EXHIBITION: The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader

December 4, 2014 - March 15, 2015


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Travel Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio in the unique 19th century drawings of folk artist Ferdinand A. Brader, whose meticulous works featured family farms and businesses — many still in existence today. This exhibition showcases Brader's large-scale, detailed drawings, which tell a story of life throughout the countryside in the late 1800s and provide a rich look back at our American family heritage. How were crops farmed? What gardens were common of the time? How were farm buildings used? All this and more can be answered ... and detailed ... in Brader's amazing works on paper.

Brader identified the owners and township of each property along the bottom of each drawing and used a sequential numbering and dating system. More than 200 of his approximately 1,000 drawings have been located and cataloged.

Brader drawings are in collections ranging from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Canton Museum of Art and the McKinley Museum. The Canton Museum of Art exhibition will feature pieces from its own collection as well as on loan from private collections and other museums. Vignettes in the museum's lobby will feature clothing, farming tools and other household items of the period, providing an additional context of life as seen in the drawings.

This original exhibition is organized by the Canton Museum of Art and CMA Guest Curator and Brader Scholar, Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss.

Exhibition Opening Celebration

A special Opening Night Celebration for Museum members will be hosted on Thursday, December 4, from 6:00 – 8:00pm at CMA. Members can make reservations for the opening by calling 330.453.7666, ext. 104. A limited number of tickets are available for non-members at $10/person and can be reserved by calling the Museum. Learn more here ...

About the Exhibition: The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader


This original retrospective exhibition showcases more than 40 graphite pencil drawings by Brader (1833-1901), a Swiss immigrant and itinerant folk artist who captured views of daily life on family homesteads and businesses during his travels through Pennsylvania (including Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties) and Ohio (including Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne, Medina, Portage and surrounding counties). Brader identified the owners and township of each property he drew, and he used a sequential numbering system for the drawings. Approximately 215 drawings have been identified (59 from Pennsylvania and 156 from Ohio), from what is believed to be at least 980. Today, Brader works are held in private collections, as well as museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, and the Canton Museum of Art.

Ferdinand A. Brader was born in Kaltbrunn, St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1833. Many details of Brader’s early life are incomplete, but by the mid-1860s, he had married and had a son—and he had also likely begun drawing. Brader came to the United States in the early 1870s (according to research, possibly following a brother) and traveled extensively in Pennsylvania and Ohio. As payment for room and board, he created large pencil drawings of the farms and properties where he was given temporary residence. Families have passed down stories that he slept in a barn or other outbuildings.

Brader’s monumental drawings (30-by-40 inches and larger)—using paper and graphite pencil, which were readily available at the time—are dramatically accurate scenes, and they are mostly portrayed from an elevated perspective. Brader’s first drawings of farms and homes were made in Pennsylvania and dated 1879. Brader presumably created several hundred drawings in the counties of Berks, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Lebanon and as far west as the counties of Somerset, Beaver, and Allegheny. The majority of Brader’s drawings were done in Ohio. His first Ohio drawings appeared in Tuscarawas and Columbiana counties in 1884. From research, it appears Brader’s Ohio pictures were done in nine different adjoining counties: Portage, Medina, Wayne, Stark, Summit, Carroll, Columbiana, Mahoning, and Tuscarawas, continuing through 1895, with the majority featuring subjects in Portage and Stark counties. While best known for his farmstead pictures, Brader also recorded scenes of both the Portage and Stark County Infirmaries; railroad stations; and rural industries, such as grist mills, potteries, mines, and quarries.

In early 1896, several Ohio newspapers, including “The Repository,” reported Brader’s disappearance from Ohio, and later confirmed that he had returned to his home in Switzerland to collect an inheritance. However, five years later in 1901, Swiss officials declared Brader “lost, missing without a trace.”

