It’s one of the New Yorker‘s most famous covers: the view of the rest of the country, from Manhattan. Everything from the Hudson River west is wasteland or the Pacific Ocean.
The view from Westport can look a bit myopic too. For instance, because so many illustrators lived here (and started Famous Artists School), we still think of ourselves as an artists’ colony.
Those 2 things — the New Yorker and art — come together this month in clever, self-patting fashion. The Westport Historical Society‘s next exhibits focus on Westport’s influence on the famed magazine.
“Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” highlights the 761 covers designed between 1925 and 1989 by 16 artists living in the area. An amazing 44 of those covers actually show Westport scenes.
Artists include Garrett Price, James Daugherty, Perry Barlow, Charles Addams and Whitney Darrow Jr.
From 1939 to 1973 the New Yorker’s art editor was James Geraghty. He too lived here, so his suburban commuter mentality greatly influenced the covers.
Curator Eve Potts has collected artifacts, anecdotes and correspondence from Geraghty and the families of the 15 artists for this show.
A companion exhibit — “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover…” — is based on a New Yorker quirk: the cover offers no clue to the stories inside.
That was especially true on August 31, 1946. The entire magazine was devoted to one story: “Hiroshima,” by John Hersey. He soon moved to Westport, bowled and golfed with Geraghty’s local New Yorker teams — and served on the Board of Education.
A later resident of his South Turkey Hill home was Martha Stewart. In the hands of a talented illustrator, that idea would make a perfect New Yorker cover.
PS: Here’s one New Yorker cover that resonates especially strongly today. Artist Jenni Oliver is not a Westporter. But her subject matter — on November 12, 1984 — is poignant, considering the upcoming demise of 15 trees on the Longshore entrance road.
Here you go:
(An opening reception for the 2 exhibits is set for Sunday, January 26 (3 p.m.). For more information, click here or call 203-222-1424.)