Juan H. Espino, a Hawley resident and established village landscape artist, has placed on canvas his rendition of two of the town's major historic landmarks, the Hawley Silk Mill and neighboring Ledges Hotel.
A presentation of the painting was made Dec. 19th at a reception in The Ledges' lounge.
Both crafted from native bluestone, these 19th century structures provided hundreds of manufacturing jobs. Higher up is the Bellemonte Silk Mill, built in 1880 and serving as a textile factory for over 100 years. Since 2010 the structure has served as a center for higher education, various services, offices and retail businesses. J.S. O'Connor cut glass factory opened in 1890 and was later a textile mill. In 2011 it became Ledges Hotel.
They each originally took their power from the cascading Paupack Falls behind them, the site of numerous early industries that served as the genesis for what is today Hawley, Pennsylvania.
The painting captures both structures, their imposing presence seen together from the area of Falls Avenue and the Cromwelltown bridge. Espino based his painting on a vintage picture taken by the renowned local photographer Louis Hensel, in the 1890's.
Espino, a native of Mexico, practiced law for 20 years. After relocating to Hawley in 1988, he discovered a love for painting and incorporates his interest in history in many of his works. He opened Looking Glass Art Gallery & Studio on Main Avenue, Hawley 20 years ago, and in 2013 moved his gallery to the Silk Mill.
Like his other pictures, the mill and hotel are rendered with the flat appearance, bright colors and sharp lines typical of primitive folk art.
The picture hangs prominently on the bluestone fireplace in the lounge. Justin Genzlinger, one of the partners behind the Silk Mill and Ledges Hotel projects, said that the hotel boasts of over 200 original pieces of art, mostly local, but was lacking until now one of Espino's creations. He commented that Espino, who is a welcome tenant at the Hawley Silk Mill, has become a "self appointed ambassador of the whole campus."
Espino told the guests that 20 years ago he had painted a similar scene, when Ledges was known as the Old Mill Stream. That painting was sold at the former Gingerbread Gallery in Hawley and was taken to Germany. "I wanted to do it again," Espino said. He said he had been very impressed by the work Jeanne Genzlinger (Justin's mother) was doing to the Ledges Hotel, and is making the painting a gift to her for her birthday.
In keeping with Espino's trademark, he painted little people in the corner of the painting, near his signature. They represent Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger, Justin Genzlinger, John Shuman (son-in-law to Grant and Jeanne), and also the artist with his easel set up, painting the picture.