Thursday, February 22, 2018

Francis Quirk's Eclectic Curation Extends to Photogrpahy and Ansel Adams

We continue our research on Francis Quirk through his eclectic exhibit schedule while Head of the Art Department at Lehigh University.  Amid the 1951 exhibit schedule, he curated a Photography exhibit that included the works of four world-renowned photographers: Ansel Adams, Maurice Tabard, Andreas Feininger and Bernice Abbott. The four exhibitors were a diverse lot as each had a different style and focus, extending from nature, to fashion to urban documentation. 

Once again, Quirk is a the cutting edge. There are two factors driving this characterization. First, he included a female in an era that could be characterized as less open to artistic work from that gender. And second, it is worth noting that many art galleries would not consider showing photographs until well into the 1960's. Photography was still not treated as a high art like painting. 

This post will focus on Ansel Adams. An extensive biography may be found on the Ansel Adams Gallery Website. In 1951 Adams was well-known but still in the meat of his career. In 1950 he had just published the third of his 8 volumes of photographic folios. He was and remains America's foremost nature photographer. We have excerpted a biography of Mr. Adams below. The original can be found here on

Ansel Adams was born on February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, California. Adams rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, using his work to promote conservation of wilderness areas. His iconic black-and-white images helped to establish photography among the fine arts. He died in Monterey, California, on April 22, 1984.

Early Life
Ansel Adams was born in on February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, California. His family came to California from New England, having migrated from Ireland in the early 1700s. His grandfather founded a prosperous lumber business, which Adams’ father eventually inherited. Later in life, Adams would condemn that industry for depleting the redwood forests.

As a young child, Adams was injured in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, when an aftershock threw him into a garden wall. His broken nose was never properly set, remaining crooked for the rest of his life.

Adams was a hyperactive and sickly child with few friends. Dismissed from several schools for bad behavior, he was educated by private tutors and members of his family from the age of 12.

Adams taught himself the piano, which would become his early passion. In 1916, following a trip to Yosemite National Park, he also began experimenting with photography. He learned darkroom techniques and read photography magazines, attended camera club meetings, and went to photography and art exhibits. He developed and sold his early photographs at Best’s Studio in Yosemite Valley.

In 1928, Ansel Adams married Virginia Best, the daughter of the Best’s Studio proprietor. Virginia inherited the studio from her artist father on his death in 1935, and the Adamses continued to operate the studio until 1971. The business, now known as the Ansel Adams Gallery, remains in the family.

Adams’ professional breakthrough followed the publication of his first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, which included his famous image “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome.” The portfolio was a success, leading to a number of commercial assignments.

Halfdome by Ansel Adams1941

Between 1929 and 1942, Adams’ work and reputation developed. Adams expanded his repertoire, focusing on detailed close-ups as well as large forms, from mountains to factories. He spent time in New Mexico with artists including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand. He began to publish essays and instructional books on photography.
Photograph by Ansel Adams

During this period, Adams joined photographers Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans in their commitment to affecting social and political change through art. Adams’ first cause was the protection of wilderness areas, including Yosemite. After the internment of Japanese people during World War II, Adams photographed life in the camps for a photo essay on wartime injustice.

Weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Adams shot a scene of the moon rising above a village. Adams re-interpreted the image—titled “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico”—over nearly four decades, making over a thousand unique prints that helped him to achieve financial stability.

Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico  by Ansel Adams1941

Later Life
By the 1960s, appreciation of photography as an art form had expanded to the point at which Adams’ images were shown in large galleries and museums. In 1974, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hosted a retrospective exhibit. Adams spent much of the 1970s printing negatives in order to satisfy demand for his iconic works. Adams had a heart attack and died on April 22, 1984, at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, California, at the age of 82.

Photograph by Ansel Adams

There is one interesting aside we will add here. Ansel Adams was close to the famous inventor Edwin Land who effectively invented instant photography at Polaroid Corporation- the company he founded. Ansel was funded by Polaroid and his work was in the Corporate Photography collection that was broken up and sold amid controversy in 2010. Edwin Land is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The author of this blog frequently visits Mr. Land when visiting relatives at the cemetery. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Francis Quirk Curates Exhibition of Works of Richard Treaster with those of the Camille and Henry Drefyus Foundation

In our ongoing exploration of the curatorial work of Francis Quirk at Lehigh University, we learned of a 1967 exhibition of the works of Richard Treaster in combination with works held by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. 

Watercolorist Richard Treaster was born in Lorain, Ohio in 1932. He earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Treaster became a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1966. 

