When parents visit campus on Parents Weekend, they will have an opportunity to view three paintings by American Abstract Expressionist painter Cleve Gray in the Perakos Family Cares Art Gallery, dedicated in honor of Wallace H. Rowe III H'57 P'77 '79. The paintings were acquired through the Cleve Gray Foundation and the school’s Visual Arts Advisory Council. Its purpose is to guide the school in its acquisition of works of art to ensure a positive outcome for the school, the potential donor or lender, and the work intended for donation or loan.
Gray is “best known for his calligraphic abstractions which melded elements of Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, and traditional Chinese scroll painting. Often contrasting flat applications of colors with gestural brushstrokes, Gray’s marks appear to float above the picture plane,” according to ArtNet. “His works are held in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York among others.”
He and his wife, the Pulitzer-Prize nominated writer and literary critic Francine du Plessix Gray had a home in Warren, Connecticut, prior to his death in 2004.
After the school was contacted by the Cleve Gray Foundation, Visual Arts Chair Andrew Richards P’20 ’23 and Head of School Peter Becker viewed the artist’s collection, “which is extensive and amazing,” Richards said. The three paintings on view in the art gallery were ultimately selected by Becker and Peter Sutton ’68, former Executive Director of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, and former Director of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. All three are members of the Visual Arts Advisory Council.
“I think it’s important for the students to see the type of work that has been done by some of these artists,” Richards said. “The fact that Cleve Gray was a local artist is an added benefit. He and Mark Rothko were part of the same American Abstract Expressionist movement.”