When Dedee Shattuck and her artist husband, William, moved from Manhattan to Westport, Massachusetts, in the mid-1980s, she wasn’t sure what to expect. At best she thought she’d find the sleepy enclave she left behind when she set off for design school a decade earlier. “I thought it was my mother’s cocktail set that was left around here,” she recalls. “But there were many artists, literally in the woods, that we got to know.” In the ensuing years, while also raising two sons, the Shattucks found themselves immersed in a cultural confluence of artists and professors from nearby Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth—all drawn to the quiet coastal town’s beaches, warm waters, and picturesque woods. Flash forward 20 years and Shattuck, a recent empty nester, opened the Dedee Shattuck Gallery in 2011, marrying her lifelong love of land and art.
Initially, the gallery featured contemporary works by area artists, including Shattuck’s own husband. But in just three years the programming has expanded significantly, says lead curator Isabel Mattia. “We have such a strong creative community here,” she says. “Our mission is to foster the arts in this region and support the community while contributing to a larger, global community.” This July, the gallery presents “The Contemporary Figure,” in which three painters and two sculptors offer fresh interpretations of the human form, from the cubist to the symbolic to the surreal.
The exhibition is just one reason among many to visit the gallery this summer. In the warmer months, programming expands to the gallery’s eight-acre property, which features a sculpture garden surrounded by meadows and a hardwood forest, and punctuated by a trout-filled brook. That includes Saturday morning Kripalu yoga with as many as 80 people on the front lawn, an outdoor cinema series with films projected onto the gallery’s white façade, and partnerships with local schools that lead elementary and middle- school students to discover art in the environment. “It’s a lab of curious innovation,” Shattuck says—one that’s breathtaking inside and out. “The Contemporary Figure” runs July 2–July 27, 1 Partners Lane, Westport, MA, 508-636-4177