Famed painter Jasper Johns is making plans for his rural Connecticut estate to become an artists' retreat after he passes away, as reported by US News in “Jasper Johns to Leave Connecticut Estate for Artists Retreat.”
The 87-year-old painter, who has lived and worked in the town of Sharon for the last twenty years, received approval recently for his property to host as many as twenty-four artists at a time to live, share meals together and work on their craft.
In the small Connecticut town, some see his decision as a boost for the lively local arts scene, since art studios are present in the community of 3,000 people where Johns is a towering, if seldom-seen, figure.
"I really think that's the best use of that property, because it extends his legacy," First Selectman Brent Colley said. "A lot of us never see him. He never comes out. However, he employs a lot of people and he's been a great asset to the town."
Johns is thought of as a major influence on pop, minimalist and conceptual art through his work dealing with themes of perception and identity. His textured images of American flags became icons of modern art, and he was honored by President Obama with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.
The town planning commission approved the proposal this summer, after the artist’s representative asked for the exception to zoning rules now. This was because he knew that the town's position would help with his estate planning, according to the minutes from the planning commission’s hearing.
The estate plan details a design for a retreat, set up as a charitable or nonprofit organization, with twenty employees. The property is close to the town's main marketplace and consists of six parcels of land, including some with residences.
Planners said there’s no additional construction planned, although some barns may need to be converted to studios. In addition to the property, Johns plans to provide an endowment for the artist retreat.
Colley said it is an appropriate plan for the property that Johns has acquired and has steadily improved in recent years.
"He's done a nice job of renovating and renewing that whole portion of town," Colley said.
Reference: US News (September 20, 2017) “Jasper Johns to Leave Connecticut Estate for Artists Retreat”