The Kennedy Center calendar has an interesting back story and the cause couldn’t be more worthy, but I have to say, I’m in it for the art.
The artwork featured in the calendar is just plain good. It arises from its art therapy program that focuses on special-needs individuals. And what comes out seems naive at first blush, but then asserts itself as insightful and color-savvy.
I don’t get too much into art criticism here, but let me take a stab at analyzing the Unique Perspectives art, which is also for sale framed or in holiday card form. (They’ve long since replaced my Met Museum Renaissance-Period Christmas cards.)
From the very first calendar in 1983, which depicted two deer grazing in a field, the trees were reduced to tall black silhouettes with plum, violet and deep blue forms, suggesting the chill of a morning sunrise in winter. The male appears to be aware of the onlooker while his companion is feeding, blissfully unaware of an intruder. The painting by Carmella Vallelunga, and included in an introductory page of this year’s edition, foreshadows the next 28 years of creative output. People’s Bank printed out 35,000 copies that year and they were available in all its branches.
Since then, their work has been exhibited alongside Maurice Sendak’s work at the Homer Babbidge Library, and in private galleries, juried shows and corporate or government spaces such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Connecticut State Capitol, General Electric, HealthNet, Cooper Union, the Outsider Art Show and the Silvermine.
I went to last night’s reception at the space that bridges People’s United Bank, whose foundation still underwrites the calendar, and the Barnum Museum and saw the Kennedy Center’s supporters and its clients. It was a proud moment for everyone.