Howard Munce at 100: A Centennial Celebration and Howard’s World

June 29th, 2015 until September 14th, 2015

10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Curated by Leonard Everett Fisher
Dedicated to Geraldine Munce

Westport artist Howard Munce, a longtime leader in the town’s arts community, is turning 100 this year and the Westport Historical Society will honor him with a “Centennial Celebration” not just of his work but of his 80 years of living in and giving his talents to the town of Westport.  BECOME A FRIEND OF HOWARD; donate to this exhibit to honor Howard and be listed in  our gallery as a donor. Donations can be made on line here.Curated by Leonard Everett Fisher and dedicated to the artist’s late wife, Geraldine, “Howard Munce at 100: A Centennial Celebration” runs through Sept. 14. 

The exhibition will be divided into two parts: The Sheffer Gallery will showcase Munce’s paintings, drawings, illustrations and sculptures. The Mollie Donovan Gallery will chronicle “Howard’s World,” highlighting his Westport connection during the 1930s as a young artist and artist’s model, his military service as a Marine in World War II, the Pulitzer Prize nomination for his essay on the folly of war, his role in the legendary Foote, Cone & Belding advertising campaign for Rheingold Beer, his Madison Avenue career at Young & Rubicam and other agencies, and his community involvement since moving to Westport in 1950.
The exhibit will include documentary films, interviews with Munce, photographs by Laurence Untermeyer, and a lenticular photograph of Munce by Miggs Burroughs.
Born in 1915 in Jersey City, N.J., Munce first came to Westport in 1935 to live with relatives while he commuted to the Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn. His career as an artist was interrupted by World War II, in which he served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific. Ever the artist, he sent illustrated letters from Guam and Bougainville back home to friend and fellow artist Stevan Dohanos, who later donated them to the New Britain Museum of American Art’s military collection.
Beginning in the late 1940s, Munce worked as an art director for New York City advertising agencies, leaving after 16 years to freelance from his studio in Westport as a graphic designer, illustrator, writer, teacher and sculptor. This phase of his life included drawing cartoons for newspaper columns, serving as art director for a corporate magazine and a graphic arts publication, writing books on art and design, teaching at the Paier College of Art in Hamden and at Fairfield University, and in later years creating sculptures and participating in sketch classes with friends. All the while he has also created his own fine art. He once told an interviewer there were two sides of his studio, the “deadline” side where he did his commercial work, and the other side, where he did his own art.
Perhaps most of all, Munce is gratefully appreciated in Westport for unstintingly giving his talents to numerous local organizations and causes. For over 25 years, he was the unpaid graphic designer of all the brochures, pamphlets and publications of the Westport Library. He is currently the co-curator, with Leonard Everett Fisher, of the collection of black and white drawings by Westport artists in the Library’s McManus Room.
At a special celebration in 1979 of his contributions to the library, Shirley Land, chairwoman of the Westport Bicentennial, said, “Westport is fortunate in having Howard Munce as a friend.”
Munce has donated dozens of his paintings and illustrations to the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection, curated numerous exhibitions for the Westport Historical Society, and continues in the tradition of past Westport artists by mentoring young artists who seek his advice.
Among his many accolades, Munce is a professor emeritus at Paier College, honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York City and an honorary board member of the Westport Arts Center. He is regarded as the “Dean of Westport Artists,” an honorary title previously bestowed on George Hand Wright and Harold von Schmidt.
In addition, Munce was co-founder of the Illustration Collection at the New Britain Museum of American Art and a member of the WPA Art Rescue Committee, the Westport Schools Permanent Collection Committee and the Oral History Committee at the Westport Historical Society.
Discussing his philosophy of art, Munce was once quoted as saying: “In my world, anything goes. As long as it looks good.”
There is a no admission charge, but donations are welcome at the door.  A signing book will be available for the salutations of friends and fans.