2014 Sample Gifts to the Collection

Gershon Benjamin



Woman Reading

Gouache on Paper


2014 Gift from the Gershon Benjamin Foundation

Portrait of Helen Thomson (1700-1768)

Old Master, Scottish

Oval oil on canvas, 18th c

period carved wood gilt oval frame


Helen Thomson, buried at St Nicholas in Aberdeen, Scotland, was the wife of George Skene (Skeen) of Rubislaw (1699-1757, married 1721). She was the daughter of Alexander THOMSON of Portlethen, Advocate and Helin Gregorie, on 17 November 1721 in Saint Nicholas Parish, Aberdeen, Scotland. She was baptised on 23 September 1700 in Saint Nicholas Parish, Aberdeen, Scotland, died on 29 July 1768. George Skene married his mother's step-daughter, since Hellen Thomson's father was the second husband of Katherin Skene nee Aedie. Helen bore two children Helen Skene in 1734 and George Skene in 1736. The Rubislaw estate was demolished in 1886. Its garden contained the Earl Marischal's sundial which was later moved to Schivas House in Aberdeenshire. Helen' portrait is inscribed with the name, dates, and social positon of the sitter.


Gershon Benjamin




oil on board

2014 Gift from the Gershon Benjamin Foundation

Gary Van Vorhees Hudson






Oil on Paper

signed anddated 1971


"Viewing a collection of Hudson paintings is like walking through a garden of song poems. His color melodies make visible frequencies we cannot hear and with a pulsing memorable vitality that replays long after viewing.”  Michele Bechtell, Director of Madison Museum of Fine Art


Born in Auburn, NY, Gary Hudson became a founding father of the American Lyrical Abstract style of the late 1960s and early 70s, extending Modern abstract art to include paintingwhere the artist’s expressive physical touch is always visible.Lyrical Abstraction artists like Hudson looked past popular styles of the era including Minimalism with its bare visual elements, hard edged analytic geometries of Formalism, philosophical underpinnings of Conceptual Art installations, Color Field emphasis on flat areas of color, and Pop Art depicting sociopolitical reflections. In contrast, Lyrical abstract art featured a spontaneous intuitive aesthetic characterized by loose gestural expression, abstract spaces, and vibrant fluid colors using new technologies including spray guns.


Hudson obtained his BFA and MFA from Yale University after an accident as a US Marine left him a paraplegic. Despite physical challenges, he produced monumental works with great success. He exhibited at museums and galleries with other notable artists including Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Al Held. He also served as resident artist and teacher at Yale University, University of California, Pratt Institute, and Victoria and Albert College of Art in Australia. Hudson lived in NYC, California, Kingston, NY, and Aix-en Provence in France, before settling in Madison, Georgia. Hudson’s works are in the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Diego Museum of Art, Asheville Museum of Art, Worcester Museum, Greenville Museum of Art, and Georgia Museum of Art among others.


2014 Gift from Chris Hudson.


Robert Priseman

British b. 1965



Oil on Linen

signed and dated 2003



Robert Priseman is a British artist. Born in Derbyshire, United Kingdom. Priseman studied at the University of Essex. After working as a book designer for 1989-92, he shifted to oil portraits of prominent individuals. In 2004 Priseman began work on the Hospital series, Subterraneans, The Francis Bacon Interiors, No Human Way to Kill, and Gas Chambers series aimed to promote dialogue on controversial psychological and sociopolitical issues.


The paintng titled Maria is a study of a close friend of the artist and his wife - Maria Iacovou, an academic at The University of Cambridge, at the time she was pregnant with her second child. The work prefigures Priseman's shift from individual studies to thematic motifs.

Priseman’s work in held in the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Musée de Louvain la Neuve, Steno Museet, Aarhus, Museum der Universität Basel, Hertford Museum, The Royal Collection Windsor, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Dittrick Museum in Ohio, and The Mead Art Museum in Massachusetts, among others. The artist has exhibited widely at international group and solo exhibitions.

2014 Gift of the Artist

Greg Rook French/British, b. 1971)

The Head, oil on canvas

Genre painter Greg Rook investigates traditional heroic narratives and role models of iconic “past potential futures” to expose potentially dark disturbing aspects of survivalist countercultures, communes, and social experiments from a 21st century anthropological perspective.  Favorite “off-grid” motifs include the American Frontier, Wild West, English Georgia landscape, American Communes, and Soviet social realism. Favorite aesthetic tools include a romantic tinted palette from early Technicolor cinema and vintage illustrations, granularity as a visual filter, mixed techniques, and seemingly familiar fictional yet credible images. In this painting, Rook challenges the notion of masculinity in the American cowboy narrative. 


2014 Gift of the Artist


Julie Umerle

American/ British  b. 1954


Paynes Grey

Acrylic on Linen

signed and dated 2011


Born in Connecticut, USA, to an American father and British mother, Umerle  lives in London and exhibits internationally including exhibitions at Royal Academy of Arts, Barbican Arts Centre, and Christie's. She studied fine art at Falmouth University and obtained her MFA at the Parsons School of Design, New York. Awards include the Gottlieb Foundation, the London Arts Board, and the Arts Council England. 


