Lee Lufkin was fascinated by faces and William Jurian Kaula by clouds. The two met in France in 1897. They bonded over their love of painting and married in 1902. The couple settled in Boston, where Lee became a portraitist and William a landscape painter. The couple had no children — their paintings were their babies and their all-consuming mutual passion.
An exhibit at Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield celebrates this artistic and domestic partnership. William’s plein air works, created around New England, especially in New Ipswich, N.H., where the Kaulas had a summer home, hang alongside portraits of Lee’s intimate and lifelike portraits of women and children, posing in interior settings, wearing fashionable clothes.
William spent hours sketching cloud formations and was especially drawn to fluffy cumulus clouds, which he painted as a majestic backdrop to wooded landscapes he created at all times of the year, chronicling the passage of time. At other times, William focused on details of the landscape: a broken fence by a riverside, shadows cast by trees, unchanging streams in the midst of changing terrain.
During this era, female artists were encouraged to pursue portrait or still life, which could be created in the home, rather than landscapes or plein air, which would require them to go outside. This societal imposition wasn’t the reason Lee chose this genre of painting; she truly enjoyed creating portraits.
Her pleasure in her work is reflected in the lively clothing and expressive faces of her subjects: a girl in a Dutch lace cap; a child in a flowered wedding bonnet; a woman in a floral dress and black lace jacket, her hand resting in an elegant hatbox; a beautiful, worried-looking woman against a drab backdrop; a woman draped in a pink shawl and holding a pink rose, the vivid color almost jumping off the canvas.
As skilled as William’s landscapes are, it’s not easy to tear the eyes away from Lee’s portraits.
TWO LIVES, ONE PASSION: AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST PAINTINGS AND SKETCHES BY WILLIAM JURIAN KAULA AND LEE LUFKIN KAULA is at Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, part of the Springfield Museums complex at 21 Edwards St. in Springfield until Sept. 9. springfieldmuseums.org.
On Other Walls
“Memory, Metamorphosis and Myth,” a show of work by Joseph Saccio, and the group show “All Things Natural” are two new exhibits opening at Five Points Gallery, 33 Main St. in Torrington, on July 12 and running through Aug. 18. The eight artists in the group show are Frank Bramble, Charles Dmytriw, Joan Fitzsimmons, Charles Malzenski, John Swedock and Merle Temkin. An opening reception will be July 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. fivepointsgallery.org.
On July 12, New London will add an item to its downtown public art collection: a sculpture by Renee Rhodes featuring a 25-foot gaff-rigged yardarm flagpole and a life-size bronze of Athena, protector of cities. The dedication will take place at noon at the corner of Pearl Street and Eugene O’Neill Drive. A reception will follow at RD86, across the street, at 86 Golden St.
The Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry in Storrs opens two exhibits on July 14: “Spiffy Pictures: Adventures in Television Animation” and “Frank Ballard into the 80s: Babes in Toyland, The Blue Bird, and The Fantasticks,” with a free tour of the shows at 12:30 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through Oct. 7. bimp.uconn.edu.
Eckert Fine Art in Kent presents “Summer in Litchfield County,” a group exhibit of work by Henry Moore, John Chamberlain, Norman Bluhm, Eric Forstmann and Don Gummer, from July 14, opening with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m., until Aug. 12. eckertfineart.com.