ILLINOIS HISTORICAL ART PROJECT
George Ames Aldrich (1872 - 1941)
By Peter Lundberg © Illinois Historical Art Project
Author’s Note: I have had many conversations in the past with the Frits Thaulow expert in Oslo, Norway, Vidar Poulsson. It is his position that Aldrich never studied with Thaulow, and that, in his opinion, Aldrich copied a good deal of Thaulow’s works. After Thaulow died in 1906, there was still demand for his works, and Poulsson feels Aldrich filled that need by painting in the same theme. It is quite possible that the 18 years Aldrich claimed to have spent in Europe, might actually have been spent, in part, in the United States, although ship manifests show he spent some time in Europe on two occasions.
George Ames Aldrich was born George Eugene Aldrich on June 3, 1872, son of George Wellington and Caroline Richmond Ames Aldrich.1 Early in his career, by 1894, he used Ames as his middle name, possibly because of its prominence in the East Coast Society. His father’s roots can be traced to George Aldrich, who came from Derbyshire, England in 1631, and settled in Mendon, Massachusetts.2 The family had sufficient means to send the young George to the preparatory school, Dean Academy (now Dean College), where he graduated in the spring of 1889. Virtually every account of Aldrich’s life states he subsequently attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) between 1889 and 1891 to study architecture. Curiously, M.I.T. has no records of his attendance.3 However, it is known and documented that he attended the Art Students League in New York City from October 1891 until April 1892.4 He studied with impressionist John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902), muralist Kenyon Cox (1856-1919), Henry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) and William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). While his time there was relatively brief, it was an intensive and inspiring seven months, given the powerhouses with whom he studied.
Roughly a year after his training at the Art Students League, in 1893, Aldrich made his first journey to France. Paris in the late nineteenth century provided a fertile environment for art students; many fine academies and salons competed for budding artists. Though documentation of enrollment at many of the schools is either poor or non-existent, in interviews, Aldrich repeatedly referred to his studies with Whistler (1834-1903) at the Académie Carmen and with Edmond Aman-Jean at the Salon des Tuileries. He also cited studies with Jean Paul Laurens, Benjamin Constant and Raphael Collin at the Académie Julian, as well as with Jacques Emil Blanche and Leandro Ramon Garrido at the Académie Colarossi. There are also various references to his studies with René Prinet, either at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière or privately.
For the next two decades, Aldrich lived in Europe, primarily in France. From biographical and timeline data in several newspaper interviews, one can infer he studied in Paris off and on for about a decade.5 He earned some income doing illustrations for Punch magazine and The London Times, and later for Life, Vogue and Truth magazines.6 The earliest known dated works are from 1894, and are illustrative watercolors depicting Egyptian tombs.7 No records indicate that he traveled to the Middle East, but one might surmise he spent some time visiting and painting at the British Museum. Aldrich stated that besides doing illustrations, he also painted commissioned portraits.8
In 1904, Aldrich began studying with eminent Norwegian painter Fritz Thaulow,9 and in his words, became Thaulow’s “favorite pupil.”10 At this time Aldrich really devoted his efforts to painting landscapes. Thaulow had come to Paris in the 1870s to study, and though exposed to and influenced by Impressionism, by the time Aldrich met him, Thaulow had focused on portraying nature in its pure beauty, primarily using water and snow as his vehicles. Thaulow’s best works were of streams, sometimes portrayed in the solitude of a winter’s rural setting or commonly in the context of an old brick water mill, with finely detailed ripples and swirls in fast currents. Aldrich spent from 1904 to 1906 studying and painting with the Norwegian master and his influence cannot be diminished or understated.11 One might theorize that young Aldrich became the master’s protégé for two reasons: one, it was a superb opportunity for a young, talented unknown to reap the experience and training from a brilliant and commercially successful expert; and two, for an aging master to ensure the continuation of a passion and unique style. Aldrich was later “hailed as the logical American successor to Thaulow’s distinction.”12
