OSWEGO — An East Amherst man moving to Florida full time has donated to SUNY Oswego the college’s third painting by famed marine painter James Gale Tyler, namesake of Tyler Hall and the Tyler Art Gallery on the main campus.
The other paintings by Tyler, who was born in Oswego in 1855, came to the college in 1967, thanks to a gift from Delta Kappa Kappa Fraternity, and in 1992 from the estate of Joseph Riley.
SUNY Oswego’s latest Tyler work depicts a three-masted ship on a swelling, moonlit sea, with an impressionistic tug or tender steaming in the background.
“This painting has been in my family for a long time,” said John Gartner, the Buffalo-area donor, retired president of John Gartner & Co. Technical Marketing Consultants. “My aunt who died in New York City in 1998 had it for as long as I can remember.”
Gartner said the oil-on-canvas painting is in the “dark and dusky” style espoused by the prolific Tyler in many works. “Florida is kind of light and bright,” he said, “so it no longer served any purpose for us.”
Rather than submitting the artwork to a dealer for auction, Gartner, who has been “very much involved” with the Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State, did some research and decided SUNY Oswego’s connection made Tyler Art Gallery the best home for the painting.
Gartner says this is his second gift of art to a college. The first was to his alma mater, Princeton University, at his 25th reunion — about 33 years ago.
Michael Flanagan, director of Tyler Art Gallery, expressed the college’s gratitude for the gift.
“Every gift to the college’s art collection is a noteworthy act of generosity and trust,” Flanagan said. “However, Mr. Gartner deserves special thanks for researching James Gale Tyler and realizing that Oswego, Tyler’s birthplace and early home, was the perfect fit for his donation.”
Flanagan said the other two Tyler paintings in SUNY Oswego’s permanent collection display single sailing ships.
“When you get more than one element, it takes on more of a narrative,” he said.
With sea captains in his lineage, James Gale Tyler left Oswego at age 15 to establish himself as a painter in New York City, having used Oswego Harbor and its ships as his favorite subjects in youthful work.
He studied under marine architect Archibald Cary Smith, and later became famous, particularly as a painter of yachts, including those in America’s Cup races from 1900 to 1930.
He died in Pelham in 1931.
Flanagan said he intends to work with others in the college and community to come up with a plan for displaying the college’s three Tyler paintings at once.