Jerry Cooley interviewed Sayre artist M. Louis Gore in 1951. The following is the result of the interview.
“Panorama of the valley from Prospect Hill—that’s it, yes that’s it.”
His light blue eyes twinkled as he talked about the new mural, portraying the valley landscape, that hangs in the Farmers National Bank of Athens. He painted it, this M. Louis Gore. Farmers National Bank in Athens is now Citizens and Northern Bank and the murals have been removed and were given to Tioga Point Museum who in turn have put them on display in the new Athens School District offices in the former Presbyterian church in Athens.
He painted many other scenes in his West Sayre studio home on Chestnut street. His work hangs in dozens of institutions and private homes of Sayre, Athens and Waverly.
One of his works completed about the same time as “Panorama,” is the River Jordon mural, It hangs in the Waverly Baptist Church.
But “Panorama” comes closest to being his masterpiece.
“It encompasses the whole valley—everything in sight from “Prospect Hill,” he said. He was right, Waverly Hill, Shepard Hills Country Club, East Athens homes, they’re all there, complete in detail. If anything captures the greatness of the valley, Louis Gore’s “Panorama” does.
It’s a landscape in oils, big because it does take in the whole valley, Green because green is the color of summer and Louis Gore spent most of his summer doing “Panorama.” It’s something to see.
The man Louis Gore is something to see, too. You’d recognize him as an artist at first sight, if by no other way than by his eye-catching black Windsor tie, an artist’s trademark from way back.
But Louis Gore is lots more than something to see. He’s a wonderful person to talk to, to get to know. He’s a wonderful guy.
Born in Sheshequin on February 4, 1877, the son of Mahlon Huston and Theresa Shaw Gore, Louis Gore comes from one of Bradford County’s first families. His great great grandfather, Judge Obadiah Gore, settled in Sheshequin after serving with the General Sullivan expedition through the valley. The judge built the first frame house and Grist Mill in the area at a point overlooking the Susquehanna River now known as Gore’s point.
Mr. Gore has been putting roads, hillsides, clouds down on canvas for years. His mother and father started him in that direction when he was a Sheshequin boy. They painted in their leisure hours and encouraged Louis to do the same.
But it wasn’t until he went to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 that Louis really decided to make art his life’s work. The Columbian Expositions’ artwork inspired him.
“I set my mind to doing work like I’m doing today, and now I’m doing it,” the artist said. “You’ve got to have stick-to-it-iveness, that’s all there is to it.”
Once he had made up his mind there was no stopping him. He went to Steubenville, Ohio. There he got his groundwork in the decorative arts with the J. R. Myers Studio, beautifying theatres in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and other Eastern cities.
Louis made up his mind to go to Europe, too, for Europe was then, as it still is today, the Mecca for artists the world over.
“I told myself I was going, and I got there—not on money, just on determination, he said.
Furthermore, he not only got here once, in 1911 for a year; he went back again in 1921, and took his wife along, too, Paris, Belgium, England, Scotland—all came under the artist’s eye. Many a scene he just etched to paint later back in the valley.
The valley is Louis Gore’s home, and he wouldn’t’ t trade it for all the beauties of Europe. Historical ties are probably the biggest reason. The valley is rich in Gore tradition, and rich in the history that means so much to him. He knows it backwards and forwards. He can tell you about the Pennamite War, Colonel John Franklin, Spanish Hill—just about anything you want to know.
If he doesn’t have it on the tip of his tongue, or in the back of his mind he’ll find it for you somewhere within the 2,000 books that line his studio home. Many of them contain local history. Some of which is not available anywhere else in the valley.
Many teachers from Mansfield State Teachers’ College (now Mansfield University) and other schools visit The Studio to talk with Mr. Gore about local history.
The artist is primarily interested in getting his paintings in public places, though. That is why he is so pleased with the mural in the Athens bank. It was the first mural ordered by a Bradford County bank. For that, he thanks Stanley Burns, bank president.
Paintings of the valley encourage interest in local history, he feels.
As there’s a man behind the painting “Panorama,” there’s a woman behind the man Louis Gore. She’s Mrs. Gore, the former Genevieve Watts.
“My inspiration,” Mr. Gore calls her.
“His secretary.” Mrs. Gore quips.
Like her husband, Mrs. Gore is descended from one of the areas first families. The Watts were among the first seven families to settle in Towanda.
Married in 1916 the Gores made the studio their home and Louis’ workshop. Its been kept that way ever since, informal, practical, intriguing. The walls of the living room are lined with neatly stacked books, and magazines, paintings and pictures and other artifacts, including a grandfather clock the artist is quite proud of.
“After all,” he said, “if we lived in a regular house, all this stuff would have to go in the attic.”
Mahlon Louis Gore died in 1967. His wife died in 1965. He was survived by three daughters from a previous marriage.
Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.