Slaymans gave print to daughter

April 23, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - John W. Slayman, the town's former mayor, no longer has the art print he took from Williamsport Town Hall last month.

Shortly after Slayman left office, he and his wife, Elissa, gave the print to their daughter Gretchen - who lives in Calvert County, Md. - as an Easter gift, Elissa Slayman said Thursday.

Three council members who opposed John W. Slayman's slate in last month's election said he should return the Town Hall print, but the Slaymans have said it belongs to them.


Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. said Friday that he would "weigh the facts" before deciding, if it becomes a council issue. Two other council members have not returned calls for comment.

Mayor James G. McCleaf II, who defeated John W. Slayman last month, said he won't bring up the Town Hall print debate at a council meeting, although council members might.

The saga of three "Williamsport Crossing" prints appeared clearer on Thursday, when Elissa Slayman said she and her husband no longer are seeking the one at Williamsport Memorial Library.

But Elissa Slayman said she and her husband won't give back the Town Hall print. She said her husband, who was mayor for 20 years, displayed it there while he was in office.

The Slaymans have kept a third print from the set at their home all along. So far, no one has questioned their claim to that print.

Elissa Slayman said she bought a fourth print on her own. She said she and her husband gave it to their other daughter, Angie, last month, also as an Easter gift, when Gretchen got one.

Questions about the first three "Williamsport Crossing" prints circulated last month when John W. Slayman had a town employee deliver the Town Hall print to his house.

Texas artist John Paul Strain, who painted "Williamsport Crossing," has said he donated two prints to the town in 1993 to hang publicly. A third print was for Slayman, who was mayor then.

However, John W. and Elissa Slayman insist that Lester Benjamin Green, the co-owner of Benjamin Art Gallery in Hagerstown at the time, promised all three prints to John W. Slayman.

John W. Slayman has said Green gave him the prints as a gift because Slayman, as mayor, issued a press release about the painting and the release of the print series. Green died in 1993.

A plaque on the frame of the library print says, "Presented to The Town of Williamsport, MD by John p. Strain."

Strain has estimated that the prints - which actually are rarer "artist proofs" - are worth about $2,500 apiece.

McCleaf said he considers the library print dispute resolved because the Slaymans withdrew their claim.

The library board discussed that print Tuesday, unaware Elissa Slayman already had told library board President C. Richard Grimm that the couple would donate it.

When interviewed by The Herald-Mail on Thursday, Grimm denied hearing such an offer from Elissa Slayman. But, when pressed later, Grimm acknowledged that she said it.

Elissa Slayman said the couple wants the library print to hang in memory of their son, Warren, who was shot and killed in 1994.

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