The ESAC Permanent Collection

10 Dec · Hannah Lyle · No Comments

We're going on a treasure hunt...

Many people know about the Eastern Shore Art Center’s constantly changing exhibits. Our exhibits committee strives to find the best of the best for our members and visitors. One of ESAC’s hidden treasures, however, is its permanent collection. We have a piece from the well known watercolorist Henry Casselli, a variety of works by Herman Bischoff, some sketches by John Carroll, and much more! After reading this blog post about our permanent collection, we guarantee you’ll want to come down to the Wilson Gallery and check it out yourself!

Herman Bischoff

Herman E. Bischoff (October 30, 1908 – December 1, 1980) has been one of the major contributors to the Eastern Shore Art Center. Not only is the Bischoff Gallery named after his wife, Victoria Bischoff, but also Bischoff’s works make up a significant portion of the ESAC’s Permanent Collection. The Bischoff Estate also donated other pieces, including John Carroll’s works. Bischoff lived in Ohio and New York City before moving to Fairhope, Alabama, where he was very active with the Eastern Shore Art Center. He even taught classes! The bulk of the Art Center’s collection of his works are his polo players and figure drawings.

Shot in the Dark, ed. Judith Merril, New York: Bantam Books, 1950.

Like other artists, Bischoff worked as an illustrator for magazines and books. Through the wonder of Internet research, we have managed to find covers he did for several science fiction books including the cover for Shot in the Dark, a collection of short stories edited by Judith Merril and published in 1950.

All of Bischoff’s pieces in the permanent collection were donated by the Bischoff Estate. Not all of them are on display, but several have been cleaned and restored and are currently on display in the Wilson Gallery.


They include:

  • Two Girls with Baby Carriage (top left)
  • Fishing Boats at Dock (top right)
  • Four Polo Players (bottom left)
  • Big A (bottom right)
Two Girls with Baby Carriage, Herman Bischoff, oil.
Fishing Boats at Dock, Herman Bischoff, oil.
Four Polo Players, Herman Bischoff, oil.
Big A, Herman Bischoff, oil.

John Carroll

John Wesley Carroll, photographed by Nicholas Haz.

John Wesley Carroll (1892-1952) was a renowned oil painter and lithographer. He grew up in California, leaving in 1915 to study under Frank Duveneck (after a brief stint as an engineering student). After World War I, he moved to New York state. Carroll specialized in paintings of women. He gave them a highly stylized appearance, with elongated necks and large eyes. Carroll’s style is apparent in his portrait of Virginia Bischoff (shown below on the left). Carroll moved to a farm in the country of New York, where he lived until he died. ESAC also has sketches and a lithograph by Carroll, which were generously donated by the Bischoff Estate. The piece below on the right is a lithograph by Carroll called Paris Café from 1928.

Virginia Bischoff, John Carroll, oil.
Paris Café, John Carroll, lithograph. 1928.

Henry Casselli

Henry Casselli (October 25, 1945-present) is a top American watercolorist. In 1987, he was awarded the coveted Gold Medal of Honor in the American Watercolor Society’s annual competition, having received the Silver Medal the year before. Casselli is particularly well known for his portraits, with subjects including Muhammad Ali and John Glenn (the first American to orbit the Earth). He also was selected to paint the official portrait of President Ronald Reagan, which hangs in the Hall of Presidents in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The piece on display at the Eastern Shore Art Center is a watercolor called Sore Ankles, which was donated in 1988 by the Kenbrick Family. It features a ballerina massaging her ankles after dancing en pointe. The piece is representative of Casselli’s ballerina pieces, which often have a watering can in them. The watering can is used to sprinkle water on the ground, giving the dancer more traction. Casselli never painted dancers while they were performing. He preferred to paint them immediately before or after a performance, thus capturing their true selves, rather than the character they put on for the dance.

Sore Ankles, Henry Casselli, watercolor, 1988.

Alexander J. Drysdale

Alexander John Drysdale (1870-1934) was a prolific painter based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He painted as many as 10,000 paintings! Drysdale specialized in a technique called oil wash. He would dilute his oil paints with kerosene then apply it to cardboard and canvas board using cotton balls. The Art Center has two pieces by Drysdale on display, including Louisiana Swamp Scene, which was donated by Elizabeth “Betsy” Marsh.

Louisiana Swamp Scene, Alexander J. Drysdale, watercolor.

P. Strisik

Paul Strisik, NA, AWS (1918-July 22, 1998) lived most of his life in Rockport, Massachusetts. He was a prominent plein air painter, preferring to paint out of doors rather than work solely from a photograph. He worked in both oil and watercolor, and his prominent concerns were light and color. He was highly decorated, winning over 180 awards and also making television appearances. Strisik’s piece on display in ESAC is Rockport, an oil painting donated by Cleveland Woodward.

Rockport, P. Strisik, oil.

``I feel that God's Sunlight on a single blade of grass is such a miracle and so difficult to capture in paint, it is worth a lifetime of trying.``

Paul Strisik


ESAC has several sculptures permanently on display throughout the facility, including on the grounds, in the hallways, and in the Wilson Gallery. Two of which are a sculpture of Craig T. Sheldon by Stephen Spears and Walnut Seal by Dorothy Summers.

Against the Grain, Stephen Spears, bronze.

Craig T. Sheldon remains to this day a symbol of the artistic community Fairhope fosters. From his famous Sheldon Castle to his smaller pieces, Craig worked to make the community of Fairhope a more artistic and creative place to be. Stephen Spears cast this bronze sculpture of Craig to commemorate his effect on the Fairhope community. This piece was donated by the Dr. Barry Booth.

Walnut Seal, Dorothy Summers, wood.

Walnut Seal by Dorothy Summers is an ESAA Purchase Award.

Come see us!

These pieces are just a selection of the permanent collection of the Eastern Shore Art Center. We also have outdoor sculptures, pieces in our hallways, and more pieces from the artists in this list on display in the Wilson Gallery. Make sure to pay a visit to the Permanent Collection next time you’re in the ESAC – you don’t want to miss it!

Which piece are you most interested to see in person? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fairhope Website Services