It is hard to believe that it has already been five years since the Ruth Starr Rose exhibition toured from Baltimore’s Reginald F.Lewis Museum to the Waterfowl Building in downtown Easton. Thanks to noted philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown, who funded the original exhibition curated by Dr. Barbara Paca, and Dock Street Foundation, who sponsored the tour to Easton, it will always be a happy memory. For it was an extraordinary moment in time when the Eastern Shore was united in remembering this artist, and more importantly, the respectful portrayals of the community of people whom she painted.
From the Bayside H.O.Y.A.S. in Kent County, to busloads of public school students in Talbot County, the Mid-Shore came in droves to admire and honor beautifully crafted oil portraits, lithographs, and drawings of people now recognized by Dr. Barbara Paca as representing members of the Founding Black Families of Maryland.
The paintings portray individuals who are imbued with a sense of calm nobility. They know who they are. Names such as Copper, Curtis, DeShields, and Moaney have Eastern Shore roots extending over three centuries, so it was little wonder to art historian Paca that they too, represent founders of America. It is interesting to note that she is a direct descendant of Declaration of Independence signer William Paca.
And now, after touring throughout the State of Maryland, and thanks to Paca’s stewardship and the first rate team serving on the Advisory Committee, the artwork and literature featuring the Founding Black Families has a permanent home with the creation of the Water’s Edge Museum in historic Oxford.
The members serving on the Water’s Edge Museum Advisory Committee represent Maryland’s diversity and extreme talent–and include First Lady Yumi Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith, Maryland State Senators Adelaide Eckardt and Will Smith, attorney Camille Fesche, Speaker Adrienne Jones, Chief Legislative Officer Keiffer Mitchell, Secretary of Environment Ben Grumbles, Chesapeake Bay President Will Baker, singers Kentavius Jones and John Wesley Wright, Commissioner Dominique Sessa, the Spy, educators, students, museum consultants, and most importantly to Paca, members of the Curtis, Deshields, Moaney and other founding families of African descent.
The Water’s Edge Museum is opening (virtually) for the first time this Monday, and the Spy had the chance to get an early preview of this unique new cultural asset for the Mid-Shore. The Spy’s timing worked out well: Both Maryland’s Secretary of State Wobensmith, who was one of the first to support this amazing project, and Jeffrey Moaney, a direct descendant of several of the men, women, and children celebrated in fine oil portraits, were in the gallery, along with the Water’s Edge founder Dr. Paca, allowing us to gain a special perspective on this extraordinary collection.
The Advisory Committee believes that the most important audience Water’s Edge Museum hopes to reach are school children they believe will benefit from knowing there is a museum that embraces history, culture, art, social and environmental justice, and the rich diversity that makes Maryland a special place.
During the pandemic, the Water’s Edge Museum shall be experienced solely only on a virtual basis.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Water’s Edge Museum please go here.