Written by Caroline Browne
In honor of Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting Co|So history that has been directly influenced by inspirational women artists, as well as some of our distinguished women artist members. As we reflect back on the past year and look forward to the future, we are grateful to the women artist members who continue to support the gallery and make incredible works of art.
Dating back to the foundation of the Copley Society of Art in 1879, members of the first graduating class of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts wanted to establish an organization to cultivate artistic training, careers, and a spirit of fraternity. In May of 1879, the Boston Art Students Association (now the Copley Society of Art) was established thanks to the efforts of Alice Spencer Tinkham and H. Winthrop Pierce. Before long, however, other artists expressed an interest in the companionships which the Society afforded and the Copley name was adopted in 1901 as an appropriate expression of its aims.
Copley Society of Boston Logo, 1901
By the 1940s, the Copley Society felt the effects of World War II, but transitioned through the difficult years in part due to the efforts and devotion of Margaret Fitzhugh Browne. An active member of the Boston art scene, Margaret Fitzhugh Browne was a renowned artist, teacher, and critic. In 1945, a Submarine warfare exhibition reawakened public notice to the Copley Society and revitalized membership. Eventually in 1957, the Copley Society established its residence at 158 Newbury Street, the present location of the gallery and its offices.
Today, the gallery currently represents over 300 living artist members, many of which are women. Many of these female artists have earned the distinguished titles of “Copley Artist” or “Copley Master,” indicating markers of achievement within the association. We will look at some of these established women who are showcasing their artwork in our current two exhibitions, Small Works: Tapestry and Members Show: New Beginnings.
Leslie Baker, CM, Ode to Cassamada I and II, mixed media, 16 x 12”
For the past twenty years Leslie Baker has been working on large scale oils which have transitioned through the years from representational subjects to more abstract imagery based on color theory. Baker often uses monotype as a sketch medium from which she works out ideas for these larger works. She is primarily interested in what one color does to another, even with a primarily monochromatic palette.
Kat O’Connor, CM, Take a Deep Breath and Dive, oil on paper, 32 x 24”
Kat O'Connor revels in the idea that water replaces the traditional model's pedestal. Gravity is removed, and the figure can be viewed at unusual angles. She has exhibited her work nationwide and won numerous awards, including first place in our current Members Show: New Beginnings.
Lori Mehta, CA, Shedding Layers, oil on cradled board, 24 x 24”
Lori Mehta's approach to her abstracted paintings is that she ceases to consider her subject figuratively, and rather applies her paint in a series of shapes. Painting enables Lori to focus on a simple gesture, or a moment, when it might otherwise go unnoticed. She celebrates these moments and archives them through painting.
Carolyn Latanision, CM, Home Portal, Havana, watercolor, 29 x 23”
Carolyn Latanision is a distinguished artist who belongs to many national galleries, has won numerous awards, has work featured in interesting corporate collections, and whose work is part of many private collections (in the United States, Australia, Asia, and Europe). Latanision enjoys painting watercolors because of the many challenges and technical difficulties it presents. She often finds herself drawn to urban scenes because they are excellent studies for light and dark values, and because they depict the many complexities of time and life. Carolyn has been teaching watercolor for many years and is always happy to share anything she has been able to discover.
Jeanne Rosier Smith, CM, Light Show Diptych, pastel, 19 x 38”
Jeanne Rosier Smith, CM has exhibited work in museums nationwide and her work is in collections on five continents. She loves pastel because the rich, pure pigments allow vibrations of color and visual mixing impossible to capture in any other medium. It’s a vibrant and flexible medium, allowing both a simple, direct approach and the buildup of complex, rich layers and textures.
Laura Tryon Jennings, CA, Blue Horizon, oil on linen, 16 x 13”
Laura Tryon Jennings, CA is an award-winning New England artist with a resume boasting nationwide exhibitions and prominent collectors. She teaches oil painting at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, MA, Hope Floats Wellness and Healing Center in Kingston, MA, and in her Marshfield, MA studio. She also facilitates expressive art workshops for a variety of populations along with having a private practice working with individuals to help promote self-discovery or working through a particular issue.
She was recently featured in Chronicle on WCVB Channel 5 Boston for the positive light she has provided her students by teaching others to paint through the pain of grief.
Check out our social media pages to learn more about our women artist members: @cosogallery.
 The First One Hundred Years in Review 1879 – 1979: The Copley Society of Boston (Boston: Copley Society of Art, 1982), 11.