Thaulow died in Holland in November of 1906, and Aldrich was left to carry on a stylistic tradition and launch his own career. With his formal training completed, capped off with two years of private tutelage with Thaulow, Aldrich remained in France, perfecting his techniques in the portrayal of the streams and villages of Brittany and Normandy. Given the titles and corresponding dates of canvases, as well as information from his scrapbook, we know he lived in Dieppe and Montreuil-sur-Mer, both in Normandy, and also spent significant time in the Quimperlé and Pont-Aven area of Brittany. It was during this time, about 1909 Aldrich married his first wife Eugenie Wehrle of Paris.13
His exact departure date from Europe is unknown; of course, there was a mass exodus during World War I. Biographical sources list his residence as New York City as early as 1910, and Chicago shortly thereafter.14 Several newspaper sources indicate he spent between eighteen and perhaps up to thirty years in France.15 We know he was living on Stoney Island Avenue in Chicago by 1917.16 He had four paintings exhibited at the Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute of Chicago that year.17 Records show that his wife (Eugenie Wehrle Aldrich) enrolled at the Art Institute in 1917 and 1918 as a student.18
By 1919, Aldrich was living in the famous Tree Studios with many of Chicago’s most important artists where he shared a studio with painter and decorator Edward Joseph Holslag (1870-1924).19 While he was producing many fine paintings and was exhibiting yearly at the Art Institute, his early years in Chicago did not bring the many accolades and awards he would receive in the years to come. One critic described his work in 1919 as possessing “…refined Thaulow technique…ice-locked waters and silent mill…slight dreamy melancholy and soft colour…”20
He traveled through the United States from his Chicago base, going west through Iowa and the Dakotas. It has been suggested that one of these trips to South Dakota was for the purpose obtaining a quick divorce - that particular state had one of the shortest time periods in the nation for divorce. He was reportedly married to a Madame D’Aures, “the French actress,” (likely an erroneous report).21 Aldrich also traveled back East to Massachusetts, as well as other parts of New England including Maine. His 1920 entries at the Art Institute were titled Out of the Fog, Rockport and Docks, East Gloucester (locations unknown). However, he had developed a memory for his beloved France and utilized this to continue painting scenes of Brittany and Normandy. His subsequent entries in 1921 and 1922 Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute were pieces relating to Old Montreuil and The Marketplace, Quimperlé.22
By the early 1920’s, Aldrich had made several contacts at Chicago galleries, but was also traveling to other towns outside Chicago to promote and sell his work. Within Illinois, he traveled to Aurora, Crystal Lake, Elgin, Rock Island and Rockford. Aurora was a hotbed market for American paintings and for his pieces due to the enthusiasm of a local collector/dealer named R.H. Conklin, who became a great promoter of Aldrich even when the artist moved to Indiana.23 Painting exhibitions in private residences, chambers of commerce, women’s clubs and art clubs were a common occurrence for Aldrich in the 1920s and 1930s.24 A review from the Aurora Beacon News from 1925 praised his exhibition of twenty-five oils, and dubbed it “the most important one man show ever given in Aurora.”25
In the early 1920s he traveled to Indiana including South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart, which had a large concentration of wealthy residents. Whether it was due to good business prospects or his eye catching a beautiful, young high school teacher, he decided South Bend was going to be his new home. On Christmas Eve 1922, he married Estalena Grantham in her parent’s home in Stockwell Indiana. The wedding announcement stated that after a brief visit to Chicago, the bride and groom would reside in South Bend.26
While Aldrich continued to paint from reminiscences of Brittany and Normandy, he incorporated his new locale into his masterful stream paintings. The Saint Joseph’s River, which runs through several Northwest Indiana communities, and Juday Creek, traveling through the campus of Notre Dame University, became favorite subjects and popular with his ever-increasing group of admirers and collectors.27 The timing of this popularity was fortuitous as George and “Esta” soon had a baby daughter, named Elizabeth whom they called “Betty.”28
