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Eleven down, one to go for Waynesboro artist

December 28, 1997

Eleven down, one to go for Waynesboro artist

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It's 11 down and one to go for Waynesboro area artist Landis Brent Whitsel and his series of 12 historic watercolors showing life in this southern Franklin County community from 1897 to 1997.

The llth painting in Whitsel's series, "Made in Waynesboro," is his interpretation of a year-long series of events at Renfrew Park beginning in the fall of 1996 with the planting of a winter wheat crop by horse-drawn equipment and the harvesting of that crop this summer with more horse-powered equipment and a Peerless steam tractor that was made in Waynesboro.

Prints of the scene became available on Dec. 11. Like its predecessors, there will be 490 copies made, numbered and signed by the artist. The price for all prints in the series has remained the same since the first was painted in 1991 -- $75 unframed, $175 framed.

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The original paintings are sold to collectors for $2,500 each.

Whitsel makes his living as an artist.

The first painting in the series, "Saturday Night at the Movies," shows the Arcade Theatre in downtown Waynesboro in 1938. The movie advertised on the marquee that night was "You Can't Take It With You," starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart.

Among others in the nine-painting series are a "Autumn Excursion," a Western Maryland passenger train stopping at PenMar Park in 1897, "Christmas in Center Square" in 1958 and "The Place," the Big Dipper drive-in restaurant in 1961.

Painting No. three in the series, "Christmas Past," shows the Borough Hall as it looked in 1948 with two Victorian homes next two it that were later razed to make room for the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library.

"Gone, but not forgotten," a scene of D.M. Welty Mills in 1919, was one of the toughest to research. Whitsel painted in a train on the tracks that ran on a hill behind the mill. "It took a long time to find the kind of engine that would have been passing by there at that time," he said.

One of his favorites, No. 10 in the series, is "Learning to fly." The painting is highlighted by a yellow Piper Cub taking off from Waynesboro Municipal Airport in 1942. The airport is long gone but vestiges remain including some of the runway. The hangar building is now owned by Keystone Homes, Inc., makers of modular homes, the kind of house Whitsel lives in on Mentzer Gap Road in Quincy, Pa.

Whitsel uses photos provided by local historian Robert Ringer from Ringer's massive collection of more than 5,000 photos. He also visits the site of each subject.

The 12th and last painting in the series will be a collage of scenes from the 1997 Bicentennial Parade last September. "I spent two hours on a bike taking pictures of the parade," he said.

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