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Trees with Sunset' brightens Skaneateles gallery

The latest John D. Barrow painting to be restored by West Lake Conservators made its debut for the public April 2 at the John D. Barrow Art Gallery in Skaneateles.

The landscape, "Trees with Sunset," was the centerpiece of the "A Night at the Gallery" event, which was held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday night.

"It's completed and hanging back in the collection and it's pretty stupendous," said Peg Whitehouse, director of the gallery.

The painting had a hard road before undergoing a four-month restoration, Whitehouse said. It had been stored next to a coal furnace for years and had become blackened with soot. The landscape also was torn, with three large gashes, and had its frame broken.

The gallery considers "Trees with Sunset" a major work from Barrow.

"The subject is a wonderful fall autumn scene with a beautiful sunset," Whitehouse said, "This is literally at the height of his artistic abilities. It's a beautiful painting."

"Trees with Sunset" is thought to be a view of the south end of Skaneateles Lake around the 1880s.

The work was acquired from the Onondaga County Public Library by the gallery in a 2006 agreement. It was restored through a $7,500 grant by The Greater Hudson Heritage Network.

Barrow was a prolific portrait and landscape painter who lived from 1824 to 1906. He called Skaneateles home around the turn of the 20th century and is known as a second generation Hudson River School style painter.

Restoring and caring for the hundreds of Barrow paintings in the gallery's collection has been challenging.

In the beginning, the gallery had more than 400 paintings and no money, said Susan Blakney, CEO of West Lake Conservators located in Mottville. The gallery has worked with West Lake Conservators since 1975.

Creative ways were used to combat financial shortfalls, Blakney said. One of these was the "Borrow a Barrow" program.

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