Monday, August 31, 2015

Lehigh University Provides Mutliple Images of Paintings by Quirk

We reached out to Lehigh University seeking information on Quirk and his paintings. In addition to having a healthy collection of Ashcan School works they also have seven works by the "forgotten master." We are uploading the first three today all oils-

Again, the variety of styles is striking... We have a very painterly work of George Fearnside, then a group figural piece that almost brings to mind the work of Thomas Hart Benton with a bright palette and numerous figures at work. Finally we finish with a very realistic portrait of Professor Crum. He was Head of the Department of Classical Languages at Lehigh U.

Francis J. Quirk  painting of George Fearnside
Georrge Fearnside by Francis J. Quirk  Oil on Linen Image provided by Lehigh University
Mr. Fearnside graduated in 1928 from Lehigh and married a concert violinist Viola. He traveled the world working for the Dravo Company out of Pittsburgh. Both Dravo brothers were graduates of Lehigh. In their travels. The couple spent 12 years in Paris and purchased numerous drawings that have now been donated to several institutions.

Francis J. Quirk painting of "The Fishermen"
The Fishermen  by Francis J. Quirk  Oil on Canvas  Image provided by Lehigh University

Earlier, we mentioned that this painting was reminiscent of Thomas Hart Benton. While the handling of the paint and forms is different, the color and composition have some similarities. See the Benton image below. The figures are in both pictures are in motion, all in different positions with brightly colored clothing.

Painting by Thomas Hart Benton

The portrait of Professor Crum was presented to him in1959 and it is very well executed in a classic pose. This pose looked familiar to us and we realized it is similar to the painting that started all this research- the portrait of Mark S. Hatfield "The Summer Pastor"

Francis J. Quirk Painting of Earl Laverne Crum
Earl Laverne Crum by Francis J. Quirk  Oil on Canvas  Image provided by Lehigh University

The Summer Pastor by Francis Quirk painted in 1944
Comparison of Quirk Portraits  He liked this view. Then again, how many different ways can you paint a portrait?
One open question in viewing the paintings 15 years apart is "Has Quirk's technique evolved? Or is he merely painting for a different customer who wanted a more classic portrait?"

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yahtzee! Lehigh University Provides Key Brochure for 1973 Exhibition

Lehigh University graciously reached into their archives and provided the pamphlet of Quirk's 1973 solo show.

We were able to excise several images from the brochure and they exhibit a variety of styles and  subjects. Many were painted while spending time at the Ossabaw Island Foundation.
Ossabaw Island is a national treasure preserved by Eleanor Torrey-West and her family for the benefit of present and future generations. Ossabaw is a 26,000 acre undeveloped barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean owned by the State of Georgia and located in Chatham County and not too far from Savannah. The island was generously transferred to the State of Georgia on June 15,1978 and designated as Georgia’s first Heritage Preserve with the written understanding that Ossabaw would “only be used for natural, scientific and cultural study, research and education, and environmentally sound preservation, conservation and management of the Island’s ecosystem.” The acquisition was made possible by the generosity of Mrs. West and her family, a personal gift to the State of Georgia from Robert W. Woodruff, the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, and the State’s commitment to preservation of the island.

Ossabaw Island. Georgia Location and Orientation Map ,
Ossabaw Island on Georgia's Coast
The Ossabaw Island Foundation is a public non-profit 501 c3.  Through a public-private partnership with the State of Georgia, inspires, promotes, and manages exceptional educational, cultural, and scientific programs that are designed to maximize the experience of Ossabaw Island, while minimizing the impact on its resources.

The Foundation welcomes all creative people including writers to come and work on the island and be inspired by Ossabaw's solitude and beauty.

In order to continue to balance their operating budget they are no longer able to support complimentray stays.

 Now back to Quirk and the exhibition...

The following is text from the pamphlet printed with the Francis Quirk; Recent Work exhibit at Lehigh Univerisity that opened on May 4, 1973.

