Painting On His Own Time: Historic Local Art Returns to Syracuse
Syracuse, New York – In 2010, while browsing a local thrift store in Phoenix, Arizona, Kristin de Galard spotted a painting that immediately captured her attention. The watercolor depicted an inviting waterside summer scene, recalling Ms. de Galard’s childhood spent on the shore of Lake Superior. Ms. de Galard purchased the painting for $12.
“I brought it to my mom’s home in nearby Glendale, where she spent the winters as a ‘snowbird,’” said Ms. de Galard. “Until 2015, it hung in her dining area where we both enjoyed it.”
Eventually, the painting would journey from Arizona to Ms. de Galard’s home in Wyoming. Upon arrival, Ms. de Galard noticed a small piece of paper stapled to the back of the frame. It was a certificate of provenance, a document commonly used to identify the origin and author for many different types of art. Clearly legible over 75 years later, the typewritten font read:
“Work of the Waves” – Lake Ontario
Associated Artists of Syracuse
Floyd H. Allport
In fact, Dr. Allport was not only a painter, but among the most highly regarded social scientists of his time and considered by many as the “founding father” of social psychology. Dr. Allport was also one of the very first faculty members of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Over the course of Dr. Allport’s academic career, he received numerous commendations, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. Prior to his time at Syracuse University, Dr. Allport also served as a lieutenant in World War I; received his Ph.D. from Harvard; taught as an Associate Professor at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and as a visiting professor at the University of California Berkely. In 1924, he published “Social Psychology,” considered a seminal work in his area of expertise.
In addition to a lifetime of professional accomplishments, Dr. Allport enjoyed one activity that he pursued on his own time: painting watercolor scenes of Central New York, where he served as president of the Associated Artists of Syracuse. The Association often displayed their work alongside world-renown professional artists at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Art – then located on James Street – which would eventually become the Everson.
“The painting…had been sitting in a closet until this [February],” said Ms. de Galard. “I contacted CNY Arts to see how I could return it to Syracuse University, or possibly a family member of Dr. Allport.”
When CNY Arts received Ms. de Galard’s inquiry, Executive Director Stephen Butler recognized the historical significance of Dr. Allport’s academic and artistic endeavors.
As a graduate of the Maxwell School, Mr. Butler also understood the importance of returning the painting to Syracuse University. CNY Arts paid to have the painting shipped “home,” where Maxwell Professor Catherine Gerard facilitated joint stewardship of the painting between CNY Arts and Syracuse University. Professor Gerard is also a past president and current member of the CNY Arts Board.
“This is perfect timing,” said Amy Criss, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Maxwell. “Dr. Allport was an inaugural member of our department, and 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the field of social psychology. It would be really special to unveil the painting during the celebratory conference.”
Soon, “Work of the Waves” will be featured at the Maxwell School for all current and future members of the community to enjoy.
In the spirit of CNY Arts’ upcoming On My Own Time art exhibition program, the creative community of Central New York and Syracuse University wish to honor both Dr. Allport’s impressive scholarly contributions, as well as his creative talent, which he pursued “on his own time.”
On My Own Time is a showcase dedicated to recognizing the creative achievement of local artists who practice their craft as an avocation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of On My Own Time. Selected art will be featured at a finale exhibit hosted by the Everson Museum in October. Dr. Allport’s remarkable example demonstrates that there is time and purpose in each of our lives for exploration, reflection, and expression.
For more information about On My Own Time, please navigate to: www.cnyarts.org
CNY Arts is the regional arts council serving six counties in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, including Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego. Its mission is to promote, support, and celebrate arts and culture. CNY Arts assists artists and arts organizations through access to grants-making, capacity-building, education and training, and promotional services.