October 26, 2015
OSWEGO - The H. Lee White Maritime Museum on West First Street Pier in Oswego hosted "Cloning Neptune: Recreating a Masterpiece" with aerospace and multi-media artist Don Gillespie this past summer. The project celebrated Oswego's rich art heritage through classes, live painting demonstrations, multi-media presentations, and a community arts show that featured local artists of all ages.
"This venture was a wonderful opportunity to recognize and celebrate the great talent that came from this area in the late 19th century," said Gillespie. "Artists such as James Tyler, the namesake of SUNY Oswego's Tyler Hall, and Charles Grant were nationally recognized for their work. Perhaps now, more people are aware of this colorful heritage and are inspired to create their own masterpieces."
The incredible undertaking began in early July after much research and logistical planning. One of its highlights was Gillespie's re-creation of Charles H. Grant's masterpiece, "At the Mercy of Neptune," with assistance from SUNY Oswego Design Student and Intern Mike Wills.
The original nine-foot oil painting was unveiled in Oswego before it was shown at the 1897 New York State Fair to rave reviews. Gillespie completed the new painting at this year's fair in tribute of that event and as part of an Oswego County Tourism display. To ensure that Oswego will be its permanent home, he then donated the work back to the maritime museum which is planning a traveling tour for the painting in the near future.
H. Lee White Maritime Museum Director Mercedes Niess said of the endeavor, "This was such a great project and we were honored to be involved in it. Don really brought the community together through this venture."
Gillespie also taught classes for children and adults at the CNY Arts Center in Fulton and established a scholarship fund for children in need who would like to attend the center's Arty Day Camp next year. He gave presentations around the city of Oswego, including at Lakeside Artisans, the Richardson-Bates House Museum, and SUNY Oswego.
The project also included an art show at the CNY Arts Center and concluded with another at the Art Association of Oswego. The "Generations Exposition" included the paintings by the famous artists of the late 1800s as well as works from contemporary local artists and the children who will be the next generation of great Oswego County artists.
Gillespie said, "It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. Oswego County has produced so many great artists. It's a heritage to be proud of and encouraged for generations to come."
Pathfinder Bank provided generous support for the project, to which Winsor and Newton graciously supplied art materials. For details, visit www.cloningneptune.com. The H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego 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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