The historic East Boston Branch Library painting that was recently restored was unveiled as part of a gala last Thursday at Bremen Street branch library.
This is the second of several historic painting titled “A History of Shipping” by Frederick Leonard King to be restored. The painting by King depicting the Queen Mary is currently being overhauled at Oliver Bros. Restoration thanks to a grant by the East Boston Foundation (EBF).
The gala included a silent auction, music and sea shanties performed by the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society and light refreshments.
“There was a time when people didn’t really care about these paintings,” said Friends of the Library member Debra Cave. “But there was a group of concerned residents that felt these paintings were part of our history and that they needed to be restored. When other people were down on the idea Friends of the Library members Maddy McComiskey, Karen Maddalena and Susan Brauner consistently advocated to save and restore these paintings and little by little got the support of the community “
Along with the grant from the EBF funding for the painting’s gold rope frame has been funded by the Boston Public Library.
Friends of the Library (FOL) kicked off a fundraising effort two years ago with the goal of raising $50,000 to begin restoring the rest of the group of historic paintings.
“I grew up going to the library on Meridian Street and I was so thrilled when this library opened because it is always packed with kids,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “We made a big investment in this new library but there was still one important issue and that was what to do with these group of painting. I remember as a kid going into the former library and I remember looking at the these paintings and they are really part of the history on East Boston. In fact some of the painting are of ships built here in the neighborhood so they need to be celebrated and we need to make sure future generation know that history and celebrate that history.”
McComiskey said she was thrilled to have two paintings restored and that the FOL is looking forward to getting two more done soon.
In April 2012, the FOL reached a compromise with Boston Public Library (BPL) administrators on how to display the group of paintings by King in the new library on Bremen Street. Several painting are now on display in the library’s quite room.
Oliver Bros. Fine Art Restoration advised FOL members that the paintings need cleaning, backings, repainting, and frames.
“We talked about what Oliver Bros. Restoration demonstrated to us when we visited their shop,” said McComiskey. “We explained the process is extensive because these paintings are in very bad condition. This is a great beginning and hopefully can raise enough money to get the rest of the paintings restored.”
The paintings were originally at the Jeffries Point Library Branch on Webster Street. When the Jeffries Point Branch was closed the murals were put up at the Meridian Street Branch. However, some rumors floated around that BPL administrators were of the opinion that the painting would not fit the decor of the new state-of-the-art modern library currently that was built on Bremen Street and were quietly trying to block the community’s efforts to hang the paintings at the new branch.
There were originally 30 paintings in the series but during BPL’s move from Webster Street to Meridian Street something happened that changed how this series is viewed forever.
In 2011 FOL received a grant from the East Boston Foundation to identify, appraise, recommend conservation, and photograph the series of King paintings.
Two paintings in particular, the Flying Cloud and the Sovereign of the Seas, depict ships built by famed shipbuilder and Easti Boston resident Donald McKay at his shipyard on Border Street.
The group of paintings, titled was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project under the Federal Arts Project (FAP) dating from 1935. The FAP was the visual arts arm of the Great Depression-era New Deal WPA Federal One program in the United States. It operated from August 29, 1935 until June 30, 1943. FAP’s primary goals were to employ out-of-work artists and to provide art for non-federal government buildings like schools, hospitals, libraries, etc.
FP 1 and 2; Friends of the Library member Susan Brauner and Peter Tyszer,. a partner at Oliver Bros. Restoration unveil the fully restored historic painting depicting the Queen Mary. The painting was restored and is part of a series of paintings, A History of Shipping” by Frederick Leonard King.
Susan Brauner, Maddy McComiskey, Debra Cave and Fran Riley.
Diane Modica and Maddy McComiskey.
At the event was a silent auction as well a series of books for sale that were donated by Fran Rowan.
Rep. Adrian Madaro with Friends of the Library members Maddy McComiskey, Debra Cave, Karen Maddalena and Susan Brauner.
Margaret Farmer and Gail Miller.
President of the Citywide Friends of the Library Brandon Abbs.
Rep. Adrian Madaro talks of the historic significance of the paintings.
Library janitor Paul Carley unveils
one of the missing paintings depicting a Viking Ship he found in a closet at the old library on Meridian Street.
Music and sea shanties were performed by the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society