wells College,'23

William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building

William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building

Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building

Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building

D.E. Ward as the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower

D.E. Ward as the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower

Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria

Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria

Ralph Walker as 1 Wall Street

Ralph Walker as 1 Wall Street

Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building

Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building

Joseph H. Freedlander as the Museum of New York`

Joseph H. Freedlander as the Museum of New York`

For a modern iteration on the trend, check out this Comic Con attendee in costume as the Javits Center, where the event is held, in 2017.


The Artist as Critic - Reading Tom's Books

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Working in the Tom Barrett archives this summer, intern extraordinaire, Amanda Squillante, Goucher College, ‘20, had a chance to look through books owned by Tom - complete with his notes. See her reflection on Tom’s marginalia, and link to the full collection of images, including Tom’s commentary below.

How can we get a look into the mind of an artist who’s been deceased for 72 years? In the case of Thomas Barrett, a flip through his personal collection of books makes it a bit easier for us in the present. He owned a set of books entitled The Artist Sees Differently, one consisting of text and the other consisting of black and white plates. In the volume containing plates, Barrett wrote down his thoughts regarding more than half of the works included. Some are simple, one word descriptions of the pieces in front of him, while others are direct criticisms or praises of the artists themselves. Some are humorous and easy to understand, while others make it difficult to know exactly what Barrett meant by his words. In any case, Barrett’s notes provide valuable insight into how he saw the world and what he thought of other artists. They also let us see Barrett himself in a more realistic way; he is no longer just a legend far removed from our reality, he is a person with his own thoughts and opinions that, though decades old, deserve to be heard.

Amanda Squillante, Goucher College, '20

Review: "Intentional Movements" at Gallery 40

Amanda Squillante, Art History Major, Goucher College, BAC Intern Summer ‘19

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In a recent exhibition at Gallery 40, entitled “Intentional Movement”, two featured artists showcase their work with an emphasis on color and structure. Both Chris Morano and Emmanuel Ofori have carefully considered how their process affects their end result, creating works that are both deeply personal and open to outside interpretation. When placed in the gallery space itself, viewers are able to appreciate the work in an environment that may resemble their own living spaces.

In his paintings, Morano depicts seemingly mundane activities with an emphasis on brushstroke and color. His work is eye catching upon arrival, but when viewed up close takes on a whole new level of intrigue. It is as if he paints his works with two entirely different techniques. The background is often smooth and contains some sort of geometric pattern, most likely the product of broad brushstrokes; the figures, typically the main focus of the work, are painted in many thick layers of small, individual brushstrokes that create a much more textured appearance. In some areas, it seems the paint has been laid on so thick that it even adds a three-dimensional effect. All of these variables come together to create works that are not only visually appealing but inspire deeper thought.

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Ofori seems to take a different approach to his work, adding three-dimensional aspects that might suggest a background in sculpture. On display were both paintings and fully functional homemade furniture, all of which contained bright colors, patterns, and three-dimensional objects in homage to the artist’s African heritage. In his portrait paintings, Ofori places emphasis on the subject’s features and clothing to make them pop. In many of the solo portraits, Ofori has glued or attached objects to the painting itself in order to make certain parts jump out at the viewer. In one, a man in a decorated uniform has both fabric and buttons glued onto his clothing and facial hair made of painted artificial grass. In another, the subject has been painted on wood and then placed against canvas in a way that makes the entire figure jump out at the viewer. Ofori has adorned all his subjects in brightly colored and/or patterned clothing, characteristics that he has also applied to the furniture on display. Each piece is made of a few individual pieces of wood and decorated with colors and intricate patterns. When placed in the space together, Ofori’s paintings and furniture came together to create a cohesive environment that gave viewers insight on his African roots.

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All in all, the space provided by Gallery 40 is a comfortable one, with plenty of room to sit and observe the different elements each artist has contributed to their work. The juxtaposition of Morano’s and Ofori’s work created a bright atmosphere with plenty of interesting details to focus on, and I hope these photos do their work justice. 

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Review: Lindsey Guile's "Unapologetic"

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As a woman myself, I have always been acutely aware of the types of female bodies that are typically deemed “beautiful” enough to be shown to the world. All too often these bodies do not reflect the bodies of the majority of women, making inclusion nearly impossible. In her work Guile portrays her own body as well as the bodies of several other women, whose body types differ from the unfortunate standard the art world has set long ago. As I walked through the space and took in each piece, I felt a sense of comradery with the women Guile had chosen to draw.

