This oil on canvas painting by Tom Coates, Bob Ridges, Decoy Duck Maker (40" x 48"), is at the top of Laura Stewart’s “must-see list” in the exhibit. The director of galleries at Georgetown College, Stewart said that John Milward cited this as his personal favorite “and he displays it above his sitting room sofa in the home he shares with his wife, Luanne.”

Georgetown, KY – The opening reception for “A Passionate Pursuit: The Milward Collection” at Georgetown College’s Anne Wright Wilson Fine Arts Gallery was postponed at the beginning of the month when severe weather and tornadoes tore through the state. But, the pieces that this Lexington businessman has amassed are so spectacular the event has been rescheduled for 6-8 p.m., Friday, March 23.

This exhibition, with 75 colorful paintings, pastels, and other works on paper made primarily by English artists working in the 20th-century, as well as exquisitely detailed late 19th- and early 20th-century French bronzes, offers an incredible variety of captivating works of art, all of which encompass less than 10% of one man’s collection.  Said Laura Stewart, the College’s director of galleries, said, “The fact that John Milward continues to pursue his passion for appreciating, collecting, and sharing with others the creations of several exceptional fine artists is truly awe-inspiring.”

For another perspective on the show, read Candace Chaney’s preview in the Lexington Herald-Leader’s arts section.

The “Milward Collection” will be up through April 20 in the Wilson Fine Arts Gallery, corner of College and Mulberry streets. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, noon to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment, 502.863.8399.

Another special event involving the exhibit is a PreK-12 Teacher Workshop: “Portraiture Portals” from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. Pre-registration required; call 502.863.8399.

More on “A Passionate Pursuit”

This exhibition celebrates Lexingtonian John Milward’s passion for collecting art. “A Passionate Pursuit” examines Milward’s quest for amassing bodies of work featuring several artists over the past 30 years, with a focus since 1987 on paintings by artists holding membership in the New English Art Club.

Another Stewart-favorite work in the show is George Claxton's The Patriot Market, “which depicts a run-of-the-mill downtown Lexington building in a way that elevates it to a status worthy of attention by the artist in all of us.” ( 1992, oil on canvas, 18" x 24", photo courtesy Darrell Kincer.)

Exhibition co-curators Juilee Decker and Laura Stewart have selected 75 works, including paintings, prints and other works on paper, as well as bronze sculpture, to tell the story of this collection, a zealous effort that began with the acquisition of prints by sporting artist Sir Alfred James Munnings (1878-1959) and American artist George Claxton (2947-1995) before shifting focus to the work of contemporary English artists.  A catalogue is available and features an introdution written by Peter Trippi, President of the professional organization Historians of British Art and Editor of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, additional essays, and an exhibition checklist.

“A Passionate Pursuit” showcases captivating paintings by established and emerging artists of the New English Art Club, a British art society established in 1886 with a profound commitment to figurative art. Members of the NEAC whose works are central to this exhibition are Tom Coates and John Ward in addition to Peter Brown, Ken Howard, Ruskin Spear, Ben Sullivan, and Leslie Worth. Works by Valery Gridnev, Katya Gridneva, and Mike Reynolds — artists unaffiliated with the NEAC — also comprise the exhibition, along with nineteenth-century French animalier bronze sculptures by P. J. Mene and Isidore Bonheur among others.

Visitors to the exhibition will encounter a number of subjects ranging from global markets and tourist scenes to varied landscapes of city and country; from solo figures in solace to those engaged in craft; from focused self portraits to assemblies of figures captured freely or carefully posed; and interior scenes that oscillate from capture moods of tranquility and contemplation to tempered domesticity.

Many of the artists featured here may be familiar to those involved in the Lexington arts scene, as the work of Coates and Ward played prominently in the recent exhibition (“The British Are Coming! Discover the New English Art Club”) on view at the University of Kentucky in spring 2010. Moreover, a number of artists have exhibited at Lexington’s Cross Gate Gallery. In fact, the Cross Gate connection between gallery founder, Greg Ladd, and John Milward is apparent in the exhibition. The two have developed a relationship through collecting. In remarking on the role and importance of Cross Gate, Milward remarked that Ladd has had a major influence on his own collecting practices, that this collection has been built through the development of their friendship and shared trust over the years. Further commenting on his own development as a collector and how others can start their own collection of art, Milward noted, “I like to think that through these shows someone might get bitten by the bug…[and] that you can start building a collection – you might do one a year.  It can be 10 paintings that you collect over a lifetime that can be special.  Buy what appeals to you, but do your homework and learn about the artist through the help of other collectors or gallery owners.”

“A Passionate Pursuit: The Milward Collection” is the spring highlight of a year-long celebration at the Georgetown College Art Galleries. Dubbed “The Year of the Collector”, many exhibitions in the Anne Wright Wilson Fine Arts Gallery and the Cochenour Gallery, as well as lectures and other ancillary events, will focus on art collecting. The Fall 2012 highlight will be a tenth-anniversary celebration of the Dr. Donald L. and Dorothy Jacobs Collection. To find out about these and other exhibition programs and events, consult the gallery website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter #GCArtGalleries.