As my predecessor in the positions of educator, curator, and director of exhibitions at Lehigh University, it is appropriate that Francis J. Quirk be honored in this ultimate gallery presentation of my first year at Lehigh. It is equally fitting that this is no retrospective display of Mr. Quirk’s talent as an artist, not another “ gold watch” to be placed on his chain of achievements but rather is clear evidence of his continued vitality and contribution to Lehigh and the much larger community he has served so well and in so many ways for many years.

Most of the works on display are the fruits of a grant from the Ossabaw Island Foundation and of Mr. Quirk’s efforts last fall while living on the unspoiled island off the coast of Georgia that this foundation maintains. 

The paintings and drawing in this exhibition clearly reveal that the artist is an Eclectic; but it is hardly a negative judgment to define his work in this way. The variety of subject matter –portraits, genre scenes, nature studies, abstractions of “found objects” –and the range of techniques that Mr. Quirk has employed on his canvases to communicate his reactions to these subjects supports his own estimation of his approach to art: that the eye is a window, but that the hand, in recording what the eye sees, does so also under the controls of emotional reaction and of reason. Thus he sees an object, a sitter’s character, the essence of a landscape or genre scene not merely through lenses, but through his own feelings for these subjects and through knowledge of how such subjects have been seen by generations of artists before him. He then applies that technique or composition which best suits the qualities in the subject and his feeling for it, in order to communicate these to us, his audience. Hence his study of a constructed, found object such as “4 Step Gantry Gate” has “hand-edged,” “op” qualities as well as Picabia-like realism in a mechanically impossible construction and is executed suitably in acrylic. His “Glossy (im.) & White-faced Ibis,” employs the soft naturalism of a Degas to capture the mood of the scene at Ossabaw; while his “Portrait of the Artist #3” is done in a forceful, slashing technique, analogous to that of De Kooning, that grants us more than a mere superficial view of the artist’s facial topography. 

Mr. Quirk is “his own man,” a Yankee individualist, bound to no single school of painting or fashion of the moment. 

Donald D. Schneider, Director

Four Step Gantry Gate  acrylic painting by Francis J. Quirk

Four Step Gantry Gate ehibitied by Francis Quirk 1973 black and white
Black and White Image of Four Step Gantry by Francis J. Quirk  Gate  Acrylic on Canvas  From Exhibition Pamphlet at Lehigh University.

Glossy White Faced Iris painted by Francis J. Quirk

Image of Francis J. Quirk painting   Glossy Whire Faced Iris black and white image
Black and White Image of Glossy White Faced Iris by Francis J. Quirk  Gate  oil on Canvas  From 1973 Exhibition Pamphlet at Lehigh University.


Portrait of the Artist #3  by Francis J. Quirk

Image of Francis Quirk painting Portrait of the Artist #3
Black and White Image of Portrait of the Artist #3 by Francis J. Quirk  Oil on Canvas  From 1973 Exhibition Pamphlet at Lehigh University

One interesting aspect of Quirk’s work is that he was so versatile; using watercolor, oil, acrylic and pastels. He also had a variety of styles; the Four Step Gantry Gate is reminiscent of Escher’s work, and Portrait of the Artist #3 evokes De Kooning.  While he was awarded with the Ossabaw and Tiffany fellowships, he did not achieve widespread fame in his own lifetime.  Perhaps that versatility worked against him.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Visit to New Hampshire's Ogontz Camp Blows Us Away!!

Since we had heard that many objects from Ogontz College were taken to the Ogontz Camp in 1950 when the college closed, we decided to visit the Camp to see if just maybe one of Quirk’s paintings was hanging in a lodge or barn building. 
Aerial view of Camp Ogantz in its glory. Note the two riding rings.
It was a long drive to Lyman, New Hampshire, but it was sure worth it. The beautiful camp is located on a small lake on 350 acres and has a unique rustic feel like none I had ever visited before.  The camp now hosts various camps in the course of the Summer including a Scandinavian week, dancing week and music week.

Rustic Cabin at Camp Ogontz

Camp Ogontz Cabins

The upper campus is ringed by a series of log cabin structures that once housed the girls. They are rustic and tasteful.
Camp Ogontz Dining Hall decorated for a wedding
The lower campus contains a dining hall , workshops, a lodge on the lake  for receptions and an impressive main concert hall. While that hall is not completed, it is an architectural masterpiece with massive tree trunks serving as supports and interior wood finishes.  When complete it will be stunning.  Sadly, at the moment they are short on funds. The ground floor is open and even with this limited access, it is impressive.

The Cabin on the lake is a beautiful and wonderful location for a reception party.
A wedding party on the deck of the Cabin at Camp Ogantz

Around the campus there are various buildings including stables, barns , and other spaces.  It  looked like a child’s dream to me and I could imagine no better summer for a ten year old, than rambling about the place exploring, using ones imagination and just having fun.
One of the many stables at Camp Ogantz. This one accommodated eight horses.
In its prime, the Camp must have been amazing. Stalls could accommodate at least  50 horses and there used to be a riding ring, a dressage ring and at least four tennis courts.
Beautiful Gardens at Camp Ogontz
The plantings are beautiful and the gardens were in their Summer glory.
A rustic stone stairway at Camp Ogantz- beautiful to look at, but a challenge to walk.
We ambled around the camp, poking our noses in here and there, but saw no sign of a Francis Quirk painting.  Andrew the Supervisor in the bakery was very friendly and helpful. The camp owner was rather short in explaining that paintings from Ogantz College are to be found at Penn State’s Museum.  It is too bad that she was not friendlier as I would have been happy to donate a bit to help complete the Hall or possibly find a way to come up and put in some time driving nails. (Life Lesson for non-profit executives-Groom Everyone.)

Beautiful and architecturally striking music building at Camp Ogantz

Internal view of music building at Camp Ogantz

While we found no paintings by Quirk, exploring the camp was tons of fun. It's appeal as a wedding location is obvious.
But as one door closes, another opens…. Let’s see what Penn State has…

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Francis Quirk's Mail Box Goes Boom!

In our never ending quest for information on our Pennsylvanian painter, Francis Quirk, we came across the photograph below.  It appears that a mailbox has been blown up by some rowdies. It is available for purchase on EBay.

Painter Francis J. Quirk  Exploded Mailbox
Francis Quirk and local law enforcement examine damaged mail box.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Francis J. Quirk Wins Prize at Providence Art Club

The Providence Art Club is the second oldest art club in the country. Located at 11 Thomas Street in
Providence, RI 02903. I can't believe that I have not heard of it despite my having visited the city and RISD several times. And visiting the Art Club is free!

Providence Art Club  Providence Rhode Island  If you think this looks good, go inside!

They describe themselves as follows.. 

Along Thomas Street, in the shadow of the First Baptist Church, stands a picturesque procession of historic houses, home to the studios, galleries and clubhouse of the Providence Art Club. Said to be the oldest art club in the nation after the Salmagundi Club in New York, our distinguished Providence institution has been here so long that no one can remember a time when Thomas Street was not synonymous with the Providence Art Club. In 1880 a group of professional artists, amateurs, and art collectors founded the Providence Art Club to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community. This new club would exist “for art culture” the founders proposed, and when they met to draw up their charter one February night in 1880, they inscribed that phrase on their seal. What they needed, the 16 founding men and women decided was a place to gather, and an exhibition gallery where artists could show their work and collectors could find good pictures. Within a month they had enlisted 128 members. Within six months the art club had leased an entire floor of a large building for studios and gallery space, where its first anniversary loan exhibition drew 1500 visitors in two weeks. Soon the Club had outgrown its quarters, and by the winter of 1887 it had moved to its present home on Thomas Street. Club members established a Club House in the 1790 Obadiah Brown House, where they combined its second and third floors to create a grand exhibition gallery flooded with daylight from the windows in its roof monitor. There the Art Club holds its dramatic presentations, musical evenings, and lectures. On the ground floor the founders preserved the old kitchen and dining room, where they gathered at lunch for Rhode Island jonny-cakes – a tradition still observed today. The artists furnished the Club House with tables and chairs of their own design and construction. They decorated the fresh plaster with ornamental friezes and then painted the silhouette profiles of club members on the walls. They made fantastic wrought iron andirons for the fireplace and lined the shelves with their beer steins. Paneled with the original wooden shutters saved from the old windows, the Club House is renowned for having some of the most comfortable and charming interiors in Providence.

Founded in 1880 to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community, the Club has long been a place for artists and art patrons to congregate, create, display and circulate works of art. Located along Thomas Street, in the shadow of the First Baptist Church, the Providence Art Club is a picturesque procession of historic houses, home to studios, galleries and the clubhouse. Through its public programs, its art instruction classes for members and its active exhibition schedule, the Providence Art Club continues a tradition of sponsoring and supporting the visual arts in Providence and throughout Rhode Island.

We unearthed documentation that Quirk exhibited there in a 1932 and appears to have one the Junior Prize (or Jurors Prize?). At the time, he would have been a youthful 25 years old. 

Catalog from the 1932 Providence Art Club Annual Exhibition

Catalog Mentioning Francis J. Quirk with Annotation of Prize Win


Unfortunately. We have not been able to find out much about Scott Adams III, but give us time... 

After further exploration we have learned that Quirk again exhibited portraits twice in 1935. In the spring exhibition he had a portrait of Thomas B.A. Godfrey. And again that fall with a painting of William Beck.

Thomas B.A. Godfrey later would matriculate at Harvard University and according to the Harvard Crimson was commissioned into the Naval Reserves in 1942. Interestingly, that article lists his home town as Ardmore, PA. His father was Francis Boyer, former chairman of Smith Kline & French, that became SmithKline Beecham. He went on to be Chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sad Loss of Francis Quirk Painting in1992 to Vandals

In searching for paintings by Francis Quirk, we came across this sad story about vandalism at  Allentown Pennsylvania's Dieruff High School. In the senseless attack on the School's Art Museum one of Quirk's paintings, a portrait appears to have been extensively damaged.  The decision was made not to repair it.

A New Life For Ruined Works At Dieruff High's Museum Of Art

Allentown's DieRuff High School's Art Museum once housed a Quirk Portrait in its Art Museum
May 22, 1992|by GEOFF GEHMAN, The Morning Call
Peter Sardo felt honored. It was Dieruff High School's 1988 commencement, and his retirement as head of social studies was celebrated by the informal rededication of the permanent art collection, which he helped establish in 1965 and had more or less shepherded ever since.
Principal Michael P. Meilinger personalized the announcement by picking up Sardo, who had taught Meilinger everything from shared management of schools to rock formations to good living in New York City.
Two weeks later Sardo felt sick. The June morning began promisingly, with Sardo returning to
 Dieruff to discuss his dedicatory plaque with Meilinger. The day went downhill when they learned that less than eight hours earlier an alumnus, thinking he was the skipper of "Star Trek," had ruined 17 of the 70 artworks.
Sardo cried and cursed at canvases yanked from frames, paintings dented by feet, watercolors ripped like confetti. To make matters worse, a school employee had tossed pieces of the collection into a dumpster.
"I seldom swear, except `damn' or `hell,' but I'm sure I said a few choice words that couldn't be taped," claims Sardo, who for three decades taught geography and geology at Dieruff and Muhlenberg College. " ... It was the antonym of exhilaration: it was debilitation." He remembers only one event more terrible, and that was the death of an 18-year-old son from a brain tumor.
Sardo feels better these days. After a year-plus restoration, and three lengthy postponements, the Dieruff collection was finally, officially, named for him on May 7. Now when he visits the school, he feels more like himself, more like the teacher who would see an artwork in the lobby, or the library, or the sculpture garden, and be challenged "to do my best to advance the cause of education."
Determining the price of mutilation caused the first delay, says Dennis Danko, caretaker of the Dieruff collection since 1986. According to the head of the school's art and music departments, appraisal to reimbursement took about a year.
Prior to damage the 17 pieces were valued at $15,100, notes Ron Engleman, business manager for the Allentown School District (Danko's guesstimate for the whole collection is $100,000). Damaged, the 17 pieces were worth $1,025. To restore the artworks, plus such items as a freedom shrine and photos of Dieruff principals, cost $9,492. Insurance paid for everything but the $1,000 deductible. The remainder came from the school district's general fund.
Delay No.2 involved restoring the restorer. James Brewer III, a conservator from Revere, Bucks County, worked for about two months, then underwent his second and third heart-bypass operations. He recuperated for approximately a year.
Brewer had many opportunities to act like a surgeon during his year and a half on the Dieruff items. Some were slashed. Others were deeply dented. Many carried the vandal's blood. The assignment was nothing new for Brewer, who has sealed the "X" of an ex-wife's razor blade, rubbed off linseed oil applied lovingly but wrongly every five years, and removed everything but an artist's blood.
Ask Brewer for a sample of his Dieruff work, and most likely he will mention Clarence Carter's "Study for Over and Above, #19." Artist and restorer have been partners for 15 to 20 years. One time, Brewer refurbished a Carter painting that had spent decades in a woodshed. This time, he had to bind six pieces of gouache on cardboard without damaging the watercolor.

Brewer began by placing the torn sections face down on a sheet of Mylar. Then he ironed beeswax through the back. Over this he applied Belgian linen and more beeswax. Only unpurified, "dirty" beeswax satisfies Brewer. When an archaeologist friend gave him a nugget from an Egyptian tomb, the first thing he did was taste it. He was testing for sugar content and binding strength.
Brewer finished the Carter by petrolling off the beeswax and regouaching the cracks. He intends to document the process, which he compares to making a grilled-cheese sandwich, in a book on 10 case studies in restoration.
Every Dieruff piece was conserved except two. Brewer says the faces on Francis Quirk's oil-on-canvas could be removed from their white field, reassembled and remounted. Danko insists the price would be too high. Such a renovation, he adds, would violate the artist's goals.
Brewer delivered the last of three installments last summer. Danko booked the rededication of the collection for Dec. 19, 1991. The plan was wiped out by a flu epidemic.
Photo Portrait of President George Bush

Danko rescheduled the ceremony for May 7. The idea, he notes, was to coincide with a spring concert and a reunion of school art angels. While the rededication was a month late for President Bush's visit to Dieruff, Sardo did get to discuss the collection with a federal education official.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Francis J. Quirk Painter and TV-Star!

While seeking information on Francis Quirk and his time in Provincetown, we came upon this article in an issue of the  October 22, 1957 issue of the Reading Eagle. The piece discusses an upcoming gallery talk at the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery.

The article also mentions that the dashingly photographed Quirk is active in two Bethlehem television shows- "Art and I" and "It's Happening There." I believe the programs were broadcast on WFIG, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania TV station which is now longer operational under those call letters. 

The 1950's was the early days of television when they were hungry for content. The program may have even been broadcast live so tapes may not exist. It may be time to reach out and/or visit Lehigh University to see what they have.  Alas, so many leads, so little time.

Image of Francis Quirk with mention of his TV appearances
Article on Francis Quirk Gallery Talk Mentioning His Involvement in Two TV Shows.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Where did Francis Quirk Sell His Art in Maine?