Treaster has earned many honors for his painting including being one of only 50 living painters represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Arts "200 years of American Watercolor" in 1966. His paintings are in over 200 private collections throughout the United States including the Ford Motor Company, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Butler Museum of Art and the National Academy of Design.

Prior to his 2002 death, Treaster resided in Lakewood, Ohio.

We can see why Quirk might have had an affinity for this artist. Both worked in watercolors. And both were skillful draftsman. While Treaster was not as technically skilled as Quirk, he did have the ability to reproduce an image with considerable accuracy as illustrated in the images below. 

Despite his widespread body of work and some referring to him as the premiere watercolorist of his day, Treaster seems to be largely forgotten. He has not a Wikipedia page and we were able to find only one image of his countenance. One reason may be that watercolors don't display as well in Museums as oils. Thus, they are relegated to periodic exhibitions or buried away in archives for most of their lives. 

The Trip by Richard Treaster

Law and Cleveland   Watercolor by Richard Treaster

The Cellist  Water Color by Richard Treaster  Cleveland Museum of Art

The Group Plan by Richard Treaster 

Vermeer and Times by Richard Treaster 1984

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Two New Francis Quirk Chalk Drawings Come to Light at Ursinus College- Depicted Benefactor Berman Donates Harding Painting to Lehigh

Working on a hunch we reached out to Ursinus College in Allentown, Pennsylvania to see if they had any works by Francis Quirk. As it turned out, they had two chalk drawings. One is dated 1965 and is of an unknown gentleman. The other depicts the philanthropist Philip I. Berman who worked with his wife Muriel to support the arts in Pennsylvania.  This drawing of Berman was included in an A to Z listing of works in the Ursinus collection. Given Berman's love of art, his donations to Lehigh, and now, this drawing their is little doubt that Quirk knew Berman well and had a relationship with him.

Portrait of Philip Berman  by Francis J. Quirk  Image Courtesy of Ursinus College
Philip I. Berman  Philanthropist Businessman

Quirk Drawing  Portrait
Portrait of a man 1964 by Francis Quirk  Image Courtesy of Ursinus College
We include another chalk drawing of Quirk's for comparison purposes. 
Francis J. Quirk Chalk Drawing  Portrait of Smoking Man 1951  Image Courtesy of a Private Collector

The Berman's business pursuits included the Fleetways trucking business which Philip Berman managed from 1965 to 1990, and Hess's department store which the Bermans bought in 1968. Hess's was an old Allentown institution and throve mightily under the Bermans, expanding from a single downtown store to a chain of seventeen stores in two states by the time the Bermans sold it in 1979. In 1975 Muriel Berman opened Hess's Fine Arts Gallery, where she exhibited and sold the work of first rate artists.

The Berman's were avid collectors with a wide variety of interests. Their personal collection would include works by many of the leading names in the modern art movement, from American masters such as Thomas Eakins to Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso. The Bermans became a fixture in the art world, traveling through Europe and Israel personally negotiating the purchase of many of his artistic acquisitions. When asked why he bought so many works by each artist he responded with his retailer's philosophy, "If one is good, then 10 is better."

They numbered among their personal friends the artist Francoise Gilot, former mistress of Picasso and mother of Paloma Picasso. When Gilot married Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, she and Muriel Berman shopped for her wedding dress at Hess's.
They regaled their friends with stories of their visits to Henry Moore, whose sculptures occupy prominent positions in the Berman's personal sculpture garden, as well as to Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall.
Berman's list of donations to Museums is impressive. The first outright gift of art for public display may have been the gift of a painting, "Drifting Fog" by George M. Harding, to Lehigh University in 1959. 

This blog is seeking an image of the work from Lehigh University Art Galleries. 

We do not know if Quirk new George M. Harding, but there is some likelihood as both were active in the eastern Pennsylvania art scene and similar organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. 

Major gifts of art followed to Ursinus College and Lehigh University as well as to several other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Philip Berman became Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1989. At Ursinus College, to house their gifts of art, the Bermans established in 1984 the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art.

George Matthews Harding  American Painter 

George Matthews Harding (1882–1959) was an American painter, author-illustrator, and a muralist. Born into an artistic family in Philadelphia, Harding was particularly influenced by the art career of his older sister, Charlotte. Following in her footsteps, he studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, then with the distinguished illustrator-teacher Howard Pyle. In 1903 he began a successful career as an illustrator-author, which included international travel.

On the Trail of the Hun Aylward by George Matthews Harding

After becoming America's first war artist, Harding was particularly intrigued by the new technologies of war. His war pictures are full of guns, airplanes, motorcycles, trucks, and tanks. He returned to American in February 1919 and before the end of the year published a lavish portfolio of his war art, The American Expeditionary Forces in Action.