In 2011, Art critic Jason Stopa for NY Arts Magazine, 2011 observed that "Umerle arrives at her imagery via a hyper formalism that makes no distinction between medium, surface, and support. The formal apparatus is gravity’s gesture, its pull downwards. Illusionistic depth is achieved by the layering of the medium, which is an interesting nod to history. The physicality of the layers bears a relationship to the Baroque curtain; here it is a curtain that is divided into strands of acrylic. It has the effect of suspending time, as the paint tends to conceal and reveal, stretching away from the viewer into infinite space." And in 2009, British art historian Simon Morley stated "Her works seem to evoke a feeling of suspension, as if what we see is a held or frozen moment within an on-going process. This sense of simplicity is achieved through an enormous process of condensation, resulting in a level of clarity and unity that permeates the work." more


2014 Gift of the Artist


Fedele Spadafora

American 21st c


The Conversation

OIl on Canvas

Signed and Dated 2013


After working as a book illustrator in Prague from 1992 to 1998, Spadafora moved to New York City to focus on painting. The Conversation is part of the artist's Prague series exhibited at Slag gallery in NYC in 2013 and reviewed in The New Criterion. It depicts a typical park scene at the base of a monumental communications antenna erected during the Communist era to jam signals from democratic nations of the west. Today, the structure serves as a commercial TV and broadcasting tower. Spadafora's work is held in many private collections in the US, Europe and North Africa. The artist exhibits widely in international group and solo exhibitions.

2014 Gift of the Artist


Naomi Tydeman

British 21st c


Out of the Blue

Watercolor on Paper

Signed and Dated 2014


Award winning British artist Tydeman is best known for her atmospheric naturalistic watercolor seascapes. Her paintings so inspired American Pulitzer-Prize winning poet laureate Mark Strand, that he composed “The Story” for her painting Moon Rise. Her works often balancethe simplicity of lines and circle - the horizon and rising sun or moon - with the complex patterns that water makes in the sand.


Tydeman lets Nature guide her artistic process with no sketches, notes, or photographs. Observes the artist, "Using watercolour to paint with, is like using the elements that Nature uses to create a landscape - pigments and minerals, water, gravity, evaporation and time. And it's when all those things are allowed to operate without intervention from me that I am most happy with the result … “This is scary sometimes… but I have to concede that the most beautiful and spontaneous things occur when nature is left to her own devices... I often feel that I am just allowing Nature to replicate itself on paper, letting water trickle through pigment and using gravity and evaporation to play their parts - in much the same way that a river carries sediment down to the sea.


Awards include the Turner Watercolour Award from the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI), Winsor and Newton Prize,  John Blockley Prize, and Frank Herring Prize.

Moonrise poem


2014 Gift of the Artist

James Dodds

British b 1957


Red Boat


Signed and Dated 2014


British artist James Dodds glorifies the rhythmic lyric aesthetic of the marine vessel. His iconic simplified images of boats memorialize their sensual masculine functional structure and elegant feminine curves, elevating the objects of transport to works of art.


In woodblock Red Boat, Dodds portrays the stately lines of the clinker-built boat, also called lapstrake-planked boat, from his memory of the barge he helped to build as a young apprentice shipwright. The natural grain of the wood panel evokes a subconscious memory of the interplay of water and wood in the life of a boat.


Dodds’ work is held in the Britten-Pears Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Chelmsford Museum, Essex Museum, and Horniman Museum. For his preservation of local heritage, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex.


Jo Howe



Distortion of Time

Mixed Media




Jo Howe wields new meaning from old manuscripts by transforming them into sculptural objects. Her artistic process produces aesthetic works that invite the viewer to engage on an intuitive level, explores frustration in communication gaps, and expresses the difficulty of speaking without being heard and the ability to listen actively or ineffectively.


Apart from studio art, Howe serves as director and trustee of the Digswell Arts Trust. She also works with young people with Special Educational Needs. And she  serves as creative practitioner for the Royal Opera House.


Works by Howe are held in the British East Contemporary Art Collection.


Kirsty O’Leary (British, 21st c)


Best known for her sublime mesmerizing intricate pencil drawings of landscapes and seascapes, O'Leary deftly captures visible and invisible elements in nature such as extreme light and variation of focus. The purity of her work rests in her media and virtuoso draftsmanship. Contrary to traditional practice, the artist eschews paper as medium since the textured surface often becomes part of the experience of the drawing.  Rahter,  O’Leary sprays a wooden board with gesso and sands the surface until smooth. Then using a hard #14 pencil, she builds her images with tiny marks embedded in the gesso.


O’Leary originally trained as an illustrator and worked in publishing. Her work is held in the Swindon Art Museum and the East Contemporary Art Collection of University Campus Suffolk. She was featured on the BBC2 Art competition and wa awarded the Juried Select Winner for Drawing at Artslan.



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