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At the Newport Art Museum’s Beaux Arts Ballon Saturday, July 2, 2016, the Museum will recognize the Benson family’s three generations of contributions to American art and design. The gala honorees include master stone carvers John Benson and Nicholas Benson; noted artists Richard Benson, Christopher Benson, Oliver Benson and Samuel Benson; and the late artistic craftsmen Thomas Benson and John Howard Benson and Esther Fisher Benson.
This year’s Beaux Arts Ball is being organized by co-chairs Kristen Coates, Elizabeth Ann Kahane and Molly de Ramel. Guests will gather under a tent for dinner, drinks, and a silent auction, with music by the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra. The festive event will be held on the grounds of the Newport Art Museum located at 76 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. Proceeds will support the Museum’s extensive arts programming and community outreach.
The work of the Benson family has been featured on the CBS Sunday Morning Show and documented in the films Cutting a Quill and Final Marks. Nicholas Benson was featured in the Masters of the Building Arts program of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Pace Matters TED Talk.
John Benson says, “Our family is truly honored by this significant recognition. The Newport Art Museum continues to expose people to the simplicity and clarity of authentic artistic pursuits. The rewards of giving yourself to life in the arts are huge. There is the satisfaction of knowing that your heart and soul go into creating physical objects that others can appreciate beyond your own lifetime.”
He adds, “We are ordinary people. We share a passion for recognizing well-made objects. Our family shared a confluence of genetic and behavioral influences, which bred in us a love of the artistic life. It is a story about a family’s sensitivity to art and a community’s support. In truth it is a story of good luck and hard work.”
Norah Diedrich, the Museum’s Executive Director, notes, “Since its inception in 1912, the focus of the Newport Art Museum and Art Association has been to provide a welcoming and engaging place in which to make, exhibit and discuss art. For many, their Museum experiences have been transformative, evidenced by artistic achievements, creative breakthroughs and self-discovery.” She continues, “At this summer’s Beaux Arts Ball we will celebrate a family who epitomizes the creative spirit embraced and cultivated at the Museum – the Benson family of artists. They have been an important part of the fabric of our Museum and our creative community, and it is a great honor to celebrate their many accomplishments.”
Newport Art Museum’s Board President, Sandra Craig, remarks, “Creativity in families likely occurs when a constellation of factors – genetic and environmental – come together in the right way and at the right moment. Our Museum singularly understands nurturing individual creativity, and hence celebrates the synergy of creative families. A glance at the list of our honored artist families – including the Grosvenors, Manices, Saarinens, and Wrights – bears witness to this.” She continues, “We are thrilled to honor the Benson family of artists. Their artistic oeuvre perfectly exemplifies what happens when those factors, plus originality and non-linear thinking – enlivened by a passion for one’s work and a willingness to take risks – beautifully interact.”
Founded in 1912 as the Newport Art Association, the Newport Art Museum is located at 76 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. The Museum’s galleries feature artworks from its permanent collection in addition to showcasing temporary exhibitions of Rhode Island and the region’s most prominent contemporary artists. The Museum operates galleries in the circa 1864 John N. A. Griswold House, a National Historic Landmark that is the premier Stick Style building designed by Richard Morris Hunt as well as in the Cushing Gallery, built in 1920. The Newport Art Museum educates and inspires a diverse audience by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting historic and contemporary visual arts of the highest quality with an emphasis on the rich heritage of the Newport region, and integrates appreciation for the arts and art-making into all its programs.
For more than 100 years, the Museum has served Rhode Island and regional communities as a cultural gathering place with high-quality exhibitions and programming, and dedication to inclusiveness and individual growth and learning. The Newport Art Museum is one of only 6% of American museums to be fully accredited by the American Association of Museums.
The Newport Art Museum’s collections and exhibitions reflect Rhode Island’s rich cultural heritage and lively contemporary art scene. The Museum’s Minnie and Jimmy Coleman Center for Creative Studies encourages people of all ages and abilities to explore their creativity through art classes, camps, workshops and other educational programming. The Museum teaches art through extensive outreach programs in public schools, social service agencies and private institutions throughout Rhode Island. The Museum also offers concerts, live theatre, art and book talks, family programming and special events throughout the year. For more information visit www.newportartmuseum.org.