Museum as Muse: Remembering the American Civil War
Contemporary Artists Inspired by the 150th Anniversary of the U.S. Civil War
The Greene County Council on the Arts is proud to announceMuseum as Muse: Remembering the American Civil War, a collaboration between Greene County’s art and history institutions. Meet the artists along with General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant at the opening reception on Saturday, August 11 from 5-7 PM at the GCCA Catskill Gallery,398 Main Street, just north of the movie theater.
This unique exhibition brings historic artifacts alive through the creative interpretations of 11 contemporary artists. In the upstairs gallery, Undaunted Valor, a related exhibition, features historical paintings by Mark Maritato depicting the Rebel and Union forces.
Both exhibits are on view through Sept. 29. Gallery hours are Monday- Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM. Call 518-943-3400 for directions or visit greenearts.org.
“Daguerrotype in Cemetery” by Moshe & Rivka Katvan.
Local historians Regina Daly and Sharon Quinn, who curated the shows, researched area museums and selected a variety of artifacts that tell stories about the war’s span from 1861 to 1865. Known as the deadliest war in American history, with an estimated 750,000 soldiers dead and an undetermined number of civilian casualties, these years left a lasting scar on the lives of both Northern and Southern families. The struggle to resolve issues about slavery, industrialization and the role of the federal government continues to this day in the modern guise of persistent racism, socially and ecologically sustainable industry and red states versus blue states partisanship that curiously match Union and Confederate lines.
In this unique collaboration between the arts and historical institutions, Greene County Legislator Joe Izzo has created a tribute video to the Civil War soldiers buried in Catskill’s Thompson Street cemetery. Izzo’s family has placed American flags on soldiers’ graves on Memorial Day for 30 years.
Photographers Rivka and Moshe Katvan photographed Greene County Minority Historian Charles Swain wearing a rare pre-Civil War artifact from the Greene County Historical Society’s collection – a numbered medallion used to identify slaves at auction.
Texas-born, Palenville artist Jill Skupin Burkholder worked with primarily Confederate photographs from the public domain images at civilwar-pictures.com. C. Michael Bufi’s emotional painting Gettysburg II was created in response to a visit to the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Kiskatom/NYC photographers Rivka and Moshe Katvan worked with artifacts from the Durham Center Museum and scholar Juanita Leisch’s private collection featuring everyday objects used by women and children during the Civil War era. Valerie White’s portrait of a solitary cavalryman at rest was a particular favorite of curator Regina Daly. Greenville artist Jeanne Strausman’s collages share esthetic elements with juror/collector Sharon Quinn’s private collection of womens’ cartes-de-visites.
Joanna Szakmary reproduced a quilt from the collection of the Zadock Pratt Museum. The original quilt was made during the Civil War by Suzanna Slater of Athens as a gift to her husband, John Towner of Company K, 20th New York State Militia. The newly created piece has been donated to the Zadock Pratt Museum for a Sept. 15 raffle at Colonel George Watson Pratt Heritage Day. The raffle will raise funds for building renovation and collection conservation after damage caused by the flooding of tropical Storm Irene.
Civil War figurative sculptor Ron Tunison’s work is based on Col. David S. Cowles’ military boots from the Robert Jenkins House Museumof the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Commander of the 128th New York regiment nicknamed ‘Old Steady”, Cowles was wearing these boots when he was killed at the battle of Port Hudson.
Mark Maritato and Paul Martin III’s works are born of a longstanding interest in the Civil War. Their paintings depict significant battles and detailed portraits of soldiers’ uniforms and character. Martin’s portraits of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Gen. Robert E. Lee and President Abraham Lincoln are made in the style of hand painted, Civil War era engravings.
Maritato’s paintings commemorating the Irish Brigade and 20th Maine regiment are included in the group show downstairs. Upstairs, don’t miss the solo show, Undaunted Valor, the Historical Paintings of Mark Maritato. One side of the gallery shows battle scenes featuring Union regiments and a Portrait of President Abraham Lincoln. Across the gallery, Confederate battle scenes are represented through four paintings; the Confederate battle flag, General Robert E. Lee’s moment of triumph at Chancellorsville Virginia, Confederate artillery at Antietam and the Battle of Franklin Tennessee.
Another wall features Maritato’s studies of individual soldiers’ portraits showing enlisted men’s uniforms in carefully documented detail. Maritato’s painting, 2nd United States Sharpshooters, is previewed in this exhibit for the Zadock Pratt Museum’s August 26th fundraising auction.
“95th Pennsylvania”, mixed media on board by Mark Maritato.
Join us on Saturday, Sept. 8 for a unique trio of historic presentations from 3-5 PM. Cairo artist Ron Tunison will share his figurative sculptures in a slide show revealing his process and a lifetime of works focused on the Civil War. He will be followed by photographer Eric Johnson showing his recent tin types created at the Bronck house, depicting local re-enactor Gus Truin as a Civil War Quartermaster seated at a portable field desk, part of the Greene County Historical Society’s collection. This series is capped off by historian and exhibit curator Regina Daly, reading from her newly released books, “Reports to the Homefront – A Sesquicentennial Commemoration of Civil War Journalism in Greene County”. This two-volume set excerpts news and editorials from three early Greene County newspapers: The Catskill Recorder and Democrat, The Catskill Examiner and The Windham Journal. Daly credits an important journalistic archive housed at the Greene County Historical Society’s Vedder Research Library, which provided an important historic narrative for the exhibition.
On Saturday, September 15, don’t miss Women and War from 3-5 p.m. Greene County Historical Society President Bob Hallock will narrate Elizabeth Miller’s Diary with a dramatic reading by Lindsay A. Goranson wearing full period dress. This document was recently purchased for the Vedder Research Library and later transcribed by Hallock as a script. Miller lived in New Baltimore and left a detailed diary of her impressions and insights of the war up through Lincoln’s assassination and funeral train.
Scholar Juanita Leisch follows this performance with a slide show of artifacts relating to the role of women during the war years based on her collection and book, “Introduction to Civil War Civilians.”
Museum as Muse: Remembering the American Civil War and Undaunted Valor, the Historic Paintings of Mark Maritato are on view at the GCCA Catskill Gallery, 398 Main Street in Catskill NY from August 11 to Sept. 29, 2012. Gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 AM -5 PM. For more information, visit greenearts.org.