Geneseo Art League receives original Denison sketch

Claudia Loucks
Liz Parish, left, holds the original pen and ink drawing of ‘Sunday Morning 1980 - Geneseo’ created by her late father, artist Ben Denison. With Parish is Jodi Haars, president of the Geneseo Art League, and in front of one of the color prints created from Denison’s original sketch. Parish recently donated her father’s original pen and ink drawing to the Geneseo Art League.

When artist Ben Denison created his “Sunday Morning 1980 - Geneseo” work, it became an instant local classic.

The painting was commissioned by the board of the then-Farmers National Bank (located where Wells Fargo is today). The bank board commissioned the piece as a tribute to Geneseo’s history.

Copies of the painting were distributed to bank customers and community residents.

The painting shows a detailed view of Geneseo facing north on State Street from the Congregational Church.

Today, copies of the painting can be found on the walls of numerous Geneseo businesses and residences.

Recently, Denison’s daughter, Liz Parish, presented the original ink drawing of “Sunday Morning 1980 - Geneseo” to the Geneseo Art League.

Denison and his wife, Jackie, were well-known area artists and lived in Geneseo until moving to Milwaukee, Wis.

Denison died in 2008 and his wife died in 2016.

The Geneseo Art League plans to sell 100 copies of the ink drawing, numbered and signed. Copies of the color print also are available.

The Geneseo Art League has exclusive rights to the original pen and ink sketch.

In 1980, Denison told the Republic he tried to be as accurate and detailed as possible when creating the work.

“But I nearly blew it. I almost forgot the fish on the water tower,” he said. The fish was included in his original sketch, but was accidently left out of the finished painting until shortly before he delivered it.

In addition to the original sketch, the Denison family donated memorial funds in Jackie Denison’s memory to the Geneseo Art League.

The funds will be used to establish the Denison Memorial Scholarship which will be presented in 2017 to a graduating senior at Geneseo High School who is interested in pursuing some type of career in

art work.