Alice Schille's Revival

Peter Tonguette
Artwork: “Mother and Child in a Garden”

Artist Alice Schille was a longtime resident of Columbus, but her passport must have been a sight to behold. A watercolorist with an abiding wanderlust, Schille made repeated treks to France, Holland, Egypt and elsewhere. Fittingly, a new exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art organizes her works by the country or region in which they were created.

“She loved meeting the different people in every city,” says Tara Keny, who co-curated the exhibition with her father, James Keny of Keny Galleries in German Village. “She changed her style in each country.”

In a New Light: Alice Schille and the American Watercolor Movement showcases more than 50 of Schille’s works in honor of what would be her 150th birthday in August. The show, which runs from June 14 to Sept. 29, isn’t just a tribute but also seeks to revive her reputation as an artistic leader in her era.

Despite her depictions of distant nations, Columbus remained her home base; she worked as a teacher at the Columbus Art School (now the Columbus College of Art & Design) and traveled in the summertime. She was so admired as a teacher that art experts could recognize students of hers, says Tara, a curatorial assistant in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Though admired up to the 1930s, Schille’s style fell out of fashion before her death in 1955, says Daniel Marcus, a CMA curatorial fellow who assisted with the exhibit, but her work has enjoyed renewed appreciation in recent years. “She was widely recognized as an essential contributor to the American watercolor movement in her moment,” Marcus says.


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