Pat Kery thinks of the Saugatuck firehouse as “her” firehouse.
The art appraiser once had an office at Bridge Square. She still lives nearby.
So when she found a Stevan Dohanos print for sale called “Hose Co. 4” — which looked a lot like the Saugatuck firehouse, Engine Company 4 — she was excited.
Actually, more than excited. She helped bring it home to Westport.
Kery consults for WestPAC — Westport’s Public Art Collection. She’s also a longtime Dohanos aficionado. Researching her 1982 book, “Great Magazine Covers of the World,” she learned a lot about the local illustrator. He drew 123 covers for the Saturday Evening Post — as well as the incredible mural that has hung since 1953 in the Coleytown Elementary School office.
Dohanos’ 1950 firehouse lithograph shows firemen shooting the breeze with a mailman, as they wait for the next call.
“His genius was capturing the ordinary things in life — in particular some of the small details we might miss in our fast-paced lives,” Kery says.
“Hose Co. 4” shows bedposts in the 2nd-floor windows, laundry drying on a clothesline, and an alert Dalmatian for companionship.
“From a stylistic standpoint, the artist brilliantly echoes circles and squares — the firehouse, the trees, the dog — to visually tie in elements in the print,” she explains.
Recently, Kery learned the print — signed by the artist in the lower right, one of an edition of 250, and in pristine condition — was being sold by a dealer in the Midwest. She called, and learned he’d visited Dohanos in Westport shortly before his death.
The seller offered an excellent price — and framed it. Sam Gault generously provided funds for its purchase. Now it joins 3 other Dohanos Saturday Evening Post covers, and various illustrations — in the WestPAC collection.
It’s a treasure trove of art, including a Picasso and other world-renowned works.
But the real value of WestPAC is the chance to bring something like Stevan Dohanos’ firehouse “home.”
BONUS STEVAN DOHANOS PHOTO BELOW:
This circa 1950 print — donated by Kery — is from a photograph at the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Famous Artists School Archives.
It shows Dohanos hanging out with Westport firefighters, in front of the original fire headquarters. It was on Church Lane downtown, next to the YMCA Bedford Building (left).
When fire headquarters moved to the Post Road, where it is today (next to Terrain), the old firehouse was incorporated into the YMCA. Its 1st floor became the Y’s new fitness center, while the 2nd floor was converted into a weight room and cardio studio.
Today, both the Bedford Building and old firehouse have been refashioned into Bedford Square.
PS: Check out the dalmatian at Dohanos’ feet!