Caldbeck presented a significant solo exhibition of Wissemann-Widrig’s work in the summer of 2020: “A PLACE ON THE WATER” Paintings from Maine, 1968 -1975.
Click here for link to: Wissemann-Widrig ecatalog A PLACE ON THE WATER 2020
This group of paintings by Nancy Wissemann-Widrig, made over a period in the late 1960s and early 1970s focus on an important muse – a simple cottage on the banks of the St. George’s River in Cushing, Maine. In the first years, before converting an out-building to a studio, Wissemann-Widrig would set up her easel inside – upstairs in the dormitory bedroom, on the porch, in the living room while her family played cards – capturing a narrative of the cottage’s history: who had lived there before and how her family came to occupy it. There is clarity and delight in her images of the cottage’s interior with its jumble of rocking chairs, stuffed owls and the random flotsam of several generations of casual accumulation. She peopled this found environment with her own family including herself with them as both unseen witness and constant presence. The cottage was a place of refuge in an agitated world, particularly in the tumultuous summers of 1968 and 1969. The solace it provided from political upheaval is reflected in the work. Though widely shown in New York and elsewhere, this group of paintings has never been presented in Maine before this homecoming exhibition.
Wissemann-Widrig first set foot in Cheerio cottage in 1968, where she and her husband, the painter John Wissemann, still spend their summers. Her connection to Maine had begun much earlier at graduate school where she met Helen Friend of Skowhegan. Nancy and Helen moved to New York together and shared a loft on 28th street sub-let from painter Charles Duback. The upstairs neighbors included sculptor Bernard Langlais, whom Helen would later marry. Helen and Blackie Langlais were part of a group of New York artists who would gravitate to Maine in the sixties, and the Wissemanns became frequent visitors, settling down the road in Cushing by the end of the decade. They would continue to split their time between eastern Long Island and Maine for the ensuing fifty plus years.
Wissemann-Widrig’s engagment with realism integrates elements of modernist and more traditional painting. Her land and seascapes revel in the play of light on her subjects – to which she often has a strong emotional connection. Critic Gerritt Henry described her as paying “homage to the elusive yet tangible beauties of nature run amok”.
Perhaps best known in Maine for her water paintings, included in the permanent collections of both the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Museum of Art, Wissemann-Widrig was represented in New York by the Tibor de Nagy Gallery from 1974-1984 and by the Tatischeff Gallery from 1984-1998. She has shown her work in Maine at the Caldbeck Gallery since 1985 and at Maine Coasts Artists, now the Center for Maine Contemporary Art since since 1974, as well as numerous other galleries and institutions. Her awards include Who’s Who of American Women, the Childe Hassam Fund Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Outstanding Realist from the Albright Knox Art Gallery.
To view more work by Wissemann-Widrig, please visit www.wissemann-widrig.com