By David Rogers. November 20, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC – From the spiritual and mythological to the majestic and even simple pleasures of life, High Country art lovers are in for a special treat this holiday season. Blowing Rock Frameworks & Gallery is featuring an exhibit of not one, but TWO acknowledged American masters of the last two centuries — both with Blowing Rock connections — from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day. Admission is free.
COVER IMAGE: “A Bit of Grand Canyon”, by Elliott Daingerfield, circa 1911. All photographic images courtesy of Blowing Rock Frameworks & Gallery
“We have worked for a year and a half getting this show together,” gallery owner Tim Miller reported to Blowing Rock News in an exclusive interview on Monday. “Normally you might have one, possibly two paintings from one or two or three artists of this magnitude, at least all at once. But to have 13 works combined of Elliott Daingerfield and Edward Szmyd all at the same time is truly special and we are pleased to share these works for the enjoyment of the High Country and Blowing Rock.
“All of these are originals,” Miller noted. “They even include some older Daingerfield works that have been carefully restored to pristine condition. While some of the paintings will be available for purchase, others are on loan to us from their owners.”
Both artists had studios in Blowing Rock during their respective heydays, Daingerfield at the turn of the 20th century and Szmyd in the last half of the century.
That Szymd became a successful full-time fine artist is an understatement.
Daingerfield lived from 1859-1932 and is considered one of North Carolina’s most prolific artists. His subjects ranged from the religious (“Madonna and Child”, “Study for Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane”) and mythogical (“Maidens Bathing,” complete with Centaurs) to landscapes, such as “Midnight Moon” and, particularly, his paintings of the Grand Canyon.
According to historical sources, Daingerfield did seven paintings of the Grand Canyon. Miller’s Blowing Rock show will have one of them.
Blowing Rock residents, both native-born and newcomers alike, quickly learn that the 42-acre estate known today as Westglow Resort and Spa was where Elliott Daingerfield “summered” beginning in the late 1800s. He also had a home and early studio that is today the restored Edgewood Cottage on Main Street, next to the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum.
Edward Szymd was born in 1933, in Pennsylvania. According to historical records, at the ripe old age of 17 he moved to Florida to start a career as a commercial artist after having started to paint at age nine. According to New Masters Gallery, young Szymd “…painted landscapes and still-lifes on the side, selling them along Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale for a thousand dollars a canvas until he had accumulated enough of a following to devote himself full time to fine art.”
Just look at his attention to detail!
That Szymd became a successful full-time fine artist is an understatement. “His pieces are drop dead gorgeous,” observed Miller. “We sold 84 of his paintings while he was alive, and about 20 since he passed away in 2004.
Miller shared with Blowing Rock News, “Szymd was incredible in how he used both light and color, as well as shadows – and in a traditionally realistic style.” Pointing to a painting called “Winter Road” that is already hanging in the Blowing Rock Frameworks main gallery, Miller added, “Just look at his attention to detail and what he does with light coming through the trees and onto the road.”
Putting together this exhibit of Daingerfield and Szymd works has not been an easy undertaking, but still one that Miller says he has relished because of the people he has had an opportunity to meet.
“Yes, among the Daingerfields we’ll have the one that was found behind a mirror on a dresser out in Pebble Beach, California, earlier this year,” said Miller. “These paintings are coming from all corners of the nation: Alabama, Illinois, California, Georgia, and of course Blowing Rock.
It took two months for our conservator in New York to get Daingerfield’s study of Christ off of the cardboard.
“That ‘Winter Road’ painting by Szymd?” asked Miller of Blowing Rock News, rhetorically, before answering with a smile, “Today’s owner is in Oak Park, Illinois. We do know that it was purchased in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1970s. Sometimes these paintings are bought and passed down to heirs. Sometimes they are even found by heirs in long forgotten box or perhaps behind a mirror or another odd place, like the one in California. This Oak Park, Illinois owner did some research and learned that we did a lot with Szymd’s work, so he got in touch with me in 2015 and we worked it out for his piece to be part of this show.”
Miller’s show includes a rare Daingerfield study for “Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.” It had been glued to a piece of cardboard and someone came across it in Alabama.
“It took our conservator in New York about two months to get the study off of the cardboard,” recalled Miller. “That is how painstaking the craft of preservation is. Just think, it had been on that piece of cardboard for more than 100 years, although at one point it (on the cardboard) had been part of an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, in 1971. This Alabama man did his homework and learned that we are well-versed in all things Daingerfield. He called to say that he had inherited the sketch and watercolor. Thanks to the work of our conservator, it is now in pristine condition and is included in our exhibit. This piece reflects not only the work of the artist, but also the artist’s process.”
Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery is located in Blowing Rock’s Food Lion shopping center, 7539 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock. Admission is free. The gallery hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Saturday. For additional information about the show, please call 828-295-0041.
Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery is a Gold Star Marketing Partner of Blowing Rock News