Aldrich spent the next several years as a resident of the South Bend area, first living at his wife’s residence, and later listing the Mar Main Apartments and Oliver Hotel as his addresses.29 At one point in the mid 1920s, they lived in a small cottage on Pleasant Lake, near South Bend, until they were driven out by mosquitoes.30 They also spent a summer in Stockwell (near Lafayette) at Esta’s parents. While it is difficult to document conditions of his tenure in Indiana, interviews with residents that either knew him or knew of him said he never had sufficient funds. He was described as a small man in a black cape, a bohemian subject to manic depression and bouts of alcoholism, who would go door to door selling canvases that were still wet. One avid collector related that Aldrich would sell paintings in desperation, for perhaps twenty-five dollars, but return months later in an attempt to buy them back, or repaint certain parts that did not please him. One caring couple who owned a framing and art supply store in Mishawaka, a suburb of South Bend, often gave him a place to “dry out,” and encouraged him to paint by setting up still life subjects on the kitchen table. They let him eat the fruit after he had painted it! When he lacked the money for painting supplies, they would give him paints and canvases in return for a painting. When particularly strapped, he was known to use house paint as a medium for his art.31
In spite of his eccentricities, or perhaps because of hem, Aldrich was popular enough to hold regular exhibitions in South Bend and surrounding communities. For the first two years of his residence in South Bend, his schedule was rich with one man exhibitions including shows at the: Oliver Hotel, South Bend, Indiana ;32 Progress Club, South Bend ;33 Kokomo Public Library ;34 Indiana First Methodist Church, Stockwell ;35 H. Lieber Company, Indianapolis 36 and South Bend Woman’s Club .37 Several local newspapers gave accolades to his shows such as: “Mr. Aldrich pleases the eye most in his painting of running water. After seeing his canvases one readily realizes that he stands at the head of his profession in America as being particularly successful in this line.”38 Another review of the Progress Club exhibition states, “Aldrich incorporates that “indefinable something into his work that lends fascination both to simple and intricate composition and stamps his creation with the word genius.”39
There are several reported instances of Aldrich bartering for his lodging.40 He completed a series of large canvases titled the Four Seasons for the Oliver Hotel, and murals for the Mar Main Apartments, both one time homes for the artist.41 This was certainly not an unknown practice at the time, as there were many talented artists, and perhaps too few moneyed collectors.
Aldrich’s reputation as a fine and important artist grew, not only as he won awards, but also through the many exhibitions he held throughout the Midwest. The period from about 1922 until the early 1930s was an especially busy time in his career. His work received increasing praise and in 1926 one single newspaper article of March 25 mentioned three major awards from 1925 and 1926: The Mrs. William Ormond Thompson Illinois Landscape Prize at the thirtieth Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity , the Indiana University Alumni Winter Scene Prize at the Hoosier Salon held at the Marshall Field’s Galleries, Chicago , and second place at the Richmond, Indiana Art Association .42 His success at the Hoosier Salon,43 included three more prizes between 1929-1936.44 The artist also did well at the Chicago Galleries Association, winning purchase prizes in 1926, two in 1928, and one in 1929,45 and in 1928 the City of Chicago purchased his Hazy Afternoon, Gloucester Harbor, for their permanent collection.46 The Chicago Galleries Association had accorded him the honor of a one- man exhibition in 1927. Critic R. A. Lennon had this to say of Aldrich’s work:
“In Mr. Aldrich’s work there is a sense of a romantic approach to each subject, a spirit of adventure in painting it, that makes the heightened beauty of the final transcript seem a natural consequence.”47
His membership in the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, then the city’s leading proponent of more traditional forms of painting and sculpture, gave him additional exposure. He also had two acclaimed shows at Ball State Teachers College (Ball State University) in 1929 and 1932. During this period and until his death in 1941, he claimed both Illinois and Indiana his home, and to this day, both states lay claim to him as their local painter.
