Sun, 02/05/2012 – Sun, 05/13/2012

Payne Hurd Gallery

The 250th Anniversary of Allentown/200th Anniversary of Lehigh County made 2012 a year to celebrate in the Lehigh Valley. The Allentown Art Museum participated in this celebration with the exhibition of works by artists who were associated with the well-known artist Walter Emerson Baum, or with his classroom instruction that began in Allentown in 1926. For years Baum was a leader in promoting the creation of the Allentown Art Museum, which opened to the public with great fanfare in 1936. The early members of the Board of Trustees recognized the importance of an art museum to the people of Allentown, the Lehigh County, and the entire Lehigh Valley. Like Baum, some of the early trustees were artists and they were represented in this exhibition, including John Berninger, Clarence Dreisbach, Walter Mattern, Melville Stark, and William Swallow. The paintings of Nolan Benner, Jr. continued the trustee/artist tradition of dedication to the success of the museum after it opened in 1959 on Fifth Street. Impressive and transforming additions were made to the museum in 1975 and again in 2011.

A major painting in the Walter Baum and His Circle exhibition was Baum’s large 1945 view of Allentown in winter. The exhibition ranged in date from the 1920s to the 1980s. The different styles and subject matter were shown in painting, drawing, prints, and sculpture. Some of the works depicted Allentown and/or Lehigh County locales, be it downtown, in the parks, or out in the countryside with farms and fields. The Pennsylvania German heritage of our region is particularly apparent in the work of William Swallow and Richard Peter Hoffman. Many of these artists had one-man shows at the museum during their lifetimes. Today their work has become treasured by collectors in the Valley. The variety and richness of the arts in our area could only be touched on in this exhibition, but it showcased the heritage of Baum’s personality and teaching in Allentown and Lehigh County. This exhibition was curated by our trustee Missy Saxton, an art historian and author of the book Walter Emerson Baum, Pennsylvania Artist and Founder of the Baum School of Art and Allentown Art Museum.


 John Berninger, American, 1897-1981. “The Art Museum,” mid 1900s, oil on canvas. Purchase: Allentown Art Museum Auxiliary, 1962. (1962.170)