Magazine Illustration Exhibit Opens in Schoolcraft Library

By Sue Moore

The Schoolcraft Library will present Lawton resident Phil Horton’s collection of works of famous artists’ works drawn for magazine advertisements in the early 1900s. Women’s suffrage will be the coalescing theme of the pieces on display.

Horton has more than 5,000 images that he has collected through the years, all on display in his beautiful old barn. Selected works will be in Schoolcraft for about a month.

“I love to think back on the good old days, even though they really weren’t always that good. They were part of our story and what I love most is the story,” Horton says. “I’ve always been a history buff, but I discovered old magazines and the pictorial stories that so beautifully told of life and the times before I was born (which was in 1950) in a small town near Bloomingdale, Mich.

“The ads, covers and illustrations reflected life as it really was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, at least to the degree that any advertising reflects real life. In truth, they reflect the evolution of the American Dream, something that continues in advertising to this day.” Horton says. “Because magazines were the dominant media during this era and color ads and covers sold magazines, the commissions were lucrative and the wealthier publishers competed for the best artists. This period, before photography and computer-generated graphics dominated the business, was dubbed the ‘Golden Age of Advertising’, and advertising hasn’t looked this good since,” Horton says.

“Think about it; every illustration you see in the older editions had to be created by an artist! Over the years I have amassed a collection of thousands of full-page color ads, illustrations, and magazine covers from this period. Subject matter includes everything from cars to Coca Cola, golf, sports, fashion, beauty products, bicycles, hunting and fishing, and more,” Horton points out. “They look gorgeous framed, cover a myriad of topics, and are the work of the most talented artists then alive.”

Horton’s collection was brought to the library’s attention by Schoolcraft Library board member Cindy Harrell. The display will start on February 24 and run through March 27. The artist reception will be on March 4 from 6-7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

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