Map highlighting Ogunquit Maine

In our quest to learn more about Quirk, we have begun exploring the places he exhibited and sold his fine paintings. A bio lists the "Ogunquit Gallery" and we have reached out to the non-profit Ogunquit Art Association for their 75th anniversary book to see if it has any mention of him. If so, a visit to lovely coastal Maine could be on the travel itinerary to begin sorting through boxes in the archives. (We'll also stop for a nice lobster at Mabels!)

We also have learned from a helpful person at the Ogunquit Art Association that artist Chris Ritter had a gallery on Route 1 and this could be the gallery referred to in the bio. Route 1 is the coastal road with shops, housing and industry on it.

Chris Ritter was a fairly well known artist himself and had relocated from New York. His bio on Ask says that he was born in 1908 and had a gallery in New York from 1946-1951. He also taught art at Hunter College and Cornell. He died in 1976, but his wife lived on past 2000. Her holdings were auctioned in 2006.

Chris Ritter Self Portrait

.  We will see where this leads.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Francis Quirk's Wife Anna Exhibited Artistic Talent as Well

In our never- ending quest to learn more about Quirk a query on the web revealed that his wife Anna also had some flair with the brush. The article below was in the Lehigh University Brown and White on Tuesday November 23, 1964. It appears that Anna's work had been exhibited at Old Orchard (Beach) Art Association and it was also on view at Moravian College.

According to Wikipedia "Moravian College a private liberal arts college, and the associated Moravian Theological Seminary are located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States, in the Lehigh Valley region. The College traces its founding to 1742 by Moravians, descendants of followers of the Bohemian Reformation (John Amos Comenius), the 17th century Moravian bishop, though it did not receive a charter to grant baccalaureate degrees until 1863.

We have not yet found any of her works... but we have not really tried that hard yet.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is this a Photo of a Francis Quirk Portrait of Robert Strider of Colby College? No.

Quirk's bio lists him as being commissioned by the Colby College Alumni to paint the College President Robert Strider.  The College is located in Waterville, Maine so it is likely that he came to the attention of the school through his Summer presence there. But where is the painting. We checked the collection of the quite respectable Colby College Art Museum and their was no mention of him in the collection.

An aside about the The Colby College Museum Collection, which appears to be well worth a trip to Maine to see. The collection includes major artists such as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Charles Willson Peale, Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Mary Cassatt, Robert Henri, Paul Manship, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

The Museum also showcases the work of significant 20th- and 21st-century American artists, including John Marin, George Bellows, Fairfield Porter, Marsden Hartley, Terry Winters, many works by Alex Katz.  Adolph Gottlieb, Rudy Burckhardt, Chuck Close, Jennifer Bartlett, Lois Dodd, and Elizabeth Murray.

Back to finding Quirks work... So we reached out to the President's Office figuring that the former President's portrait is an administration building conference room or hallway. We are waiting to hear back.

In the mean time we did find a black and white picture of a portrait on the Wheeling Ohio Hall of Fame website where Strider is honored. There we came across this unattributed black and white image of an oil portrait. Is it the full image or a cropped close up? There does not appear to be a signature, was it cropped out?  Only time and investigation will tell.

Portrait of Colby President Robert Strider

For reference here is  picture of younger President Strider from Wikipedia. He was quite an accomplished fellow in addition to guiding the College through a period of extensive growth over a period of 20 years, he received 11 honorary degrees, served in numerous service posts and remained active until his death in 2010. Perhaps the portrait is in the Theater in Runnals Union that is named after him.

Photo of Colby College President Robert Strider
As part of our ongoing research, we have since found the image of the actual portrait. You can see Quirk's work by visiting this post. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Quirk at Ogontz College

Quirk's Biography has him working at Ogontz College from 1935-1950. This entity was entirely new to me. The best information on it comes from the work of Lillian Hansberry of the Penn State Library System.

