Published: May 2, 2017
NEWPORT, R.I. – In the 30th anniversary year of the founding of his Newport gallery, art dealer Bill Vareika will be inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame during a ceremony on May 6. Ironically, in 2011 Vareika accepted a posthumous Hall of Fame honor on behalf of his favorite artist, John La Farge (1835-1910).
The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame was established in 1965 to honor, recognize, extol and publicize the achievements of Rhode Island men and women who have, in the words of the induction citation, “made significant contributions to their community, state and or nation.” The institution’s mission is to tell the story of Rhode Island history using the biographies of the inductees, noting their collective impact upon every phase of Rhode Island’s development. Inductees are historical and contemporary individuals from a wide range of fields, including government and politics, the arts and humanities, sports, education, entertainment, religion, business and medicine.
Past inductees include the historical figures Roger Williams, Moses Brown, Oliver Hazard Perry, Richard Morris Hunt, Stanford White, Edward Bannister and HP Lovecraft and the more recent political personalities US Senators Claiborne Pell, John Chafee, John Pastore and Jack Reed, Governor Bruce Sundlun and the actors James Woods and Anthony Quinn.
A 1974 graduate of Boston College with a degree in political science, magna cum laude, Vareika abandoned law school plans to move to Newport to volunteer to direct a six-year legal battle to save a historic church that was decorated by La Farge, a Nineteenth Century American artist he had discovered in his one art history course at BC.
Vareika’s first job after college was as a part-time custodian at the Newport Art Association, now the Newport Art Museum. In this early period, he also helped to support himself as a modest art dealer, commonly referred to as a “picker.” He later took a leave of absence from graduate studies in American civilization at Brown University in order to begin a serious career as an art dealer.
His primary interest was the major historic American artists who were attracted to Newport and the Narragansett Bay region. He began by working out of his home as a private dealer, but in 1987 opened a large Bellevue Avenue Newport gallery with his wife in order to present public exhibitions that illustrated their thesis in the importance of the rich artistic heritage of the Newport region in the development of the arts in the United States.
He has specialized in the art of John La Farge and William Trost Richards.
Over the past 30 years, William Vareika Fine Arts, Ltd has grown into one of the largest and most respected galleries in the United States, specializing in the purchase and sale of important Eighteenth, Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century works of art.
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