The Mission of the Allen and Helen Hermes Art Series is to enrich the quality of life in the community of Redding, Connecticut, by producing and/or supporting events in the visual, literacy, theater and musical arts that explore classical and contemporary culture with a critical eye, and to strive to create a dynamic dialogue between artist and audience.
History: The Art Series came to be when the Hermes donated their home of fifty years, the nineteen-acre property on Route 107 once known as “Jean’s Farm,” to the Mark Twain Library Association. The gift was one of remarkable civic generosity and historical poignancy. Nearly one hundred years earlier, Twain sold the farm and donated the proceeds to the newly formed library association, which was later named in his honor. In 2003, the Mark Twain Library Association decided to sell Jean’s Farm and use the proceeds as the cornerstone of a capital campaign to create an endowment to ensure the library’s future. In honor of the Hermes’ gift, the Library Board of Trustees set aside a portion of the proceeds to fund The Allen and Helen Hermes Art Series.
Allen and Helen Hermes moved to Redding in 1946 and immediately became involved in the cultural, social and political life of the town. They raised three children (Helena, Cynthia, and Timothy) there, served on numerous boards and commissions of the town government and hosted summer day camps, horse shows and tennis tournaments at their home. Allen Hermes (1913-2004) was a prolific painter and sculptor whose work was shown in galleries in New York and elsewhere and who regularly participated in the annual Library Art Show. Helen Hermes returned to higher education in mid-life, earning a master’s degree in English from New York University and, subsequently, a master’s degree in psychology from Western Connecticut State University. For twenty years she worked at the Mental Health Center at Danbury Hospital. She learned to play the recorder at age 60 and helped to found the Recorder Society of Connecticut. Helen Hermes died in 2012 at the age of 98.
The Executive Committee oversees the Helen and Allen Hermes Art Series under the aegis of the Mark Twain Library Association Board of Trustees. Committee members are Robert Morton (Co-Chairman), Lisa Reese (Co-Chairman and Treasurer), Emily d’Aulaire (Secretary), Beth Dominianni (Library Directory), Romy Weinberg (Program Coordinator), June Myles, and Mary Bailey.
Advisory Board Members: To recommend artists and events for the Art Series, the Executive Committee has called on a group of local residents active in the arts.