Finger Lakes Artists’ Work on Display in the White House
Taken from Life in the Finger Lakes
Several area artists were selected to decorate ornaments for the White House Christmas Tree by Central New York Representatives to the U.S. House. As Bob Price reported in the December 14 Steuben Courier-Advocate, John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr. asked Hammondsport artist Bob MaGee to create an ornament for the 29th Congressional District. Congressman James T. Walsh similarly honored Marcellus artist Holly Knott, asking her to represent the State’s 25th District.
A few weeks after accepting the requests, each artist received a spherical plastic ornament in the mail, about six inches in diameter, with instructions from the White House, including deadlines for returning the completed work, the stipulation that the ornament be visible from above and below (since it is displayed on an 18-foot high tree), and requests that the final piece include “the name of the state, district or territory” in letters no taller than .75-inches and that it be representative of the “spirit of the artist’s state, district or territory, and should complement a red, white and blue color scheme.”
MaGee elected to depict a Keuka Lake scene with a Glenn Curtiss biplane soaring above, a gaffer in the act of blowing glass and grape vines to represent aspects of the Finger Lakes Region. In Price’s article, MaGee recounts difficulties in getting paint to adhere to the shiny surface and countering the distorting effects of the curved ornament.
Similarly, Knott chose to honor the Finger Lakes’ apple orchards, wineries and the lakes themselves by painting the ornament with images of red apples, grapes and grape vines on fields, deep blue sky, a Finger Lake with deep blue water and white puffy clouds.
Both Knott and MaGee were invited to attend a December 2 reception honoring the ornament artists at the White House. Knott had a prior engagement and could not attend, but MaGee and his wife Dorrie enjoyed the party at the beautifully decorated White House along with hundreds of other ornament artists.
To learn more about the 2008 “Red, White and Blue Christmas” program at the White House, visit www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/2008/index.html. (Scroll down and click on “Ornaments” to see pictures of these and other artists’ work.) To read Bob Price’s article on Bob MaGee, visit
www.steubencourier.com/news/2008/1214/Front_page/001.html, and to learn more about Holly Knott, go to www.hollyknott.com.