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The History of The Hollycroft Foundation

The Hollycroft Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created in 1991 with IRS status granted the following year. Its financial support depends entirely on income from consultancies, occasional grants, donations, and art-related projects. Hollycroft's by-laws state that its paramount purpose is to "promote awareness of the influence and importance of the arts in [the general public's] daily lives."

The Hollycroft Foundation began quietly in 1991 in the Connecticut village of Ivoryton with a project for the Archives of American Art (Smithsonian Institution): the cataloguing of the valuable archive of the internationally renowned cultural journal theARTgallery. The magazine, which was published at Ivoryton for 26 years, ceased publication in 1983. The deed of gift was executed in 1992 and was funded by a long term grant from the government of Kuwait.

At the Archives of American Art (Smithsonian Institution) in
1992, Hollycroft President William C. Bendig, far left, former
Archives Director (NY) Stephen Polcari, Kuwait's UN
Ambassador Abulhasan and Hollycroft Trustee Dr. Ali al-Tarrah
surround some archival boxes and the deed of gift presented to
the Smithsonian.
As art and cultural pursuits have more recently lost broad support from corporations, even Congress has become hesitant to support many worthy ongoing programs, and non-profit organizations are now being forced to become more vocal and publicly evident in order to survive. The Hollycroft Foundation is striving for greater visibility to fulfill its charter from the State of Connecticut, which aptly states that it is "committed to developing a public awareness of cultural programs."

"The Tennis Players," a life-sized bronze by
popular realist J. Seward Johnson, Jr., was
sited from November '97 until the following
June next to the Town Hall of Clinton, CT
as a part of the Foundation's community
awareness program.

The Foundation was first publicized by a modest exhibition of books drawn from the research library under its care. This hometown show, held at the Essex Public Library, was soon followed by a photographic presentation at Washington's Pentagon and then the more ambitious all-Connecticut "Hollycroft Invitational" sculpture exhibition of 1994.

The "Invitational" was catapulted to major importance in 1995 by the inclusion of a number of internationally acclaimed artists from outside Connecticut. In 1996, the newly titled "Hollycroft International" included artists from abroad as well as throughout America. That exhibition honored the 16th International Sculpture Conference held at the Rhode Island School of Design when conferees came from Providence to enjoy the 120 works drawn from nine states and three countries.

The media has been especially kind. Since 1996 over sixty newspapers, from the Seattle Times and Boston Globe to the Wall Street Journal and Paris' International Herald Tribune have printed generous words, critiques and even cartoons. ABC, CBS and NBC television networks aired news clips, plus three nationwide exposures, including Good Morning America.

Though sculpture may be its most visible claim to fame, lectures by Trustees have been presented as far afield as Wichita, Kansas and Washington's National Gallery. Numerous consultancies range from the Foundation's home state to twenty-one other states.

Another significant project, in cooperation with the Nautilus Museum, Naval Submarine League and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, was a multi-disciplinary teaching guide based on submarines and submersibles. The guide, which includes subject matter from art, language and ecology to mathematics, navigation and the sciences, has yet to be adapted for internet use.

The press has helped spread the Foundation's fame from the Paris International HERALD TRIBUNE to a series of
cartoons by Bill Griffith in newspapers across the nation . Here, Zippy interacts with Howard Kalish's "Knot".

The organization's spectrum of interest is indeed broad. Though it ranges from educational programs to promoting generational interaction through the use of the plastic arts, each program is closely related to strictly cultural pursuits.

Current projects include a series of studio and exhibition visits within a four-state radius. A long-term goal is a sculpture tour abroad under the leadership of Trustee Olivier Bernier, famed for his lectures and stimulating tours around the world for New York's Metropolitan Museum. Mr. Bernier delivered the Hollycroft Lecture at Madison for the 2005-06 season.

As the original literary and art-related materials from the archive of theARTgallery magazine remain in the Foundation's possession, it is proposed that an exhibition in conjunction with the periodical's 55th anniversary be mounted in 2012. This exhibition, which includes original art works, would give irrefutable authenticity to the burgeoning nostalgia for the international art scene of the 60s through 80s.

