Eye of the Archive: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

Ahhh sweet summer, always a stunner…
This season brings out the poet in me, and I couldn’t agree more with fellow poet William Carlos Williams who said “in summer, the song sings itself…” It’s been a sweet, sweet song for me this summer, with much to celebrate and enjoy during this beautiful season in Aspen, Colorado’s West End. Have you seen the glorious flower gardens garnishing the grounds of this neighborhood’s stately homes? Much to my delight, the talented Travis and Lena have been hard at work cultivating a spectacular garden outside my very own windows, throughout the Wheeler/Stallard Museum grounds. The result is a property suited for a queen, and just in time too, since the portrait of my beloved history crush Mrs. Ella Stallard has finally returned from restoration!

After a brief sojourn (though it felt like an eternity of separation) at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadeliphia, Ella has returned more beautiful than even I could have imaged. The expert conservators took special care to restore Ella to her natural glory. From blotter washing and inpainting to frame work and environmental protections, the restored piece shines. Yesterday the AHS team re-hung Ella above her dining room table in the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, her home for over 40 years.

Ella Stallard Portrait

Ella Stallard crayon portrait, before restoration.

Ella Stallard crayon portrait, after restoration.

A CCAHA conservator holds the finished piece.

Ella’s portrait is back where it belongs, thanks to the dedication of the AHS board and staff and the generous supporters of this project, First Western Trust and Denver Foundation Greenwood Fund and partners Art Forward. Her likeness will help tell the story of the Wheeler/Stallard house and the people who lived there. For me, Ella defines the resilience and community-minded spirit of the “quiet years” in Aspen. And since I’m in a poetic mood…I shall compare Ella to a summer’s day, for she “art more lovely and more temperate.” And thanks to this project, her “eternal summer shall not fade…” (That Bill Shakespeare really did know how to describe beauty.)

I’ll excuse myself for now, for “summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” But if you’re as eager to see Ella as I was, head to the Wheeler/Stallard Museum this Saturday for the annual Ice Cream Social and take a peek inside the museum, for Ella and the “Freak Power” exhibit are not to be missed. As if you needed an excuse to enjoy ice cream…

(Archive Building)

The “Eye of the Archive” blog post series, authored by A.B. (personified AHS Archive Building), offers an insider’s glimpse into the goings-on at Aspen Historical Society. Tune in for posts about the Collection, restoration projects, exhibit tid-bits, news around town, and more.