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Rockwell Kent Collection of Paintings Expands to 33

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ With the addition of 14 more paintings by the artist, the collection of Rockwell Kent paintings at Plattsburgh State University of New York rivals any other known collection in the United States.

The Rockwell Kent Gallery now boasts a solid collection of 33 paintings that span the life of the American artist. The recent additions to the collection were part of a major bequest from the estate of Shirley "Sally" Kent Gorton to the Plattsburgh College Foundation. She passed away in May 2000.

Edward Brohel, director of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, said the latest additions to the collection show the diversity of the artist.

"Some of them are small, intimate idea paintings, and others are full-fledged complete works," said Brohel. "Our collection has been weighted in Adirondack works. Fortunately, this last gift from the estate contains works that spanned his whole career, particularly some of the early paintings from 1900 to about 1920."

Prior to the Foundation receiving the bequest of the paintings, art works and other personal materials, 11 of the paintings were in the personal collection of Kent Gorton, which was kept at Asgaard Farms near Ausable Forks.

The other three paintings had been for sale to Kent collectors at the Kennedy Gallery (New York City). They are now permanently on exhibition in the Kent Gallery, and Brohel believes they will better help the public understand the emotions Kent endured during his life.

"The paintings had a lot of sentimental value to Sally and Rockwell Kent and were important punctuation points in the development of his ideas and elements of his life," said Brohel. "They show the stylistic variations and the understanding of the emotional base for Kent's work. In this group of paintings there is more of an intimacy; more of the sense of his personality and feelings for places, things and people."

Dr. John Clark, interim president of Plattsburgh State, said, "The educational value to our students, and particularly to the public, is priceless. This collection of Kent's paintings will give our students the sense of changes that can occur in one artist's lifetime," said Clark. "Every time I stop by and view the Kent paintings, I am always struck by something new in his artistic ability. The collection is so priceless, and I am delighted that Plattsburgh State's Kent Gallery is the public venue for his works."

Brohel said that while the paintings are now hanging in the collection, a tremendous amount of work is still ahead on all of the materials given to the Foundation.

"Research and information has to be gathered on each piece, particularly on how they fit into his era. We have many prints, papers and drawings by Kent. It's a sizeable amount of materials for us to get ready to exhibit, but will present a myriad of possibilities. It is being structured by the careful work of Ceil Esposito, museum organizational professional."

Brohel is ecstatic with the additions and believes it is proof that Plattsburgh State is in the Kent business for keeps. "We have an authoritative collection here of first class materials by an genuine authentic American artist. The public is invited to come and see these additional works by Rockwell Kent in their new, spectacular installation by Art Museum Preparator and Collections Manager David Driver."

The Kent Collection and Art Gallery at Plattsburgh State are recognized around the world as a magnificent tribute to Rockwell Kent. Sally Kent Gorton was married to the internationally recognized artist for 31 years until his death in 1971.

Gorton wanted to preserve the lasting friendship between Kent and Plattsburgh State, which began under the administration of Dr. George Angell, president of the College from 1954 to 1974.

In December 1974, Gorton gifted the Art Museum with a representative collection of works of art by her former husband. Nearly three years in the planning, the collection was finally placed in the College's hands in 1977 for safekeeping awaiting completion of a gallery space in the library.

The Rockwell Kent Gallery was officially dedicated May 4, 1978. The collection has grown and is comprised of paintings, prints, original drawings, books and thousands of examples of briefer works, which were donated to the collection by Gorton during the past 20 years.

The Rockwell Kent Gallery has gained national recognition as a major repository of the late artist's work.

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