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October 4, 2012

Tribute to a founder: Rockport Art Association salutes Hibbard with retrospective

Rockport Art Association show celebrates Aldro T. Hibbard

Impressionistic master Aldro T. Hibbard (1886-1972), the consummate painter, helped lead the tiny seaside town of Rockport to a place where it would gain a national reputation as a New England art colony with the founding of the Rockport Art Association in 1921.

Now celebrating the end of its 90th yearlong celebration, the Rockport Art Association has organized the largest retrospective exhibition with 114 works of this artist who was both a gregarious resident and dedicated teacher and plein air painter. He earned the coveted designation of National Academician.

The retrospective, which includes many works not previously exhibited, opens with a gala preview party on Friday and officially opens Saturday.

Hibbard, who died at the age of 86, had the stature of an athlete and an offer to play professional baseball. However, he chose to flex his muscles in honing his artistic talents and became one of America’s foremost painters, though he remained active in local baseball circles.

“He’s best known and most admired for his snow scenes, and is widely regarded as one of the traditional painters who was most successful in capturing the rhythms of the New England landscape,” said Erica E. Hirshler, Croll senior curator of American Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Museum of Fine Arts has three Hibbards in its collection, all of them snow scenes of Vermont.

“His snowscapes are faithful to the scenes they depict, but they are also harmonious arrangements of form and shape, enlivened by thick strokes of paint that mimic the drifts and furrows of the snow they represent,” said Hirshler. “One of my favorites uses hints of blue and pink to indicate different lights on the snow, and the hillside is enlivened by the deep tracks of the artist’s own footprints as he found the perfect spot to paint.”

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