Creative family

When the Tiffin Art Guild Gallery opens this afternoon, the public is to be able to view a collection of original art by the late Irene, Margaret and Virginia Hanson. TAG member Mary Anne Moore is curator for the exhibit, to be on display through March 28.

Moore said the Hanson family came to Tiffin from Chicago in 1911, when Oscar Hanson was named factory superintendent of Webster Co. Moore’s father, Wayne L. Moore, was a friend of the Hanson family. Wayne wrote a brief biography of the family to accompany the exhibit.

“This was his idea. He’s been wanting to do this for a long time,” Mary Anne said.

Oscar and Agnes Hanson had five children. The two sons did not produce any artwork, although they did design and patent machinery. The two boys established Hanson Machine Co. at Miami and Wall streets. The property now is part of Tiffin University. Records show Irene and her brothers Clifford and Milton never married, but twins Margaret and Virginia did. All followed their parents example and became prominent citizens of Tiffin.

“When they first came here, they rented a home on the corner of Frost Parkway and Washington, but the (1913) flood wiped it out. Then, they moved to North Sandusky Street. The house is still there,” Moore said.

The Moores also lived in the neighborhood, so they frequently interacted with the Hansons. Mary Anne said Irene and her brothers lived in the family home after their parents died. Irene’s artwork could be found throughout the house.

“A lot of these pieces were there,” Mary Anne said.

With a natural eye and talent for painting, Irene taught herself by copying the work of other artists. Scenes in Tiffin and Seneca County appear in many of her oil paintings. Irene was active in women’s organizations that supported the arts and education. She also collected art to adorn the family home.

Irene was 20 when her identical twin sisters were born. As they grew, they imitated Irene’s artistic pursuits, with a focus on portraits. Margaret’s portraits are done in a traditional style, while Virginia’s are more colorful. Both did numerous pencil sketches of young women in popular fashions of the day. Margaret also created charcoal sketches of family members and collected portrait paintings.

The twins often traveled with their parents and became the subjects of many photographs, even appearing in Look, Life and Time magazines. They graduated from Heidelberg College in 1932. A year later, Margaret married John Reed, who was affiliated with the American Standard plant in Tiffin. They were married for 40 years. In 1934, Virginia married Sherman Tecumseh White II, president and co-founder of the Grey & White Co. They were married 64 years. Neither twin bore children. They were the last living members of the Hanson family.

“When Irene passed (in 1976), they spilt up all her things between the two of them,” Mary Anne said. “Virginia died a couple years before Margaret. … When Margaret passed (in 2007), my dad was executor of the estate. Some of the (art) pieces went to (distant) family members.”

In his account, Wayne Moore writes the twins’ combined wealth was given to Heidelberg, Mercy Hospital and other community institutions. The Whites founded the Tiffin Charitable Trust Fund. The personal records of the three families are stored at Heidelberg.

Moore said she, her dad and her four sisters obtained pieces of Hanson art and decided to pool them for the exhibit at Tiffin Art Guild. The exhibit may be viewed during normal hours or privately for a group by special arrangement with Moore. Questions concerning the exhibit may be directed to Moore at (419) 455-0452 or moachie2001@yahoo.com.