Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERLarry Miley with an untitled work by Jane Conneen, a hand-painted etching of a dandelion, measuring 1- in. x 2- in. Copyright - © Ed Courrier PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERLarry Miley with an untitled work by Jane Conneen, a hand-painted etching of a dandelion, measuring 1- in. x 2- in. Copyright - © Ed Courrier

It’s a small world after all at Baum School of Art

Thursday, September 20, 2018 by Ed Courrier Special to The Press in Focus

Juxtaposed with the Impressionistic, energetic, stream-of-consciousness work of Barnaby Ruhe, the exquisitely-detailed artwork of the late miniature artist, Jane Walker Conneen (1921–2008), graces the walls of The Baum School of Art’s Rodale Family Gallery.

Conneen’s “It’s a Small World” exhibit featuring her tiny etchings opens Sept. 20 with a shared reception with Ruhe’s “Regenesis” exhibit, 6 - 9 p.m. Both exhibitions conclude Oct. 20 with a shared closing reception, 6 - 9 p.m. Oct. 18.

States Baum School Gallery Director Kris Kotsch of the Conneen exhibition: “Her tiny, brightly-colored, hand-painted etchings, some no bigger than a postage stamp, pack a visual punch. From accurately-detailed botanicals, including wild flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, to Victorian architecture, charming farms and rural Ireland, her work evokes a sense of comfort and awe, familiarity and simplicity.”

Baum School of Art Executive Director Shannon Fugate says that when she examined the artwork closely, she noticed that many of the copper plates Conneen etched had been cut into shapes that created a delicate embossed outline around the subjects. The artist hand-colored each etching with opaque watercolor or gouache.

Larry Miley, a Baum School of Art trustee and Conneen’s son-in-law, says her interest in creating small-scale art began after Conneen, an only child, inherited an elaborate dollhouse from her mother. “Somewhere along the way, she decided that she could do little botanical drawings for the house,” he says, adding that furnishing the dollhouse was the inspiration for her work in miniatures.

Conneen also collected, then created miniature books with her tiny etchings of subjects she knew best from herbs and plants to architecture and scenes of her travels.

As a member of the Miniature Book Society, she won a distinguished book award for her 2-in. x 2-½-in. book, “Winding Roads of Ireland,” in 1990. A large collection of Conneen’s miniature books and other memorabilia are archived at Lafayette College’s Skillman Library.

The artist spent most of her childhood in France when her parents joined other American expatriates there in the 1920s. She returned to the United States when she was 13.

Conneen and her husband Joe purchased a stone farmhouse in Moore Township. It became her studio after she began taking a correspondence course through the Connecticut-based Famous Artists School. The couple raised three children, Mary Jane, Joseph Jr., and Mimi.

Mimi Conneen Miley was curator of the Allentown Art Museum and was married to fellow arts advocate Larry Miley at the time of her death in 1995.

Larry Miley is to be honored at the Baum School’s annual Gala fundraiser Oct. 20.

The Baum School of Art was bestowed with a substantial collection of Conneen’s work through a donation by the Conneen family. Included in the collection are hundreds of originals and prints, both framed and unframed. These will be available for purchase with proceeds from the sale benefiting the Mimi Conneen Miley Memorial Scholarship Fund at The Baum School of Art.

The exhibit is sponsored by Sandy and Pat Corpora.

Baum School of Art Gallery hours: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday. baumschool.org; 610-433-0032.