Saturday, July 2, 2016

White River Mussels & the House of Light

Every so often, we get a glimpse of the magnificence that once existed.
       Recently, I had an opportunity to view small, yet wonderful, collection entitled Hugo and Gayne Preller’s House of Light on display at the Arkansas Historical Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. This exhibit will be on display through October, and I encourage you to get a glimpse of it while it is still available.  

http://www.historicarkansas.org/exhibits/hugo-and-gayne-preller-s-house-of-light

Hugo Arthur Preller (1865–1950) traversed the White & Mississippi Rivers, while traveling in a floating photography studio between 1898 through 1910. Afterward, Hugo and Gayne, his wife, settled in Augusta, Arkansas, along the White river. Their studio business and continued Hugo passed away in 1950, and Gayne passed away in 1958. The Preller’s work not only documents life & times along these rivers, but their photographs show the character of the people who live along these weathered banks. The White River, known for its’ watery highway from the Ozark Highlands to the Arkansas Delta, held a vast harvest of freshwater mussels which many Arkansans clamored and dredged to find valuables pearls for market. After harvesting these jewels of the river, the shells were gathered and sold to button factories.


While in his nomadic ventures along the rivers, Hugo Preller used freshwater mussel shells as his canvas to portray his sights along his journey. Among the many family portraits he was paid to take, Hugo had a talent to paint. The following pictures show what can be done with discarded shells once their jewels were taken. As I was peering through the glass at the museum, the thought dropped into my heart of how many people only seek the pearls of life, while there is still beauty to be found in the remnants of our past & future. I believe this can be seen in Preller's House of Light.

Dear Reader:
The magnificence is not always in the history’s past because it could be in your very future. I hope you take the time to look beyond what you may perceive as a solitary pearl. There is a wonderful canvas surrounding you, and it’s awaiting for your hand, patience, and attention.

Enjoy your Ozarks’ History

Vincent
 


U.S. Snagboats Quartered at Devalls Bluff
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
1920
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: U.S. Snagboats Quapaw, Arkansas, and C. B. Reese Quartered at DeValls Bluff, Ark.
March 1920. Painted from Life./H. A. Preller
Loan courtesy of Melanie Alumbaugh and Sumer Clark


DeValls Bluff Button Factory.
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
March 1920
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: Button Factory, DeValls Bluff, Ark. / March 1920. H. A. Peller
Loan courtesy of Lower White River Museum State Park


View on the White River.
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
1916
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: View on the White River. / past Aberdeen, Ark.
Washboard Shell. H. A. Peller, 16”.
Loan courtesy of Gayne Preller Schmidt


Court House and Ferry Landing, Dec Arc.
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
Fall 1921
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: Court House and Ferry Landing, Dec Arc, Ark. Painted from Life. Fall 1921.
Loan courtesy of Gayne Preller Schmidt


The Burning & Exploding of a Crude Oil Irrigation Plant.
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
1917
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: The Burning & Exploding of a Crude Oil Irrigation Plant, Crockett’s Bluff, Ark., White River.
August 1917. Painted from Life./H. A. Preller
Loan courtesy of Gayne Preller Schmidt


View in Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo.
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
December 1918
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: View in Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo.
December 1918. Looking East from Art Hill./H. A. Preller
Loan courtesy of Gayne Preller Schmidt

Portrait of Gayne Preller.
Hugo Arthur Preller
Oil Paint on Mussel Shell
1918
Approx. 5” x 7”
Inscribed: H. A. Peller “18”
Loan courtesy of Gayne Preller Schmidt

2 comments:

Brenda Shedron said...

Priceless!

Classic_dude said...

I didn't realize you had such extensive knowledge of the ozarks. I went on a hike today to the Leatherwood wilderness and ran across some ruins at the Cleveland Knob area. I was trying to do a little research on that area which is why I ran into your blog. Guess you're done with your Master's degree now? Thats exciting!