The Foundation has been responsible for organizing and curating a score of outdoor sculpture exhibitions in twenty Connecticut cities, towns and villages. The most outstanding have been those titled THE SCULPTURE MILE at Ivoryton, Madison, Middletown and West Haven, where a total of over 600 works have been exhibited in public space since 1997.

Viewers were captivated by Hugh Russell's
"floating" steel "Ground State III" in the
1996 Hollycroft International.
The extraordinary "living museum" aspect of the Foundation's programs is unique to Connecticut. This exhibition approach has inspired several communities across the United States to implement similar, smaller efforts. The Foundation has been approached by other communities, and it is hoped that Hollycroft can further expand its programs and thus benefit others by fostering a greater public awareness and appreciation of the importance of art in daily life.

Some of the world's best known sculptors have been represented by over 300 works installed since 1994. Nearly half of the thousands of visitors attending the exhibitions come from the New York metropolitan area. In addition there have been scores of docent-conducted tours for more than 5,000 school children during the past dozen years.

The Hollycroft Foundation does not have an endowment and seeks private donations, grants, and corporate sponsorship to help continue its programs. As a non-profit organization, contributions to Hollycroft are tax deductible.

The Year-Round Exhibition:


Ten years ago the organizer of THE SCULPTURE MILE was escorted through downtown Madison by community enthusiast J. Sanford Davis, who pointed out that the town was devoid of any public sculpture except for the half dozen works he had placed on his own property. The only other sculpture in the town's center were two cast heads on the facade of the Scranton Library.

The Curator felt that installing sculpture would give more meaningful purpose to the parks and walkways and change the center of the town, but few communities the size of Madison can afford to take on the cost of permanent installation of outdoor sculpture on such a scale. Prohibitive expense aside, selection would be an ever-present controversy.

Madison presented an opportunity for a long term program that would fulfill the Foundation's mission as outlined in its State charter: "to develop a public awareness of cultural values through education. Dedicated to affirming that design and the arts influence every facet of our daily lives."

One of the more popular works in the
2002-2003 Madison exhibition was
Philip Grausman's twelve-foot fiberglass
"Victoria." The work has since been
featured in the New York Times and sited
in major venues. A recast of "Victoria"
(the largest aluminum cast ever made, valued at over a million dollars) is in the
collection of the McNay Art Museum
in San Antonio, Texas.
Soon many property owners enthusiastically made sites available and the first full-fledged exhibition covered the entire planned mile in the center of the town with 66 works. The year-round "Living Museum" was so born, and Madison was truly an ideal birthplace. Without cost to taxpayers, citizens and visitors could enjoy contemporary art by professional sculptors, and those artists, in turn, would have the opportunity to exhibit in the appropriate surroundings for at least a full year.

Currently there are 23 works on exhibit in the center of Madison. This exhibition runs year-round and is "refreshed" annually, with nearly half of the sculptures replaced each June. The Trustees of the Foundation are proud that THE SCULPTURE MILE has, in recent years, inspired a score of similar sculpture exhibitions in public spaces across the nation, thus justifying its slogan "America's Premier Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition."

Although other communities across the nation have introduced these similar exhibits, few are so long term and none are as extensive. From the beginning THE MILEs
have been art adventures, often challenging and always evoking the stimulation that important art deserves. They have proven that art, through its influence, can enhance everyday living.

Enthusiastic friends join Foundation President at
Sculpture Sunday in 2002, marking Hollycroft's 10th
anniversary. From left, former legislators Peter Metz and
William A. Aniskovich; Former Madison First Selectman
Tom Scarpati; President Bendig; and NewAlliance Bank
Vice President Paul McCraven.

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Copyright 2006 - 2018 The Hollycroft Foundation. All rights reserved.
The Hollycroft Foundation
Box 278
Ivoryton, CT 06442