There was something about each of them that I could identify with, and looking into their charcoal eyes only strengthened this connection. By using a mixture of provocative and modest poses, Guile provides insight into the differing spirits of the women being portrayed, using their bodies to express each woman’s unique experience. Her choice of medium, charcoal, is used on two different types of paper that provide two starkly different styles of execution. Around half of the pieces were created on a typical paper that preserves each mark made by the artist, providing a harsher, more concrete final image. The other pieces were created on an extremely smooth, thick, board-like surface that lends a unique, ghostly quality to the charcoal. These bodies in particular seem incredibly light and airy, almost as if they were fleeting images that might disappear in the blink of an eye.


After the exhibition had closed, I had the opportunity to speak with the artist herself, who shed some light on her past experiences with eating disorders. These pieces were created after Guile’s recovery and, at least in the case of her self portraits, they reflect a body that has been given a new love and sense of care. I had already found these pieces beautiful for multiple reasons, but being able to hear the artist’s own story and meaning behind them only made the pieces more powerful. While the work is unfortunately no longer on display, I hope these photos can give readers some sense of the power they hold. 
Text by BAC Summer Intern Extraordiannaire, Amanda Squillante, Art History Major, Goucher College


Arbor Day Tree Planting!

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Barrett Art Center was proud to celebrate Arbor Day 2018 with Tree plantings on Noxon Street on May 11. We hosted the tree planting ceremony in front of Barrett House, where a flowering crab apple tree was planted for Arbor Day 1995. Special thanks to the Poughkeepsie Shade Tree Commission, Mayor Rob Rolison, the City's Tree Department, NYS DEC, and especially, a class of third graders from our neighborhood's own Clinton Elementary School, joined by their Principal David Scott and Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Nicole Williams. 

We're excited to have two new red maples along the south side of Noxon street. 

Planting trees is a sign of our faith not only in Noxon Street, but the City as a whole. Planting a tree reminds us that the best things in life take time, it’s an investment in our future – it is literally about digging in, setting down roots, and sticking around through the sunny days and the storms, it’s about doing something for the long haul.  

That actually sounds a lot like the story of Barrett House, and our organization. We’ve been in Poughkeepsie since 1935 and we’re still going strong.

Our founder, the artist Thomas Barrett, was born in Poughkeepsie in 1902 and grew up here at 55 Noxon Street. Though Tom went away for college, he came back to his hometown aftewards, bringing back with him a heartfelt desire to connect his City with the arts. He spent his entire career drawing and painting the City of Poughkeepsie, and organized art exhibitions for artists to connect the entire community to art and to each other through art. 

We continue that mission at Barrett Art Center with free art exhibitions and arts programs all year round. We’re also working on restoring our 1840s building and making it fully accessible to everyone by adding a wheelchair ramp. We’re investing in this house, and Noxon Street to ensure that this house is around  for the long haul, just like the trees we planted for Arbor Day 2018.  We continue to be optimistic about our future here in Poughkeepsie – and are excited to finally get these trees in the ground.

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From the Archives: Soldier's Memorial Fountain Sketch and Painting

Barrett’s ink pen sketch on illustration board depicts the Soldier’s Memorial Fountain in Eastman Park in the City of Poughkeepsie. This sketch was practice for a larger work that Barrett painted and sold to the Acker family in Poughkeepsie. Although the Barrett Art Center does not have the painting in its collection, photographs of the painting are accessible in the archives.

The Soldier’s Memorial Fountain was cast in the mid-1850s, purchased and installed in Eastman Park in 1870, and unveiled to the public on July 4th, 1870, five years after the end of the American Civil War. The fountain is one of four surviving cast from Model No. 5 by the Janes, Beebe, and Company. The other three remaining fountains exist in Savannah, Georgia, Curzo, Peru, and Madison, Indiana. Barrett’s sketch furthers to demonstrate his interest in all things Poughkeepsie.

Left to right: Broadway Fountain; Forsyth Park; Plaza de Armas. Images courtesy of Google Maps.


"From the Archives" is brought to you by Jean Hinkley. Ms. Hinkley is a graduate student of museum studies at Marist College. Growing up in Poughkeepsie influenced the way that Jean approaches thinking about cultural institutions, particularly in how to engage with local communities. Her research within the Barrett Art Center archives seeks to shed light on the unique character of Thomas Barrett and demonstrate that there is much to learn from our Hudson Valley history.

