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History Lives Here Text

A wintertime painting of Carl Bird boatshop which was a recent gift to the permanentcollection of the museum was just one ofmany that Chicago-area painter Albert H. Krehbieldid of Saugatuck snow and winter scenes. As recorded in this 1938 letter to hisson, Evans, Krehbiel truly enjoyed the solitude andmuted colors of winter. As the letterhead would indicate Krehbielmade the Maplewoodhis winter headquarters. He first visited Saugatuck in 1900 and taught at OxBow from 1926 to 1931 when he opened the AK Studio, just north of the TouristHome hotel (now the site of Ship 'n Shore).


Saugatuck, Mich.


How be ye? Came over the last night of school on the midnightbus and started work as soon as I landed. Have gotten my second wind now andcan work all day in zero weather and not mind it. The firstthree days of anything new, almost kills one. To go through with it, the restseems easy. Yesterday, worked all day in a blizzardand did three canvasses. When I went to breakfast before dawn I thought thetrees were going to fall so strong was the wind. A breakfast of wheat cakes andthree slivers of bacon washed down with two cups of coffee would make any dawnseem rosy. The first sketch was the toughest, right out in the open. The twolarger canvasses were easier as I was on the lee side of houses. Drove shinglenails into the weatherboarding and hooked the stretcher over it, as an easelwouldn't stand up. Must have dropped to way below zero last night as the river frozeover solid. Plenty nippy this morning and it took a lot of hunting tofind a motif that didn't resemblecast iron. But the sun put light into the clouds and I made a quick sketch of aboat and hustled back for a 28 x 24. Then it began snowing, but I liked thefirst aspect better and painted it that way. Then two small sketches after thatbefore the day was done.

Theida home 115 Van Dalsin Street - just off Park St in Saugatuck

At six Iusually change clothes and go to the tavern to rest weary legs for an hourbefore dinner. All the champion checker players lay for me here as I seldomloose a game. Yesterday they thought sure that I would come early and theycouldn't think of one painting onsuch a day. I told then I had fallen asleep but some of the oldtimerswho had seen me out-doors gave me the wink and kept mum. I have the advantageover all the players. A clear head and an empty stomach are hard to beat atanything. and the other day I worked for six hours ona larger canvas in the deep woods. All conifers. Itlooked like Christmas and smelled like Christmas. Only the candlelightsand intonation were missing to make it a cathedral. And the solitude was sodense that even the noise of the surf was excluded here. A painter noticeseverything that happens within the boundaries of his motif. His eye strikes allthe elements many times in a second as he seeks the retention. But that day nota bird, a rabbit or a grouse was permitted to spit before the vision. It was aplace worthy of the Druids and I was glad when I picked up my traps and hurriedaway to the river. The river is the gay spot in life now,thousands of gulls and ducks play the air or rest upon the waters. And theyseem so contented. No wondernature in this period of slim picking has sent black clouds of minnows up fromthe lake. She has also arranged that the top layer is just at the water's surface, while the lower level may befour feet down where large fish feed and keep the mass boiling. Mrs. Duck andMrs. Gull paddle up and in a stab or two fill their gullets. They retire tomake room for others knowing that the table is always set. But nature mustguard her own. Last night she sent the tablecloth tothe laundry and today the minnows under the ice are having a holiday until itthaws again.

At the hole inthe wall where I breakfast the fishermen stop for coffee before going out tothe lake. A radio at the door is constantly going. Each new arrival turns thebutton as he closes the door. These bearded men in heavy clothing and hip bootstake their lives in hand when they face Lake Michiganat this time of year. What comes over the air via radio is so much piffle tothem. One sees groups standing outside waiting to see what the wind will be atdawn for even fish are affected by the wind.

Workedall Christmas day. Turneddown three invitations to dinner for fear that the light snow would disappear,I have found that a bit of chocolate and a hand full of peanuts are hard tobeat for an outdoor dinner. The night before there was singing under thelighted tree in the park and music by the school band. All my friends came upto meet me, thinking I had just arrived, and we visited between songs.

So the nextmorning I had a large canvass finished when the church bells began to call. And as the painter mixes his colors and their gradations to seethem side by side on the canvass, so nature too is a master-mixer in her art.All the subtleties between drowsiness and deepest slumber are recorded. Withtone so deep that even a dream cannot penetrate. What more could one wish forafter a day out-of-doors. And with the awakening dream that seems to hit allshores in an instant, she paints in monochrome tints of rose; that makes onejump out of bed to see what the new dawn will herein store. Eighty-thirty, oneeye already shut, the other fast closing.

And to think Iwill have to leave all this & go back to another kind of work on New Yearsday.

Dec.28 '38