More paintings, more risk at the Marion Music Hall?

Jul 5, 2018

The Sippican Historical Society wants the public to  see more of renowned portrait artist Cecil Clark Davis' work. Town Administrator Paul Dawson worries that hanging three more Davis paintings in the Marion Music Hall could invite trouble.

An initial request by the society to loan three additional paintings to the town for display in the town-owned Music Hall was tabled by Selectmen in the spring. Dawson and Historical Society officials hope a compromise can be hammered out before the matter is raised again at the July 10 Selectmen's meeting.

Clark (1877 to 1955), lived and worked all over the world with husband and journalist William Harding Davis. Summering in Marion, she did much painting here.

The Sippican Historical Society owns many of her works, most of which are in storage. One is already on loan to the town and displayed in the Music Hall's reading room. Frank McNamee, president of the Sippican Historical Society, says that group wants to get more paintings out of storage and into public view.

“Nothing is insurmountable,” Dawson said about the proposal. “But we need to think about it.”

While having one painting in the building with an estimated value of $5,000 already poses a security risk, Dawson said, adding to the inventory would increase the risk.

So far, the Music Hall Advisory Committee has specified one Davis painting of a French socialite to hang in the building. Its estimated value is $2,500. Other Davis paintings will be determined before the July 10 meeting.

McNamee argues that the paintings are too large to steal with ease, and too well documented to sell without getting caught.

“They’d be almost impossible to sell if somebody stole them,” he said

Beyond safety, Dawson wants to know how much the loan of three more paintings would cost the town Under the current contract between the Historical Society and Marion, a town-paid inspector is required to check on the current painting once a week. He worries that quadrupling the number of paintings would increase that cost and the cost of insurance.

McNamee said he is willing to work with the town to alleviate security and other concerns.