Molly Reagan and the Cortland County Historical Society have partnered up to feature three digital artworks that are a fresh interpretation of the lives of three important women from Cortland County’s past!
Bertha Blodgett: Bertha Eveleth Blodgett is perhaps most remembered as the author of “Stories of Cortland County,” but it is art that brought her to Cortland, New York in 1889, when she joined the faculty at the Cortland State Normal School (now SUNY Cortland) after graduating from Wellesley College. In 1894, Bertha Eveleth Jones married Edward Dwight Blodgett, managing editor of the Cortland Standard from 1892 until his death in 1926. Around 1910, Mrs. Blodgett became a greeting postcard artist, with her paintings for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter printed on commercial postcards. She was a charter member of Cortland County Historical Society, and in 1930, she began writing a weekly column in the Cortland Standard, “Stories of Cortland County for Boys and Girls,” which were compiled and published as a book in 1932.
Alice Cately Ettling: Alice Cately was born in Tully, New York, the daughter of Shepard W. Cately, renowned carriage manufacturer. She married Henry Ettling but was widowed in 1885 at the age of 35, after only four years of marriage. Her father left his carriage business in Tully in 1876 and moved to Cortland where he was employed as a salesman at Fitzgerald and Kinney, wagon manufacturers. He was always an inventive man, and he continued to develop and patent his designs. After her father’s declining health caused him to retire from his occupation, father and daughter formed a business partnership in about 1888 known as Cately & Ettling. Cately invented the gadgets and Ettling marketed them. Eventually, Alice would take over her father’s share of the business and become the only woman to attend the National Carriage Builder’s Association banquets.
Meriva Carpenter: Meriva Carpenter was born to Dr. Ruggles and Juliana Pierce Carpenter in Ellington, Connecticut. After marrying Eli Carpenter in 1820, the couple moved to Homer, NY where they set up their permanent residence. Meriva’s talent lay in miniature portraiture, and she painted members of her family, as well as local prominent members of the community. Miniature self-portraits are said to be rare, but Meriva painted at least two portraits of herself, including one thought to be done around the age of seventeen just before she married. The Cortland County Historical Society is proud of the close to a dozen examples of Carpenter’s work represented in our collections.
Prints of the three art pieces are currently on temporary display along with objects from the CCHS collections relating to the three women.
About Molly Reagan: Finding the pop, the joy, the fun in the everyday. Whether translating a mundane scene to simple line work or an emotion to shapes and movement of color, Molly Reagan’s work aims to elicit joy. She is an Art Educator at St. Mary’s School in Cortland and a proud local. She draws from her music and art education backgrounds to infuse her art with illustrative, joyful, “back-to-childhood” moments. Most typically, Molly takes on line work and watercolor commissions for families. Lately, abstract expressionist murals have been driving her creative flow. As an educator, she is compelled to tackle many mediums and is always evolving, always learning. She believes art should be inclusive, refreshing, available to all. Community can be built on a common appreciation of beauty, and Molly strives to create art that can be appreciated by all people, build community and draw people in.
This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.