Exhibition features prints of Thomas Seawell, George O'Connell


February 1, 2016

SUNY Oswego’s Tyler Art Gallery will hold a free public reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, for a fine arts printmaking exhibition titled “Lasting Impressions,” featuring works of two former art faculty members who died in 2015. The exhibition on the first floor of Penfield Library runs through March 31.

Artists Thomas Seawell and George O’Connell taught from the 1960s to the 1990s in SUNY Oswego’s art department, forming a longstanding friendship, inspiring countless students and creating the “lasting impressions” of the exhibition’s title. Former students and colleagues recall a classroom atmosphere that featured humor and storytelling while instilling in students a strong work ethic and the pursuit of creativity.

Seawell, who died in August, came to Oswego in 1963 to establish the college’s fine arts printmaking program. Particularly recognized as one of the first practitioners of the collagraph medium—a collage which begins with materials glued to a printing plate—his work is defined by a variety of noteworthy series including Family Album, States and Provinces, The Streets, Empty Centers, Variations on Themes of Jacques Callot, the Art Doors project, and a series of images of stock exchanges and trading floors commissioned by Geldermann Inc. of Chicago.

A recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Seawell archived some of his work in the Artist Printmaker Research Collection at his alma mater, Texas Tech University. Other works are in SUNY Oswego’s collection and other public, private and corporate art collections.

A printmaker and painter, O’Connell died last May. SUNY Oswego emeritus professor Lewis Turco, a celebrated poet, wrote in a memorial of O’Connell that the artist was an aficionado and musician of jazz, his frequent artistic subject. The World War II veteran collaborated with Turco on books, illustrations, monoprints and greeting cards. O’Connell’s expertise was in lithography and relief.

Awarded a Fulbright to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, O’Connell also studied at the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State University. Besides SUNY Oswego, public collections that today house examples of his art include the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Collection of Fine Arts, the New York Public Library, the Cleveland Museum of Fine Art, the California Legion of Honor, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art, the Gemeente Museum Van SchoneKunsten, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the British Museum in London.

Penfield Library’s hours are 7:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays. For those without a current campus parking sticker, visit oswego.edu/administration/parking for information on obtaining a $1 day-use permit.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Jazz influence—“Vibe” is one of the fine arts prints of the late SUNY Oswego art professor George O’Connell on display through March 31—along with the works of his late friend, fellow printmaker and SUNY Oswego colleague, Thomas Seawell—on the first floor of Penfield Library.

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Printmaking retrospective—The late Thomas Seawell, founder of the fine arts printmaking program at SUNY Oswego, was noted for collections such as Variations on Themes of Jacques Callot, including the work pictured here. His artistry and that of the late George O’Connell, who also taught at Oswego from the 1960s to the 1990s, are on display through March 31 on the first floor of Penfield Library.