Published: September 28, 2017
ATHOL, MASS. — As it has virtually every five years since the mid-1970s, Athol Historical Society will display an array of paintings by James Franklin Gilman from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, September 30.
An itinerant artist who sometimes exchanged a painting for lodging, Gilman produced renditions in oils, watercolors and pastels of area homes, farms, businesses and landscapes around the turn of the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth Century.
Debra Ellis, treasurer of the historical society, said organizers assembled the Gilman works from owners in the Quabbin region, Vermont and Boston, including the Christian Science Church. First organized in 1976 by the late Pauline Whipps of Athol, the Gilman show, as fans call it, fills the historical society easels, walls and pews every few years.
The September 30 exhibition will include several Gilman works lent by Boston’s Mary Baker Eddy Library, Ellis said.
Long considered the premier itinerant artist of the Quabbin area, Gilman’s proficiency embraced a variety of media and subjects, according to Adele Godchaux Dawson, Gilman’s biographer, and J. R. Greene, Quabbin historian.
Collectors prize Gilman’s paintings. Often from slightly distant, possibly fanciful vantage points, the artist’s images conjure long bygone years for modern viewers. Late-Nineteenth Century and early Tentieth Century moments on a farm, near a factory, or at the fairgrounds spring to life through Gilman’s highly objective style.
When doors to the Gilman show open at 11 am on Saturday, September 30, visitors will find the Athol Historical Society transformed into a gallery space honoring the area’s best-known itinerant artist.
Athol Historical Society is at 1307 Main Street. For information, 978- 249-4890.
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