EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

March 11, 2014

Through an artist's eyes

Man uses paintings, photos to show his views of Whittier's Birthplace

HAVERHILL — Can you think of a better place for an artist to live than John Greenleaf Whittier’s Birthplace?

The bucolic setting at the eastern edge of the city has been attracting photographers and artists for decades. Now, the place where Haverhill’s famous poet and abolitionist lived in his early years has become the subject for artist Mark Reusch — who happens to be caretaker of the Whittier homestead.

Reusch has used photographs and paintings to capture the property he has become intimately familiar with.

An exhibit featuring the 326-year-old property is on display through April 5 in Northern Essex Community College’s Bentley Library ArtSpace on the Haverhill campus, 100 Elliott St.

Reusch, a freelance illustrator and instructor at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, has lived at the birthplace of the famed poet Whittier Road since 2011. His father, Gus Reusch, is curator of the Whittier Birthplace Museum.

The exhibit at Northern Essex will feature photographs as well as illustrations of the property and its various buildings.

As a student at Massachusetts College of Art & Design in the early 1990s, Reusch discovered the book “Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons” — a museum catalog of landscapes by painter Andrew Wyeth focusing on two different neighbors’ rural properties.

Reusch was inspired to someday create a body of work focusing on his surroundings, if he were ever fortunate enough to live someplace similar.

The opportunity arose in 2011 when he moved to the Whittier Birthplace as caretaker. Reusch said he realized it was his opportunity to finally start painting landscapes of what he saw each day.

“These paintings were much different in style from the Halloween-themed art, concert posters, editorial illustrations, snowboard designs, and other work I’d done up to that point,” he said.

Reusch said that with this new body of work focusing on Whittier’s Birthplace, he is taking advantage of his unique position of being a painter as well as a year-round caretaker of the beautiful and historic landmark.

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