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Branchville SoHo Gallery's Legacy Destined To Benefit The Wilton Library

“Wild Horse” by American contemporary artist Ben Benn (1884-1983) is one of 50 paintings in Wilton Library’s Branchville SoHo Gallery Estate Art Exhibition, opening Friday, June 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
“Wild Horse” by American contemporary artist Ben Benn (1884-1983) is one of 50 paintings in Wilton Library’s Branchville SoHo Gallery Estate Art Exhibition, opening Friday, June 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. – A treasure trove of paintings that once hung on the walls of the Branchville SoHo Gallery of Contemporary Art will be displayed together one more time before they move on to be cherished by new owners.

Paula Reens, who died last month, and her husband, Lou Reens, decided to have the remaining paintings from their contemporary gallery in Ridgefield placed on display at Wilton Library. The paints will then be sold, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the library in Wilton, where they lived for the past 49 years.

The public can enjoy 50 paintings by some of America’s top contemporary artists at the opening reception of“The Branchville SoHo Gallery Estate Art Exhibition” on Friday, June 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Wilton Library.

Artists such as Ben Benn, Jack Youngerman, Marvin Hayes (who lived in Wilton from 1965 to 1991) and Robert Heindel are among those featured.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these paintings in one place," said Ed MacEwen, Wilton Library’s art chairman. "Through the generosity of Lou and Paula, before her passing, this exhibition came together as a love letter to their gallery and to the library. They wanted to see these paintings enjoyed by others and to have the library benefit 100 percent.”

The Branchville gallery started in the 1700s and 1800s “as a cow barn and dairy depot dug into the hillside.” It became the oldest tenement house when in the 1850s the Danbury & Norwalk line bought the property from the farmer and started to put workers in the newly constructed rooms above the depot. Over time it was a grocery store and a speakeasy during Prohibition, and then it fell into disrepair and ruin. In the 1980s, the Reens were involved in the reconstruction and owned the Branchville SoHo Gallery of Contemporary Art for the next 20 years.

The exhibition will run through Thursday, June 29.

The paintings and prints are moderately priced so that each one will go to a new home, which was the Reens' wish.

The Wilton Library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton Center. For information and hours, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org or call 203-762-6334.

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