Woman’s Club and Art Guild Partner to Commemorate Ste. Genevieve’s Significant Art History A small sign on the wall in the Jean Baptiste Valle House (A National Parks Service property) marks the spot where a painting is missing from the collection of Ste. Genevieve Art Colony works owned by the GFWC Woman’s Club of Ste. Genevieve. On November 5th, a group of representatives from the Club joined with members of the Sainte Genevieve Art Guild to visit that painting where it temporarily resides — at the St. Louis Art Museum, part of their Bicentennial Celebration called “Art Along the Rivers”. The oil painting by Aimee Schweig titled “Lime Works in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri” is the sole representative from our town in the exhibition, which runs through January 9, 2022. The exhibition brings together about 150 extraordinary objects produced or collected within a 150-mile radius of St. Louis in order to explore the area’s rich artistic history over one thousand years. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the show.
The significance of both the artist and the subject may have influenced the choice of this work. In addition to being a very accomplished painter, Aimee Schweig was the mastermind behind the success of the Art Colony’s Ste. Genevieve Summer School of Art. This painting of the local lime kiln was made in 1936, the same summer that Schweig’s friend, Thomas Hart Benton, taught a mural painting course at the school. In keeping with Benton’s regionalism themes, both the School and the Colony focused primarily on the realities of American life in their depictions of farmers, laborers and minorities. This industrial landscape compliments two other paintings from other collections that comprise the section of the exhibit titled “Ste. Genevieve Art Colony”.
The GFWC Woman’s Club of Ste. Genevieve has been dutiful custodians of this art collection, which is so important to the artistic legacy of the area. Over the years, they have located suitable exhibit venues, arranged and paid for appraisals, insurance, repairs, restoration and framing as required. They have packed and carefully moved the collection six times due to relocation of host organizations, building renovations, threat of flooding and repurposing of facilities. The most recent move took place in September last year when the National Parks Service established a new Visitor’s Center for the Sainte Genevieve National Historic Park, and the collection moved to the historic Jean Baptiste Valle House at Main and Market Streets. Regularly scheduled tours of the collection and the House are available by contacting the NPS representatives at the Welcome Center.