2012-08-30 / Entertainment

A Lifetime Retrospective Exhibit: Works by Rebecca Merrilees at Studio Place

The Northfield News

Beach Party by Rebecca Merrilees gouache on board, 1970 Beach Party by Rebecca Merrilees gouache on board, 1970 A retrospective exhibit of longtime Northfield resident Rebecca A. Merrilees will be on view from September 13 – 16, 2012, in the main floor gallery at Studio Place Arts (SPA) in Barre. The exhibit chronicles more than 70 years of Rebecca’s creative lifetime, and there will be 45 works on view on the gallery walls.

At 90 years of age and now residing at Mayo Healthcare in Northfield, Rebecca remains dedicated to making art and teaching others about art. She resided at Westview Meadows in Montpelier for several years, where she painted and drew, and organized art exhibits for the facility.

Rebecca received her art education at the American School of Design, Pratt Institute, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and she grew up in an artistic family. Her father, Ralph L. Boyer, was a celebrated artist, being productive as a WPA muralist and recognized as an important member of the “Westport School of Art.” Rebecca’s mother, Rebecca H. Boyer, was also an accomplished painter.

Rebecca’s expansive career includes countless illustrations for print publications, for example, Time-Life Books, Readers Digest (she was the first woman to have a Readers Digest cover in 1961 and went on to have 8 covers); and the Western Publishing Golden Guides (e.g., Trees of North America; Yosemite; Evolution; and Antique American Glass). Her memberships included The American Society of Botanical Artists.

Rebecca is a keen observer of nature and she hop-scotched the globe to survey the natural world for her assignments. Rebecca is an artist’s artist; that is, she has demonstrated great agility with demanding media, such as gouache and casein, and challenging subjects. She is renowned for her paintings of eggs, rocks, and glass.

There are touches of Rebecca’s artwork around Northfield, as she was a relentless supporter of community organizations. She supplied illustrations for the Northfield Historical Society, Brown Public Library, churches, restaurants, schools, and Norwich University. Likewise, her late husband, Douglas Merrilees, left his mark on the region via Norwich University as an industrial engineer, innovative designer, and architect; he was instrumental in the development of the “Made in Vermont” movement. Before that, he was a pioneer in the manufacture and distribution of modular furniture.

Community members are invited to attend an Opening Reception for the exhibit on Friday, September 14, 5:30-7:30PM. Following the SPA exhibition to honor her creative career, Rebecca’s work will be dispersed to museums, historical societies, and other organizations.

Rebecca’s reception will be catered by the Executive Chef from Westview Meadows.

Friends at SPA thank Rebecca Merrilees for sharing her fine art teaching skills and her artwork in SPA exhibits, including this retrospective. In addition, SPA extends sincere thanks for assisting with the retrospective to: Steven H. Atherton; Mark S. Waskow; Westview Meadows; and the Sid & Cecelia Lance Family Foundation.

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