For 100 years, the elite and prestigious school known as The Ogontz School for Young Ladies was a prominent force in female private education. Three locations served the school, each for about a third of its existence.  The school had its beginnings in 1850 as The Chestnut Street Female Seminary, founded by two teachers, Miss Mary L. Bonney and Miss Harriette A. Dillaye, who had been classmates at the Troy Female Seminary, NY. The location of their "finishing school" was a stately four-story row house at 1615 Chestnut Street- surrounded by some of Philadelphia's wealthiest residences- but after several decades, the success of the school required a search for more suitable quarters "in the country."

In 1883 the school rented the Elkins Park estate of Civil War financier Jay Cooke, named “Ogontz” for Cooke’s boyhood mentor and role model—a Sandusky Indian chief. Cooke also made considerable sums developing railroads including the Northern Pacific Railroad. While he once lost Ogontz in bankruptcy, he purchased it back and donated it to the school. This was one of many charitable activities. He also send painter Thomas Moran out to paint the West. He is known for his paintings of Niagra Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (below.)

With the move, the school assumed the name of the estate and became The Ogontz School for Young Ladies. By then misses Bonney and Dillaye had selected two associate principals from the school’s faculty, Miss Frances Bennett and Miss Sylvia Eastman. At the new location the four principals shared responsibility for a brief time, with Bennett and Eastman gradually taking over entirely. Sylvia Eastman became sole principal after Bennett’s retirement in 1900. For thirty-four years the school thrived in the Jay Cooke mansion, with a student body of about a hundred privileged young girls.

In 1902 a young English teacher joined the faculty, Miss Abby A. Sutherland. She was to become Sylvia Eastman’s hand-picked choice as her successor. After four years of training, during which time Sutherland gradually purchased the school, she took over as principal in 1912—a role she was to maintain until the school closed.

By 1916, the Elkins Park school was outgrowing its quarters. With expansion and modernization in mind, Miss Sutherland purchased fifty-four acres of land on “the rolling hills of Rydal” in suburban Abington Township. Here she built The Ogontz School into an empire that would eventually encompass a primary school from kindergarten to eighth grade (The Rydal School), a high school, and a junior college. The new location opened in the fall of 1917 and distinguished alumnae include Amelia Earhart, Mary Curtis who founded Philadelphia's Curtis School of Music, noted painter Eleanor Massey (Bridges) who taught Art at Vassar and of course Nancy McFeeley who fathered the popular children's TV host Mr. Rogers.

It was at this location that Quirk worked for 15 years. For part of the time he served as Co-Head of the Art Department with Mrs. John Lewis Gross. She was in charge of painting and studies from life. He focused on black and white drawing, murals and History of Art. By the time of his departure in 1949 there was a graduation award in his honor- The Francis J. Quirk Portrait Award for marked progress in the Ogantz Junior College Art Department. The tradition may have started in 1938 when he executed a portrait of Nancy Lustig in Pastel. A Nancy Lustig is listed in the 1940 census as living in Manhattan with her parents; stepfather Saul J. Barow and mother Sophie. The family had a live in driver and cook, so they weren't doing too bad financially.

Changing times and changing fortunes marked the end of The Ogontz School in 1950 when Abby Sutherland gave the campus and facilities to The Pennsylvania State College, now The Pennsylvania State University. This change also may have been the catalyst for Quirk to move on to Lehigh University.
Lodging at Camp Ogontz

Ogontz spun off a camp in the White Mountains in Lisbon, NH. It continued to thrive into the 1960's, but has since shifted to a more musical focus with various groups using it for retreats during the Summer Season.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Portrait Photo of Quirk

While searching for Quirk's painting of Carl Sandburg, I came across this photo of Quirk from the Brown and White Newspaper at Lehigh University.  Now he has a face and it is not the happy jovial type I had imagined.

Francis J. Quirk photo of the painter
Photo of Francis Joseph Quirk from the Brown and White Newspaper at Lehigh University