Re-Creating Memories

Emmett PineAn artist’s ability to recreate memories of shared group experiences is often personal but highly desired and encouraged by his or her group.

Great emphasis is placed on precise detail and the object's ability to capture a complete scene or event. Such art work is often created at a time when the artist feels isolated from other members of the group because of retirement, disability. or personal loss.


Edna West Teall, Lewis, ca. 1960
Courtesy of Adirondack Museum

This oil painting on canvas illustrates Lewis native Edna West Teall's memory of the interior of a one-room country schoolhouse she once attended. After retirement from a career in journalism in New Jersey, she returned to the Adirondacks and wrote and painted extensively about her childhood spent there in the 1880s. She painted more than 40 different scenes of daily life, from making soap to baptizing in the river and Saturday night baths.

Pine paintingPine & Ladies Orchestra
Emmett Pine, Keeseville, 1967
Courtesy of Stanley Ransom

Emmett Pine loved local history and for more than 50 years he recorded local scenes and memories of his life in the Ausable Valley with paint and brush. In 1934, when his son Juan was taking an interest in oil painting, Mr. Pine decided to try painting himself. He was completely self taught.  His topics were almost always local, capturing landmarks and landscapes that resonated with neighbors and friends. Pine was also well known as a musician, playing the drums for the Pine and Ladies Orchestra, while his wife played piano. A fiddler or other musicians would join them—as this painting shows—in popular local dance halls of the day.

The Mechanics
Carl Martel, Ogdensburg, 1987
Courtesy of Glory Martel

 Men in a shop working on the engine of a dump truck may seem an unusual subject for a painting, but not for Carl Martel. A talented logger and heavy equipment operator, he admired mechanics and the work they do. But he also was artistic and worked with wood, stone, and metal to make his home a showplace. After Martel took up oil painting on a whim, he created numerous scenes like this one, of men working in the woods or on construction sites, based on his own experiences.

Maple sugaring diorama

Maple Sugaring in the Old Days
Robert Elethorp, Hammond, ca. 1960s
Courtesy of the Robert Elethorp Historical Society and Hammond Museum

Rob Elethorp often said he “grew up with a jackknife in his hand.” Learning to carve as a boy, he made many things of wood—from endless chains whittled from one piece of wood to human and animal figures to populate his dioramas of rural life. He created several large models of local landmarks in the Hammond area, like the local Presbyterian Church, the Grange Hall, a cheese factory, and a one-room schoolhouse. This scene of making maple syrup as pioneers did was recalled from his childhood in the late 19th century.

Breaking the Green Sod
Howard Huntley, Long Lake, ca. 1960
Courtesy of Ann Huntley

Howard Huntley grew up on a century-old family dairy farm in Pierrepont, but lived most of his adult life in the Adirondacks. Later in his life, as a hobby he carved and painted several models depicting work on the farm or in the lumber woods using horse-drawn equipment. This scene recalls the rather complicated way of breaking new ground for tilling on a North Country farm. Perhaps it was easier to describe visually the method of placing and using the horses than it was verbally.

A Transition
Fred Morgan, Norwood, ca. 1980
TAUNY Fred Morgan Collection

 Known for miles around Norwood for creating a mailbox from an old sousaphone, Fred Morgan was also known locally as a tinkerer. After retiring from his TV and radio repair shop, he made numerous models of local buildings and several editorial cartoons in three-dimensional dioramas. He had a mischievous sense of humor, which shows in this scene illustrating his view of the pros and cons of changing times in the rural America of his lifetime, when the car began to replace the horse and buggy.

Rock Island Lighthouse
Prudence Matthews, Fishers Landing, 1993
Courtesy of the artist

Rock Island Lighthouse, as seen from her cottage dock, is the subject of this large pictorial hooked rug by Prudence Matthews, a lifetime summer resident of Fishers Landing. Matthews depicts memories of life on the St. Lawrence River in her many hooked rugs. At one time, the lightkeeper and his sons were friends of Matthews’ family. Of the lighthouse, she says, “Like the lakers that sail by often, this means something to us because we look at it every day.”