In 1922, Harding became the head of the department of illustration at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, remaining at the school until his retirement in 1958. During World War II, at age 60, he was once again commissioned as an army captain and created war art in the South Pacific. He was the only AEF artist to serve in both wars. 

Among his work was the murals in the Montgomery County Courthouse. You can read his writings about this work here. He also painted murals for several other Federal buildings including Post Offices as part of the WPA program. 

Ben Franklin Colonial Postmaster- Mural by George Matthews Harding

More can be found in his Wikipedia biography. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Francis Quirk Curates Exhibition with Waldo Peirce

We continue to examine the work of Quirk as a pillar of the Pennsylvania arts community through the exhibitions he organized under Quirk's era at Lehigh.  Perhaps the renaissance of his reputation as a painter will be matched by a new found respect for his curatorial efforts. This post focuses on Waldo Peirce. As you will read below Quirk included him in a 1960 exhibition with Charles Ward and Raymond Galucci  Full Pierce biographies can be found on Wikipedia and Citizendium We have excerpted from them below. 

Waldo Peirce (December 17, 1884 – March 8, 1970) was an American painter.[2]
A 1920 portrait painting of Waldo Peirce by George Bellows, on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco
Peirce was both a prominent painter and a well-known character. He was sometimes called "the American Renoir". A long-time friend of Ernest Hemingway, of whom he painted the cover picture for Time magazine in 1937, he was once called "the Ernest Hemingway of American painters." To which he replied, "They'll never call Ernest Hemingway the Waldo Peirce of American writers."

Waldo Peirce Time Cover Painting of Ernest Hemingway
Cover Painting of Ernest Hemingway by Waldo Peirce  Photo Courtesy of Time Magazine3

As Peirce once said, he never worked a day in his life. He did, however, spend many hours every day for 50 years of his life painting thousands of pictures of his beloved families (he was married four times and had numerous children), still lifes, and landscapes. Peirce was a large man for his time (he was drafted onto the Harvard football team, he said, solely because of his size) and with a mustache and full beard and a large cigar jammed perpetually into his mouth he looked every inch of a cartoonist's notion of an artist. Peirce himself was adamant about one thing: "I'm a painter," he insisted, "not an artist".

He was born in Bangor, Maine to Mellen C. Peirce and Anna Hayford on December 17, 1884. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated in 1903. He then attended Harvard University.
In 1915 Peirce joined the American Field Service, an ambulance corps that served on the French battlefields, two years before the entry of the United States into World War I. He was later decorated with the Croix de Guerre by the French government for bravery at Verdun.

In 1938, he was commissioned by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts to paint two murals, Legends of the Hudson and Rip van Winkle, for the U.S. Post Office in Troy, New York.

Legends of the Hudson by Waldo Peirce  Mural in the Troy, New York Post Office

Rip Van Winkel by Waldo Peirce  Mural in the Troy, New York Post Office 

He lived in Searsport, Maine. He died on March 8, 1970, in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Below is a representative painting of his oeuvre. The Silver Slipper painting of a saloon features a self-portrait of Peirce seated on the left and his friend Hemingway seated at the bar through the archway. 

Silver Slipper by Waldo Peirce 

Peirce was a prolific painter and the abundance of his work may detract from its market value today.  His works can generally be purchased for less than $10,000 and a selection are available from the Liros Gallery in Blue Hill, Maine.

These modest valuations are a bit surprising when one considers his paintings can be found in the museums listed below.
  • Addison Gallery of Ameican Art, at Phillips Academy
  • Arizona State University Art Museum 
  • Brooklyn Museum of Art 
  • Butler Institute of American Art 
  • Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg/Carnegie Institute 
  • Colby College Museum of Art 
  • Columbus Museum of Art–Ohio 
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Company
  • Farnsworth Art Musueum 
  • Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, at the University of Minnesota
  • Georgia Museum of Art, at the University of Georgia
  • Hirschorn Collection
  • James A. Michener Foundation
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art 
  • National Portrait Gallery, at the Smithsonian Institution 
  • Newark Museum 
  • Ogunquit Museum of American Art 
  • Parrish Art Museum 
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 
  • Pepsi-Cola Company
  • Portland Museum of Art 
  • Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery 
  • Smithsonian American Art Gallery 
  • Southern Oregon State College
  • University of Arizona Museum of Art 
  • University of Maine Museum of Art 
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art 
  • Upjohn Company
  • Washington State College
  • Whitney Museum of American Art 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Quirk as a Hub in the Pennsylvania Art Ecosystem- Charles Ward Exhibition

When looking at the exhibitions organized under Quirk's era at Lehigh, we are seeing a stream of talented artists who are now represented in regional and National Museums. Perhaps the renaissance of his reputation as a painter will be matched by a newfound respect for his curatorial efforts. This post focuses on Charles Ward. As you will read below Quirk included him in a 1960 exhbition with Waldo Peirce and Raymond Galucci  A full Ward biography can be found on AskARt. We have excerpted from it below. 

