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February 21, 2013

You'll never guess what inspired painting of city's train bridge

Artist: Images don't always match their meanings

(Continued)

“This work captures the railroad bridge from Bradford to Haverhill over the Merrimack River at slack tide, around 6 a.m.,” he said. “As I was walking across the old bridge to Haverhill, I looked across at the railroad bridge and, when seeing the distant smoke from the Paperboard factory, thought of the burning at-the-stake of Savonarola for heresy in 1498. This took place in Piazza Vecchio in Florence, the spot of which is still designated by a large, bronze plaque.”

Mannheimer said it’s not unusual for artists to title paintings from a personal standpoint.

”I could have just as well titled it ‘Haverhill Railroad Trestle,’ but that never occurred to me,” he said. “Oftentimes, you’ll go to a museum or gallery and see a title that makes no sense, like still life with grapes but there may not be any grapes. Titles can be misleading, but sometimes they can be direct.”

Mannheimer incorporated both sides of the river in his painting.

”I wanted to do it large, so I did it large,” he said. “It’s actually two pieces of canvas connected as one. When I store it I can take it apart and store it as two canvases.”

Mannheimer had displayed his painting in area galleries in the past, and was looking to put in on display again. He recently brought a print of the piece to Linda Shea, director of the NECC Bentley Library, to ask if she was interested in hanging it on a wall.

”We worked together to find a suitable space in the library to display it,” he said. “It’s rare that I get a chance to display it, as it’s so large.”

Mannheimer sees his painting as a kind of historical record, a moment in time captured in oil on canvas.

”The old Haverhill Paperboard factory has since been razed and the downtown has changed,” he said. “If you were on the same spot on the bridge, you’ll see there are new buildings that weren’t there (at the time the painting was done).”

Limited edition, signed and numbered prints, (10 by 41 inches) of the painting are available from Mannheimer at mcclump@verizon.net.

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