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Articles > Yes, we even have historical artwork!

Edward G. Mayes
15 May 2012

Among the many pieces of art in the Historical Society’s collection, the paintings by local artist, Edward Mayes, are among the most endearing. Colorful, folksy, and whimsical, the Mayes collection provides a historical snapshot of canal life in the Tonawandas during its heyday.

Edward G. Mayes (1905-1981) was born in Buffalo, but became a life-long resident of North Tonawanda. His career as an industrial executive had him employed as treasurer of National Grinding Wheel for twenty years, followed by a directorship at Niagara Cutter, Inc. He also had been employed as an officer of Marine Midland Bank. He was married to the former Leonore Schurr and had three daughters, Wendy, Vicky and Kim.

As a local artist, Mayes enjoyed several professional exhibits, especially of his Erie Canal scenes. His pride in the Tonawandas and his love of art became evident through his involvement with the Tonawanda Council on the Arts. The Council was so grateful for his vision and leadership over the years that it established the Edward Mayes Award as a memorial tribute to him in 1982.

The Historical Society of the Tonawandas Edward Mayes collection includes seven oil paintings and four line drawings, enhanced by watercolor. The Mayes works are based on black and white photographs of the Tonawandas from the early 1900s, which he created on canvas in bold colors, adding whimsical touches here and there in typical folk art style. He nicely integrates figures into the landscape, making them actors in the story he has chosen to tell. Subject matter includes downtown scenes, commercial activity along the canal, the old New York Central & Hudson River Railroad depot (now the Historical Society Museum), and the Benjamin Long Homestead.