Brader drawings on view at the Canton Museum of Art feature works on loan from institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Reading Public Museum, Carroll County Historical Society, Portage County Historical Society, McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and numerous family and private collections. The Canton Museum of Art also features two Brader drawings from its own Permanent Collection, both to be on view at the companion exhibition at the McKinley Museum: The Property of Michael J. and Catharine Kreibuill, Canton Tp., Stark Co. Ohio, 1886 (Gift of Dr. Jaroslaw & Larissa O. Muzyczka), and George Dilger’s Brewery and Residence, Louisville, Stark Co. Ohio, 1885.

Exhibit Related Events & Lectures

Canton Museum of Art Opening Night Celebration
Thursday, December 4, 2014 • 6:00 – 8:00pm • Canton Museum of Art
CMA Members: FREE • Non-Members: Limited Tickets Available at $10/person
Members RSVP or to Purchase Tickets Call 330.453.7666, ext. 104

Enjoy an evening of farm-inspired heavy hors d’oeuvres, an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of “The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader” with the guest curator, complimentary wine and beer (2/person; other cocktails available for purchase), and live folk music by Rock Salt and Nails.

McKinley Museum Reception & Holiday Open House
Friday, December 5, 2014 • 6:00 – 8:00pm • McKinley Museum • www.mckinleymuseum.org
McKinley Members: Free • Non-members: $5

Special opening for “The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader” companion exhibition in the Keller Gallery.

Exhibit Lecture — “Finding the Farms”
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 • 6:00 – 7:00pm • Canton Museum of Art • FREE
Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss — Guest curator of “The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader”

Where are the Ohio and Pennsylvania farms featured in Ferdinand Brader’s drawings? What do they look like today? “Finding the Farms,” also the subtitle chosen for the Education Gallery of the Brader exhibition, will be presented by the exhibit’s guest curator Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss and will take the audience inside the search to locate Brader's drawings and their actual locations. * Regular Admission Required for the Exhibit. *

Little Art Gallery Opening Reception
Thursday, December 11, 2014 • 5:30 – 7:30pm • Little Art Gallery at North Canton Public Library

Special opening for “The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader” companion exhibition, which will feature a selection of Brader’s historical drawings produced in colored pencil. A gallery talk by guest curator Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss will be presented at 6:30pm. For information, call 330.499.4712.

Exhibit Lecture — “The Brader Experience”
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 • 6:00 – 7:00pm • Canton Museum of Art • FREE
Phil Harlan — Great, great grandson of John and Elizabeth Beutler

“The Brader Experience” takes an in-depth look at how detailed Brader was in his drawing of the Beutler Farm, located in Smith Township, Mahoning County, Ohio. With the use of actual photographs of the Beutler farm taken in 1892 (within 7 years of Brader drawing the farm), we see the amazing features by Brader — details that could only come from the heart. Along with photographs, verbal verification from John and Elizabeth Beutler’s descendants confirms how beautifully this work captured the homestead. * Regular Admission Required for the Exhibit. *

Exhibit Lecture — “Progress and Prosperity: The Farm Portraits of Ferdinand Brader”
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 • 6:00 – 7:00pm • Canton Museum of Art • FREE
Dr. Howard L. Sacks and Judith R. Sacks — Kenyon College

In his highly detailed farm portraits, artist Ferdinand Brader tells us much about agricultural spaces, rural society, and Ohio folk culture in the nineteenth century. This program explores the character ofagricultural life he depicted and how that relates to what takes place today in Ohio’s barns and fields. The program will discuss what it means to describe Brader as a folk artist, and highlights his themes of progress, prosperity, and contact with the larger world. Also examined is the distinctively Germanic-Swiss cultural element in this artwork, reflecting the shared memories of many Ohio immigrants of this period. Guest presenters Dr. Sacks, a sociology professor and director of the Rural Life Center of Kenyon College, and Judy Sacks, an affiliated scholar in American Studies at Kenyon, are lifelong collaborators, folk music scholars, performers, and co-authors of the award-winning book “Way Up North in Dixie.” * Regular Admission Required for the Exhibit. *

Exhibit Lecture — “This is My Father’s Farm: Pennsylvania Dutch Identity in the Farm Drawings of Ferdinand Brader”
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 • 6:00 – 7:30pm • Canton Museum of Art • FREE
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Jay Grimminger — Lutheran Pastor and interdisciplinary scholar of 19th century culture in Pennsylvania and Ohio

