As well as many fine photographs, the Museum also houses artwork by renowned maritime painters such as Frank Kraft, George Gray, James G. Tyler and Albert Adams.
Oswegonian, Frank Kraft, painted several scenes of local maritime history specifically for the Museum and reproductions are for sale in the Treasure Chest Gift Shop, on the lower level of the Museum. Mr. Kraft was a prolific and popular artist as well as a retired art teacher.
George Gray was bon in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, December 23, 1097. He was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Wilmington, Delaware. He was also a member of the Art Students League in New York, and studied at the Howard Pyle School of Illustration, in Wilmington. He began his professional career as a designer of stage scenery in New York. In 1926 he was invited to sketch scenes of army life in various army forts and camps. Subsequently, George Gray became a staff artist for the United States Infantry Journal, the United States Cavalry Journal and the National Guardsman. Through his work on the military journals, he was discovered by General Leslie Kincaid who became his patron. General Kincaid was the President of the American Hotels Corporation and the Pontiac, in Oswego, was part of the American Hotel chain. In 1937, George Gray was commissioned by General Kincaid to do the magnificent group of murals now displayed in the Museum. His work hangs in numerous museums, hotels and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He served as combat artist for the United States Coast Guard during World War II. Mr. Gray is a life fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London; a member of the Society of Illustrators, the American Military Institute, the Company of Military Collectors and Historians, the National Society of Mural Painters, and a great many others. He is a founding member of the National Historical Society. Mr. Gray did this remarkable body of work in Oswego in 1937 and 1938. They are all oil on canvas and are exceptionally fine examples of the muralist's art.
Recently conserved by West Lake Conservators, through a grant from the Greater Hudson Heritage Network, the James G. Tyler painting "Fascination" is on exhibit in the new Sailing Oswego Harbor Exhibit.
James G. Tyler was one of the most notable maritime painters and illustrators of his day. Tyler was born in 1855 in Oswego, New York. At age 15, Tyler, already fascinated by the sea and its vessels, moved to New York, where he studied under marine artist A. Cary Smith. This brief tutelage was the only formal art training Tyler ever received. No aspect of maritime life escaped Tyler's attention. In addition to painting all types of boats—from old sloops to clipper ships—he painted a variety of seamen, coastal scenes and seascapes. From 1900 to 1930, Tyler traveled each year to Newport, Rhode Island, where he painted the annual America's Cup Race. Some of these paintings were commissioned; the remainder were widely exhibited and critically acclaimed. In fact, Tyler received a number of important commissions in his lifetime. He also capitalized on the money to be made through magazines, and was a regular contributing writer and illustrator for some of the major publications of the time, including Harper's, Century and Literary Digest. Tyler's artistic style is vivid and poetic, infused with his unique and specific enthusiasm. As seen in his Freshening Breeze (date unknown, Kennedy Galleries), his emphasis is more on mood and impression than on the exacting details conveyed by more realistic painters. His works have been critically compared with those of Albert Ryder. When, at the height of his career, Tyler became aware of the number of paintings falsely circulated under his name in New York, he complained to the district attorney and was able to successfully pursue several civil action suits. Having lived for most of his life in Greenwich, Connecticut, Tyler moved to Pelham, New York in 1931, before he died.
Albert Adams, Mexico, New York
Educated in the Mexico schools, he continued his higher education at New York University and Trinity College. Mr. Adams, in his retirement, returned to Mexico to the house he was born in and began his next career as a painter. He was a prolific painter with much of his subject matter pertaining to the water, particularly Oswego Harbor and the area near the west pier, capturing the active life of the waterfront on canvas. He moved with equal ease from traditional forms to modern experimental. Mr. Adams' talents extended in other directions. He enjoyed building and racing model boats in the inner harbor. Working in wood delighted the artist as much as his powerful expressions with paint. Mr. Adams taught art and industrial art in the Hartford, Connecticut school system for 39 years. While in Hartford, he also participated in the school's theatre program designing sets and directing stagecraft activities.