The Friends of the City Museum Support Purchase of New Acquisition by Sydney Laurence for City Museum
The Friends of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum recently won at auction, Bend in the River, oil on canvas, 20”x24”, by Sydney Laurence, 1865-1940. This landscape, painted in the flats near where the airport is located today, is a fine example of Laurence’s work in the Juneau area, his skill, and his dedication to plein-air painting.
Laurence is widely regarded as Alaska’s most prominent painter, famous for his many views of Mt. McKinley, now known as Mt. Denali, and the Cook Inlet region. It is less widely known that Laurence visited and painted in Juneau, and his work was represented by Belle Simpson and the Nugget Shop. Journeying to Alaska in 1904 to prospect for gold, his artistic talent and fascination with Alaskan scenes brought him back to painting, where he began earning his livelihood and a lasting reputation.
Laurence had the ability to create atmosphere in his work chiefly as a plein-air painter. Plein-air painting became a welcome alternative to studio easel painting in the mid-19th century as many artists began working out of doors in direct response to atmosphere, color, and light. Factory-made paints helped artists move out of the studio and allowed use of bright color and more immediate response to the outdoors. Laurence is known as a tonalist painter, using low contrast in his work to create the luminous effects of our natural light and atmosphere that Alaska is known for.
Bend in the River has been donated to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum in memory of William D. De Armond, who died in Seattle at the age of 79 on June 28, 2017. Bill is survived by his wife, Malin Babcock. Funds collected exceeded the purchase price of Bend in the River, and the Friends will dedicate any remaining funds to future Museum Juneau history and art acquisitions in his memory. The painting will be placed in the Museum’s collection under accession number 2017.45.
Along with becoming a charter and ongoing current member of the Friends, Bill was also a major supporter of the Museum’s objectives, notably, assistance in the Museum’s project to realize his late father’s Juneau-related work in digital form: “Digital Bob.” This award-winning website enables keyword searches of Bob’s Juneau history articles and can be accessed at http://www.juneau.org/library/museum/bobhome.php.
Bill’s late mother, Dale DeArmond, had a strong association with the Museum, now located in our former library building. Bill donated Dale’s Smith-Corona typewriter (JDCM2013.28.001) to the Museum. This typewriter was used during her twenty-five-year tenure as city librarian, and was gifted to her upon retirement in 1979. Coincidentally, the typewriter has been on exhibit since May, accompanied by a story written by Bill for our summer exhibit, Stuff, Stories, and Sticky Notes, up through October. Bill identified and donated to our 2009 acquisition, Early Morning Juneau, by Sydney Laurence, and also donated more than 100 items created by his artist mother to the Museum’s collection.
Donors to Bend in the River and the William D. De Armond Acquisition fund, “Bill’s Cache,” are: Malin Babcock, Ole & Sandy Bartness, John & Susan Bertholl, Mike Blackwell, Mary Borthwick & Robert Minch, Kathryn & Chuck Cohen, Cristine Crooks & Dean Guaneli, Elizabeth DeArmond, Gwynne Dodge, Allen Dodworth, Joan Featherstone Case, Joe Garrett, Alan & Carolyn Gould, Anne Grisham Schultz, Don & Alma Harris, Mary Claire Harris, Paula Johnson, Elisabeth Lee, Jane Lindsey & Ross Soboleff, Jean McBrien, Doug & Shauna Murray, Marcia Phillips & Charlie Payne, The Probst Family, Judy Ripley, Tracy Sommers, Pierre & Jean Sundborg, Kirk Tousley, Katrina Woolford, Mary Pat Wyatt & Paul Voelckers.
Other Friends acquisitions donated to the City Museum include:
Early Morning Juneau, oil on canvas by Sydney Laurence, c.1920-24, JDCM 2010.24.001
Meherin Cabin, oil on board, by Ted Lambert, 1936, JDCM 2012.01.001
Alaska Native Brotherhood Koogeinaa (sash) and cap, made by Frank Alby, 2016, JDCM 2016.20.001-2016.20.002.
Three Unfinished Herb Bonnet paintings and a KINY 50th Anniversary Poster designed by Herb Bonnet, JDCM 2017.61.001-2017.61.004. Purchased with funds from “Bill’s Cache,” In Memory of William D. De Armond.