“This exhibit represents a homecoming for me”, Don Gillespie said, speaking of his KINDRED SPIRITS art exhibit at the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego.
Gillespie was born in Oswego County and participated in local student art shows before moving to Florida and becoming an aerospace artist.
Gillespie’s interest in past Oswego artists started a few years ago while researching his great grandfather, W.R. Shayes. Shayes owned an art gallery and photography studio on West Bridge Street in Oswego in the late 1800s.
His gallery displayed works by Charles H. Grant and other aspiring local artists such as James G. Tyler. Tyler and Grant were both born in Oswego and went on to become nationally acclaimed marine artists. Tyler Hall on the SUNY Oswego campus was named after James G. Tyler.
Gillespie’s exhibit includes paintings by these artists of the past as well as a reproduction of a C.H. Grant painting that hung in Shayes’ gallery before it burned in 1896.
Gillespie hopes that by painting this reproduction of “At the Mercy of Neptune”, it may help to locate the missing 9 foot by 6 foot original.
The painting was damaged by the gallery fire and later repaired. It was displayed at the 1897 New York State Fair. The painting was later purchased by prominent Oswego lawyer L. C. Rowe and bequeathed to his wife Emma after his passing in 1928.
The original may still be in Oswego and a painting of that size should be easy to locate, Gillespie said.
Gillespie has enjoyed learning about these artists lives and techniques.
“I spent my career painting state of the art weapon systems, aircraft and spacecraft. These artists painted the most advanced vehicles of their day,” he said. “The more I learned, the more I admired the expertise and dedication of these kindred spirits”.
More obscure but just as interesting, were the 19th century photographers of Oswego. These early photographers were often artists that enhanced their photographs by hand painting directly on the prints.
They were pioneers of a new industry. Gillespie believes these creative and innovative individuals should be remembered and celebrated. Artists have always given us a window into the past, present and future. These visionaries help to inspire and encourage the next generation.
Gillespie’s paintings have been displayed around the world including New York, London, and Paris.
His works can be found in many NASA facilities, The Air Force Art Collection, as well as corporate and private collections.
For more information visit www.mybrushstrokes.com and on facebook – Paintings by Don Gillespie
The Kindred Spirits Art Exhibit will be on display until Aug. 31. The H. Lee White Marine Museum is located at 1 E. First St., Oswego, and is open from 1 to 5 p.m. every day.
Visit the website at http://www.hleewhitemarinemuseum.com