An artist of national repute, Charles William Ward of Carversville, Pennsylvania, was widely admired for his achievements in many media, particularly in the field of mural painting. He also did landscapes and portraits, and the aggregate of his work in all fields was large. His genius was recognized in many one-man shows in cities across the country, and representations in the permanent collections of important museums. Mr.Ward was equally appreciated by his friends and neighbors for his great personal warmth and kindness.

From 1926 until 1931, Mr. Ward was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, at which he studied painting and sculpture. There he won the Thompson Prize for Composition; the Lea Award for Draughtsmanship; and, in 1930, the Cresson European Traveling Scholarship, which enabled him to go abroad and study in Great Britain, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.

His mural work began in 1935, when he executed his "Progress of Industry" mural in the Trenton, New Jersey, Post Office, as the nation's first Post Office mural under the Public Works of Art Project. In 1937 he completed two others in the same building, entitled "Rural Delivery", and "The Second Battle of Trenton". Later large works were "Cotton Picking", in the Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Post Office, and two murals (now lost) which adorn the walls of the Bucks County Playhouse Inn, at New Hope, Pennsylvania. 

In looking through his work, this melancholy painting of a Christmas scene is surprisingly appealing with it s holiday tree and the painter reflected in a mirror. There are signs of wealth,but yet the mother on the right seems tired and distant; as if she were in an Edward Hopper painting. 

The Family by Charles W. Ward

Interestingly his bio includes a quote from Professor Quirk.

Professor Francis J. Quirk, head of the Department of Fine Arts at Lehigh University, said of Mr. Ward's work in 1960, during a group show on the Lehigh campus:

"Charles Ward, rearing back, godlike in his secure opinions, hurls his social commentaries like justified thunderbolts. 'Why?', 'Sorrow' and 'Millwrights' are dissertations as clearly as the works of Goya, Daumier and Rivera. 'Nor may it be implied that their artistic merit suffers for their messages. Craftsmanship and content were well grasped before he received the Cresson traveling scholarship. (His) contemporary-type canvases originate as the expression of a profound humanist, involved with his time and fellow man. They embrace international themes rather than local problems, becoming a part of evolving socio-political concepts."

We have obtained images of two of the paintings below form the Charles Ward Website. 

Why? By Charles W. Ward

Sorrow by Charles W. Ward

'In the area of portraiture, Mr. Ward excels in the handling of representation of many-sided characters. His heads are uncomplexed by fad or style of interpretation. They are clear and clean; opinionated, to be sure, but none the less direct and reflective of the integrity which distinguishes the intelligent, well-trained artist that Mr.Ward is."

We also include below two other images that represent his work. The first is Industry from the Smithsonian Art Museum. 

Industry By Charles W. Ward Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian Art Museum

Goldie Peacock's House by Charles W. Ward  Photo Courtesy of James A. Michener Museum of Art

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Francis Quirk Redesigns the Banner for Lehigh's Brown and White Newspaper

We have begun a survey of articles featuring Francis Quirk in the Lehigh University archives of the Brown and White, the student newspaper. While we have only been through a few years of his tenure, it has been an eye opening experience for three reasons.

First, he established an active and vigorous exhibition schedule with eight events annually.  We are working to establish a list of artisans involved. But it appears that Quirk had broad reach into the art community.  Many of the artists that came through were very well-regarded with works in a number of area museums including the Woodmere Art Museum, the Michener Art Museum, Delaware Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He clearly was a pillar of the local art scene. He also enlisted these artists as guest faculty.

Second, he extensively involved the community with the arts through exhibitions of faculty works, prized objects in faculty homes, and student works.  He created a treasure of the week with a student work being hung in the Gallery in a place of high esteem. Several of these exhibitions were controversial, so there were forums for debate and discussion.

Finally, he reached out to the community through television, a new medium at the time.

As part of the Lehigh University Community he was active in many ways. One highly visible contribution was the redesign of the Brown and White newspaper banner in 1952. 

