Harvard University’s Lamont/Pusey Library opens the New Year with selections from the photographic series Theodore Roosevelt – “How I Love Sagamore Hill” by Xiomáro. The New York artist was commissioned by the National Park Service to photograph the interiors of the president’s “Summer Whitehouse” at what is now Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.
The 26 photographs featured in the free exhibit will remain on view at the library from January 26 to December 31, 2014. An opening reception, artist talk and gallery tour are being scheduled. A limited edition photo e-Book, based on the series, can be downloaded for free at www.xiomaro.com.
Xiomáro’s photographs show the house in a historically rare condition: the 23 room mansion, usually chock full of furnishings and mementos, was nearly vacant as part of a three-year, $7.2 million structural rehabilitation. The last significant body of interior photographs, albeit fully-furnished, is at the Library of Congress and was created in 1966 by Samuel Gottscho.
Xiomáro’s exhibit is timely in that filmmaker Ken Burns, a Harvard graduate, is releasing The Roosevelts, a new PBS documentary that explores the political dynasty of TR, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. The exhibit is also unique in that Xiomáro’s photographs do not solely focus on TR, but also draw attention to his wife, children and servants to give a sense of what life was like in the household. “Even though the rooms are nearly vacant, the photographs reveal the imposing character of America’s 26th president and the more intimate domestic nature of his family,” explained the artist. “Some of these nuances are overwhelmed by a room’s furnishings or inaccessible to visitors behind velvet rope barriers.”
Xiomáro is a nationally exhibited artist whose work has been covered by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Fine Art Connoisseur and other media outlets. He is known for using photography to draw attention to historical sites where American figures lived and worked to pursue their vision. Other projects with the National Park Service include Old Mastic House at Fire Island National Seashore (home of William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence) and the farmhouse and art studios at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut (home of both J. Alden Weir, a founder of American impressionist painting, and Mahonri Young, a sculptor of the Ashcan School). “My goal is that, after experiencing these collections, viewers will feel compelled to visit the parks where they, too, can examine these leaders and explore the ideas that shaped our culture,” explains the artist.