“Watercolor Artists of the North Fork”

The Suffolk County Historical Society is pleased to announce that "Watercolor Artists of the North Fork," a special exhibition in our Weathervane Gallery of the work of local artists Bernard Springsteel of Southold and Ralph Fanning of Riverhead, has been extended to mid-March 2016. The spectacular show features over fifty watercolor paintings depicting Long Island's beautiful North Fork and other subjects.


Bernard Springsteel (1930-) taught himself to paint with watercolors as a young man when he went to Nantucket on a vacation years ago. "I sat on the curb with my paint and my brushes," Springsteel recalled in his book titled A Life in Art. Mr. Springsteel is a graduate of Pratt Institute, where he received a BFA in illustration and graphics. He later went on to a successful career in the art direction business, working for Good Housekeeping magazine (1969-1980) as well as Mothers Today, Working Parents, and McCall magazine. He has studied with numerous artists during his long career in the arts, including Fritz Eichenberg, Richard Linder, Edward Lanning, and Frederico Castellon. A longtime Southold resident, Mr. Springsteel and his wife Marcia Pollak recently relocated to St. Augustine, Florida. “This has been quite a change for a northern boy, but I’m finding many new subjects to paint in this historic 450-year-old southern city,” he recently noted.

Ralph Fanning (1889-1971), a watercolor artist and art historian, was born in Riverhead. A Quaker, Fanning served in France in compassionate non-military service during World War I. In the 1920s, he joined the Ohio State University Art Dept., becoming a full professor in 1924 after having earned master’s degrees in both art history and architecture. A skilled artist, Fanning taught the history of American and European art at Ohio State for 37 years. Often referred to by colleagues and students as “Mr. Art Historian,” Fanning had an energetic and stylistic approach to lectures, and in between lectures, he could be found in his office doing quick 12-minute paintings before his next class. Many of Fanning’s paintings give a historic perspective, taking us back to an earlier time. Fanning is quoted as once saying, “With a sketch pad, you learn more about people and places that you would find it hard to learn otherwise.” Fanning was recognized for his artwork and teachings as well as his humanistic and articulate personality.

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