For the first time, the Ross Art Museum is staging multi-generational exhibitions, and one of them has ties to Delaware.
The exhibitions, mounted simultaneously from Aug. 20 to Sept. 23, are “Howard Little: Coming Home” and “On And Off the Wall.”
The latter, an exhibition of wall-mounted and free-standing wood works, is by artist-architect Eric Nation, who will give a free “illustrated talk” at 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 312 of Ohio Wesleyan University’s R.W. Corns Building, 78 S. Sandusky St. A reception follows from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Ross, 60 S. Sandusky St.
It was Nation who first proposed the Little exhibition to the Delaware County Historical Society, but they lacked space and suggested the Ross.
“Nation inherited the work and memorabilia of his grandfather, and became interested in his early life here in Delaware, Ohio,” said Ross director Justin Kronewetter. “It was a unique opportunity, not only in terms of multiple generations, but it also tied into the community of Delaware.”
Howard Little (1883-1965) was part of a prominent Delaware family whose relatives helped build the Arts Castle, and were friends with Rutherford B. Hayes. Little himself was an Ohio State University graduate who inspected airplanes, created murals and dioramas for nature museums, and was a commercial illustrator and poultry rancher in Chula Vista, California. He also painted landscapes of the California coast and American West, which are on view at the Ross.
Upon getting recommendations from Brent Carson of the Historical Society and Diane Hodges of the Arts Castle, Kronewetter visited Nation at his Seattle home. While seeing both artists’ works, Kronewetter suggested a simultaneous showing.
“That is a very interesting juxtaposition. They are so different there is no mistaking the work of one artist with another,” he said. “They reflect the times in which they were created — the early-to-mid 1900s, when realism was more in vogue; and the more abstract, modernist work of the grandson.”
Nation delivered the artwork to the Ross last fall, but this week will mark his first extended visit to Delaware. In addition to his public talk, Nation will also visit with art students at OWU.
“The work is of the highest quality, and work that we encourage our students to see,” Kronewetter said.
Nestled between the two exhibitions is memorabilia from the Little family, including letters from Warren G. Harding. Kronewetter said the exhibitions should be of interest to local history buffs and friends of the Arts Castle.
The Richard M. Ross Art Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. For more information, visit ross.owu.edu or call 740-368-3606.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.