The 4 Generation Gentieu-Friemoth Exhibition is visual time traveling with many attractions along the way.
Pierre Gentieu, French immigrant, Civil War soldier and artist, starts off the family lineage with a drawing of the 13th Connecticut camp ground in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, where he had fought his first battle with Union soldiers during the Bayou LaFourche battles, including Georgia Landing, in 1862. After the war, he worked for the DuPont Powder Works gunpowder factory in the Brandywine Valley, Wilmington, Delaware. His painting of the DuPont Powder Works impressed the du Ponts so much that they promoted him to work in the office, where he became friends with Francis du Pont, with whom Pierre shared a love of photography. Pierre was given free reign of the gunpowder works, and he photographed the workers at work and at home with their families, and sometimes the remains of buildings after the inevitable explosions that happened on a too-frequently occurring basis. Pierre’s glass plate negatives are preserved at the Delaware Historical Society, where his great great granddaughter borrowed them to make the prints that are in this exhibition.
Audrey Pinkerton Gentieu rendered portraits of predominant Toledoans throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. A child prodigy, her teacher was the notable artist, Karl Kappes, from Germany, who also taught Earl North and Ruskin Stone, and well as two previous generations of Audrey’s family. Her mother, Helen Moyer Pinkerton, went to Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, where she studied fashion design. Audrey’s artwork featured in this show include 10 large pastel portraits representing the glory years of Hollywood movie stars, such as Humphrey Bogart, Grace Kelly, Richard Burton, and Katherine Hepburn.
Audrey’s daughter, Penny Gentieu, Pierre’s great great granddaughter, was a New York-based photographer for 27 years, where she had photographed over 200 national magazine covers, such as Time, Life, Newsweek, etc. She is the author of 13 children’s books. Her photos are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Featured are 14 photos, black and white and color, ranging throughout her career.
Penny’s daughter, Anna Friemoth, also a photographer, from New York, has 14 photos featured in this show. Anna attended summer and after-school art classes at Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, Cooper Hewitt, and Cooper Union, while still in high school. She received an award from Scholastic for her painting, which was displayed in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. She majored in photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her photo series, the 10 Commandments, has received worldwide recognition, and was featured exclusively in Matt Magazine. The Museum of Modern Art periodical collections acquired Matte Magazine after seeing her issue. She was also featured in Blink Magazine, an international periodical that highlights up and coming photographers. Her 10 Commandments series is featured by online publications around the world, from Italy to France to Poland to China and many more countries. On display at the Paula Brown Gallery are photos from the 10 Commandment series, the Blue Night series, Trouble at Home series, and more.
Penny Gentieu was influenced not only by her mother, the pastel portrait artist, Audrey Gentieu, but also by Pierre Gentieu, her photographer ancestor. Penny’s daughter, Anna Friemoth has followed in Penny’s and Pierre’s footsteps by becoming a photographer. But she got her fashion interest from her grandmother’s passion for portraying glamorous movie stars, and from her great grandmother too.
The connections between a Civil War artist-photographer, a pastel portrait artist, a New York photographer, and a Millennial art photographer encompass 152 years: 1863 to 2015. The artistic gene pool that gets passed along is intriguing and is fun to follow.