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Rae in White Blouse Off Shoulder

Rae in White Blouse Off Shoulder
Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 in., c. 1955

2022 marks the 30th anniversary of The Studio of Ben Solowey presenting regular interpretative exhibitions at the Solowey Studio. In that time we have presented 40 exhibitions displaying more than 1,000 works by Ben. There have been paintings in oil, watercolor, casein, and gouache. Drawings in charcoal, pen, lithographic crayon, conté crayon, pencil, and marker. We have included woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, monoprints and photographs. We have also featured sculptures in plaster, bronze, clay, and wax. We have also exhibited Ben’s handcrafted frames and furniture, all, of course in the studio he created for himself at the center of this 34-acre farm. It was Rae Solowey’s wish that the Studio and its contents be preserved for future generations to enjoy, and after all these years, showing all these works to thousands of visitors, I know I’m not alone when I say I’m glad that wish came true.

We want to put on a very special show this year, bringing together select Solowey classics, as well as paintings by and of Ben that you have never seen. A show that not only celebrates the 30 years of exhibitions, but the 80 years since the Soloweys moved permanently to Bucks County from Manhattan. (As I write this, it is almost exactly 86 years since Ben and Rae first walked up the driveway and decided to buy the farm.).

In all that time, it is remarkable how little has changed on the property. Some trees are bigger, some have fallen, but Ben’s peonies, daffodils, hydrangeas, Joseph and Marys, hostas, false snapdragons, irises, and so many other flowers—a number of which he immortalized in his paintings—are all still here. The buildings are the same (even if the house is larger after our addition in 2005, the view from the studio is the same), and even the surrounding landscape is basically unchanged, save for the dairy farm across the road now has three silos and a milking barn. Mount Haycock, Bucks County highest peak, which Rae said “kept everything in perspective” can still be seen but is somewhat obscured by tall trees miles away. You may be happy to learn that we finally decided to pave our quarter mile driveway and are parking area.

While the studio itself is still intact—indeed it the only intact studio from the Bucks County Golden Age of painting—as you know the walls of the studio, and even sometimes the configuration of the studio changes regularly, just as it did when Ben was alive. We think that is one of the ways it still feels so alive, as the art critic from The Philadelphia Inquirer once wrote, “The charm of [the Studio] is its sense of intimacy and immediacy. Nothing is under glass or roped; rather, it conveys the uncanny feeling that Solowey has just stepped away from his easel and will be back any minute.”

We will be doing things a little different this year. Our new exhibition, “Welcome Back: Celebrating 80 years of Ben Solowey in Bucks County” will open on Saturday, June 4th from 1 – 5 pm, and run Wednesday to Sunday, 1 to 5 pm, through Friday, June 17th. After we will be open by appointment through the summer and the fall.

David Leopold, Director

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