Exhibit celebrates homegrown talent

January 04, 1998

Exhibit celebrates homegrown talent


Staff Writer

One of Betty Ritter Tilley's most vivid memories of her artist uncle, Alonzo W. Ritter, was the day she and her brother tagged along when her father took him out to sketch.

It was an unusual day for the normally prolific landscape painter, a lifelong Hagerstown resident, said Tilley, 72.

"He didn't sketch long," she said, with a laugh. "The kids were too disruptive."

Tilley remembers seeing her uncle's work exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., when she was a child.

It was exciting to see his paintings included in a new exhibition at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts focusing on 10 Washington County artists, said Tilley, a Hagerstown native, now of Washington, D.C.


The exhibition, which opened Sunday, features several of Ritter's impressionistic renderings of Washington County landscapes.

Some were loaned from Tilley and her brother, Robert Ritter, who attended the opening with numerous family members.

Ritter brought along a snapshot of his uncle, who died in 1944, showing how he painted while hanging from crutches because he was paralyzed from the waist down by polio.

"I think it's very nice that he's being recognized after all this time," said Ritter, 66, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., who loaned two of his nine Ritters to the museum.

The intention of the exhibition was to showcase some pioneers of professional art in Washington County, said museum director Jean Woods.

Each of the artists chosen are represented in the museum's permanent collection, said Woods, who said she borrowed from private collectors and other museums to supplement her museum's pieces.

"It shows the wide range of work that was being done here in Washington County. Obviously, these artists were being patronized," she said.

Woods said she counted herself fortunate to have gotten four works by Johann Frederick Kemmelmeyer (1760-1821), the first Washington County artist with a known body of work, for the exhibition.

The exhibition also includes a variety of work by Claggett Dorsey Spangler (1848-1911), probably Hagerstown's most recognized artist, Woods said.

Other artists included in the exhibit are painters Herman Charles Koehler (1835-1919), William D. Downs (1871-1950), Mary Helen Chrissinger (1879-1968), John Ross Key (1837-1920), Anna K. Miller (1859-1937) and William David Lechler (1809-1889), and sculptor Emily Clayton Bishop (1883-1912).

The exhibition will continue through Feb. 22.

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