For over 60 years, Willis "Bing" Davis has been recognized as one of the premiere interpreters of art and the African-American experience in the United States. Originally from South Carolina, Bing and his family moved to Dayton, Ohio in his youth. His life has been devoted to the creative spirit, the creation of works of art, and art education. Teaching, mentoring and inspiring, Bing is still working to find an outlet for his muse, and his life experiences in many different mediums. The exhibition at the Harmon Museum, which opens August.13, 2021, is the culmination of his being inspired by the catalogs from the Harlem Renaissance exhibitions of African-American artists, performers and writers sponsored by The Harmon Foundation. Funded by real estate mogul, and Lebanon native, William Elmer Harmon, Bing said the inspiring works featured in those exhibitions fueled his desire to embrace art and make it his life's journey.
To quote Mr. Davis, "At my age, I don't need another exhibition, but I want to do this to honor all Mr. Harmon did for African-American artists in American."
Marcus Mote, born on June 19, 1817 in Miami County, Ohio, was a self-taught artist who pursued a career in painting from his studio in Lebanon. He was very talented and was able to achieve great success throughout his lifetime. However, today he is not only known for his artistic ability, but also for his Quaker heritage. Even though Quakers were critical of art, Mote was able to harmonize his conservative culture with the progressive ideas of the 19th century in his creation of four panoramas during the 1850’s.
A panorama is a piece of artwork that is considered to be an ancestor of a modern day film. It consisted of a series of painted scenes, each about nine feet high and fifteen to sixteen feet wide, which together would create a story. The scenes would slowly rotate around a hidden mechanism, and as the scenes passed, the story was told by a narrator, called a professor.
Marcus Mote’s first panorama debuted on May 9, 1853 in Lebanon Court House to a large audience. It was a recreation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Thus, it portrayed the story of Uncle Tom, a slave, and the harsh reality of his life. Mote’s panorama was successful in staying true to the novel’s plot; however, his artistic talent truly exemplified the deep emotions felt by the characters. The panorama’s first public appearance was overshadowed by another panorama exhibit in the area, but it nevertheless received glowing critical reviews.
Mote’s second panorama was based off of Milton’s poems Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. These two poems are descriptions of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. It premiered on October 14, 1853, about six months after the debut of his first panorama. It also received sterling reviews, especially for Mote’s portrayal of the lush Garden of Eden.
The third panorama, titled the Geological History of the Course of Creation, was Mote’s largest. It was comprised of a total of forty scenes, which were painted on a total of six thousand square feet of canvas. It was inspired by the eternal beauty of Niagara Falls, and required him to do considerable research into geology and paleontology. This research allowed him to create what he believed to be a comprehensive history of the earth and the creation of mankind. Mote was commended for his ability to harmonize the biblical representation of creation and the version maintained by geologists. Its presentation included music directed by a man known as Professor Schuler, and the panorama was very well received by a large audience.
Mote’s fourth and final panorama was a series of scenes promoting the virtues of temperance. For its debut, Mote hired Luximon Roy, an eccentric East Indian prince, to narrate the panorama as well as to share aspects of his culture. The enthusiastic audience considered by the painting as well as the lecture to be brilliant. This panorama was also at a later time narrated by the famous temperature lecturer M.M. Edwards of Cincinnati.
The creation of these four panoramas was a major stepping stone for Mote’s career. The popularity that he attained by creating panoramas stayed with him as he moved on to portraiture and landscapes. Unfortunately, none of these four panoramas exist today. However, from the numerous glowing reviews and descriptions that do exist today, it is evident that he was very talented as well as beloved by the people of Lebanon.
Written by Kaitlyn Barnes
On this Day in History. U.S. General Gordon Granger came to Texas, two months after the South's surrendered (four years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation), and read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
Below, an 1845 illustration of freed slaves carrying the Emancipation Proclamation.
The very popular Jeff Wilson once again paid us a visit to discuss material covered in his books Ohio Legends and Ohio Legends Volume 2. Every page in his books has a short story with an original, expressive illustration drawn by Jeff that brings to life a bit of Buckeye trivia or an oddity about an Ohio inventor, ghost, visionary, hero, crackpot or criminal. Jeff will be showcasing a special “Librarian’s Edition” of his Ohio Legends series that features a “perfect bound” cover and includes many stories never published before.
Ohio Legends Volume 1 & 2 are available in the Museum Shop.
Jeff Wilson is a free-lance cartoonist, writer and illustrator. A life-long resident of the Buckeye State, he lives in Vandalia, Ohio with his wife Patti and enjoys any good, goofy story about Ohio.
Born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio where my family were some of the earliest settlers, I was introduced to art and history at an early age by my mother and elementary school teachers. Those early influences set me on a life long path exploring the beauty of nature and local history. I was that child who always needed to know “why?”
I attended Lebanon schools K thru 12 and graduated from Lebanon High School. Early teachers who influenced me were, Louise Stiles, Agnes Marts and Billie Runyan. My major in high school was art, studying with Rosemary and Gene Chute. I continued at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio majoring in Fine Art and Art Education, graduating with a BS in Art Education. Additional coursework included: Business, Economics, Law, Real Estate and Interior Design.