If indeed Aldrich suffered from manic depression, he may not have been able to be content in one spot for very long. His formative years, artistically speaking, were spent in constant travel and changing scenery. He had a new address almost every year. His initial move to South Bend might have been prompted by a desire to break into new territory and patrons as well as his relationship with his wife Esta. But in an article from the South Bend Tribune, where he had an occasional guest column (date unknown, c. 1926) Aldrich writes,
“I am coming more and more to the conviction that art can not exist in Chicago, that is, any great art. The city is too depressing. One does not realize this perhaps so much while living there, but coming in from out in the open, one is struck with the somberness of it all and the lack of real gaiety. Whistler painted his London, Raffaelli among others, his Paris, and New York has been done so well by Hassam, Cornoyer and Bellows. But I have yet to see anything worth while that has been painted of Chicago. Do all painters feel depression as I do?”48
Several paragraphs later he maligns the jury and jury systems of the Chicago Society of Artists, complaining that they select only their own member’s works for exhibition in the annual show at the Art Institute. Perhaps these words were said in part to please his “small town” South Bend readers, though Aldrich really seemed to thrive in this smaller setting and probably enjoyed his relative stardom.
Aldrich helped form “the South Bend Organization to Study Art,” conducted sketch classes, gave painting demonstrations while Alexis J. Fournier (1865-1948) narrated and even organized a “Stag Night” at the South Bend Progress Club, for men to view (and presumably purchase) art without “society pressures.”49 Another Aldrich guest column, c.1925, was headlined “Art Not Merely Women’s Pastime, And Artists Not Freaks—Aldrich.” As one long time South Bend resident stated, “The people of South Bend were very charitable as far as Aldrich was concerned. His mismanagement of money and his drinking were forgiven. He gave a lot in return.”50
Nevertheless, Chicago was once again his home by 1927, as his name and address appear in the city directories after an absence of several years. Interestingly, his name disappears in the 1928 directory; only the name of Esta appears at their Forty-sixth Street address, listing her as a high school teacher at Tilden Tech. His name reappears again in 1930 and until his death in 1941. The absence in 1928 and 1929 might be explained by a return trip to Europe. Several newspaper clippings in the Aldrich scrapbook refer to a trip to Europe in the 1920s but they are not dated and research has failed to place them. If he traveled, it would perhaps be unlikely he would have taken his wife and young child on a nine month painting and study trip.
His last two exhibition entries at the Art Institute were in 1927 and 1928, both Gloucester scenes. After that date, he never showed works there again, but was a consistent entrant at the Hoosier Salon, winning the prestigious Lawrence A Downs cash award in 1929 for his painting titled Steel,51 and the coveted Alexander F. Banks award in 1932 for Midwinter, Indiana.52 He also won an honorable mention there in 1936 for his oil Rain Fell on Alabam at the relatively advanced age of sixty-four.53
The stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent depression wreaked havoc with artists as discretionary income dried up. In comparing prices at his 1923 Progress Club Exhibition in South Bend and those of the1932 Ball State show, values had decreased by more than half.54 In an article Aldrich stated:
“The depression has struck the art world and struck it hard. This is the great moment for collectors, particularly those who are not in the plutonic classes. The leading artists of the United States have put their prices down to rock bottom. It is always an ill wind that blows nobody good, and it is certainly the day for the collector.”55
Aldrich continued his road trips throughout the Midwest, exhibiting and selling where he could. He was a masterful self-promoter, unlike many artists who were not able to successfully manage the arrangements for exhibitions. He made arrangements even during his vacations and familial activities. His daughter, Betty, attended camp in Minnesota during several summers, providing Aldrich a perfect opportunity to break into a new market. A 1931 Rochester, Minnesota, review stated of his work: “They are remarkable examples of his extraordinary ability at depicting scenes of running water, at the same time effecting a poetic quality.”56
Indiana and Illinois still provided his largest base of buyers and collectors. He continued to do small shows, and even made plans to start a summer school in Lake Wawasee, Indiana, to be known as the Hoosier Summer School of Art. He envisioned a colony of not only artists, but musicians as well, that would perhaps create the idyllic, nurturing environment he was unable to find in his less than perfect world.57 He probably reached a saturation point with some collectors in certain areas, particularly with those who already had some of his earlier paintings. Many of his later works appear to have lost some of their mastery. Though he only occasionally dated his pieces after the early 1920s, one can often tell the approximate age of the work by the condition, framing and materials. His paintings of water, so precise, clean and detailed in his earlier pieces, began to become muddy, with much broader and looser brush strokes. He often left increasingly larger areas of the canvas unpainted. His portrayal of light and shadow became less masterful as well. Whether this was due to age, alcoholism or depression is uncertain, but much of his later work suffered.
