The Day: “100 Years of Mystic as Muse”

by Sharma Howard, Special to The Day

The riverside nook the Mystic Museum of Art overlooks seems indelible to those who know Mystic. This venerable organization gives off an air of elegance, history and unruffled permanence.

And while this is all true – the Mystic Museum of Art turns 100 this year – its beginnings didn’t seem so auspicious.

First, the site was purchased during the Depression by a group of artists who were undeterred by the economic grimness and the industrial surroundings of the site.

The artists prevailed to erect a building that was proportional and pleasing.

When the doors opened in 1931, the artists were just finishing the last details before their first exhibit in their own gallery, and they frantically pulled plants from their own gardens, with one rolling up his entire lawn to make the grounds more aesthetic.

“The history of the people is one of great passion and vision and generous spirit,” said Noelle King, the centennial curator for the Mystic Museum of Art. “That has kept it going, and Mystic has managed to keep it going – that creative spirit and generosity.”

The Mystic Museum of Art first formed as an artists’ colony of Impressionists. During its history, the Mystic Museum of Art, formerly known as the Mystic Art Association, can count some noted painters among them, such as J. Alden Weir, Henry Ward Ranger and Robert Brackman.

In King’s mind, the Mystic Museum of Art can trace its inception from a cascade of unusual attributes: the talent of a young artist, a poet who believed in him, and the singular act of faith and benevolence from a well-to-do manufacturer of carriages.

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