Friday, March 09, 2018

The Battle of Ridgefield medal honors Benedict Arnold and David Wooster —
and Arnold's horse...
Gail Rogers Glissmann Fields: 
Benedict Arnold’s Artist
Though she was widely recognized for her scenic paintings of Cape Cod, artist Gail Rogers  Fields is perhaps best known in Ridgefield for a very different and rather controversial work of art: A medal honoring America’s most notorious traitor.
A native of New York City, Gail Rogers was born in 1940 and moved to Ridgefield as a child. She graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1958, studied at Parsons School of Design, and married Fred Glissmann of Ridgefield in 1960. 
Active in the local art scene, she was one of 14 people who founded the Ridgefield Guild of Artists in 1974. 
Three years later, Ridgefield was staging a huge celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgefield, a skirmish at which Generals Benedict Arnold and David Wooster led patriot troops against the British who were passing through town after burning Danbury. During the fight, Arnold is said to have had his horse shot out from under him, near the entrance to what is today Casagmo.
As part of the celebration, the planners decided to issue silver and bronze medals, commemorating the battle. Gail Glissmann was chosen as the artist to design the medal. She depicted the heads of Generals Arnold and Wooster on one side, and Arnold on his mortally wounded horse on the other, under the heading: “Arnold Leads the Patriots.” 
The medal generated some criticism from those who couldn’t imagine Benedict Arnold as a hero, much less honored on a medal, but in general the coin was well-received in Ridgefield. The medal was restruck in 2002 for the 225th anniversary of the battle. Today, these medals are rare and sought-after collectibles.
After divorcing in 1980, Glissmann married Charles Fields in 1991, and moved to Cape Cod where she became inspired by the coastal scenery. According to her family, “In the mid 2000s she befriended the artist Anne Packard who encouraged her to explore her creativity which led her to constantly investigate new methods. She transformed from a strict style of watercolor to a more free form of oil painting with colors, light and texture. A result was a first place prize for her painting Field Flowers at the Cape Cod Art Association Members Show in June of 2007.”
Fields’ work can be found in public and private collections in the U.S. as well as in Belgium and Russia, and in the permanent collection of the United States Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. She died in 2016 at the age of 75. 

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