Canajoharie is a sleepy upstate town in the Mohawk Valley that once boasted the best hops fields around and big industry. It was home to, among others, the Mohawks, Susan B. Anthony, a historian/teacher/artist named Rufus A. Grider and a drifter/day laborer/ artist named Fritz Vogt. Settled between the Adirondacks and Catskill mountains, the region is easy on the eyes.
Both Rufus Grider and Fritz Vogt captured the pride of place that existed in the late 19th C. Using pencil and colored graphite they created a visual history that has recently been collected, curated and placed on exhibit at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie. Grider was inspired by a love of history; Vogt did it for money. The drawings reflect both their perspectives and objectives.
Notably, Rufus Grider’s drawings, which often carried historical notes, was a recognized academic in his day. His works were the source of much telling of the area’s history before they disappeared into the warehouses of institutional and historical institutions. In the early part of the 21st C., independent curator, Alice Smith Duncan, became smitten by one of the drawings and embarked on a quest to surface Grider’s work.
Fritz Vogt must have been a character well known to locals as he traveled the roads in shoes of sewn carpet and sleeping where he could between hides. While his personal habits may have been idiosyncratic, his drawings are orderly, precise and pleasant. He must have clearly understood the competition of nascent photography as he evolved his works to include color.
Entitled “Drawn to the Same Place,” the show at the Arkell is a delight and an eye-opener. If you make the trip to Canajoharie, NY before August 14, it’s worth the effort. Not only will you enjoy delving into the drawings, the area may steal your heart.
For more about the show, visit www.arkellmuseum.org