Geneva’s Dove holds pivotal place in art history

America’s first modernist artist, Arthur Dove (1880-1946), was born, not in a large metropolitan area, but in the city of Canandaigua.

At the time, his father, William G. Dove, was the Ontario County clerk. About two years later, the Dove family returned to Geneva where they owned property and businesses.

Arthur Dove grew up in homes on North and South Main streets, attended Hobart College, and graduated from Cornell University in 1903. After moving to New York City he became a successful illustrator but he is best known today for his later abstract artworks found in major museums in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

The Geneva Historical Society is taking a close look at Arthur Dove and his family in “Dove’s Geneva,” an exhibit opening June 30.

John Marks, the society’s curator of collections and exhibits, has drawn on archival materials along with paintings of Geneva locales by Dove. The exhibit offers a fresh look at the Doves and the places they built as contractors in Geneva.

The three-month exhibit will also compare the city Dove saw as a child with its appearance in the 1930s when he returned for several years.

Geneva buildings linked to William G. Dove, a brick manufacturer and contractor like two previous generations of the family, will be highlighted. One well-known landmark, Belhurst Castle, was built in 1885-1889 as a residence. Today, with an addition, it has become an upscale restaurant and hotel.

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