Works in oil by William Sommerfeld will be a virtual exhibit on the Jessie Edwards Gallery website through March. Sommerfeld was born in 1905 in Pittsburgh, PA. He studied art at the Leighton Art School and Wisconsin State Teachers College. In the late 1920’s, he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League. In the 1930’s he started a custom framing business in Greenwich Village which he later sold to devote more time to his painting. In the 1940’s during World War II, Sommerfeld drew more than 500 portraits of servicemen during his tour of duty with the USO Camp Shows in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. During the 1950’s Sommerfeld and his family began visiting Block Island for summer vacations and some of the paintings are views of the island painted during those holidays.
“Old Harbor Dock View” is a view of the buildings on Water Street seen from the docks at Old Harbor. Another view from the docks looks up at the old Ocean View Hotel, which sat on the hill above where the Post Office building is now. Similarly, “Old Harbor from the Pier” is a view across the water looking up at the Harbor Baptist Church on the hill above the Old Harbor dock.
“Grey Sea and Rocks” could be any part of the Block Island coast where boulders and the sea merge. “Block Island Porch” is a view from a weathered old porch of the fields beyond. “Distant View of Calla Anderson’s House” looks across rolling hills and fields in tones of green and grey to a farmhouse in the distance. Grey is also the dominant tone in “Connecticut Farm on a Cloudy Day,” a scene of a farmhouse, barn, and outbuildings set against a tree-covered hillside under a dark, lowering sky.
Other works in the exhibit are views of New York City, where Sommerfeld lived before moving to Washington, Connecticut. “Central Park in Winter” is a scene of snow- covered boulders in the foreground against the tall buildings beyond. “Central Park Underpass” shows the converging paths through the park, again with the tall buildings of Central Park West in the background. In “Tugboat and Barge,” the red barge and white tugboat are anchored in the foreground against a cloudy sky.
There are also two still lifes included in the exhibit. In “Lemons,” three lemons sit in a pewter bowl on a table, and “Fish Unwrapped” is a view of three fish in blue arrayed on a white paper wrapper. Perhaps the artist picked these fish up from a local market on his way to work in his studio.
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