It’s likely some lodgers at AMC’s Shapleigh Bunkhouse may not be aware that they’re resting their heads in a space where once were created master works of American landscape painting.
The building housed the summer studio of White Mountain School of Art landscape painter, Frank Shapleigh, who, from 1877 to 1893, served as artist-in-residence for the opulent Crawford House grand hotel, which stood on the site until 1979.
This past September, AMC celebrated that connection to the arts and to the heyday of outdoor, or, “plein air,” landscape painting by offering a painting workshop in Crawford Notch, on the grounds of the Shapleigh Bunkhouse and AMC’s Highland Center. Instructor Christopher Volpe served as artist-in-residence during that three-day outdoor learning program, helping to complete an historic circle.
“We wanted to pay homage to the work of the famed painters of the White Mountain School, who used the region’s spectacular views as their backdrop and helped spread awareness of these beautiful places. These paintings really served as a sort of early advertising for tourism in the region,” said Chris Thayer, AMC director of North Country programs and outreach.
The session focused on oil painting and was taught by Volpe, whose specialty is American landscape painting and whose work has been featured in many galleries.
A couple of participants joined the artist on a hike up Mount Willard to sketch the view of the valley made famous by Shapleigh’s work.
“Participants had the opportunity to enjoy some face-to-face interaction and learn to improve their painting technique with tips from this talented artist,” said Thayer. “And it was especially exciting that two of this past fall’s participating artists—a mother and daughter—are distant relatives of Frank Shapleigh.”
Thayer called the pilot effort a success, and said additional artist residencies and plein air workshops are already planned for May, September, and October 2015.
Volpe is set to return to the Highland Center as artist-in-residence May 3-8, 2015, with an oil painting workshop set for May 3-6, while oil painter and illustrator, Todd Bonita, is lined up as September’s artist-in-residence. He runs the Todd Bonita Art Gallery in Ogunquit, Maine.
Master Painter Michael Vermette, who works in watercolors, pastel, and oils, is slated for an October residency and plans to offer a course in landscape painting. He has served as artist-in-residence at Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park in Maine.
Exact dates for the fall programs are to be determined.
AMC has a deep connection with the arts. In the club’s early years, elected officers included a councilor of art, and members held art exhibitions at AMC’s Boston headquarters and in concert with other organizations. Enthusiasts also enjoyed illustrated lectures about the arts presented by members and guest artists.
Find information on AMC painting workshops and other nature and art programs.