Cultural Center hosts Westport artist for solo exhibition

May 8, 2022

The Dartmouth Cultural Center welcomed its third exhibition of the year on Saturday, May 7 with a reception with the Westport-based artist Catherine Hafer, whose oil paintings and pencil sketches now adorn the center’s walls.

Hafer described her work as “capturing personality and bringing feeling to life.”

Most of the 21 works that Hafer exhibited at the center are portraits of either people or pets, but that is not to say they are limited to purely-realistic representation.

“I don’t rely just on what’s there,” said Hafer, explaining that she often changes color schemes and small details to recreate a feeling — not simply an image. “In some of my pieces, there’s a lot behind them that people don’t know.”

Hafer illustrated that point by referencing a portrait titled “Through the Artist’s Eyes,” which depicts a young woman with curly hair and bright eyes, captured almost entirely in rich auburn tones.

Hafer said she painted the piece for a friend of a friend who was going through tough times and needed someone to help her see the beauty in her life.

She said she painted the eyes of the subject a little more open than they really are, making them look a bit like the artist’s own eyes to emphasize the point that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

“A lot of these have a little bit of me in them,” she said.

The title of Hafer’s exhibit is “Beauty is,” which the artist said speaks to the depth and variety of her subject matter.

“Artists don’t just want to paint pretty little pictures,” she said. “Beauty is everything — even bad feelings. I want to paint things that are deep.”

Hafer used the example of one of her works in progress, a painting in warm sepia tones of an old tractor standing reliably in a field of tall grass. She said that something about the old machine just spoke to her.

“It’s this old tractor, but it’s probably better than any new tractor you could find,” she said. “I’m the tractor. I’m still going. I’m still following my dreams.”

The artist’s works will be on display at the cultural center for the rest of the month. Most pieces are priced to sell.

The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit