WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — At an old barn in Watertown, two men made an unexpected discovery. They found hundreds of works of art.

“They were all covered in this thick, heavy plastic that was 30 and 40 years old,” said Jared Whipple of Waterbury. “You really weren’t able to appreciate and see much of what was there.”

Whipple uncovered this work with his friend George Martin. He said these pieces were being thrown away and heading for the landfill. 

“The first thing you’re going to go to, is who was this guy? And what’s his story?” Whipple said.

Whipple said it became clear all of these works were done by the same artist.

“We came across a painting that had his full name. It was Francis Mattson Hines,” Whipple said. “Once we had the full last name, went back to Google, searched that and immediately we saw the Washington Square Arch in New York City just completely covered in fabric and turned into a fabric sculpture.”

Whipple learned Hines, who made his money as an illustrator mostly for department stores in New York City, gained recognition for his wrapped paintings, sculptures, and public art projects. He lived and worked both in New York and Watertown.

“He would just create and ship it to that barn,” Whipple said.

Whipple made it his mission to pull this body of work from obscurity and bring Hines’ work back to life, so he teamed up with the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury. 

“He had a show at the Mattatuck Museum in 1975, so to me, it was pretty cool that it was coming back full circle,” Whipple said.

The museum exhibited a collection of work last year and Hines’ work has returned for another showing.

“It’s one of those rare opportunities,” said Robert Burns, executive director of the Mattatuck Museum. “The works aren’t really publicly available at this point and so to make it publicly available is really generous on Jared’s part and it really helps us to continue to tell the story and bring Francis Hines more into the light.”

Soon, an exhibit in Southport will open and some of his pieces will be up for sale. You can find more on the exhibit here.

While Whipple never got the chance to meet Hines, finding these pieces a year after his death, he said he feels he knows him better than most by devoting his time to this work and connecting with Hines’ former crew, friends, and family.

He said this is only just the beginning, hoping to display Hines’ work at a big museum in New York. 

He also plans to keep pieces close to home, at the Mattatuck, near where this story all began.

“Eventually, I’m going to be talking to them about donating some of the work that would always be here and be in their collection and people can come here and see it,” Whipple said.

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