Chesnutt Retrospective Opens Jan. 29

Chesnutt.jpgThe first show of the year for the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American art will also be the first show to grace the walls of the newly titled Geist Gallery and Yancey Gallery, named for the institution’s co-founders, Dr. Joe Geist and Tom Yancey.

The rooms will each feature a new exhibit, which will run from January 29 through April 13, excluding a spring break closing from March 12-18. The Geist Gallery will play host to the Bingham Trail Exhibit, featuring mostly works by Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham. The exhibit will feature works from the Gallery’s permanent collection and other sources.

The main feature of the show, however, is the Memorial Retrospective for Florence “Winky” Chesnutt Friedrichs in the Yancey Gallery. Chesnutt, who passed away in September at the age of 96, was a prolific artist who worked in multiple media, most notably painting and creating copper renditions of saints and archangels.

Though the Gallery exhibit will focus mostly on her own artwork, Chesnutt may well be most remembered for her contributions to her communities throughout the stages of her life. After earning a degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studying in London, Frankfurt, and New York City, she eventually settled down to raise a family in Iowa. There, she maintained a studio and was a prolific artist, holding art exhibits as her family grew.

When the family moved to Louisiana, Chesnutt was instrumental in creating multiple art-related programs. She helped found the St. Tammany Art Association in Covington, which still thrives to this day, and she played a key role in the art teaching program for schoolchildren at the Mandeville City Hall.

In both Louisiana and Missouri, where she eventually moved to care for both her father and the historic home owned by her family, Chesnutt was always actively involved in historic programs and events. While living in Pleasant Green, she co-founded the Cooper County Historical Society and helped create its research center. Those projects, along with her support of the Katy Trail State Park and sponsorship of the nationally recognized “Slave Dwelling Project,” earned her multiple recognitions over the years. Chesnutt was a recipient of the Boonville Tourism Hall of Fame Award, the National Daughters of the American Revolution Historical Preservation Medal, and the McReynolds Award from the Missouri Preservation Honor Awards.

Chesnutt’s paintings, along with the Bingham Trail Exhibit will be on display in the Gallery from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Appointments to visit the Gallery can also be made by calling 660-248-6304. The Gallery is located on the first floor of Classic Hall on the Central Methodist University campus in Fayette.

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