Watercolors by Architects on Exhibit

CENTERBROOK, Conn. -- Scratch an architect and you will likely uncover a master drafter. The ability to create conceptual sketches (yes, sometimes on napkins) and precise building drawings continues to be critical to design – even in an age of 3D computer modeling. Sometimes, however, architects have hidden talents.

Impressed by how many of his colleagues confessed to being artists in their online biographies, which reside on the firm’s website, Centerbrook Partner Mark Simon issued a clarion call to the office: “Bring your watercolors in – framed, unframed, half-finished even – just bring them in and we will exhibit them.”

The works of 14 of the firm’s architectural staff are now on display at its offices, in the “Drill Bit Gallery” (the building was once a factory that produced drill bits), 67 Main Street, Centerbrook. The public is invited to view them weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free of charge.

Like the staff, the watercolors are an eclectic mix. Subjects encompass a Beaux-Arts classical portrait of an Ionic column and an impressionistic bucolic reverie enveloping a lone fisherman; the ramparts of a Moroccan castle and a still life of a grimy wrench; a gaggle of indigenous geese and the bright and cheerful renderings of a Long Island research campus that resembles a French hillside village in Provence.

Dan Batt’s oeuvre (geese befuddled at the edge of a frozen millpond) was his second ever, while Anna Shakun, who studied art for three years at the Architectural Institute in Moscow, added to her substantial collection with several new paintings. Jim Coan painted a stately house in Key West in the embrace of riotous greenery, while Jennifer Shea focused on a stark pair of old sneakers, among other subjects. Some of the 50 works of art came from existing portfolios while others are fresh from the easel; some depict scenes or objects from life, some sprang full blown from the artists’ imagination.

“We knew that there are many gifted designers here,” Simon noted. “But this astonishing collection of watercolors exposes a vein of talent that we hadn’t been fully aware of. It’s really quite a treasure trove.” The exhibiting artists are Dan Batt, Jim Coan, Bill Grover, Elizabeth Hedde, Justin Hedde, Hyeon Ju Son, Patrick McCauley, Matt Montana, Charles Mueller, Andrew Santaniello, Anna Shakun, Jennifer Shea, Mark Simon, and Laura Taglianetti. To learn more about them, visit our people page.