Windham Life and Times – May 6, 2016

Edward Devlin

PART TWO

“In the print, Red showed his 19 year old bride walking through the fields in need of water for the strawberry plants. Life so naturally blended with the practical needs of family, that, over time, the gardens expanded, livestock increased, a new farm was bought, and five children were born. Her sole indulgence were flowers, wild and cultivated, where she found beauty after hours of toiling.” On their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Dad nicely summed up their life together when he gently said, ‘Could Not Be Better”. With a wide smile

“In the print, Red showed his 19 year old bride walking through the fields in need of water for the strawberry plants. Life so naturally blended with the practical needs of family, that, over time, the gardens expanded, livestock increased, a new farm was bought, and five children were born. Her sole indulgence were flowers, wild and cultivated, where she found beauty after hours of toiling.” On their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Dad nicely summed up their life together when he gently said, ‘Could Not Be Better”. With a wide smile

We know from Ed Devlin’s own words that “he was never quite satisfied with life in the big city saying ‘I’m a country boy at heart.’ He also was quoted as saying, “New York is just not my bag. It’s too fast a pace for me, the city’s too impersonal.” “And when his friend, George Lloyd called him to help paint the mural for Hamilton Smith Hall, at the University of New Hampshire, Devlin grabbed the offer.  ‘It was a good excuse to get out of New York…I liked New Hampshire so much I decided to stay.’ ”  This was in 1939-40 and the project was a massive mural.

“Artist George Lloyd was on a mission to find a ‘real’ farmer. It was the spring of 1939, and, having been commissioned to paint a mural about agriculture that would cover one entire wall inside Hamilton Smith Hall, he wanted to be sure he could depict a New Hampshire farmer accurately. With UNH agriculture professors as his guide, he soon found his models out in the fields, piecing together a way of life in the aftermath of the Great Depression—much the way he was doing, himself. Lloyd was one of the unemployed artists who had been hired under the auspices of the Federal Art Project branch of the Work Projects Administration, a national program created by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide productive work to some 8.5 million citizens in lieu of unemployment benefits. Coordinated by Manchester artist Omer T. Lassonde, at the time one of the country’s most influential modernist painters. The UNH project included three massive murals, eight feet high and 40 feet wide, in the three main rooms of UNH’s then-library. Lloyd’s ‘agriculture’ mural was to grace the reserve room.” UNH Today. According to the artist’s wife, “this is a mural on farming in New Hampshire, It deals with the four seasons of the year—Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; and with the four main social institutions around which the farming community is centered—the Home, Town Meeting, School and Church…” UNH Today

“In order to stay in rural New Hampshire, Devlin had to give up his art career. ‘Back in the 40’s there was very little interest in New Hampshire for this sort of thing or with artwork in general. People didn’t have the money to get interested in it.’ He met his wife, Pearl, a native of New Hampshire, and settled down in Nottingham, working a small dairy farm. When their family grew with five children, they bought 100 acres plus in Windham NH.” “He was a farmer for 30 years before he could devote himself to his ‘real work.’ ” “His former art training has given him an artist’s eye for craftsmanship, but he credits farming experience for much of his pottery design. ‘The one thing I have strived for is that a piece not only have a shape, but that shape to have a vitality to it…to live and have appeal,’ he said, ‘It’s a sensitivity of form. My close association with nature, after 30 years of farming helped to develop it’ ”

“But Ed Devlin went back to art work as suddenly as he had left it. Remembering his work with Dedham Pottery where he painted decorations, he remembered an old hankering to learn the potter’s trade.”

“ ‘My daughter was studying pottery at the University of New Hampshire. It restimulated an interest that was in the back of my head,’ he said. ‘I worked with it between farm activities and the more I got into it, the more it interested me.’ ‘As the years went by. This (Windham)  was no longer a farming community. We finally got rid of the cows, then I put all my time into pottery.’ ”

 

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