Descendants of Joseph Lindon Smith exhibit at Dublin School
"Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C." is a 2008 photograph by Becky Hale of Washington, D.C., and will be one of the featured photographs in the descendants of Joseph Lindon Smith exhibit at the Dublin School's Putnam Gallery from January 4 to February 1.
“Campidoglio,” an oil canvas painting by Liam Holding of Philadelphia, Penn., will be among the portraits showcased in the upcoming exhibit at the Dublin School's Putnam Art Gallery. The portrait is of his cousin, Taylor Hale, and includes references to Roman architecture.
“Lois,” by photographer Becky Hale of Washington, D.C., is of Joseph Lindon Smith's daughter Lois in her New York City apartment. Hale, Smith's great, great granddaughter, lived with Lois for a short time in the city and shot a series of portrait images of Lois.
At a time when photographic reproduction was impossible, Joseph Lindon Smith discovered how he could share the mystery and beauty of ancient Egyptian tombs and temples with a wider audience. Working alongside archeologists and excavators in the early 1900s, Smith became known internationally for his paintings of newly discovered tombs and for his replica artwork based on scenes carved on stone temple and tomb walls.
But Smith’s love of painting and international travel was shared equally by his passion for a second form of art: theater. At his summer home on land known as Loon Point, which juts out into Dublin Lake, Smith designed and produced pageants for private parties and fundraising benefits with friends — including members of the newly formed Dublin Lake Club — and family. As a founding member of the Dublin Art Colony, which since the late 1800s has celebrated visual arts in the Monadnock region, Smith welcomed the likes of painters Rockwell Kent and Abbott Thayer, as well as poet Amy Lowell and Mark Twain to his home.
A century later Smith’s descendents, many of whom are artists themselves, told the Ledger-Transcript that they remain captivated by the grand elegance and magic of what was once Loon Point thanks to the treasures Smith left behind. Among those family heirlooms today are Smith’s paintings, a handful which will be on display for public viewing for the first time, starting this week at the Dublin School’s Putnam Art Gallery. In the an exhibit, which opens Jan. 4 and runs through Feb. 1, select work from Smith and three of his great, great grandchildren will be showcased. Friday, an opening reception will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
For Smith’s great, great granddaughter Becky Hale, who works for National Geographic in Washington, D.C., the opportunity to exhibit her photography alongside Smith’s is a privilege, she said Saturday. The diversity, Hale added, that she and her two cousins, Key Largo, Fla., native Taylor Hale and Liam Holding of Philadelphia, will bring to the show through their photography, painting and monotype prints is eye-catching.
As a child, Hale said she fondly remembers the summers she spent at her grandparents home on Dublin Lake and the stories her father would share about playing with his siblings in the small outdoor theater Smith built decades earlier. In her grandparents’ attic, Hale said there were old trucks full of dress-up clothes that she and her cousins would explore.
“I remember seeing an image of Smith one time, although I don’t know when it was taken, but he has his easel set up, he’s sitting in his chair and painting the wall of an Egyptian tomb,” Hale said. “You see a picture like that and you can’t help but say, ‘Who was this person?’ It seems amazing to me and so much like an Indian Jones kind of moment.”
The questions were ones that resurfaced just a few years ago when Hale said she was on assignment for National Geographic in Egypt. Using a new-age medium, digital photography, Hale said she captured Egyptian landmarks and the viewing crowd, with her great, great grandfather in her thoughts.
“I’m sure he didn’t think that his great, great granddaughter would be shooting digital images of maybe some of the same things he saw,” Hale laughed. “It was a different time and a very different medium, but maybe in a way it is one in the same.”
The photographs which Hale has chosen for the Putnam Gallery exhibit are a bit different than her National Geographic assignments, though, and were taken from her personal body of work, she said. Among them is a portrait of her great aunt and Smith’s daughter, Lois, who Hale lived with for a short time in New York.
In the photograph, Lois has just closed her eyes, her smile is happy and peaceful and her red hair vibrant in the sunlight, Hale said. “She had brilliant red hair and a great personality. She was truly an amazing woman,” she said.
Also included in the show will be a photograph taken on a snowy day in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., in 2008 near Hale’s home. Hale shot the image while looking over the Duke Ellington Bridge after a light snowfall.
The photo is one that Hale’s cousin, Liam Holding, who grew up in Francestown, said Sunday could easily be paired for display in the Putnam Gallery with his monotype black and white prints, which Holding painted in Rome. Using hues of black, white and gray, Holding explores light, geometric shapes and texture in his work.
As the lead organizer of the exhibit, Holding said the diversity of mediums, subject matter and techniques by each artist have presented him with quite a challenge. With just two days from when he plans to arrive in Dublin until the opening reception, Holding said he’s been working digitally to create possible layouts for the gallery in preparation.
“Up until this point its been trying to figure out how disparities in the [four artists’] works can become connections,” he said, noting that portraiture and landscapes are common themes.
Holding’s oil on canvas painting of his cousin, Taylor Hale, which includes references to Roman architecture, will be among those on display at the Putnam Gallery. Holding studied at Rhode Island School of Design with Taylor, whose passion for portraiture will be evident in the family show, Holding said.
Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.