Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens supporters, community leaders and VIP guests stepped back in time to when Laura Woodward used her paintbrush to entice Henry Flagler to look southward – to Palm Beach – in search of the “New Eden” of oceanside tourism. The gathering celebrated the artist recently during the opening celebration of Behold, A New Eden: Laura Woodward and the Creation of Palm Beach.
The February 9, 2018 evening was chaired by Lourdes and Pepe Fanjul, Jr. and sponsored by Florida Crystals and IberiaBank. The exhibition was curated by Sandra Barghini Coombs and presented in association with Edward and Deborah Pollack Fine Art, Palm Beach. The Gardens will honor Laura Woodward’s important influence on our area and display her 29 works in the Norton home through Sunday, May 6, 2018.
“We have made a thoughtful effort to link Ann Norton’s legacy to each of our exhibitions this year,” said Frances Fisher, ANSG board of trustees’ chairman in her welcome remarks. “Ann and Ralph Norton embraced Laura Woodward and Henry Flagler’s vision of this area, by preserving these gardens as a sanctuary for future generations. Walking through these gardens, visitors can glimpse old Florida in the midst of current development and growth. This beautiful exhibition takes us back to that time when Florida was untouched, and we can all relate to the allure of this area’s beauty. We hope visitors will not only enjoy this wonderful exhibition, but consider taking a slice of paradise home with them, as many of the works are available for sale.”
Born in up-state New York and very accomplished as one of the Hudson River School painters, Woodward had joined others of that group by the late 1880s for their winter sojourn at Henry Morrison Flagler’s famous Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. She tired of the landscape and ventured farther south in search of the more lush, tropical “jungles” of which she had heard intriguing reports. By 1893, she urged Flagler to extend his East Coast Railroad to the Lake Worth Region, as it was called at the time, where he built the landmark Royal Poinciana Hotel (1893); it both enabled and attracted tourism to Palm Beach, as the town would come to be known.
“For more than a decade, our family and our business have enjoyed supporting a variety of the programs and events here at the Gardens,” said Pepe Fanjul Jr., Florida Crystals’ Executive Vice President and co-chairman of the evening. “We applaud the Gardens for its presentation of such distinguished exhibitions and innovative programs and join you all tonight in celebrating the natural origins of today’s Palm Beach.”
Roger Ward, President and CEO of ANSG, then thanked Sandra Barghini Coombs, who as guest curator was primarily responsible for the selection of the works displayed in the house. He also thanked the individuals and institutions who generously entrusted their artwork to the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens for the exhibition including Cici and J. Hyatt Brown, Robert and Alice Harper, Edward and Deborah Pollack, Sam and Robbie Vickers, the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Dayton Beach, and the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach.
The historic Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, established in 1977 by Ann Weaver Norton (1905-1982) to preserve the Historically Registered house and surrounding gardens in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the artist lived from 1948 until 1982. The rare palm and cycad gardens, Norton’s monumental sculptures, exhibition galleries and studio offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the sculptor’s holistic vision in its original setting. Located at 2051 S. Flagler Drive at Barcelona Rd. in the historic El Cid neighborhood of West Palm Beach, ANSG is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Special programming throughout the exhibition includes the following: On Saturday, March 3rd at 11 a.m., Deborah Pollack, author of Laura Woodward: The Artist Behind the Innovator Who Developed Palm Beach, and Sandra Barghini Coombs, guest curator for the exhibition, will hold a lively and enlightening conversation entitled “Laura Woodward: The Pioneer Painter of Palm Beach.” On Wednesday, March 28th at 5 p.m., Harvey E. Oyer III, Author and Historian, will present “Charlie and the Tycoon,” a story about how Henry Flagler expanded hotels and railroads down the Atlantic Coast. Non-member admission rates apply for both presentations.
Normal admission to ANSG is free for members, $15 for non-member adults, $10 for seniors (age 65 and older), $7 for students, and children under five are free. Gallery and garden exhibition talks are available on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The Gardens are also available for private events and are closed on major holidays. For more information, please visit www.ansg.org or call 561-832-5328.