The exhibit entitled “Dear James,” currently on view in the Davis Family Library Atrium exhibit cases, was curated by Emmie Donadio, Asst. Curator of the Middlebury College Art Museum, in collaboration with Special Collections, and mounted in the Library by Ms. Donadio and Special Collections Assistant Curator Danielle Rougeau.
The artist Ben Schonzeit wrote daily letters to his son, James Schonzeit, Middlebury Class of 2010, during James’s four years at Middlebury, and on each envelope he painted a portrait. The work came to the notice of Emmie Donadio who approached Special Collections to consider an exhibition of these unique and beautiful works for the entire Middlebury community to enjoy in the Davis Library Atrium, one of the highest traffic areas on campus. Mounted in mid-May, the exhibit was on display in time for Commencement week when James Schonzeit’s classmates and their families could admire these extraordinary watercolor paintings. The exhibit, which continues to make a great impression on Library visitors, will be on display through the end of July with a possible extension through mid-August, after which the materials will be returned to the Schonzeit family.
Ben Schonzeit is the subject of a handsome monograph: Ben Schonzeit, Paintings, by Charles A. Riley II [NY; Harry N. Abrams, 2002], and he maintains a website at www.benschonzeit.com. None of the portraits is reproduced in the monograph, but the website may have examples of his portrait paintings.
[This post was contributed by Andrew M. Wentink, Curator, Special Collections & Archives.]