OGUNQUIT — A teacher’s dream exhibit is found in the exciting works currently showing at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in its central gallery titled,”Dahlov Ipcar: Creative Growth.” The collection of childhood works by Ipcar was first shown in a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1939.
The exhibit will come down June 28. Therefore, I hope educators, parents with children, and art lovers will make plans to see it right away. This is an important exhibit because it shows the early development of Ipcar’s creative growth and focuses on the importance of art created by children. It is never too soon to encourage a child to be creative and this exhibit shows it.
Dahlov Ipcar grew up in a family where creativity was a priority. Both her parents were artists. Her mother, Marguerite Zorach, was a painter, created tapestries, and was an important figure in the Modern Art Movement in the 1930s. Her father, William Zorach, also painted and became a famous sculptor whose many subjects often included members of his family. Dahlov and her brother, Tessim, were often subjects in his work.
Dahlov lived surrounded by art and was depicted in art herself. She was encouraged to be creative and started drawing and painting at the ages of 3 and 4. Her parents did not give her any formal instruction but encouraged her to create on her own
In fact, Dahlov’s father started saving her drawings and paintings at the age of 4 through the age of 21. In 1939 her childhood art was shown at the Museum of Modern in Art in New York in a solo exhibit.These are the works which are now shown at the Ogunquit Museum.
There are four sections to the exhibit. Section one, created circa 1921, shows 18 crayon drawings created around the ages of 4 and 5, matted in a group, but unframed. Section two focuses on 41 paintings of animals created circa 1929-1930 using poster paint. Section three — focusing on people and political and social upheaval events — was created in pastels circa 1933-1934. Several works in this section show reflections of World War I using stark realism of fallen soldiers. The fourth section deals with clay ceramics created in New York where she had access to a kiln at the City and Country Day School, a progressive elementary school which she attended.
This unusual exhibit was hung chronologically and creatively by Larry Hayden and Kevin Callahan. It is hung in what is called the European style, where works of art are hung directly above each other in layers on the wall. The exhibit’s importance to art scholars and educators who love the work of Dahlov Ipcar is beyond words. The focus on childhood art not only shows the artist’s development, but encourages children of all ages to create art and shows them that their art is important.
Born in 1917, Dahlov began life as World War I broke out and her early paintings were created just before World War II. Television did not exist during that time. The printed word, movies and radio played an important role in her life. She was an avid reader and often went to the New York Public Library. She spent her childhood winters in New York and her summers in Maine.
She loved the book, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, and some of her early teenage drawings reflect images in huge pastels from reading that book. Posters and painted signs were important ways of communicating during that period. So you will see some works that look like posters which Dahlov did during the 1930s in the exhibit.
Another work in the exhibit of significance is “Reindeer Train,” created in crayon on paper in 1920 at the age of 4. A favorite work in the exhibit is “Fire Engine,” created in poster paint in 1931 at the age of 14. Both works can be found in my book for teachers and children,“Dahlov Ipcar; Artist,” published by Maine Authors Publishing of Thomaston, Maine.
All the works in the exhibit are compelling. However, two other works in the exhibit of significance include: “Going to Market,” an oil on paper created in 1931, and “Italian Sailers” an oil on paper also created in 1931.
Andres Verzosa, former interim director of the Ogunquit Museum, who originally arranged the Ipcar exhibit last summer and winter, said in an interview: “The installation offers a fresh look at patterns and themes that arise from the work of a young and creative mind with forays into Realism and what Dahlov later called non-intellecual Cubism, where later her prancing animal figures overlap on the surface of a geometric grid beneath her images.” Verzosa continued, “Organizing the exhibit was not only an honor and privilege, but a labor of love.” This exhibit focuses on Dahlov’s early work where her designs are simple and straightforward but led to her more sophisticated style as she matured.
Don’t miss the exhibit, “Dahlov Ipcar: Creative Growth.” It is a must-see show of the season. It reflects the youthful spirit of one of Maine’s most beloved artists, children’s book authors and poets. Dahlov died Feb. 10 at the age of 99; however she lives on in her work.
The museum, 543 Shore Road, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Adults are $10; seniors and students $9, and children under 12 free.
Dahlov Ipcar, “Fire Engine,” poster paint, 24″ x 36,” 1931.