ArtWalk 2014 will take place Sept. 24 to Oct. 12, and the Tri-Cities Historical Museum is proud to be a venue again this year.
Many well-known artists such as painter Catherine McClung and sculptor Lee Brown have displayed their work at the museum during the event.
The museum takes a maximum of 20 artists on a first-come basis. Their work will be displayed on the museum’s mezzanine level and a small portion of Centennial Hall. This makes it possible to continue to display our current exhibit “Portraits from the Past: 19th Century Lithographs of Native American Chiefs.”
As the museum prepares to participate in ArtWalk again this year, we look back on the rich history of the arts in the Tri-Cities community.
Lewis Cross was a painter who moved to Spring Lake in the 1880s with his family, and became well-known for his art as well as his unique personality and home. Beginning in 1914, he spent four years building his own home and studio using concrete blocks of his own design. The unusual structure became known as “the castle” to locals and a curiosity stop for riverboats.
Being surrounded by so much natural beauty can inform an artist’s aesthetic, subject matter and style of work. This was the case with Cross, as he is most known for his murals of passenger pigeons, an animal which is now extinct.
Cross’ work also depicted hunting scenes, log jams and other activities that he saw along the river and bayous. And he offered art lessons, advertising himself as a landscape, marine and portrait artist. The museum’s collection houses a few of these works, including a self portrait, and two large murals of passenger pigeons that are currently on display at Hemlock Crossing.
Another local artist that you may know is Winsor McCay. He was born in 1869 in Spring Lake, and would go on to become a pioneer in American comic strips and animation. McCay showed great promise and talent at an early age when it came to drawing — and though he never finished grade school, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute. McCay joined a traveling circus and worked as a billboard and poster painter, and then later joined the vaudeville stage with a successful chalk-talk, a monologue presentation done while the speaker draws.
It was not until he started working as a political cartoonist at the Cincinnati Times Star that he developed his first comic strip, “Tales of the Jungle Imps.” His most famous strip, “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” began in 1905 and appeared once a week as a full page in color, not only syndicated in the United States but also in Europe. “Little Nemo,” a dream-fantasy wherein the title character was awakened as he fell out of bed in the last frame of each episode, was honored with an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1966.
At the museum, it is our mission to preserve Tri-Cities history and educate our citizens and the public about our community. As much as we preserve the work and legacy of past artists, we also like to celebrate and acknowledge art that is created today.
Please join us in celebrating as we will be hosting Opening Night Artist/Venue Gala at the Depot Museum of Transportation on Sept. 24 and the Closing Celebration at the Akeley Building on Oct. 9.
For a complete list of artists displaying at the museum during ArtWalk, go to www.tri-citiesmuseum.org.
— By Meredith Meyer and Barbara Carlson. Meyer is the collections manager and Carlson heads media and promotions for the Tri-Cities Historical Museum.