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June 26, 2013

NEW ALBANY BICENTENNIAL: George W. Morrison

NEW ALBANY —

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about the people and events that have shaped the 200-year history of New Albany. Read all installments by clicking on the bicentennial link under the “seasonal content” header at newsandtribune.com

Swathing the side of an old two-storey brick building along Market Street, a giant four-paneled painting the size of a billboard continues to command attention. 

Swirled with pinks, blues and whites, the artwork, which is part of the New Albany Art Project Bicentennial Series, began as a way to pay homage to local artist George W. Morrison. Although in a different style, the piece conceptualized by painter Boris Zakic attempted to find some common ground with New Albany’s notable 19th Century portraitist. 

“What brings the shared histories of Morrison and painters of today together, I believe, is the moment at which the artists mirror themselves in their initial gestures, as if witnessing their own becoming in the paint,” Zakic said in a recent magazine insert produced for the series. 

The fact that Morrison’s legacy lives on even today is testament to not only the great popularity he witnessed during his lifetime, but the fact that he was also exceptionally talented. Of course, like many memorable New Albanians, the painter wasn’t born a Hoosier. In 1820, Morrison entered this world as a Baltimorean. Several sources state that here he received his first formal training in the arts; with some believing he studied under the famed Maryland artists Rembrandt and Raphael Peale.  

As was the custom of the time, a young Morrison packed up his brushes and easel and made his way out west to Connersville. One year later in 1840, the 20-year-old had for reasons unknown migrated to New Albany. Eventually a pretty local girl by the name of Lydia Maynard would catch his eye and his heart. Living their lives overlooking the Ohio on a robust property in Silver Hills, the couple had two children, a boy and a girl. Both went on to become artists themselves.

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