However, despite the Depression and his own personal difficulties, Aldrich was still able to master his powers as witnessed by his Winter Afternoon (location unknown), illustrated in the Christian Science Monitor. The critic had this to say about the effect of his work:
“Many painters hold that the purpose of landscape is to convey a mood rather than to reproduce a scene. What one sees [in Winter Afternoon] is a winter landscape, but what one feels is silence; the brooding silence of the woods, the chill stillness of snow and frozen waters, the waiting hush of late afternoon. There is a magic about the winter scene which but few painters are able to convey, and Mr. Aldrich is unquestionably one of these few.”58
His frequent trips from Chicago to Indiana became more desperate and he was selling canvases for much less than what he had commanded earlier. It is uncertain how he occupied his time during the last few years of his life. His last known entry for exhibition was in February 1939, at the Hoosier Salon. Art Critic Eleanor Jewett of the Chicago Tribune rebuked her Illinois readers for their laxity in backing Illinois artists and seemed to have mirrored the sentiment felt by Aldrich.
“Were even one-half of the names to back an All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts exhibit, the president and officers of that society would probably swoon. It just isn’t done in Illinois—this taking a genuine interest in Illinois art. And a pity is it this should be so. You will find that many of the artists of the Hoosier Salon are from or are associated with Illinois. They must go out of their state, however, to find encouragement.”59
One of the last pages in the Aldrich scrapbook contains two clippings from an Illinois hospital newsletter. The first, tilted “An Old Friend,” gives a history of Aldrich’s career, with the final paragraph stating:
“You’ll find Mister Aldrich a pleasant unassuming old gentleman who spends his days in the Diagnostic penthouse, working out a snow and water landscape. The hospital may see it soon and then you’ll see what we mean.”
The second article is titled “New Painting hangs in Center” and says:
“This week we announce, with considerable satisfaction…the hanging of a newly acquired painting by George Ames Aldrich. Mister Aldrich who has presented to us this lovely oil which he calls ‘Winter Afternoon,’ is a Chicago painter of note. Of the painting itself, Mister Aldrich says, ‘I like snow pictures. Most of my snow scenes have been done in northern Indiana. I tried to catch the lengthening shadows of those winter afternoons when reflection in the water is so beautiful. I have specialized in running water for forty years.’”60
Not long after his stay in the hospital, George Ames Aldrich died on March 7, 1941, at his Chicago home at 5521 Kimbark Avenue. He was sixty-eight years old and the cause of death was listed as a heart attack. Obituaries ran in papers across the country, from The New York Times to small towns in the Midwest that had felt lucky enough to host his exhibitions.61
Aldrich ultimately left a large volume of work, painting for nearly fifty years, and certainly more than one thousand paintings exist today. Some criticize his work as too formulaic. Others would say, “do what you do best.” While he painted occasional portraits, still life, Gloucester and industrial scenes, probably over ninety percent of his pieces depict the streams and villages of his beloved France or rivers and streams of the Midwest. While he painted within very narrow thematic boundaries, a mirror of his mentor, Fritz Thaulow, Aldrich fully developed a subject that today is admired by collectors across the country.
1 The National Cyclopædia of American Biography, (Volume 31, 1944), p. 81.
2 The National Cyclopædia of American Biography, op. cit., p.81.
3 Office of the Registrar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
4 Office of the Registrar, Art Students League.
5 Aldrich was interviewed by countless newspapers as he traveled in the Midwest. He was invariably asked about his studies, and most interviews refer to his lengthy stays in France, beginning in 1893. Given the many mentors he listed at numerous art schools, it seems he must have been a student in Paris for about a decade, until his final tutelage with Thaulow, circa 1904, before Thaulow’s death.