New Banner for Lehigh University's Brown and White student Newspaper designed by Francis Quirk

Traditional Design fo the Banner for Lehigh University's Brown and White

Monday, November 20, 2017

Violet Oakley makes a strong impression at Lehigh thanks to Francis Quirk

We have begun researching the curatorial work of Francis Quirk while he was at Lehigh University. After his 1950 arrival and an initial show of fifty of Quirk's own works, he hit the ground running with an exhibit of the work of Violet Oakley.  Oakley was the first American woman artist to receive a public mural commission.  She is best known for her work at the Pennsylvania State Capital in Harrisburg. 

Penn's Vision by Violet Oakley
We excerpt below from her biography on the Mary Baker Eddy Library website and added a bit of information we gleaned from other sources. 

Violet Oakley (1874-1961) is now widely known for her talents as an illustrator, stained glass designer, manuscript illuminator, portrait painter, author, and speaker. This remarkable woman gained prominence as an artist at a time when women’s artwork was generally considered inferior to that of men. 

Violet Oakley

Oakley was a prolific illustrator. Her images, appearing in prominent magazines, helped promote women as confident and educated. But perhaps her most widely known accomplishments are as a muralist; she was the first American woman to receive a public mural commission and proved that a woman could not only succeed but create masterpieces in a medium dominated by men. Grand themes of the quest for peace and freedom, undergirded by vigilance and diligence—two qualities she greatly valued in mankind’s quest for peace—resonate through her works, which take on a number of different styles, including Pre-Raphaelite and Art Deco.

Born June 10, 1874 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Violet came from a family of artists, including both her grandfathers. When she was 21, the family traveled to France, where she was inspired by her exposure to works of the great Impressionists. She attended the Académie Montparnasse, studying with the painters Raphaël Collin and Edmond Aman-Jean. When her family returned to America, she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the city that would remain her home for the rest of her life. It was after her sister Hester began studying illustration at the Drexel Institute, and urged Violet to join her, that Oakley became a student of famed illustrator Howard Pyle, who recognized her talent. Under his instruction she blossomed.

In 1902 architect Joseph M. Huston chose Oakley to decorate the new Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, “purely because of her immense talent.” Oakley invested a great deal of time researching for the assignment, traveling to Europe and delving extensively into the life of William Penn, who features prominently in her painting for the Governor’s Reception Room, The Founding of the State of Liberty Spiritual. In the years that followed, she was commissioned to paint murals for the Capitol Rotunda and for the Senate and Supreme Court chambers. In all, 43 of Oakley’s murals adorn the walls of state buildings in Harrisburg; they were painted over the course of 25 years.

The murals can be viewed as a testimony to Oakley’s moral and spiritual ideals. Raised an Episcopalian, Oakley embraced Quakerism and its advocacy of equality and pacifism—two major themes in her artwork. She particularly admired William Penn’s utopian vision for his Pennsylvania commonwealth. 

Oakley was a prolific artist, and it is said that she worked up to the last day of her life. At age 81 she led a large group from Philadelphia on a tour of her work in Harrisburg. 

She was politically active, supporting the League of Nations, the United Nations, and Cold War nuclear disarmament. She is also known as one of the “Red Rose Girls,” who along with fellow artists Elizabeth Shippen Green and Jessie Willcox Smith transformed the Red Rose Inn on the Philadelphia Main Line into a communal art gallery, where the women lived and worked together—something quite revolutionary that pushed against the strict gender roles of  the time. She was instrumental in establishing The Plastic Club in Philadelphia (to promote “art for art’s sake”), as well as the Philadelphia Art Alliance. She also was a driving force at Windmere Art Museum, an institution that Francis Quirk also was actively involved  with. 

Woman with a Fan by Violet Oakley

Violet Oakley died in Philadelphia on February 25, 1961. During much of her lifetime, she was considered the most distinguished woman painter in the United States. But her name fell into relative obscurity after World War II. By the early 1970s, however, there was an increased interest in the artistic styles she championed, and that has led to a deeper interest in her works and those of her colleagues. In 1977 Oakley’s studio in Philadelphia was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as recognition for her multifaceted genius. 

If you are interested in learning more about this amazing woman or seeing her art, there is an exhibit at the Woodmere Museum of Art that includes some of her work. It is on display through January 21, 2018.

What is exciting about this exhibit is how cutting edge it must have been for an all-male college to be highlighting the work of a woman. And for a new Professor of Art, Francis Quirk to make such a bold statement with his first major event, it certainly highlights a daring element in his character and may have positioned him as a bit of an iconoclast.  

Write up in the Brown and White about Oakley's Opening at Lehigh University.