Hidden Art Collection
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.