LBI Library Celebrates Washington With Art, Reenactment

Feb 07, 2017
Artwork by: Paul Hartelius 'The 1782 Massacre at Barnegat Light' oil painting by Paul Hartelius.

With February being the month Presidents Day is observed, the Friends of the Long Beach Island Library and the Great John Mathis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolutuion are hosting a special art exhibit. The library’s meeting room displays an eclectic mix of art from photography, oil paintings, pastel paintings, watercolors, textile art, quilting, acrylics and more, all united around the theme of George Washington and New Jersey history.

The tribute culminates on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. when Sam Davis portrays George Washington in a celebration of our first president’s 285th birthday. In the meantime, children may drop by the branch and make a birthday card for Washington and place it in the mailbox in the children’s section of the library. The cards will be presented to Davis during this program. 

Cathleen Engelsen, exhibit coordinator, said 12 artists are represented at the display. Long active with the Mathis DAR chapter, Engelsen has seven paintings on display of the Trenton Barracks, Battle of Trenton Monument, Burlington County courthouse, Trenton Statehouse, George Washington’s Trenton Headquarters, Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Perth Amboy City Hall.

In addition, the works are for sale, and the artists are donating 10 percent of their proceeds to the Mathis Chapter and 10 percent to the Friends.

“This was a very ambitious undertaken by the two groups,” said Engelsen. “It is great that we were able to find artists with a wide range of styles, combined with an interest in history not just here, but in all of New Jersey.”   

Paul Hartelius, a Stafford Township resident, contributed an acrylic work, “1782 Massacre at Barnegat Light,” depicting the ruthless killing of two dozen local privateers by Loyalist John Bacon as the victims slept on the beach near where the Barnegat Lighthouse stands. A past president of the Pine Shores Art Association in Manahawkin, Hartelius also contributed a watercolor of “The Baptist Church in Manahawkin,” which served as a burial site for the privateers, as well as “Batsto,” referring to the Burlington County historic site.

“The exhibit is a great concept to show how George Washington and the Revolution impacted New Jersey,” he said. “With the massacre, I wanted to focus on an historic incident that took place locally.” 

Jo Clarke of Barnegat Township contributed acrylic works including “Returning,” a wintry, snowy, early-morning view of the Delaware River; “Blueskin,” Washington’s famous mount from the Sultan of Morocco; “Monmouth,” the Revolutionary War battlefield; and “You Know,” a close-up portrait of Washington inspired by the famous portrait by Gilbert Stewart.

“I live in a house that was built in 1872, so I’ve always had interest in local history,” she said.    

In addition, the display case in the branch’s lobby showcases authentic American Revolution artifacts, memorabilia and numerous books about Washington. The display was set up by Sue Troy, a Surf City resident who said she developed a strong interest in reading about Washington after retiring as an English and history teacher in the Mount Holly school district 10 years ago. Her first book was Washington’s Crossing, a Pultizer Prize-winning book by David Hackett Fischer.  

“I don’t think there would have been a United States without him,” said Troy. “He believed very strongly in the separation of powers and that the military was subservient to the government.”

Troy said that unlike some military leaders, Washington fought alongside his troops.

“He cared very much about his men,” said Troy. “He did not watch from afar.”

Davis said he would be portraying Washington during his time as the general of the Continental Army during the Revolution, and will appear in full uniform.

A high school science teacher in the Trenton area, Davis has been doing his living history presentation for 10 years. He has also appeared in numerous Revolutionary War reenactments, including  the Christmas Day program re-creating Washington’s 1776 crossing the Delaware River, prior to defeating British reinforcements under Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Trenton on Jan. 2, 1777.

To register for the Feb. 18 program, call the branch at 609-494-2480.

— Eric Englund

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