In the 1950s, Kenneth Bonar Walsh Jr. came to Montauk from New York City to paint seascapes, catch fish, sing of nature’s beauty, put down roots and later, develop a style of painting all his own.
“Kenneth B. Walsh: Watercolors” will open at the Amagansett Free Library with an opening reception on May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. The show runs through May 28.
The Boston native moved to New York after attending the School of Practical Art on the G.I. Bill, where he began his career in the art department of Lever Brothers. He soon established the Bonart Studio with RCA Records, the Ideal Transogram toy companies and the Schrafft’s candy and chocolate company among notable clients.
Mr. Walsh liked Montauk so much that he built a house in Hither Hills where he painted the South Fork’s natural beauty and depicted seascapes, boats and fishermen, mostly in watercolor but also in oil paintings, sculptures and collages. In the 1970s, he developed a strikingly different, modernist style.
Years after his passing, Christopher Walsh, the fourth of the artist’s five children, began a search for his father’s work, compiling, restoring and documenting as much as he could find. The whereabouts of most of his watercolors are unknown, but two that were displayed at the Montauk Public School for decades are included in this display.
Also included are works on loan from private collections and a portrait of a longtime employee of the Bonart Studio that was recently given to Mr. Walsh by its subject on a visit to him in Florida.
“Watercolors” at the Amagansett Library is the first of two exhibitions of Kenneth B. Walsh’s work in May 2017. An exhibition of the artist’s 1970s modernist paintings will open on May 27 at the Woodbine Collection in Montauk.
“It has turned into a years-long project,” Mr. Walsh said of the exhibitions, “but this has been a labor of love through which I have found many long-lost works of art and heard fond reminiscence from some of my father’s friends and colleagues. This exhibition of watercolors and the upcoming exhibition at the Woodbine Collection, represent the realization of a long-held dream. My hope is that my father be recognized for his work.”
Along with the exhibitions, Mr. Walsh is preparing to publish a fine-art book with his father’s work, launch a website that will serve as an archive and open a store offering prints, posters and more merchandise.
The Amagansett Free Library is located at 215 Main Street in Amagansett. For more information, contact Christopher Walsh at email@example.com or call (917) 561-4680.