Bennington Museum — July 1 - November 5, 2023 Southern Vermont Arts Center — July 22 - November 5, 2023
For the Love of Vermont
The Lyman Orton Collection
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Buzz about For the Love of Vermont

Orton’s hard work has paid off in the form of a spectacular, unparalleled exhibition of Vermont art, entitled For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection... Read More

Luigi Lucioni (1900-1988), The Birches, Oil on canvas, 22 x 36 in.
Luigi Lucioni (1900-1988), The Birches, Oil on canvas, 22 x 36 in.

The Shows

The Lyman Orton Collection, presented as two, simultaneous exhibitions is an unprecedented collaboration by two of Vermont’s most celebrated museums — The Bennington Museum and Southern Vermont Arts Center— with each show featuring a unique selection of artwork.

The shows feature over 200 works of art that capture Vermont’s unique character, people, traditions and landscape from the 1920’s-1960’s. More than 65 artists will be represented including Rockwell Kent, John Clymer, Churchill Ettinger, Paul Sample, Mead Schaeffer, John Atherton, Marion Huse, Luigi Lucioni, Kyra Markham, Bernadine Custer, and others.

Lyman Orton’s collection is the largest collection of historic Vermont art in private hands... Because Vermont is rural, and because it is a place that is culture-rich but money-poor, there haven’t been a lot of independent efforts to focus on the artists who lived in Vermont and who depicted this place and the people who live here. Orton’s collection is the collection of Vermont art of the 20th century.

The Man

Lyman Ortan at the 70th Anniversary Celebration of The Vermont Country Store, Weston, VT
Lyman Orton at the 70th Anniversary Celebration of The Vermont Country Store, Weston, VT

Lyman Orton

Lyman Orton has spent his life building The Vermont Country Store, collecting the art of Vermont, supporting Vermont non-profits, and exploring Vermont’s nature on cross-country skis and bicycles. Raised in Weston, Lyman is a seventh-generation Vermonter and second-generation proprietor of The Vermont Country Store. His three sons, Cabot, Gardner, and Eliot, have taken over the business that Lyman’s parents, Vrest Orton and Mildred Wilcox, founded in 1946. The Vermont Country Store is nationally known as the Purveyors of the Practical and Hard to Find, serving customers online, through its catalogs, and in their two retail stores in Weston and Rockingham, VT.

Lyman’s love for the art of Vermont has spanned over four decades and continues to this day. He has assembled over 200 works of art that were created from 1920-1960 by Vermont artists and artists that loved Vermont. Today, The Lyman Orton Collection is one of the largest private collections of art depicting Vermont’s landscape, its people and their way of life.

Lyman lives in Manchester, VT with his partner Janice Izzi. The two of them work together on Community Heart & Soul, a non-profit devoted to helping small cities and towns across America discover, articulate, and act from each town’s Heart & Soul, those elements that matter most to the residents. This bottom-up practice guides the future of towns.

By bringing these artworks together as a single, comprehensive collection, and by sharing some of it in this book and in ongoing exhibitions and loans, I hope all of us are given a thoughtful way of looking at Vermont, past and present, that can act as a benchmark for the future.

The Reviews

For the Love of Vermont is the realization of the vision [Lyman] Orton had when he started hunting down and repatriating art decades ago. “I want to keep this art in the state for everyone’s benefit,” he explains. “This collection tells our story of our Vermont life.”
In the magazine world, we often speak about a concept we call “sense of place.” It can be difficult to define. But sometimes a place leaves an imprint on people so indelibly that we cannot imagine them belonging anywhere else. Vermont is Lyman Orton’s place.
[Lyman] Orton’s hard work has paid off in the form of a spectacular, unparalleled exhibition of Vermont art, entitled For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection. Over 200 of the most magnificent works from Orton’s private collection will be shown ... through an unprecedented joint exhibition. The exhibition is intentionally curated in a manner that reframes the cultural context of the timeless artworks, offering a chance for both casual art lovers and experienced aficionados to revel in the creative brilliance of Vermont’s most gifted artists.
Once you hear the story of the kind of person who would devote days, months, and eventually years in pursuit of artworks with a Vermont connection—an endeavor far greater than a mere hobby—it seems inevitable that in the summer and fall of 2023, two highly reputable and truly respected New England museums would collaborate to devote their combined resources, time, and talents to simultaneously mount two outstanding exhibitions of the collection that [Lyman Orton] amassed.

The Book

The 220-page book tells the story of how Lyman Orton assembled his extensive collection of Vermont art over many years while running The Vermont Country Store. It is packed with photographs of the paintings, as well as stories of the artists and their love of Vermont.

For The Love of Vermont

is the story of Lyman Orton’s heartfelt affection for his home state of Vermont, his quest to keep its art from leaving his beloved state and his effort to return artworks that had been scattered across America in the last century.

This book is for everyone who loves Vermont as their home and refuge, for its history and heritage and the wonder of its boundless beauty.

Anita Rafael

For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection was authored in collaboration with Lyman Orton by Anita Rafael, a writer living and working in an 1840s carriage barn she rehabbed in Wardsboro, VT. Her feature articles about people, places, arts, food, travel, and events in Vermont have appeared in lifestyle magazines and newspapers throughout the state of Vermont since 2007.

Contact Us

I welcome your contribution of new, corrected, or missing information about this collection of Vermont art, such as historical accounts, old papers, articles, clippings, photographs, or personal recollections and private letters related to the artists, artworks, and places or people represented in the Lyman Orton Collection of Vermont art.

All the information sent to me will be gratefully received and I will add it to the Orton Collection database and archives (with acknowledgment of your name as the source, or anonymously if you wish). I hope to preserve as much information as I possibly can about these artists and their lives and work in Vermont for the benefit of all future lovers of the art of Vermont.

I would also be happy to hear your comments and questions related to the shows, the book, or this website. Please use the “Contact Us” button below and thank you.

Lyman Orton

Contact Us