There are also those who simply put their best into all they do, but never gain the sort of reverence in any field that others care so much about - the worker bees, as it were. Sometimes their creative output gets split among several fields; or they end up remembered more as best friends than original talents in their own right, less from any failings on their art's part as much as the added strengths of those around them.
At this point in time, when so much of our culture seems to be either falling to commercial concerns or overlooked in light of our growing rush toward the immediacy of celebrity, such exhibitions as that set to highlight the work of early Kingston artist Joseph Tubby at the Friends of Historic Kingston Gallery take on an added value. They not only show the depths and breadth of a glorious past, but also the treasures involved in simple creation, no matter its current commerciality.
Tubby, who was born in England but moved to the then-thriving city of the Rondout as an adolescent, took up painting based on the work of Thomas Cole and other rising Hudson River School artists. He later became known for his chronicling of the canal and shipyard business of his home neighborhood in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as for his friendship with the more successful (and still relatively well-known) Jervis McEntee, a fellow Rondout resident.
But in addition to his painting - exhibited during his lifetime at the National Academy of Design and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art - Tubby was long known for his local work as a sign- and house-painter, master wallpaperer and accomplished contractor. To this day, one of the Rondout's more striking pieces of vernacular architecture remains the row of attached brick town houses known as "Tubby Row" that he built with his father in 1870 on Spring Street.
And yet the paintings themselves are richly conceived and perfectly executed, almost to the detriment of their memorability. They are like perfect postcards, almost anonymous in their service as a window to the past - to full lives lived not just as art.
The Friends of Historic Kingston show of Tubby's work opens this Saturday, May 3, and features work from both public institutions and private collections. Sanford Levy of Jenkinstown Antiques in New Paltz is the show curator and author of an accompanying catalogue. The exhibit stays up through October 26.
The museum is located on the corner of Wall and Main Streets opposite the Old Dutch Church. For more information, call (845) 339-0720 or visit www.fohk.org.