On display from February until July 2011, The History Center is pleased to present, Dear Friend Amelia – Lives and Letters in the Civil War, an exhibit which pays homage to the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, recognizing the lives and sacrifices of local people who served in the war. It will also look at the lives of the families and loved ones left behind. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be letters of soldiers, particularly the letters of Major Doctor Tarbell of Ithaca, and Private John Tidd of Caroline.
For nearly 50 years local photographer Verne Morton (1868-1945) devoted himself to photographing Tompkins County rural and village life. To honor the life’s work of this beloved local artist, The History Center, in partnership with the Dryden Mutual Insurance Company which is celebrating its 150-year anniversary in May 2010, is pleased to present this special exhibition of Morton’s work. The exhibition draws upon Dryden Mutual’s private collection of digital reproductions taken from the glass plate negatives of The History Center’s extensive Verne Morton holdings.
Part I, May / June: Observer of Nature and People
in June by an exhibit of period specific textiles and objects
from Morton’s time, as well as Morton’s own collections
of rocks and minerals and pressed flowers.
Part II, July: Images and Vessels of Daily Life
by an exhibit of The History Center’s stoneware collection.
Part III, August: The Medium of the Machine
by an exhibit of The History Center’s collection of various
record producing machines, from cameras to typewriters.
Part IV, September: Back to School
by an exhibit of objects relating to the work and play of children
from The History Center’s collection.
On view through May 16th, The History Center is pleased to present Hungarian Embroideries and Folk Art Made and Acquired by Eniko Farkas, featuring an extensive sampling of embroidered textiles, folk art painted items, and original folk costume pieces. In addition to pieces collected, the exhibit will include a body of work designed and made by Eniko Farkas, a Hungarian master embroiderer and folk artist who resides in Ithaca.
retrospect, I was thinking why I was so attracted to color, variety
in needle work. In the long run, I think I was always very creative
but the poverty and misery of my life during the Stalin years
thwarted it. Once in the United States, having a stable life,
access to information, materials, the nurturing environment of
Ithaca, and meeting many wonderful, kindred spirits, I was able
to blossom out in my colorful embroideries and other art work."
In conjunction with this exhibition, The History Center is hosting a series of events throughout the spring that focus on the issue of recent local immigration. Please see our home page for more information.
Our records inform us that The History Center has over 200 paintings in its collection. Most have not been seen in a very, very long time and are stored in crates and other containers, so we thought it was time to see what we have! In October 2009, we began the process, bringing the crates, a few at a time, into the gallery, to open them up and exhibit the pictures for all to see. Each painting will be on display for about a month, so come often to see them all by the end of April 2010. As we hang each piece, we will assess them for condition, retention, future storage, and improved record-keeping. We are also taking this opportunity to condense some items in deep-storage in the first floor locked storage area so that the paintings can be repacked and moved into the empty space. This will make room in our archives for more heavily used documents and photographs.
Part I, November: Alison Mason Kingsbury Bishop (1898 – 1988)
Alison Mason Kingsbury Bishop was born in Durham, NH, but she made Ithaca her home in 1927. She was an accomplished artist and produced a great oeuvre of work documenting Tompkins County’s dramatic landscapes and, later, Ithaca’s cityscapes. The artist also did a number of book illustrations, the most notable to the local community perhaps being the 1962 “History of Cornell” by her husband, Cornell Romance Language professor, Morris Bishop.
Alison Mason Kingsbury Bishop was an enthusiastic supporter of the DeWitt Historical Society, now known as The History Center in Tompkins County. The artist generously donated a number of pieces to the Society. This is the first of a series of rotating exhibitions as The History Center unveils its art holdings in its Historic Paintings Unwrapped show.
Part II, December: Henry Walton (1804 - 1865) & Jefferson Beardsley (1833 – 1895)
The second month of our Historic Paintings Unwrapped features the work of local artists Henry Walton, Jefferson Beardsley, and others. Walton, who lived in the Finger Lakes region for part of his life, painted exquisite watercolor views of Ithaca in the 1830s and 1840s. Beardsley was an innovative photographer as well as a painter in Ithaca during the mid and late 19th century. He often worked with Cornell faculty and students as his subjects.
Part III, January / February: Walter Glenn Norris (1895 – 1969)
Walter Glenn Norris was a lifelong Ithacan whose paintings have contributed to our understanding of local history. He was appointed as the first Tompkins County Historian in 1944, a position he held for 25 years.
As both a historian and an artist, Norris is known for his meticulous research in preparation for his paintings. Often using primary sources from the collection of the DeWitt Historical Society, now The History Center, he produced detailed and accurate watercolor paintings and maps depicting both important and lesser-known events, colorful characters, and early landscapes. He served as president, and then librarian, for the society, continuing in that role and as the county historian until his death in 1969.
Part IV, March: Portraits with a Touch of Landscape
The History Center's painting collection is dominated by portraits bequeathed to the organization by a variety of Ithacans who, at one point or another, were well heeled enough to commission an artist to render their likeness. This month's chapter of the Historic Paintings Unwrapped rotating exhibition features a selection of these portrait paintings. All are composed in oils and follow similar conventions in form with sitters vertically framed from the midsection up. Their clothing varies in degrees of formality, as do their expressions – from half-smiles to aloof countenances. The selection surveys almost 150 years with a variety of subjects and artists represented. Despite notable commonalities, the differences between each portrait are striking and can be quite telling of both the sitter and their time.
Part V, April: Edward Mack Curtis Hawkins (1877 – 1948)
Edward Mack Curtis Hawkins was an impressionistic landscape painter based in Ithaca from 1896 to 1935. With his wife May Palmer, a painter in her own right, Hawkins worked out of The Loft Studio at 120 East State Street. After moving on from Ithaca, he worked in New York City and Baltimore before he and his wife finally settled in Newburgh, NY.
As a young painter in Ithaca, Hawkins was a student of Jefferson Beardsley, an accomplished local portrait painter and photographer. Hawkins' own oeuvre was dominated by landscapes that were viewed by the press of the time as remarkable for their use of color and atmosphere.
Cayuga Lake, the longest of New York’s Finger Lakes, lies at the heart of Tompkins County. More than 38 miles long and 3 ½ miles wide at its widest point, Cayuga Lake is famous for its beauty, and for the gently rolling lands surrounding it. Commercial boating thrived here since the early 19th century as steamboats and ferryboats traveled the lake, and recreational and competitive boating and swimming have brought fun and prosperity to lakeside communities.
Opening on June 16th, this exhibit uses artifacts and images to depict the commerce and the sport, the swimmers, and the steamboats that have made lake life rich and rewarding. See early 20th century bathing suits, images of 1890s crew races, and a replica of the famous Frontenac, the magnificent Cayuga Lake steamboat that came to so tragic an end.