Photowork 2018 Opening Reception February 10, 2018

We'd like to say congratulations to all those that made it into Photowork this year, especially our three prize winners below. It was a great opening reception, bringing in many more people than we had expected, which is always a good thing!  With the Juried Members' Show on view upstairs, we had a packed house. Thank you to our two jurors, E. Jason Wambsgans and Sean Hemmerly and of course to all those that came out to support Barrett Art Center. 

1st Prize - Brian Johnson "Gender in the Balance"

1st Prize - Brian Johnson "Gender in the Balance"

2nd Prize - Ray Koh " A Sunday Car Pic"

2nd Prize - Ray Koh " A Sunday Car Pic"

3rd Prize - Darcy Dangremond "In Sync"

3rd Prize - Darcy Dangremond "In Sync"

Juried Member' Show winner Laura Martinez-Bianco

"Boat Meadow"

"Boat Meadow"

"Where the Cows Go Home"

"Where the Cows Go Home"

Poughkeepsie's Architectural Treasures - Tea & Talk with Holly Wahlberg

Architecture can serve as a record of the ways people thought about and used their built environment. Likewise, buildings and monuments shape the identity of a community - physical and visual prompts for the stories we tell about ourselves and our history. 

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On Sunday, December 11, preservationist and design historian Holly Wahlberg gave an inspiring lecture in the galleries at Barrett Art Center Tea & Talk, while attendees enjoyed a full English-style tea, complete with scones and clotted cream, tea sandwiches, cookies and teas provided by Harney & Sons. 

Thank you, Holly, for bringing the important architectural history of Poughkeepsie alive with the stories of the people who designed and built these gems, some of which are no longer extant. A call for all of us to advocate for the preservation of the unique built environment here in Poughkeepsie.  

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Members' tour at Vassar's Lehman Loeb Art Center

Thursday, November 9, Barrett members got an opportunity to tour through the galleries at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College for a special tour with curator Patricia Phagan through their currentexhibition of prints by Helen Frankenthaler.

Fluid Expressions: The Prints of Helen Frankenthaler highlights the artist’s often-overlooked yet powerfully evocative print production and runs through December 10.

The intimate tour with Ms. Phagan brought to light how Frankenthaler’s keen interest in process shaped her relationship with print media and framed her working relationships with different printmakers and print studios.  

Special thanks to members Mahto Topah and Jose Gome for their photos from the afternoon tour.

Barrett hosts exclusive tours free as a benefit to all members – we hope to see you at similar events in 2018. We announce the events in our eNewsletter and on the website well in advance. All members are welcome to reserve a space.


New Directions '17 Juror Awards Announced

Barrett Art Center would like to congratulate all of the artists participating in New Directions '17!  Juror Ruth Erickson has recognized three artists with awards, announced at the openign reception , Saturday, October 7, 2017. 

Juror's Award: $1,000
M. Mark Bauer, Though I Walk Through the Valley of Reason

Acrylic on Canvas, (44" x 64") NFS 

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Second Prize: $250
Jessica Alazraki, Open Door

Oil on Canvas, (48" x 60"), $1,800

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Third Prize: $175
Ryan Leitner, History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme (Face)

Acrylic on canvas (33" x 26"), $3,000

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Karl J. Volk Scholarship Art Auction

This Saturday was the Karl J. Volk Scholarship Art Auction. The iconic local artist donated 30 original paintings and auctioned them off here at Barrett Art Center. Proceeds from the sale of the artwork helped fund scholarships for students from both Poughkeepsie and Spackenkill high schools who are majoring in art. The event had an outstanding turnout! 


Saturday Studio at Barrett!

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From the first of a school year Saturday arts program for local students, building on the techniques and subject matter of Poughkeepsie native Thomas Barrett, Jr.'s art career. We're starting the year off with block-printing of a tote for students' art projects all year. Future projects use examples of Barrett's art as a starting point, including his playing cards, holiday cards, and repeat patterns (wallpaper).

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This community arts program grows out of our collaboration with Christ Episcopal Church's Summer Camp and is made possible by the Abe and Ann Effron Donor Advised Fund of the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley and Stewart's Shops.

For more information, contact,  

We the People Flashback

We the People: Political Art in an Age of Discord, is no longer in our galleries, but participating artist Jonathan Talbot just shared this video memory of the opening reception for the exhibition back in July, as visitors engaged with his piece, "Spin and Win." Thank you, Jonathan for sharing the memory.