June 1, 2015
OSWEGO - Watch the arts come to life at the H. Lee White Maritime Museum on West First Street Pier in Oswego this summer. The project, "Cloning Neptune: Recreating a Masterpiece" with Don Gillespie, celebrates Oswego's rich art heritage. It kicks off in late June and runs all summer. The project includes live painting demonstrations and multi-media presentations, and finishes with a community arts show featuring local artists of all ages.
One of the highlights of the project will be the re-creation of Charles H. Grant's masterpiece, "At the Mercy of Neptune," by aerospace and multi-media artist Don Gillespie. The original 9-ft. oil painting was rendered and unveiled here in the Port City in 1896. Later, it was shown at the New York State Fair where it received rave reviews before settling in the home of a prominent local justice. From there its fate is uncertain.
"Many who now live in Oswego are unaware of the talent that this area produced in the late 19th century," said Gillespie. "Artists such as James Tyler, the namesake of SUNY Oswego's Tyler Hall, and Charles Grant were recognized nationally for their work. Through this project, I would like to inspire others by recognizing and celebrating their talent."
Gillespie's family has a unique history that ties him to these artists. In the late 1800s, his great-grandfather owned an art studio and gallery on West Bridge Street where many works by local artists, including Grant, were displayed.
"I have been fascinated by the works and lives of these great Oswego artists and have really enjoyed learning more about them. The issues surrounding their paintings are surprisingly similar to those of aerospace artists, as we each paint the most modern transportation vessels of our respective times," Gillespie added. A Fulton native, Gillespie participated in local art shows as a youth before moving to Florida where he has had a successful career as an artist. His deep family roots and love for this area kept drawing him back and now Gillespie spends his summers in central New York.
Upon completion of Grant's masterpiece, Gillespie will donate the work to the maritime museum to ensure that Oswego will be its permanent home. "This is a unique opportunity to promote local arts in our community," said David Turner, director of the Oswego County Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department. "The arts not only improve our quality of life, but they also attract business and enhance tourism."
He added, "I hope that the story behind this project helps to educate our residents and visitors about the contributions that Oswego's artists have made. Thanks to Don's commitment to arts education, I have no doubt that it will inspire a new generation of young artists to carry on that tradition." Winsor and Newton is graciously supplying the art materials for the project and Gillespie will work with local art organizations to coordinate the art show. For details, or to learn more about how you or your group can help, visit www.cloningneptune.
The H. Lee White Maritime Museum is open daily from 1 to 5 p.m. with expanded hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in July and August. For more information, visit www.hlwmm.org.
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