Bucks County is known for its Impressionist school but our outstanding art history covers many genres. Katharine Steele Renninger was a realist whose work was so distilled it touched on the abstract. She focused on quotidian objects that are as iconic of local life as a Bucks County farmhouse, but were intimate: baby carriages, egg beaters or the details of a back staircase.
Her work has been compared to important American Modernists such as Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth and Edward Hopper. She was highly decorated, winning prizes at the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Woodmere Art Museum, and in 1975 was named Distinguished Pennsylvania Artist. She was also instrumental in founding the Michener Art Museum.
On the June ArtTalk we’ll take a look back at Renninger’s work with Liz Sheehan and Sally Henriques.
Liz Sheehan curated the 2016 retrospective, “Katharine Steele Renninger: Craft, Commitment, Community.” Sheehan has curated exhibits at the Hicks Art Gallery and the Hunterdon Art Museum, among other local venues. She holds degrees in art history and museum studies from Bowdoin College and Tufts University. Like Renninger, she also serves on the Art Education Trust Board at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.
Sally Henriques is Renninger’s daughter. With her siblings she coordinated the family’s gift of Renninger’s work and archives to the Michener Art Museum. Henriques worked as a healthcare professional and now continues her mother’s tradition of community service, serving on the boards of Phillips’ Mill Community Association and Fisherman’s Mark.