Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley.
In her second week of office, Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley decided to make some changes in the town hall, starting with the walls.
An art collector and published writer, Bartley decided to take her love of art from the walls of her home and put it onto the walls of the town hall.
“We have a rich history of art in this valley and it would be nice to showcase that to the community,” Bartley said.
She brought pieces from her personal collection of landscape paintings that were painted locally, some of which date back to the post-Civil War era.
The pieces Bartley hung in the town hall entryway were created by some of her favorite local artists, including George H. Smillie, Martha Dawson, Vel Capewell Onni, and illustrator Sheri Amsel.
Bartley said her love of art stems from growing up with an artist father, who focused on painting portraits. Though she isn’t a painter herself, she said growing up surrounded by art allowed her to appreciate art in her own way. Her favorite subject of artwork are landscapes.
After the Civil War, Bartley said the Elizabethtown area was flooded with artists who found the landscape inspiring for their art work, and in 1932, an art school was opened on River Street called the Old Mill Art School, which today is the Old Mill Bed and Breakfast.
“This area became a mecca for these artists because of our beautiful landscapes,” Bartley said.
Bartley acquired her collection on auction websites such as eBay Inc., bought from local sellers such as Richard Fields, in Westport, and some were gifts from the artists themselves. Other pieces come from artists that studied at the Old Mill Art School.
Now she invites Elizabethtown artists and collectors to hang their work in the town hall. Bartley said she wants pieces to circulate through the hall “like a floating gallery.”
“This is my attempt to make it more interesting for people who visit the community center,” Bartley said. “The idea is to give the town the best parts of its history through art.”
Elizabethtown artists are welcome to put their work on display in the town hall entry way so their talents can be enjoyed by everyone. Posting of the work is not meant to advertise or promote sale of the artist’s work but to allow the people of Elizabethtown to enjoy the artwork.
Anyone interested in having their work displayed in the town hall or anyone who has a piece in their collection they would like to showcase can call Bartley at her office at 873-6555 to set up a an appointment to show her prospective pieces.
“With these pieces, I hope for it to be a way to continue to invite people to come and visit our town hall.”