Ferdinand Brader’s farm drawings unconsciously bring to life the aspects of Dutch identity that were long entrenched in rural living but had disappeared in many places as a result of the Pennsylvania Dutch’s cultural assimilation into English-speaking America. Aspects of Dutch identity that the fathers once held dear that are visible in these drawings reveal a pride in Dutch heritage where families made conscious decisions to hold on to Dutch folk-life even when neighbors did not. Guest speaker Rev. Grimminger lives on a 100-acre farm in Washington Township, Stark County, Ohio, where Ferdinand Brader sketched for his great-great grandfather, Josiah A. Lutz. * Regular Admission Required for the Exhibit. *

Exhibit Lecture — “Ohio's Vanishing Barns”
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 • 6:00 – 7:30pm • Canton Museum of Art • FREE
Dan Troth — Vice President, Friends of Ohio Barns

In this final presentation as part of the Ferdinand Brader exhibition, Friends of Ohio Barns (FOB) Vice President, Dan Troth, will kick off his speaking tour at the Canton Museum of Art. This presentation delivers a sobering message on the swift loss of Ohio's historic barns — such as those depicted in Brader's monumental drawings — and what we can do to help stem the losses!. * Regular Admission Required for the Exhibit. *

Historical Perspectives Exhibits, Catalogue, Education Programs

To place Brader’s work into historical context, Andrew Richmond, a vice president at Garth’s Auctions, Inc. in Delaware, Ohio, created a companion exhibition for CMA—Ferdinand A. Brader: An Historical Perspective. This exhibition, encompassing Renaissance artists, county atlases, farmstead portraits of other artists, and early panoramic photography, is displayed in a gallery adjacent to the main CMA exhibition. In CMA’s Education Gallery, a display entitled “Finding the Farms” provides reference materials, maps, and contemporary photographs of some of the farms detailed by Brader.

Exhibition Catalog
A fully illustrated hardbound catalogue, The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader, accompanies this exhibition, featuring scholarly essays by nine recognized Brader authorities, as well as a checklist of the drawings discovered over the last several years. Guest curator Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss led a large group of volunteers across the United States and Switzerland in the course of preparation for the exhibition, which occupied over three years and countless hours of intense research spent in pursuit of
Brader. The catalogue is available at CMA’s Museum Shop.

Brader Education Programs
Education programming from CMA focuses on Stark County and Ohio history, related artistic works of the time and Brader’s unique drawing perspective, bringing history and the arts alive for students in the classroom — and in the Museum. Art-making workshops, storytelling, and map-making presentations are potential programs for Stark County schools.

Public lectures are being presented on related topics (see Exhibit-Related Events & Lectures, above), including the folk art genre; gardening of yesterday and today; farm life as depicted in the drawings, including details on tools, fencing and outbuildings; histories of the farms, and what still exists today; and much more.

Exhibit Media

Dec. 7, 2014: "Adventurous Artist Drew Farmsteads in Ohio and Pennsylvania," Akron Beacon Journal, Anderson Turner

Nov. 30, 2014: "Artist Ferdinand A. Brader Captured 19th Century Farmlife, Local History in Pencil Drawings," Canton Repository, Gary Brown

Nov. 29, 2014: "Ohio Exhibitions Highlight Ferdinand Brader,"  The New York Times, Eve M. Kahn

Exhibition Sponsors

The exhibition is made possible in part by support from the Ohio Arts Council; Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; and sponsorships from McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory, Inc.; Mark and Beverly Belgya; The Dominion Foundation of Cleveland; Mary Renkert Wendling Foundation; Russ Kiko Associates; Biery Family Foundation Inc.; Rachel Davis Fine Arts; the Ervin and Marie Wilkof Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Leibensperger; Rich Industries, Inc.; and Frank Tosto.

This original exhibition is organized by the Canton Museum of Art and CMA Guest Curator and Brader Scholar, Kathleen Wieschaus-Voss. For more about Brader history and the drawings, visit the Brader Exhibit research site.