6 Judy Oberhausen, “Curator’s Report,” Summer 1984 Newsletter South Bend Art Center, and “Eminent Artist to Exhibit Here,” Rapid City Newspaper, p. 34, article 15, Aldrich scrapbook.
7 Collection of the author.
8 “Find Paintings By G. Ames Aldrich In Middle West Homes,” date and source unknown, p.36, article 22, Aldrich scrapbook. “Another Art Exhibit Opens Here Tomorrow,” date and source unknown, p.32, article
8, Aldrich scrapbook.
9 All references to his studies with Thaulow are Aldrich’s own or taken from interviews with Aldrich. Given his previous misleading comments regarding M. I. T., and his precarious use of the name “Ames,” one might question the efficacy of the Thaulow connection. If the reader will take this understanding, the author will continue to use Aldrich’s word for this relationship. Aldrich took up landscape painting in 1904 and Thaulow died in Holland on November 5, 1906. See “Exhibit Works Of Art,” unknown South Bend newspaper, 1923, p.34, article 17, Aldrich scrapbook. See also, “Art Exhibit Opens Today At Ball State College,” unknown source, scrapbook p.39/A35, c.1929: “Thaulow and Aldrich painted as companions in France during the past two years of the Norwegian master’s life.” Date taken from adjacent article A36, wherein he began painting landscapes “25 years ago” which was 1904.
10 “G. Ames Aldrich Art Exhibit,” date and source unknown, p.29, article 3, Aldrich scrapbook. “Another Art Exhibit Opens Here Tomorrow,” date and source unknown, p.31, article 8, Aldrich scrapbook.
11 “Eminent Artist to Exhibit Here,” Rapid City Newspaper, date unknown, p.34, article 35, Aldrich scrapbook.
12 “Snow Scapes Win Aldrich Praise,” Detroit Free Press, 12/9/1928, Cleveland Museum of Art, artist file.
13 Op. cit., Oberhausen, Summer 1984 Newsletter South Bend Art Center.
14 National Cyclopedia of American Biography, p.81.
15 “George Ames Aldrich, Well Known Painter, Spending Weekend Here,” source unknown, 5/29;1932, p.32, article 14, Aldrich scrapbook; “Exhibit Works of Art,” date and source unknown, but probably c.1932 as scrapbook is in chronological order. This article states, “Since 1894 Mr. Aldrich has resided for the greater part of the time in Paris.”; “Organization for Study of Art Plan of Local Artists,” date and source unknown, p.35, article 18, Aldrich scrapbook. In addition, the Annual Exhibition Records of the Art Institute of Chicago list Aldrich’s addresses from 1918 through 1922 as Stoney Island Avenue, E. Ontario St., and E. Ohio St., all in the Tree Studios buildings or immediate vicinity. Page 9
16 Chicago City Directory, 1917. It is possible Aldrich took employment at this time with Edward Holslag (1870-1924) as a mural artist in Chicago. Holslag had a successful decorating company and the two were close friends having shared a studio in the Lambert Tree Studio Building, traveling together in Gloucester and working on the growth of the Palette & Chisel Club. See: “Aldrich Exhibit Is Praised By Aurora Artist,” unknown Aurora newspaper, 1924, p.38, article 32, Aldrich scrapbook.
17 Peter Hastings Falk, editor, Art Institute of Chicago, The Annual Exhibition Record, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990), p.59.
