Discovering Rex Brasher – Connecticut’s ‘Audubon’ - Kent Art Association Event, Saturday, June 16

Kent Art Association (KAA) Board member Karen Chase will give the second in a series of lectures titled “Discovering Our Founders” as part of the KAA’s 95th Anniversary Celebration. Mrs. Chase’s talk is on the artist Rex Brasher (1869-1960), who has been called by some “Connecticut’s Audubon.” The talk will be on Saturday, June 16th at 3:00 p.m. at the KAA Gallery at Kent at 21 South Main Street in Kent, CT.

Rex Brasher was unique among the founding members of the Kent Art Association. He painted birds, almost exclusively. As boy growing up in a much wilder Brooklyn, NY, Brasher spent hours studying birds under the tutelage of his father, Philip Marston Brasher, a Wall Street broker with a passion for birds. His father’s passion became Brasher’s obsession, and he set for himself the goal of painting all the birds of North America.

Mrs. Chase will discuss how Brasher spent half a century painting all of the birds on the American Ornithologists Checklist, why he destroyed his entire body of work twice and added the trees on the third try. She will recount some of his adventures while studying birds in the wild and the interesting ways he financed his trips around the country. In 1928, after completing the 874 watercolors that had over 1,100 species and sub-species of birds, 3,000 individual bird portraits, 80% of which are life size, plus 350 species of trees, he had the problem of finding them a permanent home. It wasn’t until 1941 that the State of Connecticut purchased Brasher’s 874 watercolors of the Birds and Trees of North America for $74,000. Mrs. Chase will also recount how, after finding it too expensive to reproduce them in color, Brasher had them done in black and white, and hand colored over 100,000 prints that he bound into sets of 12 volumes each and sold by subscription.

Carl Rettenmeyer, the former Director of the Connecticut Natural History Museum, said, “Brasher painted more birds than anyone has ever done or will ever do. He painted double the number painted by James Audubon or Louis Agassiz Fuertes.” And Dr. T. Gilbert Pearson, an early president of the Audubon Society, said of Brasher’s paintings, “Brasher’s bird paintings are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. When you have seen a Rex Brasher bird, you have seen the bird itself, lifelike in natural attitudes.”

The June 16 talk at 3:00 p.m. on Brasher is free; donations are welcome.

Currently showing at the Gallery is the Elected Artist and Solo Show. The next lecture in this series will be on Saturday, July 14, at 3:00 p.m. Amy Kurtz Lansing from the Florence Griswold Museum will talk on the artist Robert Nisbet. The President’s Show opens on June 30 with an Opening Reception and Awards presentation from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. For more information call (860) 927-3989, or visit online.