Coastal Maine has long claimed Winslow Homer as something of a native son, and the Prouts Neck studio from which the 19th-century artist painted many of his iconic seascapes opened to the public earlier this fall.
But a local community is eager to take its own rightful place within Homer’s history as well. As a child, he lived in Belmont, just down the street from an uncle and other members of his extended family. Their home is now owned by the Belmont Woman’s Club, and after extensive preparations, the nonprofit service organization is finally ready to showcase the connection between the antique mansion that serves as its headquarters, the William Flagg Homer House at 661 Pleasant St., and the young painter.
“The studio at Prouts Neck is obviously mecca for devotees of Winslow Homer’s work,” said Susan Smart, a club vice president who has been instrumental in reconfiguring the historic property as a showcase for Homer’s art. “But it was in this region that he was living when his career began. He was born in 1836 and spent a great deal of time at this house as a child and young man. It was in Maine that he produced his marine masterpieces, but Belmont is where he began as a young artist and illustrator.”
And just as the views from the seaside studio in Maine reflect many of Homer’s best-known works, Smart said, there are many examples in and around the Belmont mansion that also appear in the painter’s masterpieces.
“His famous croquet paintings were painted here on the front lawn, and there are other examples of his work that were clearly painted inside of this house,” Smart said. “A painting of the home’s exterior appeared in a Boston periodical when he was a young illustrator.
“As a young artist, he drew what he knew, and what he knew in those early days was the environs of Belmont, Cambridge, and Boston,” she said.
The Belmont Woman’s Club is using its annual holiday open house this weekend to celebrate its new focus on Winslow Homer and his connection with the town, with events taking place Saturday and Sunday.
One room will serve as a gallery for the painter’s work; other rooms of the mansion will display period furniture and decorations evocative of the mid-19th century and the Homer family’s life there. Local Girl Scout troops will sing Christmas carols and the Community Youth Orchestra string ensemble plans to perform on Saturday at 1 p.m. Other highlights of the weekend include holiday bake and greenery sales, and a visit from Santa on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.
The open house’s hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, with no charge for children 5 and younger. For more information, call 617-484-4892 or visit www.belmontwomansclub.org.
ARTISTIC DISPLAYS: The E.P. Levine Gallery is turning over its main gallery, at 219 Bear Hill Road in Waltham, to images by photography students at Newton’s Fessenden School and Weston High School. An opening reception and awards ceremony will be Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., with the exhibition continuing through Jan. 11. For more information, call 617-951-1499 or go to www.eplevine.com.
The Dover Church will host a reception for its exhibition of Davina Perl Beacham’s work Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., when the artist will discuss her paintings of Europe and New England, and her still-lifes. The exhibition continues through March at the church, at 17 Springdale Ave. in Dover. Call 508-846-8466.
THEATER OFFERINGS: Steps off Broadway Productions will perform the stage version of “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. It is based on the story of “A Christmas Carol” with a twist. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or by calling 508-876-9797. Shows are at Steps Off Broadway’s theater at 799 South Main St. in the Bellingham Marketplace.
The Alexander Children’s Theatre School presents the Tony Award-winning musical “Urinetown” this weekend at the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Performing Arts, 40 Stow St. in Concord. The cast features 30 high school students from several area communities, including Carlisle, Concord, Natick Sudbury, and Weston. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $17 to $20, or $15 to $18 for children, and are available at www.acts1.org or 781-899-4467.
On Saturday, HCAM-TV Studios in Hopkinton hosts its free monthly Wake Up and Smell the Poetry gathering. The featured participants will be Steven Cramer, director of the graduate creative writing program at Lesley University; author and storyteller Daniel Gewertz; and singer-songwriter Katie Frassinelli, with an open mic to follow. The doors open at 10 a.m. at 77 Main St. Reserve seats at www.hcam.tv/wakeup or 508-435-8638. Continued...