Nick Benson, The Anonymous Portrait, 2021, enamel on stainless steel panels, 12' x 9'

“Book as Muse: Language & Image” Jamestown Arts Center’s 11th Annual Summer Soirée Friday, June 30th

The 11th Annual JAC Summer Soirée celebrates the opening of the “Book as Muse: Language & Image” exhibition with a gala fundraising event on Friday, June 30th, 7-10pm; the Champagne pre-party begins at 6 pm.

“Book as Muse: Language & Image” examines creative unions between visual art, communication, and the written word, asking ‘how do artists engage with literature, poetry, and text to reimagine and communicate meaning?’

The Soirée will include DJ and dancing, raw bar, cocktails, and summer savories and treats. Unique live auction items include cocktails at Clingstone, a private polo lesson, a sail aboard 46’ Sloop Flood Tide, a Luke Randall print, and a bevy of experiential offerings.

Invited attire is book themed – black, white and red all over. Tickets are $225 ($200 for JAC members), $325 including Champagne pre-party ($300 for JAC members) and can be purchased at and Benson, The Anonymous Portrait, 2021, enamel on stainless steel panels, 12′ x 9′

The exhibition, curated by Jeff Foye and Danielle Ogden, examines the work of ten artists – Nick Benson, Lesley Dill, Karin Gielen, Joan Hall, Andy Li, Rupert Nesbitt, Toby Sisson, Buzz Spector, Coral Woodbury, and Jo Yarrington – whose artwork in the exhibition has notable literary influences. Their work showcases the legacy, range, and creative unions between art and the written word. Mediums range from sculpture, installations, painting, digital works, mixed media, embroidery, works on paper, and a 10’ x 10’ outdoor mural.

Curator Danielle Ogden shares, “Today’s fast-paced digital age has radically altered the way we take in information. Articles are modified into tweets, emojis are substitutions for opinions, and the most complicated socio-political commentary is distilled to a meme. While technology advances and pulls us away from our basic ability to communicate, this exhibition aims to deepen our appreciation for both visual art and the written word’s powerful ability to communicate.”

To enhance the “Book as Muse” experience, the JAC has partnered with the Providence Public Library where four display vitrines will be filled with their special collection’s historical books, illustrations, and first editions of professional lettering manuals that create a direct connection with the artwork on view at the JAC.

Jeff Foye explains, “While the gallery exhibition at the JAC is artwork responding to books and the written letter, the display held at Providence Public Library are books as artwork and visual culture. The two installations mirror each other.”

An example of this complementary direct connection is a piece by Rubert Nesbitt “I Want to Be a Real Rabbit” (2023), that was inspired by the book, “The Velveteen Rabbit.” On display at the Providence Public Library is a first edition “The Velveteen Rabbit” (by Margery Williams, published in 1922). There are also books on calligraphy and the design relationship between lettering, words, and art, which is what Nick Benson’s work in the exhibition examines. Benson, a third generation stone carver at The John Stevens Shop in Newport, is a professional letterer and is meticulous about the legibility of his inscriptions, but when wearing his artist hat, he intentionally calls that legibility into question.

The “Book as Muse: Language & Image” exhibition will show June 30 through August 24, 2023.




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