18 Student records, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, office of the registrar.
19 The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago 1888-1950, (Madison, CT, Sound View Press, 1990), p.59.
20 Evelyn Marie Stuart, “Exhibition By The Chicago Society Of Artists,” International Studio, Vol. 67, April 1919, p.56.
21 “Art Society Buys Famous Painting,” Sioux City Daily Tribune, 7/9/1919, Art Institute Scrapbooks, vol. 39, p. 55. Aldrich’s “second wife,” “Madame D’Aures” whom the Sioux City Daily Tribune called “the French actress” was more likely a ruse. More likely she was indeed his same first wife, and that Aldrich was having a little fun with the press and the people of Rapid City. We know Aldrich took liberties with his resume, and had a fine sense of humor. (I refer to excerpts from his scrapbook that include keen plays on words, racy poetry and bawdy illustrations). A thorough review of church and county records has turned up no evidence of this “second” wife. Given his known marriage to Estalena Grantham in 1922, it does not seem likely he would have time to divorce Eugenie, (still listed as his wife in 1919) marry and divorce “Madame D’Aures,” and court and marry Estalena by Christmas Eve 1922.
22 The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago 1888-1950, (Madison, CT, Sound View Press, 1990), p.59.
23 “Noted Artist And His Family Guests Of Mr. And Mrs. Swan At New Fort Armstrong Hotel,” Rock Island Argus, date unknown, p.29, article 5, Aldrich scrapbook; “Local Artist Honored,” date and source unknown, p.29, article 6, Aldrich scrapbook; “G. Ames Aldrich, Famous Artist, To Be In Rock Island,” date and source unknown, p.31, article 10, Aldrich scrapbook; “Will Exhibit Paintings By Aldrich Here,” Aurora Beacon News, 4/27/24, p.32, article 8, Aldrich scrapbook. It is Conklin through whose promotion, we presume, secured the illustration of an Aldrich painting in the American Magazine of Art, Vol. 15, October 1924, p.491. Conklin was the owner of Conklin Galleries in Aurora and active with Chicago’s Carson Pirie Scott and Company galleries. Evidence of his promotion is provided further in an article by Conklin, “Aldrich Is Unexcelled Declare Noted Critics Here for His Exhibit,” South Bend Times, 12/14/1924, Cleveland Museum of Art, artist file.
24 For example see: “Progress Club Exhibit Opens,” date and source unknown, p.35, article 19, Aldrich scrapbook; “Works by George Ames Aldrich At Exhibit Show Artist’s Talents,” date and source unknown, p.35, article 20, Aldrich scrapbook; “Well Known Artist To Exhibit At Stockwell,” Lafayette Journal and Courier, August 1923, p.36, article 24, Aldrich scrapbook; “Aldrich To Paint At Club Exhibit,” date and source unknown, p.37, article 30, Aldrich scrapbook; “Ames Exhibit Awakens New Interest In Art,” South Bend Women’s Club Newsletter, date unknown, p.39, article 34, Aldrich scrapbook.
25 Aurora Beacon News, 4/30/24, p.32, article 8, Aldrich scrapbook.
26 “Bride of Today,” date and source unknown, p.46, article 48, Aldrich scrapbook.
27 Critic R. A. Lennon gave Aldrich credit for his ability to embellish on the beauty he saw when he said: “…his midland American landscapes draw as much from his own imaginative powers as they do from faithful observance of the original.” R. A. Lennon, “Paintings by Gross, Grigware and Aldrich,” The
Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 1/18/1927, p.4.
28 Neither the courthouse nor churches in the Stockwell area could offer any data to confirm a date. Given the tone of conversations with those who knew the artist this author personally believes Betty was already on the way, and that a hurried Christmas Eve wedding at Esta’s folks house may have been a “shotgun” wedding.
29 South Bend City Directories, 1923.
30 Conversation between the author and a Mishawka resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, summer 1998. The author interviewed many residents of the South Bend area that remembered Aldrich, or had Page 10 relatives that remembered him. Conversations and interviews were conducted from 1997 through 1999, and relevant details are documented and in the possession of the author.
31 Interviews with residents of the South Bend area that remembered Aldrich or had relatives that remembered him.
32 “Art-Loving Public of South Bend Given Rare Opportunity in Exhibit,” unknown South Bend newspaper, scrapbook p.36, article 23, 1923.
