Cross lived in the area from 1872-1951. He worked mostly in oils, creating scenes of his beloved Grand River and other locations in Ottawa County.
Cross was a naturalist and a conservationist, and many of his paintings emphasize natural or hunting themes. A particular favorite were paintings of passenger pigeons, a species of bird that was hunted to extinction in the early part of the 20th century.
Although Cross received instruction in drawing and painting from what is now Valparaiso University, his works exhibit a personal, naive style that is generally associated with folk artists. However, the unusually large scale of some of his works is a trait that is not generally associated with artists of his training or skill level.
The large scale increases the dramatic impact, and his paintings could reach dimensions as large as 12-by-8 feet.
Another aspect of Cross’s work that was highly valued by the artist himself is the historical nature of the paintings, which often picture ways of life that were either fast disappearing or already gone.
The exhibit kicks off with a public reception from 2-8 p.m. Friday at the museum, 200 Washington Ave. in downtown Grand Haven. It will feature light refreshments and a chance to view the approximately 18 works on display, which were gathered from a variety of local sources, including members of Cross’ family.
The exhibit represents collaboration on the part of the museum with the Grand River Greenway Project, a yearlong initiative of Ottawa County Parks to bring attention to the Grand River and its importance to the community.