Art became my hobby over the years that I worked in retail and business, but I returned to creating again in 1996, studying with Elmer Ruff of Cincinnati. In 2008 I returned to work at Warren County JFS retiring in 2014. I returned to volunteering with the Warren County Historical Society, Harmon Museum in 2018 working in the Art Curatorial and Conservation department.
-Bio written by Sylvia Outland
Sylvia Thompson Outland
Inspired by color, line and form, I try to convey the beauty, personality and mood of each of my subjects. I love to garden, and am drawn to nature and like to capture the subject’s inner spirit as well as the mood of that particular moment. I feel a connection to my subjects and enjoy bringing out individual qualities, whether it is in a building, still life or landscape. Having lived in Lebanon and Warren County most of my life I feel a deep connection with the area and its history.
My work is constantly evolving as I look for new ways to express my ideas. The large variety of methods and materials available continues to challenge and expand my creativity. Each medium has its own characteristics and the subjects of my work and ideas I want to convey will usually dictate the medium I use. I am constantly working and studying to expand my range of technical experience. I find that each work takes on a life of its own.
This exhibition is made up of some of my favorite works done over the last 20 years. Recently, I’ve been working with line and color, as shown in my “Hosta’s Gone Wild” and “Graphics” series and flowers in quick color sketches. My earlier work centers around my “Vanishing Landscape” series of pictures of old barns and buildings as well as still life studies.
My current work is more experimental using new ideas and different techniques letting serendipity dictate the design. I still most enjoy the mediums of pencil and pen because, when working with them, I find a calmness and peace.
Inspired by my Grandmother and parents, my love of nature and history continues to this day as a great source of inspiration for my work. An early exposure to fine craftsmanship and building design has inspired my love of old barns, architecture and fine art crafts.
The mediums used in the works in this exhibition are oil/acrylic, watercolor, color and graphite pencils, India ink in black and color markers.
Work held in Private & Corporate Collections including:
The Harmon Museum, Warren County Historical Society, Lebanon, Ohio
Lebanon Citizens National Bank, Lebanon, Ohio
GMI Companies, Lebanon, Ohio
Butler County Republican Party
Warren County, Ohio government
Sylvia's show will be held from April 30, 2021 to June 5, 2021 at Harmon Museum
Use Wifi? Thank Hedy Lamar.
In 1942, the Golden Age of film actress/Mathematician teamed up with composer George Antheil to develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology. Though the technology was not employed until the late 50s, it was used during the conflict with Cuba and later would become the Bluetooth and Wifi we use today. The two were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
- Sylvia Outland, Art Curator
March 14th marked the return of the portrait, featured on Antiques Roadshow, of John Milton Charters and William Morris Charters (1846 - 1848) twin sons of Dr. William Morris Charters (1806 - 1883) and Cynthia Dutton Seely (1809 - 1860). Both portraits were painted, circa 1849, by Marcus Mote a Quaker artist living and working in Warren County. The Betsy H. Maple Trust, represented by Karri Hamilton daughter of Betsy Maple, (second wife of William Chester “Chet” Maple) personally delivered the painting the family gifted to the Harmon Museum. Both paintings descended in the family of Charters Dyche Maple (1899 - 1958) to his sons William Chester Maple (1935 - 2009) and Dixon Charters Maple (1929 - 2001).
Joyce Lovins Browning is a native of Ohio growing up in the Harrison and Okeana areas. She has been performing Living History for over 19 years. She retired after 20 years as the Naturalist Coordinator from Great Parks of Hamilton County in 2018, and now enjoys working as a part-time Tour Coordinator for Ohio Travel Treasures, sending groups on wonderful bus tour adventures. She'll be portraying Annie Oakley in our April Lunch and Learn.
Since childhood, I have always been drawn to antique objects; they bring a relevance and history which contemporary objects do not offer. This experience led to my exploration of historical drawings and etchings from the Victorian period, starting with Edwin Landseer, who was one of the most popular animal illustrators during this time period.
Images of animals and children started to proliferate at the turn of the century as people sent greeting postcards and also read magazines like Harper’s Weekly which contained stories written and illustrated in serial fashion. Printed magazines were available all over the country as reading became an important cultural activity and literacy increased. In addition, life was documented and shared in wonderfully illustrated children’s books. One can imagine domestic scenes by the fireside involving reading and the slow activity of embroidery.
Artwork and literature are rife with cultural symbols; they are a tool which teach our youth as well as shape adult behaviors. Morals abound in these tales, both about humans and animals. At this time, animals started to be seen as domestic companions and valued for their loyalty and compassion. Many of these prints show scenes of tenderness and altruism, while others illustrate acts of aggression and barbary.