33 Fourth Annual Art Exhibition, (South Bend: Progress Club, 4/3-4/18/1923), Aldrich scrapbook.
34 Invitation, “The Department Of Arts Of The Kokomo Woman’s Club Invite Yourself And Friends To An Exhibition Of Paintings By George Ames Aldrich At The Public Library, June 20th To June 30th, 1923, Aldrich scrapbook.
35 “Well Known Artist To Exhibit At Stockwell,” Lafayette Journal and Courier, August 1923, p.36, article 24, Aldrich scrapbook.
36 “Interesting Exhibit at Lieber’s,” unknown Indianapolis newspaper, p.45, article 45, Aldrich scrapbook. See also in the scrapbook: An Exhibition of Oil Paintings By George Ames Aldrich, (Indianapolis: The H. Lieber Company, 5/23-6/2/1923).
37 Op. cit., Conklin, South Bend Times, 12/14/1924, Cleveland Museum of Art, artist file.
38 “Art Exhibit” p.32, article 9, Aldrich scrapbook.
39 Works of George Ames Aldrich at Exhibit Show Artist’s Talent” p. 37, article 25, Aldrich scrapbook.
40 Op. cit., interviews with residents of the South Bend area that remembered Aldrich, or had relatives that remembered him
41 After a fire, two of the murals were moved and now hang at the National City Bank, South Bend. The whereabouts of the other two are unknown.
42 “Local Artist Honored,” South Bend Tribune, 3/25/1926, Cleveland Museum of Art, artist file.
43 For a detailed history of the Hoosier Salon see: Judith Vale Newton and Carol Weis, A Grand Tradition: The Art and Artists of the Hoosier Salon, 1925-1990, (Indianapolis: Hoosier Salon Patrons Association, 1993).
44 These included: 1929 Lawrence A. Downs Industrial Scene along the Illinois Central Railroad Prize; 1932 Alexander F. Banks Winter Landscape Prize and 1936 Honorable Mention. Op. cit., Newton and Weis, A Grand Traditions, 1993.
45 Information courtesy of the Illinois Historical Art Project, [various letters to Association members regarding annual prizes in the IHAP library].
46 The status of the collection and painting today is under close research and scrutiny by the Chicago Public School Board. Letter to George Aldrich from Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art, 2/24/1928, Ryerson Library CELA archives, Art Institute of Chicago.
47 Op. cit., Lennon, The Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, 1/18/1927, p.4.
48 G. A. Aldrich, “South Bend Art Circles,” South Bend Tribune, c.1926, p. 35, article 21, Aldrich scrapbook.
49 “Plan Stag Night For Art Exhibit,” South Bend Tribune, c.1925, p.37, article 39, Aldrich scrapbook.
50 Phone interview conducted by author with a long time South Bend resident who wishes to remain anonymous.
51 The painting was recently sold by Chicago dealer, Robert Henry Adams. Three hundred Hoosier Salon paintings traveled to Gary, Indiana two months later where the painting received much acclaim as it celebrated the city’s proud steel industry. The painting was “expected through its artistic merit and the locale of the subject to attract widespread interest here [Gary] and to serve as direct impetus to many Gary citizens to visit the salon.” Quite a bit of responsibility for one painting. “Painting Of Gary Mills To Be Hung At Hoosier Salon,” Gary Post Tribune, 4/25/1929, Cleveland Museum of Art, artist file. 52 “Hoosier Salon Prizes,” Chicago Evening Post, 1/26/1932, Art Section, p.8.
53 Op. cit., Newton and Weiss, A Grand Tradition, 1993. All painting locations are unknown.
54 Aldrich scrapbook, contains programs for both exhibitions, along with prices penciled in artist’s hand.
55 “George Ames Aldrich, Well Known Painter Spending Weekend Here,” date and source unknown, p.34, article 14, Aldrich scrapbook.
56 “Painters Keep Up With the Times, George Ames Aldrich, Here, Avers” p.45, article 46, Aldrich scrapbook.