Many works by local artists on display at Historical Society

From staff reports

An art exhibit is on display at the Venango County Historical Society in Franklin that showcases a variety of works by local artists with subjects pertaining to Venango County.

The artwork has been donated to the Historical Society over the years.

The exhibit includes several paintings by Anna Dale Alexander, including county scenes and portraits, all in oil.

Alexander was one of several Venango County residents who exhibited in the women’s building at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, a news release from the Historical Society notes.

Wealtha Van Ausdall, a well-known Oil City artist and teacher, is represented with four works, including “Mid-Nite Payday” that was selected for the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

Several other paintings by professionals such as Helen Shaffer, David King Witherup, Richard Clarke and Edward Allen, who all found their niche in the art world, will be on display, the release said.

Two works by Austa Reisinger, an early art teacher at Franklin High School, will be included in the exhibit, as will one painting by Harry Hickman Sr., who taught many classes in the county, including at his Scrubgrass Art Colony.

Works by Harry F. Newell, Gail Marwood and Yvonne Klapec, all well-known for their talent and passion for art, are included in the exhibit.

A number of local landmarks are also featured by local artists including paintings of the courthouse by James Sporer and Willard “Bill” Passauer. Several other works are from postcards or photographs, including art by Louisa Striver and Peter Hoffman.

The news release notes that little is known about several of the artists and if visitors can supply more information, it would be welcome.

Many of the paintings have been in storage since the Historical Society moved to its present location at 307 South Park St. several years ago, the release noted. Some of the Mullins family’s large art collection that was on display at the Historical Society will still be shown.

Several other artistic items round out the display.

A replica of Independence Hall, made during the Great Depression of the 1930s when public works projects were started for artists and artisans and their handiwork donated to schools and museums, is also on display.

This replica, which was recently donated to the Historical Society, was in the Clintonville High School.

Glass bottles from the society’s collection round out the summer and fall display.

Donations received during the exhibit will be used to clean and restore a portrait of Elizabeth Bostwick Mullins, who lived in the Historical Society house for more than 50 years, the news release said.

The painting, which is on display, is the work of Bernard E. Ward, who came to Venango County from London and is known for his landscapes showing the Allegheny River that are on the wall in Courtroom 1 at the courthouse.

The portrait is one of two by Ward in the society’s collection. The other portrait, a large likeness of Robert Lamberton, formerly hung in the Lamberton Bank building in Franklin, the release notes.

The society is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and on special occasions. Call (814) 432-8260 for more information.