These stories and the prints which accompanied them, had a profound effect upon public perception of the treatment of animals and children leading to new organizations for their protection including the Society for the Care and Protection of Animals (SCPA) and new child labor laws. Using research from this important historical period, I created a series of embroidered drawings on wool. There is a kind of nostalgia in these images, not of a perfect world, but a slower paced life with some sweetness. It is also important to note that the cultural awareness which awakened regarding children and animals unfortunately did not extend to all humanity, especially African Americans and immigrants. The resulting embroideries seek to shine light upon our collective potential for acts of altruism and bravery, amidst the presence of depravity. How can we extend the generosity of animals and children into contemporary society so that all people can find tenderness, sensitivity to others and begin to understand our collective value?
Amanda Stokes (1820-1885) was raised on a farm in Warren County. By the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861, 41-year-old Amanda, against the advice of friends and relatives, obtained from the Surgeon General a commission as a hospital nurse with orders to report to Federal troops in the South.
Amanda worked in dozens of field hospitals near such battles as Stones River, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Nashville and Atlanta. She fought for items she felt were essential in caring for "her boys." Finding little support from the U.S. government, she took her own money and spent it for the comfort of the soldiers.
One day, the ambulance Amanda was riding was crossing the Chattahoochee River. The horses became unruly and overturned the wagon into the river. Amanda escaped through a hole in the top of the ambulance, injuring her head in the process. In the accident she lost not only her personal belongings but also her commission. Attempts to apply to the Surgeon General's office for a duplicate proved fruitless since no copy had been made.
After the war, Amanda, with the aid of scores of “her boys,” was appointed Matron of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home at Xenia, Ohio. A pension of eight dollars a month was eventually granted to her by a special act of Congress.
Amanda died on March 28, 1885 in Xenia. She is buried in the Lebanon Cemetery with the simple marker: “Amanda Stokes 1820-1885 Army Nurse.”
- John Zimkus
In the 1970s and 80s, Lebanon played host to the Cincinnati Symphony for a series of concerts. What started as a concert for the July 4th Mini Festival soon grew into a concert series due to its popularity, More dates were added to include a number of musical guests. At its peak, concerts were held eight months out of the year. One four-part series was held, in the summer months, on the lawn at Berry Middle School and, during the winter months, the auditorium of the Junior High. The auditorium was actually built with hosting the symphony in mind. This all changed with the construction of Riverbend and the concert series ceased to be.
Samuel Robert Bailey (1847-1906) Around 145 years ago, Bailey was the first African-American teacher and principal in the public schools of Lebanon, Ohio. Born a slave in northern Alabama, in 1863 during of the Civil War, he left the war torn South as a teenager and went to Sandusky, Ohio. Although illiterate, he saved enough money working to enter Wilberforce University. Seven years later he graduated. In 1876, He was hired to teach in the “colored” school, or African Union School, as it was sometimes called, in Lebanon. Paid as much or more than most of the district’s 9 teachers, around 1879, he was designated “principal of the colored school” and overlooked a staff of one other Black teacher. In 1883, he became the principal of the Lincoln “colored” School in Kansas City, Missouri. When he left Lebanon, The Western Star newspaper proclaimed, “Mr. Bailey is an intelligent colored gentleman, fully competent, to discharge the duties to the high position to which he has ascended. He was a good citizen and we wish him success in his home in the West.”
- John Zimkus
Elizabeth Kimberlin (1917-1987) was a leader in community and statewide service programs as well as a local civil rights trailblazer. A graduate of Lebanon High School in 1935, she was denied the opportunity to apply for a college scholarship because of her race. Instead, she became a typist at the air force base in Dayton, and eventually working 21 years at Defense Electronic Supply Center (DESC) as provisioner traveling all over the U.S. visiting plants and purchasing of airplane parts, while at the same time overcoming prejudice against Blacks and women. Elizabeth was President of non-profit Lebanon Community Services, Coordinator of the Lebanon Food Pantry, and involved in many other organizations including being a trustee of the Ohio Division of the American Cancer Society, as it’s the only black member. In 1943, she organized the first Black Girl Scout Troop in Lebanon, and that year her troop became the first to integrate Girl Scout Camp Butterworth in Warren County. Elizabeth remembered, “Both colored and white girls were there together, and everything went fine. That was quite something for those days.”
- John Zimkus
Anna Middleton (1786-1861) On March 29, 1805, when she was 19-years-old, Anna Middleton became the first woman and the second person west of the Appalachian Mountains to become a Shaker. Anna was also a former enslaved African American. Anna was from Virginia and was freed by “her owner” shortly after coming to Ohio. Old Shaker records at the Union Village in Warren County called her, “honest and kind-hearted.” In 1805, because of her gender and race, the non-Shaker “world” would have treated Anna as a second-class citizen or lower. That was not the case at Union Village. Anna was a Shaker for 56 years. She died on April 10,1861; a month short of her turning 75. Two days after her death, on April 12, Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, South Carolina was attacked by Confederate troops beginning the Civil War. In 1895, 89-year-old Job Mullin from Springboro, a known member of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped enslaved individuals obtain freedom, wrote, “I can give but three names of [UGRR] stations- Shaker Village, Waynesville, and Springboro.”
- written by John Zimkus
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteers.