Hubert Davis, forgotten artist, at PSU LV
“Hubert Davis: Scenes of Pennsylvania” brings the forgotten paintings and lithographs created by a Pennsylvanian-born artist to public view at the Ronald K. De Long Gallery at Penn State Lehigh Valley. The exhibit, which highlights works Davis created for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the late 1930s and early 1940s, continues through June 9.
In the De Long Gallery exhibition, the Great Depression era works reflect the uncertainty of the times with landscapes filled with leaning buildings constructed of rippled siding and inhabited by grim-faced, ragged and wobbly people.
After researching the artist’s life for the catalog of works in the show, Vincent DiCicco wrote in his short biography, “The viewer appears to be looking at them through waves of heat, with buildings appearing fluid and without bones.”
Davis’s “American Dream Town” (oil on canvas, 26 in. x 36 in.) and “Coal Region” (lithograph, 13 in. x 15 ¾ in.) are typical examples. Other works include watercolors and charcoal drawings.
“Ron De Long, who has been caring for Davis’s work for the past several years, has been working tirelessly to assemble this exhibit that will coincide with two others in the Lehigh Valley,” says Penn State Lehigh Valley
Gallery Director Ann Lalik. “The scope and variety of styles is breathtaking, allowing each exhibit to focus on a different characteristic of his work.”
Two other area venues will feature Davis’ work: “Hubert Davis: Costume Design,” May 22 - July 21; reception, 6 - 8 p.m. May 19, Civic Theatre Gallery 514, 514 N. 19th St., Allentown, and “Hubert Davis: Foreign Lands,” May 16 - June 26; reception, 6 - 8 p.m. May 18, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, 522 W. Maple St., Allentown.
Lalik chose works from De Long’s collection that reflected the Pennsylvania roots of Davis, born in 1902 in Milton, Northumberland County. After graduating from his hometown high school, Davis studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, the Art Students League of New York and The Academie Julian, Paris.
Davis spent time painting in Guatemala and Greece, then returned to live in New York City where his first wife Marguerite died during surgery in 1953.
In 1957, Hubert Davis and his second wife Maxine, Marguerite’s niece, acquired an old schoolhouse in New Tripoli, Lynn Township, which became a second studio where the couple enjoyed time away from New York City.
The New Tripoli studio is where De Long got his first glimpse of the work he helped preserve. De Long never met the artist. Davis died in 1981.
De Long was asked by the woman who inherited the old schoolhouse to help her with the artwork that had been left behind.
Ronald K. De Long Gallery at Penn State Lehigh Valley, 2809 Saucon Valley Road, Center Valley, Upper Saucon Township, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday. Information: lehighvalley.psu.edu/gallery; 610-285-5261