Works from Ashcan School in Baum School of Art exhibit
Twenty-five rarely seen works were guest-curated by New Jersey collector Gary T. Erbe for “John R. Grabach and Henry M. Gasser: New Jersey Masters,” an exhibition in the David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries at the Baum School of Art, Allentown.
Grabach, born in 1880, taught at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art. Gasser, one of his top students, was born in 1909. The talented New Jersey-based artists became colleagues when Gasser was hired as the Newark school’s director.
According to Kristine Kotsch, director of exhibitions and collections at the Baum School, the two artists remained lifelong friends. “Unfortunately, they died the same year,” said. Kotsch. Grabach was 101 and Gasser was in his early 70s when they passed away in 1981.
“We liked the idea of celebrating the relationship between the student and the teacher. Obviously, that’s what we do here [at the Baum School].” explained Kotsch.
Grabach and Gasser “were inspired by the Ashcan School,” said Kotsch, “The Ashcan School of artists were artists who rebelled against the traditional Impressionist-type landscapes and traditional subject matters. They were very interested in the common people, the cities and urbanscapes they resided in, worked and played in.”
Grabach’s boldly painted muscular laborers depicted building “Hoover Dam” (1937; triptych; oil on paper; 23.5 in. x 49.5 in.) and Gasser’s “Salvation” (circa 1940s; watercolor; 17.5 in. x 22.5 in.) of a lively African-American church service strongly emphasize the artists’ interest in ordinary folks.
“Back Fence Newark” (1915; oil on canvas; 26 in. x 30 in.) and “Winter Corner” (circa 1940s; watercolor; 22 in. x 28.5 in.) by Gasser are examples of their Ashcan School-influenced urban landscape paintings.
The exhibit, which concluded Oct. 21, was sponsored by Stout Associates, LLC.