Ithaca is home to a rich variety of artists working in every medium imaginable, from prints to video to inkjet printing to furniture to more traditional sculpture and painting. Over the years there have been several venues in town devoted to showing the work of these talented artists, and today the Ithaca Art Trail, the State of the Art Gallery, the Ink Shop, the Saltonstall Foundation, and the Farmers’ Market are just a few of the places offering a vast array of well-crafted and unique works by Finger Lakes artists.
When Mary Lou Harriott passed away in December 2008, she had been an active member of the Ithaca arts community, volunteering for many years at the Upstairs Gallery, where she served as president for five years. Founded in 1963 to support local artists, it provided exhibition space and encouraged appreciation of art within the community. In her capacity as president of the gallery from 2003 to 2008, Mary Lou’s jobs were varied, from helping to arrange monthly exhibits and writing grant proposals to recruiting new members and acting as social chairman. She especially enjoyed hanging two or three shows each year, facing the challenge of selecting the paintings and sculptures and arranging them to best advantage, a task she often shared with her husband, Peter.
In 2009 Peter established a fund in his wife’s memory to continue Mary Lou’s support of local artists. This fund has given the Johnson Museum the wonderful opportunity to add seventeen works by eight artists to the collections of prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, and artist’s books. Though the Upstairs Gallery closed its doors at the end of 2009, Mary Lou’s passion for helping the local art community continues with this important gift.
Nancy E. Green
The Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs