The James Library’s ’31 Women’ Exhibit

Darlene DeVita - Marrakech Couple

The James Library & Center for the Arts, Norwell’s historic community arts center and lending library, presents 31 Women, a benefit reception and fine art exhibit featuring artists from the South Shore region and beyond at 24 West Street, Norwell.  The opening benefit reception is held on Friday, March 3, 6 to 9 pm, light fare and refreshments will be served.  The exhibit is curated by artist and gallery director Lisa Flynn and is on display through March 31 during operating hours.

31 Women program cover31 Women is modeled after a historic exhibition by Marguerite (Peggy) Guggenheim, who shocked the art world in 1943 with the second exhibit at her newly opened Art of This Century Gallery in New York.  The first of its kind, Guggenheim’sExhibition by 31 Women devoted her entire gallery space exclusively to a show of modern women artists, some unknown, unheard of in her time.  Guggenheim herself was considered a cultural revolutionary, being one of three women to open a New York gallery in the 1940’s, setting the groundwork to propel the careers of many modern artists. Exhibition by 31 Women was later regarded as important gauge of how integral women were to the art scene as far back as the 1920’s, and continue to be today.

Scheduled to coincide with Women’s History Month, the exhibit gained speed from Curator Lisa Flynn’s vision.  “A year ago I viewed Peggy Guggenheim Art Addict, a documentary about the legendary Peggy Guggenheim, and was inspired to recreate her famous Exhibition by 31 Women. It left me fascinated by her strength and keen eye for the arts,” says Flynn.  “The work chosen for the show consists of pieces from a diverse range of mediums, with 31 women exhibiting one piece each.  I am very excited to celebrate these amazing women artists.”

The James’ reinterpreted 31 Women exhibit features a broad spectrum of creativity from 31 female artists from Massachusetts’ South Shore and beyond, including Dee Dee Agee (monoprint, Scituate), Kim Alemian (oil on linen, Cohasset), Karen Baker (mixed media collage, Hanover), Marcia Ballou (acrylic collage, Marshfield), Christine Bodnar (pastels, Marshfield), Carole Bolsey (mixed media, Kingston), Renée Caouette (oil on canvas, Rockland), Gillian Christy (mixed media sculpture, Boston), Nancy Colella (oil, Norwell), Jane Deutsch (encaustic, Boston), Darlene De Vita (archival pigment Hahnemuhe paper, E. Boston), Donna Dodson (mixed media, Maynard), Lisa Goren* (watercolor, Boston), Liz Gribin* (acrylic on canvas, Needham), Sheryl Jaffe (handmade flax, linen, Abaca paper, Ludlow), Marjorie Kaye (mixed media sculpture, Cambridge), Shelley Thayer Layton (oil on Belgian linen, Rockland), Helen Lavelle (oil on canvas, Fleetville, PA), Nella Lush* (oil and cold wax, N. Andover; President, Massachusetts chapter of National Association of Women Artists), Anne D. Marble (Monotype, Narberth, PA), Esther Maschio (etchings, Scituate), Eileen Helen Lavelle - Pink RoadMarolla (oil on paper, Wyndmor, PA), Cynthia Maurice, Brickbottom Studios (lithograph, Somerville), Jesse Morrisey (mixed media sculpture, Southhampton), Hope M. Ricciardi (transfer monotype akua on paper, Boston), Tracy Spadafora (encaustic, mixed media, Westborough), Sallie Strand, Lincoln Studios (mixed media, Waltham), Dorothea Van Camp (watercolor, monoprint, solarplate, Boston), Anne Wulsin (acrylic and oil stick,Waltham), Joyce Zavorskas (oil, sand on canvas, Orleans) and LaLa Zeitlyn (mixed media on paper, Villanova, PA).  (* indicates members of the National Association of Women Artists)

Tickets to the opening benefit reception of 31 Women are $25.  All proceeds directly benefit the James’ arts programming and historic Victorian building. Admission to view the exhibit during March is free of charge.

The James Library is open from Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 5 pm and on Saturday from 10 to 1 pm. For more information about The James Library’s programs and events, please call 781-659-7100, visit or follow our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


About the James Library & Center for the ArtsNella Lush - My Voice

Since 1874, The James Library has served the South Shore community as a warm gathering place. Housed in a landmark Victorian in historical Norwell Center, The James is dedicated to serving the community by providing high-quality programs, resources and materials through a concert hall, art gallery and the operation of a free lending library. As an independent, non-profit arts center we foster a mission for the creation, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts for residents of all ages on the South Shore, while preserving the historic character of our home. The James Library is located at 24 West Street, Norwell and is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 5 pm and on Saturdayfrom 10 to 1 pm. For more information, please call 781-659-7100, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Images and Artists:  

Top Center:  MARRAKECH COUPLE by Darlene DeVita

“I shot this photograph in Marrakech, Morocco while walking through Jamal EL Fina Square. I was struck by the beauty of this woman, as she walked arm-in-arm with her husband, covered head-to-toe in her silky, flowy nijab with stylish buttons and leather gloves.  As they strode through the square, she exuded pure elegance, and sexual grace. How could this be? As a Western woman, I bristle at the idea of a woman being shrouded and imprisoned in a nijab; yet this woman, to me, exuded intellectual strength and confidence as she conversed with her husband. They appeared as equals, with an unmistakable bond and mutual respect, challenging my assumptions to the core.” ~ Darlene DeVita

Middle Left:  PINK ROAD by Helen Lavelle

Helen Lavelle is an artist and an advocate. A communicator and a collaborator. Devoting her life to chasing the light and capturing spirit. Whether it be with oil paint on canvas or with the launch of a multi-media, multi-platform advertising campaign, she delivers her message with brazen authenticity. And has the awards to show for it.  Best known for attacking her painting with raw emotion and looseness of brush, her landscapes and figurative work have been charged by a childhood experience. “I saw chards of light and color at play that simply do not exist.”

Educated at the only all women’s art college in the U.S. (Moore College of Art and Design), Ms. Lavelle has also worked with American realists, Canadian impressionists and Irish expressionist masters. She has traveled extensively throughout France, Italy, the U.S., South America, Greece and Ireland to do so.

“I want to elicit an emotional response with my work. I want the viewer to connect… with the paint, with the subject, with me as the artist. I want the viewer to walk hand-in-hand with me into the painting under the grace of God.” Helen acknowledges her paintings come from soul shifts. Her work is affected deeply by current global need and influenced by political climate. It is this that informs her current “Be the Change” collection.

Bottom Right:  MY VOICE by Nella Lush

“My art is a constant exploration of the relationship between man and its history and it becomes a spiritual and intimate journey.  I do not like to place my art into a specific category because my art is developed from my emotions which are specific to the moment, event and/or life happenings.  One element that is constant in my work is my love of texture with color and how it reveals itself to the viewer.  I am not seeking perfection but rather seeking to express who I am and why I create.  My personal history comes into play with my work, where I came from and my life experiences.” ~ Nella Lush, President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association for Women Artists