MANCHESTER — For nine decades, Al Hirschfeld’s art defined the world of the performing arts primarily through his drawings of productions on Broadway and in Hollywood. He captured the first half century of television and recorded more musicians than any record, CD, or mp3. Now, a unique gallery of his drawings and prints comes to Manchester for a limited time. The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, in partnership with Art Manchester and THE MILL in East Arlington, presents a pop-up gallery of some of the immortal artist’s pieces in the center of town.
The Al Hirschfeld Foundation pop-up gallery will be located in the Art Manchester space at 4802 Main Street at the intersection of Main Street and Depot Street and open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and by appointment into October. Here, The Foundation will offer for sale a selection of the artist’s iconic works that spotlight entertainment figures in television, stage, and screen including works that have never been exhibited before. “Hirschfeld was the best at what he did,” says David Leopold, Creative Director for The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, “he was the only one who did what he did. We are bringing more than 50 works to Manchester for this special showing.”
The mission of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation is to promote interest in the theater and dramatic arts by supporting not-for-profit museums, libraries, theaters, and similar cultural institutions. Working with the New York City Board of Education, in 2008, The Foundation created a K-12 curriculum utilizing Hirschfeld’s life and art, which it will soon take nationwide. The Foundation also fulfills its mission by mounting exhibitions of Al Hirschfeld’s artworks at museums and other venues and by donating or lending Al Hirschfeld’s artworks to such organizations. More than 6,000 images of Hirschfeld’s art can be seen on The Foundation’s website at www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org.
Formed in 2017, THE MILL is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to foster collaborations (on both the individual and organizational levels) with the purpose of developing revolutionary ideas in the arts and humanities. These multi-disciplinary initiatives are coupled with youth education, mentorship, and supportive infrastructure. THE MILL in East Arlington, Vermont was built in 1764 by Remember Baker, and today is an emerging arts campus that includes performance space, a sound studio, event space, and gallery. Founder Joshua Sherman partnered with Art Manchester and envisioned the art works of Hirschfeld as a gallery in Manchester. Sherman is a board member of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation.
The public is invited to an opening reception of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation exhibition on Aug. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the gallery. In attendance will be one of Hirschfeld’s subjects, Treat Williams, who is appearing in a stage performance of American Buffalo at Dorset Theatre Festival beginning on Aug. 24.
Art Manchester’s additional pop-up galleries, which opened at the end of June, remain in their locations. Visitors can find the Vermont Glass Guild at 483 Depot Street, The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers and Mettowee Makers at 3556 Main Street, and artists of Southern Vermont Arts Center have moved into 32 Center Hill Road at the corner of Center Hill Road and Depot Street.
ABOUT ART MANCHESTER: Art Manchester is dedicated to promoting the vibrant arts community of Vermont. With pop-up gallery locations in the town of Manchester, artists from around the state are represented for visitors to explore. In association with Manchester Life Magazine, the organization fosters the arts in a variety of medium throughout the year for the enjoyment of the community. www.artmanchestervermont.com
ABOUT AL HIRSCHFELD: Al Hirschfeld (1903 – 2003)
Al Hirschfeld’s drawings stand as one of the most innovative efforts in establishing the visual language of modern art through caricature in the 20th century. A self-described “characterist,” his signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, appeared in virtually every major publication of the last nine decades (including a 75 year relationship with The New York Times) as well as numerous book and record covers and 15 postage stamps.
Hirschfeld said his contribution was to take the character, created by the playwright and portrayed by the actor, and reinvent it for the reader. Playwright Terrence McNally wrote, “no one ‘writes’ more accurately of the performing arts than Al Hirschfeld. He accomplishes on a blank page with his pen and ink in a few strokes what many of us need a lifetime of words to say.”
He is represented in many public collections, including The Metropolitan, the Whitney, the National Portrait Gallery, and Harvard’s Theater Collection. Hirschfeld authored several books including Manhattan Oases and Show Business is No Businessin addition to ten collections of his work. He was declared a Living Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1996 and a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.
Just before his death in January 2003, he learned he was to be awarded the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts and inducted into the Academy of Arts and Letters. The winner of two Tony Awards, he was to be given the ultimate Broadway accolade on what would have been his 100th birthday in June 2003: the Martin Beck Theatre was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.