|Out of the Box 20x24 acrylic on linen|
We have been preparing a show of 30 paintings for ShiawasseeArt Center (SAC) the last few weeks. All the paintings are framed and in shipping boxes waiting for the drop off day. The prep work for any major show takes many hours of caring for details and at times frustrating delays but all is completed as we are looking at our sore finger tips from the hanging wires. Ah, a sigh of relief.
Helene and I needed a little R and R so we took a trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to the art center area. The first visit was to Art Link, an old favorite art venue. In one small gallery space we saw young children’s art that was so pure and sweet. We could just imagine the small hands plying with their creations. Art Link shares space in a building of Arts United. Lots of education going on here that includes visual and performing arts.
Across the street at the newly redesigned Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMoA) we were astounded again by young artists from high schools in 54 counties of Indiana and Ohio. The museum offers one of the rare scholastic arts programs in the country highlighting the value of art education. The works of these young people was very inspiring and gave us hope that the new generations will be just fine and the arts will thrive into the future.
We walked through the American Tapestry Biennial 9 show in another gallery of the museum with intricate beautiful works. We said to each other, “how can this get any better?”
The next large gallery room we glided into under the haze of Stendhal syndrome - too much fine art. We almost zipped through this gallery of large colorful paintings without a closer look. Stendhal on hold our quick glance around the large gallery was stunning. I had to sit and regain some form of composure. While sitting in a stage of utter surprise I let the magnificent paintings come to me, and they came - with their stories and their own histories of survival.
Closer inspection of images spanning mid-century master works surprised me. Hidden Treasures the sign said: The John Whittenberger Collection of G. David Thompson at Peru Indiana High School. What? A high school collection in Peru, Indiana? What was this story all about? We asked at the desk and got a fragment of the story. Thanks to the internet we were able to piece most of the story together.
G. David Thompson, a Peru High School alumni back in 1913, called a troubled student, found art and art appreciation through a beloved teacher, John Whittenberger. Thompson left Indiana for Pittsburg where he became a financial investor and an executive in Pittsburgh steel industry. But it was art and art collection that gave him great pleasure. In 1938 he donated 8 pieces of his collection to Peru High School in the name of his mentor, Whittenberger.
Throughout the years until his death Thompson donated a rich collection of works by Picasso, Dali, Miro, Roualt, Predergast, and dozens of other fine art paintings along with ancient Oriental pottery, 200 items in all. The trouble was over those years that these treasured works became too valuable to hang on the walls of the old high school. When the new school was built in 1970 the works were tucked carefully away in a closet designated as the janitor’s supply room. Art teachers over those years knew about the works and even used a few now and then for their art education.
It is the students of those lessons that have taken the initiative to present the valued collection to the public and the students of Peru as intended by the gracious donor G. David Thompson. A new gallery is being built in the high school along with high tech security. What a story! What a testament to the value of a good art education in the schools.
I hope you get a chance to explore art in your area and if you get to the Midwest check out the venues at Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Unfortunately the premier showing of Hidden Treasures will be closing February 24. The student scholastic show continues until mid-April.
And if you are in mid-Michigan during March and early April please come to the Shiawassee Art Center (206 Curwood Castle Drive, Owosso, MI 48867) to see Joel Ellis Art in the main gallery. Other artists in the building include blacksmith metal artist, Doug Thayer and photography by Karen Kangas-Preston. Opening reception is March 1 from 6 – 8 pm.
Hope to see you there.
|Earth Cycle 18x24 acrylic on linen|
|Touch of Lavender 36x48 oil on canvas , Governor's Residence selection|
|Wild Summer 30x40 acrylic on canvas|
Three of the paintings in the upcoming show at Shiawassee Arts Center February 26-April 14
Opening Reception Friday, March 1 6-8 pm
Look about you, folks and enjoy!