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Gifts to museum are to be shared by all

June 10, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

When Spence Perry walked into a Santa Fe, N.M., gallery about four years ago and saw the Thomas Moran chromolithograph of the Grand Canyon, he knew eventually he and his wife, Cinda, would give it to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

But they had hoped to enjoy it hanging in their Hagerstown home first.

When "Grand Canyon of Arizona from Hermit Rim Road" arrived on their front porch in a huge wooden crate, the couple realized the 32-inch by 38-inch work couldn't be properly displayed in their home.

With ceilings as high as 14 feet, the piece would have looked more like a tapestry, said Spence Perry, 65, a retired senior federal lawyer.

So the couple donated the art to the museum in City Park on long-term loan and later made that donation permanent when the museum began asking in 2005 for donations to its permanent collection in honor of its 75th anniversary this year.

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The chromolithograph is among more than 250 works of art donated to the permanent collection in honor of the museum's anniversary, Curator Ann Prentice Wagner said.

At least 100 of those pieces went on display yesterday in the Groh and Fulton Decorative Arts galleries as "Advancing the Legacy: Gifts in Honor of the 75th."

"It's just a fabulous response both from people in the area and people from other parts of the country," Wagner said.

Many of the donated works will be exhibited in coming exhibitions, including one planned for many of the 132 Robert Ecker mezzotints donated by his wife, Jean, Wagner said. That exhibit is scheduled to open during summer 2008.

Wagner said there was tremendous variety among the donations, which included works by American and European artists.

The Moran chromolithograph was made as a promotional poster for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway System, Wagner said.

The piece looks as bright as it does because it was among 50 copies of the image found in mint condition in the Chicago public relations office for the Santa Fe railway after it merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad, Spence Perry said.

One of the most prestigious pieces donated was "Christ and the Woman of Samaria," by the French painter Pierre Mignard, Wagner said. The donors are Tom and Virginia Seely of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Tom Seely, a semi-retired antique dealer and furniture manufacturer, said he thought the artworks the couple donated should be placed where people could enjoy them.

Another notable painting donated was John George Brown's "The Dilettante," Wagner said.

Brown was probably one of the most popular genre painters of the late 19th century, said Pat Stine of Sharpsburg. Stine and her husband, Lee, are the donors.

Stine said they are proud to be associated with the museum.

"We're very aware how fortunate we are to have this wonderful gem of a museum in our community for 75 years. ... Many communities larger than ours are envious," she said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Reception for "Advancing the Legacy: Gifts in Honor of the 75th"

WHEN: The reception is 2:30 to 4 p.m. today. The exhibit is open through Sunday, Sept. 2. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

WHERE: Groh and Fulton Decorative Arts galleries, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: Curator Ann Prentice Wagner will give an illustrated talk describing various techniques used to create some of the prints in this show, including chromolithographs and mezzotints. She also will have tools to display. "Looking at Prints: Gifts in Honor of the 75th Anniversary" will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, in the Bowman Gallery.

For more information, call 301-739-5727 or go to www.wcmfa.org.

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