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Hidden Art Collection
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The Spectator
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 by Frank Shortt
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        We take trips for various and sundry reasons. Sometimes it is for pleasure. Sometimes it is business. Sometimes we are surprised as to how a certain trip turns out.
        On a recent trip to Virginia, my purpose was to attend the Shortt family reunion, and to attend a total High School Reunion at the school where I graduated which is now the Appalachian College of Pharmacy. I attended the school reunion on June 20th and began visiting different family members awaiting the Shortt reunion on the Fourth of July.
        I was staying with my brother Wendell and his lovely wife Patsy at Shortt Gap, Va. when I received an email from my Aunt Carmen in Alexandria, Virginia. Alexandria is approximately four hundred miles from Shortt Gap. She told me that my uncle Ellis was very sick and somewhat depressed. He is ninety-one years of age and suffers from several maladies. My first reaction was to pray for him, then, I decided that I must go see him to represent the rest of the family.
        My friend, Manuel Batlle, was visiting my family with me, so he and I rented a car and began our trip on Thursday, June 25th. The trip to Alexandria took about seven hours as we stopped along the way to eat and refresh ourselves. We arrived at Uncle Ellis’ home about seven p.m.
        I was told by Aunt Carmen that Uncle Ellis had no desire to get up out of his chair and was refusing to walk, even to the kitchen for his meals. This is the state in which we found him when we arrived. It was obvious that both Uncle Ellis and Aunt Carmen were very tired and somewhat depressed, he, from all the suffering he was encountering, she from trying her best to care for him. As soon as we arrived we began to talk to both about different things. We began to see an improvement in both their attitudes as we discussed the family, the upcoming family reunion and other things. For many years Uncle Ellis has made an attempt to go to the reunion each year and was grieving because he would not be able to attend the one this year. We consoled him the best we could and had a group prayer.
        Before that evening was over, Uncle Ellis was up out of his chair, walking all over the house, and even climbing the stairs with the help of his cane. We were relieved to see the sudden change. As we walked around the house we began to see the wonderful artwork on all the walls. As I have an avid interest in all genres of art, I was especially taken by the Latin subjects, every bit as good as Diego Rivera’s paintings of Mexico.
        We retired that night, very weary from the trip, but refreshed to know that Uncle Ellis was responding to the stimulation of the visit and the conversations we were having. Aunt Carmen was visibly relaxing also. We learned many things, heretofore, not discussed by Uncle Ellis. How he had been in the thick of the fray in WW2 in Italy, France and North Africa, ending up in Germany. He told us that he had carried a Browning Automatic Rifle all the way across Europe. Quite a task for one not even eighteen years of age.
        I was awakened early next morning by voices from the kitchen. Uncle Ellis is an early riser and Aunt Carmen had accompanied him downstairs and put the coffee on. After greeting my aunt and uncle, I offered to make my, now famous, blueberry pancakes. Aunt Carmen just happened to have frozen some a few days before our visit.
“Those were the best pancakes I ever ate” exclaimed Uncle Ellis. I tried to remain modest but he would have none of that.
        After Manuel and I did the dishes and put them all away, my mind returned to all the artwork I had seen the day before, but had only glanced at in passing.
“Do you mind if we see all the paintings this morning?” I asked.
“Of course you may!” Aunt Carmen replied.
        This began an excursion through their home that is quite unforgettable. In fact, I cannot remember ever seeing as many wonderful pieces of artwork in one home as this collection represents at least four generations.
        The patriarch of this talented family is Hector Banderas Canas, who is remembered as one of Chile’s most famous artists. His studies included France, Italy, and Germany, sponsored by the Chilean government. His paintings include oils, watercolors, pastels, textile arts, and ceramics.
         Hector was born in 1903 in Santiago, Chile and died there in 1988. His first art studies were at the University of Chile under the Russian master, Boris Grigoriev. When the art school closed in 1928, he was pensioned by the Chilean Government to study abroad, namely France, Italy, and Germany. In Montparnasse, France he studied painting three years, moving on to Sevres where he did a special course in the manufacture of ceramics. His further studies were at the Hochschule in Berlin, Germany and in Italy. His exhibitions include Santiago, Chile, Toledo, Ohio(USA) and in Paris, France where he received meritorious recognition from art critics and professional artists alike. His paintings have been collected and acclaimed by art admirers throughout the world.
        On returning to Chile, he became Professor of Applied Arts at the University of Chile and remained for twenty-six years teaching textile and stained glass arts for tapestries. He also held the position of Secretary of the National Conservatory of music. From 1949 he served in the position of Director of the Experimental School of Art Education in Santiago.
        The matriarch of this art-endowed family is Ingeborg Rosenthal Becker. Her talents lay in creating exquisite pieces of still life in oils and watercolor. Scattered throughout this collection are many pieces of her gracious creations. She was born in Magedburg, Germany in 1910, daughter of Ernest Rosenthal, a prominent physician, and Else Becker, a music teacher. Hector and Ingeborg were married in 1932. Her art studies include Hanover, Germany and New Delhi, India, where she studied on art scholarships. Her paintings were exhibited throughout Santiago, Chile mainly at the Cultural House in Providencia.
        Aunt Carmen is not to be left out! As she sets her mind to a piece of art, she can also create the wonderful nature that she has experienced throughout her life.
        Last, but not least, is Aunt Carmen’s daughter, Anabella C. Ferguson, who follows in the traditions as set forth by her famous grandfather and grandmother. Her nature paintings are of the highest quality, shining forth with rays of light not often caught by other artists.
        After a perfect evening of enlightening art, as well as discussing creation, redemption, and incarnation, we all retired to ponder the wonderful discussions we had partaken of. We had to cram several years of catching up into a two day visit.
        Next morning dawned partly cloudy with a threat of rain. Uncle Ellis was the first one up, as usual, as he is awakened by bodily needs that accompany being a senior citizen. His request, “Some more of Frankie’s wonderful blueberry pancakes!”
        I was happy to oblige and soon thereafter, we had to depart for Southwest Virginia to return the rental car and other obligations. Parting was not easy, as we had been made completely at home, and the unsure status of the fragility of life. We said our goodbyes with hopes of seeing each other as soon as possible.
        My parting gift was one of Hector Banderas Canas’ wonderful landscape paintings and with a hope of once again returning to see this hidden museum of four generations of talents, inborn, and shaped by hardship and much diligent study.