From dark and dingy Pennsylvania steel mills to the bright and colorful gaiety of pastoral scenes, the current art exhibition in the New Canaan Historical Society galleries spans a wide range of moods and subjects.

The show, featuring works by American impressionist Edmund M. Ashe (1865-1941), opened May 20 and will continue through Sept. 3 during regular business hours at the New Canaan Historical Society, 13 Oenoke Ridge.

Most of the art is by Edmund M. Ashe, once ranked among the nation's top 20 illustrators, but works by his daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren also are included. All are on loan from private collections and none are for sale.

Educated at the Metropolitan Museum Art School and the Art Students League, Edmund Marion Ashe was a painter and illustrator, as well as an educator, and his work was published often in nationally circulated journals and magazines. Some of the illustrations he did for best-selling books at the turn of the 20th century are in the Historical Society exhibit.

His art career also included appointments as the White House artist-correspondent of the New York Tribune and the New York World during the administrations of Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Ashe moved to Westport in 1905 and was one of the founders of the Silvermine Group of Artists. In 1919, he was appointed head of the Department of Painting and Design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, serving there for 20 years while maintaining a summer home in Westport.

-- Ed Chrostowski

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