Discover Portsmouth invites the public and all League of NH Craftsmen members to the Mid-Century Modern: Edwin and Mary Scheier exhibition and the companion retrospective exhibition upstairs of League and NH Art Association members. Complimentary refreshments will be provided.
Upstairs Retrospectives exhibit
The second floor (or balcony) exhibit provides the regional context for the Scheiers work by focusing on two organizations indispensable to the Scheier’s careers. Ed Scheier was active in the NH Art Association (now celebrating its 75th year) and both Scheiers were employed by the League of NH Craftsmen. The retrospective exhibit’s focus is also on the mid-century years, from 1940 to the late 1960s, when Mary and Ed lived and worked in NH, and explores many of the contemporary artists and craftsmen of their day who belonged to both organizations.
The work of dozens of well-known (Paul Sample, Fannie Hillsmith, Omer Lassonde and John Laurent) and nearly forgotten artists of the WPA — who provided several of the earliest presidents of the fledgling art association — have been gathered for this exhibition. Of this mid-century generation many, like Ed Scheier himself, studied painting with Hans Hoffman. Many early members of the NH Art Association –such as William Holst, Bartlett Tracy, Glen Krause Jeanette Genius, and Virginia Mortenson Francis — taught art in NH or were summer artists who helped plant the seeds of modernism in the Granite State. Many artists — print makers, silversmiths, jewelers, sculptors, and weavers belonged to both organizations, or had a spouse who belonged to the League.
The exhibits are in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire, the NH Art Association and the League of NH Craftsmen. Maryellen Burke, Executive Director of The Portsmouth Historical Society notes, “As always, we work in collaboration to bring an important cultural story to the Seacoast. This year we’re pleased to strengthen our ties to UNH, the NH Arts Association and The League. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Pioneering partnership – state & university support for arts/crafts during Depression
“First in the nation status doesn’t just refer to our presidential primary but to the state’s financial support of the arts in the Depression,” explains Richard Candee, President of the Portsmouth Historical Society Board of Trustees. “Governor John Gilbert Winant successfully urged the NH Legislature to support the fledgling League of NH Craftsmen in 1933 which would boost the economy through small craft industries (including Portsmouth Home Industries established that year). The Governor and Council’s support of educational training, exhibition of art, and marketing of NH art and crafts all contributed to New Hampshire’s mid-century reputation as a highpoint of the creative economy and to its special reputation as a haven for artists and craftsmen.
Candee continues, “Later, in the 40s that same nurturing spirit continued as League Director David Campbell recruited top craftsmen like the Scheiers from across the country to move to and work here in the state, with the support of the University of New Hampshire. The Scheiers work and their involvement in both the NHAA and the League are part of our arts and crafts legacy today. Between the artists the Scheiers owned on the walls of their Durham home and those in the retrospectives, there will be more mid-century modern art of the 40s to 60s than has been seen in the seacoast since that time.”