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Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club

August 21 - November 21, 2010


As the renowned Philadelphia Sketch Club celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, marking it as America's oldest continuously operating club for professional artists, the James A. Michener Art Museum recognizes the organization's most notable Bucks County members with an exhibit of 24 works on paper. Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club is on view through November 21, 2010 in the Museum's Pfundt Gallery. (right: Idaherma Williams, Dragonflies, ca. 1990s. Woodblock print on paper, H. 36 x W. 24 inches. Collection of the artist.)

Founded by six former students of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts who wanted to improve their skills as illustrators, the Philadelphia Sketch Club began operations in 1860. Over the years, the Sketch Club responded to the needs of the arts community by offering classes, workshops, exhibit opportunities and peer support. Members have included such luminaries as Thomas Eakins, Thomas Anshutz, N.C. Wyeth and Alexander Calder, as well as the famed Bucks County painters Edward W. Redfield, Daniel Garber and Walter Baum.

"Throughout its long history, the Philadelphia Sketch Club has boasted a 'who's who' of Philadelphia-area artists among its members," explains Brian H. Peterson, the Museum's Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator. "We're very pleased to be able to highlight Bucks County's contribution to the Club's story, by offering a sampling of works on paper from our collection made by some of the major figures in the region's artistic tradition, as well as works by contemporary artists with Bucks County connections."

Highlights of Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club are charcoal drawings by Daniel Garber (1880-1958), pastel paintings by Walter Baum (1884-1956), woodblock prints by Herbert Pullinger (1878-1961), pencil drawings by Arthur Meltzer (1893-1989) and a watercolor painting by Ranulph Bye (1916-2003). Works on paper by such contemporary artists as Alan Fetterman (b. 1958), Sharon Shaw (b. 1957) and Idaherma Williams (b. 1933) showcase the varied styles of current Philadelphia Sketch Club members with ties to the Bucks County artistic community.

Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club is sponsored by Mary Lou and Andrew Abruzzese, The Pineville Tavern.

More information about the Philadelphia Sketch Club and a complete listing of events and exhibits in conjunction with the organization's 150th anniversary is available online at www.sketchclub.org.

To view other texts from the exhibition please click here.


(above: Arthur Meltzer (1893-1989), Study for Mural, n.d. Mixed media on paper, H. 12.5 x W. 19 inches. James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Davis Meltzer.)


Related event

One of New Hope's finest craftsmen, the late Phillip Lloyd Powell, will be honored by The James A. Michener Art Museum on Friday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m., during a private ceremony to unveil a new acquisition of his work.

The reception is part of a Member's Open House from 4 to 8 p.m. to preview two new exhibitions, LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel, and Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and will celebrate the life and creativity of Powell, who began crafting furniture as a teenager and operated a showroom on New Hope's Mechanic Street beginning in the 1950s. (right: photo of Behrooz Salimnejad, furniture conservator, who has restored the door to the original shades of bright red, reddish-orange and yellow-orange. Photo courtesy of The James A. Michener Art Museum)

The Michener Art Museum acquired Powell's elaborately carved and painted pine door through a Rago Auction in 2009, with funds provided by Sharon B. and Sydney F.Martin. The door will become one of the permanent entrances to the museum's Martin Wing.

"In a short unpublished handwritten memoir from about 1992, Powell revealed that he created the door for the Craftsman 67 exhibition at the Philadelphia Civic Center and then installed it at his New Hope residence on Route 202," says Michener Art Museum Curator of Collections Connie Kimmerle.  "When that building was demolished the door was saved and eventually offered for public auction." 

Over a period of six months, furniture conservator Behrooz Salimnejad undertook a cross-sectional microscopic analysis of the door's paint layers while stabilizing the door and repairing areas that were damaged by insects and moisture.

Powell (1919-2008), whose designs blur the line between sculpture and furniture, created work for collectors as varied as Lenox China and writer Paddy Chayefsky. Sharing studio space with fellow New Hope artisan Paul Evans, Powell began incorporating metal and found objects into his own work.

It was Powell who created the shovel used in the groundbreaking of the former New Hope branch of the Michener Art Museum, and he was commemorated in 2005 with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Hope Borough Council.

Ed Duffy and Herb Spiegel, friends of Powell, will share recollections of the artist, after welcoming remarks by Michener Art Museum Director and CEO Bruce Katsiff, thanking the donors and the conservator.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index age for the Michener Art Museum in Resource Library.

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and biographical information on artists cited in this article in America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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