Art Notes: Looking Back at a Grandfather’s Work

  • "Thetford Barn," a painting by Louis C. Chap, is among the works on view at Royalton Memorial Library in South Royalton, Vt. An exhibition of Chap's paintings and illustrations is on view through Feb. 18.

  • A mock-up of an ad for the U.S. Navy by Louis C. Chap is on view at Royalton Memorial Library in South Royalton, Vt. Chap worked at a prominent advertising agency in the mid-20th century.

  • An advertisement for Bethel Woodware, by Louis C. Chap.

Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, November 10, 2016

A show at the Royalton Memorial Library in South Royalton looks at the work of Louis Chap, a 20th century commercial illustrator and artist. Organized by Chap’s granddaughters, Dorothy Chap Rikert and Phoebe Chap Roda, both of whom live in South Royalton, the exhibition includes examples of both his commercial work and his paintings of rural Vermont and its people.

Louis Chap, said Rikert, was born in 1910 in the U.S., the son of Lithuanian immigrants. He grew up in the New York City area with an obvious early aptitude for art, his granddaughters said.

Roda said that Chap and his wife Helen came to Vermont in the 1950s looking for an artists’ community, and found it in Stockbridge. Chap worked in New York City and commuted between New York and Vermont. One of his sons, Peter Chap, settled in South Royalton, and Louis Chap’s art was dispersed throughout the family after his death in 1982.

The commercial illustrations, from a recruiting ad for the U.S. Navy to an ad for wooden crafts made in Bethel to a promotion for George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon in Virginia, show the kind of sleek lines and minimalist design characteristic of 1950s and early 1960s advertising.

Rikert said that Chap worked for a major American design and advertising firm, founded by and named for Austrian Joseph Binder, which brought a stylistic, streamlined flair to American commercial art. While with Binder, Chap worked on major ad campaigns for the U.S. Navy and Coca-Cola.

The graphic elegance of Chap’s commercial style comes through in the ads he designed for the Navy, and in his promotional ads for Mount Vernon, which suggest Washington’s legacy through a sprig of cherries, an ax, a tri-cornered hat and a sketch of Mount Vernon in the background, rather than depicting Washington himself.

Also included are illustrations he did for Binder which depict such religious stories as Noah’s Ark, as well as such Biblical virtues as helpfulness and charity.

But his more personal art has a different feel and tone. “He loved to paint old Vermont landscapes, and loved to paint portraits of Vermonters themselves,” Rikert said.

The paintings of Vermont barns and a portrait of a man named Charlie Blake, a former goldminer from Gaysville who is shown wearing a railroad engineer’s cap and a checked shirt, are lyrical and “painted with some emotion. That really was where his heart was,” said Roda.

Rikert never met her grandfather because he died before she was born; Roda was just a few years old. For both women, to be able to connect with their grandfather through his art has been gratifying.

“It’s fun to have that piece of him, and to see the things he was capable of,” Roda said.

The Louis Chap show continues at the Royalton Memorial Library through Feb. 18.

Openings and Receptions

The Library Arts Center in Newport, N.H. opens its annual holiday Gallery of Gifts this Friday with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The gallery, which will feature handmade art and crafts for sale, will be open through Dec. 23.


Printmaker Sarah Amos will lead a workshop on making monoprints and collagraphs on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction. Amos uses such untraditional printing materials as envelopes, newspaper, lace, ticket stubs and ridged cardboard, among others. Workshop times are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The cost is $250, with a $55 materials fee. To register call 802-295-5901 or email trps@sover.net.


Arabella, Windsor. The gallery exhibits works by local artists and artisans in a variety of media, including jewelry, oils, acrylics, photography, watercolors, pastels and textiles.

AVA Gallery and Art Center, Lebanon. “Take Home Geometry,” an exhibition of work by Gerald Auten, the director of the Studio Art exhibition program at Dartmouth College, and John Kemp Lee, ends Friday. Both artists will give a gallery talk Friday at 4 p.m.; a closing reception will follow at 5 p.m.

Also at AVA, the “Vermont Watercolor Society’s Fall Juried Exhibition,” which features the work of 40 Vermont artists, ends Friday.

Cider Hill Art Gallery and Gardens, Windsor. “All the Seasons,” a show of work by Gary Milek, runs through Nov. 20.

Claremont Opera House. Marilyn Ray, a radiologist who works at a number of hospitals in the Upper Valley, exhibits paintings inspired by the Baha’i faith in the John D. Bennett Atrium. The show runs through Nov. 17.

Converse Free Library, Lyme. “Paul Klee: The World Through My Lens” continues through Dec. 23.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon. The photography of Nicolas Doak; acrylics and pastels by Norman Rhodes; work by members of the Upper Valley Ship Modeler’s Guild; fiber art by Dianne Shullenberger; digital art by Gloria King Merritt and oils and acrylics by Prabhjot Kaur are on view throughout the hospital. The exhibitions close Dec. 31. For information call the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Arts program at 603-650-6187.

Hall Art Foundation, Reading, Vt. “Landscapes After Ruskin: Redefining the Sublime,” curated by photographer Joel Sternfeld, continues through Nov. 27.

Hanover League Fine Craft Gallery, Hanover. The autumn exhibition features work by ceramicists Robin Ascher and David Ernster, textile artists Rachel Kahn and Kathleen Litchfield, and photographer Rosamond Orford.

Hood Downtown, Hanover. The photographs of Laetitia Soulier are on view in the exhibition “The Fractal Architectures” through Dec. 11.

Hopkins Center, Hanover. The sculpture and paintings of artist-in-residence Diana Al-Hadid are on view in the Jaffe-Friede Gallery, and “Speak! Listen! CT! A Kaleidoscope of Architectural Elements for Public Space,” with work by Zenovia Toloudi of Studio Z, and students, is in the Strauss Gallery, through Sunday.

Howe Library, Hanover. An exhibition of colorful abstract work by Amy Fortier, “Mandalascopes and Faux-zaics” is up through Nov. 29.

Kilton Public Library, West Lebanon. An exhibition of work by Enfield painter Penny Koburger continues through January.

Main Street Museum, White River Junction. “Now, What Was I Doing?” a show of 365 drawings by Sarah Smith (one for each day of the year) continues through Nov. 28

OSHER at Dartmouth, Hanover. Photographer Thomas Urgo shows his work in “World Views” at the OSHER offices at 7 Lebanon St., in Hanover through Dec. 20. Also showing photography are Anne Baird, Janice Fischel, Nora Gould, John Lehet and Lilian Shen. Hours are: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish. The Saint-Gaudens NHS has closed its picture gallery for the season. The grounds are still open to visitors.

Scavenger Gallery, White River Junction. The gallery is closed through Nov. 20.

SculptureFest, Woodstock. The annual celebration of three-dimensional art continues. While some works have been removed, 80 percent of the show is still on view, with new works coming in. “Grounding,” a show of site-specific work curated by sculptors Jay Mead and Edythe Wright, is on view at the King Farm. For more information, go to sculpturefest.org.

Two Rivers Printmaking Studio, White River Junction. Sue Schiller and Nancy Wightman exhibit their prints through Nov. 30. Two Rivers member-artists are also exhibiting work related to Northern Stage’s productions of Macbeth and A Christmas Carol in the lobby of the Barrette Center for the Arts, through December.

White River Gallery at BALE, South Royalton. “Touching at a Distance,” works by Brenda Garand.