Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lost and found ... and found!

Could this be a long-lost corner of Chalon before 1961? Image
 is slightly cropped. (Photo by Bud Hankel. Used with permission.)
OH, THE WONDERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Somebody noticed some Mount Archives stuff on the web and surprised us with some heretofore unknown Mount artwork.

We've blogged about the Mount's iconic artist, Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ, who founded the Art Department in the 1920s and painted till the end of her earthy life in 1986 at age 99. We've noted how her paintings were largely destroyed in the Bel Air Fire, and when we discovered a treasure trove of slides taken in 1979, we started getting a handle on her surviving and later works. We scanned the slides and put them on our Flickr site at http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCjzRY1.

Debbie Ream in our PR department forwarded a message from Amy Hankel in Rogersville, Mo. In her voicemail, Amy explained that she and her husband, Bud, owned a painting signed by Sister Ignatia and and found out that she once taught at Mount St. Mary's. Could we tell her more about Sister and the painting?

We called back and talked to Bud, who said he'd purchased the watercolor at the Superior Thrift Store in Stockton maybe 15 years ago. The family later moved to the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri and hung the watercolor of the foyer of their home, where it remains. He has been curious about the signature and did some internet searching, where he eventually found the Flickr site and this blog.

A photograph of the painting, attached to an email from Bud, shows some droopy eucalyptus trees and a steep staircase with a rickety wooden rail. There are some indefinite shadows in the background. Could those be hills? Could this be the Chalon Campus? Even more interesting, could this predate the 1961 disaster?

We're going to show the photo around to some of the landscape guys and see if they recognize those stairs. Our current theory is they were adjacent to the old Bowl, about where the Drudis-Biada Building and parking structure are now. The Bowl was destroyed in the 1961 fire.

Many thanks to the Hankels for reaching out, and three cheers for social media.  Maybe we'll be able to locate some of the other 56 paintings.

Detail of the painting with signature. (Photo by Bud Hankel. Used with permission.)