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Onan family donates Maybelle Stamper works to Library

By Staff | Nov 3, 2010

Maybelle Stamper

On Saturday, Nov. 6, Rob Onan will donate several works of art by Maybelle Stamper to the Captiva Memorial Library.

For Onan and his family, the donation is an opportunity to return Stamper’s artwork back to the place where they were created, a place that they cherish.

“In 1931, my dad had been invited to Captiva for six months of sailing by Kent Curtis (‘Cruises in the Sun’). For a 19 year-old in the middle of the depression, this experience was formative in his life. My parents were thrilled to return and enjoy Captiva as a family, which we did until the cottage was sold in 2005,” Onan said, noting that his parents (Katherine and Robert, Sr., also known as Tommy and Bob) bought a cottage on Palm Avenue (now Andy Rosse Lane) in 1951.

Onan’s mother Katherine was introduced to Stamper in the early 1950s and the two became friends. Over the years, Katherine bought many pieces of artwork from Stamper, four of which Onan and his family will be donating to the library on Saturday.

“My Mother appreciated Maybelle and admired her art for many years. Even though Maybelle was unique, she and my mother had an enjoyable friendship,” Onan said.

The four pieces of artwork that the Onan family will be donating are:

“Horse Conch,” framed oil painting, signed and dated Feb. 16, 1963

“Accusation and Moon,” framed watercolor, signed and dated Aug. 23, 1957

“I loaf and invite my soul,” framed pencil sketch, signed and dated Dec. 7, 1948

“Three Ones,” framed watercolor, signed and dated Captiva 1957-62

The Onan family spent Christmas and Spring Break vacations at their Captiva cottage from 1950 to 1960 and Onan and his family continued to visit at least once a year thereafter.

“Joe Wightman taught me how to throw a cast net — which I can still do — and to eat cane syrup and grits — which I still love. I would throw my cast net from “Ding” Darling’s upper deck and my brother would be doing painting and sketching from the lower deck. Our groceries were ordered from the mail boat captain and delivered to the Andy Rosse dock. The Island Bakery supplied delicious island baked goods to mom’s kitchen — it was right next door! Our family regularly dined at Mae and Bill Shannon’s restaurant — right across the avenue. Our evening family ritual was a stroll to the Gulf down then dusty Palm Avenue to watch the sunset and look for the green flash,” Onan recalled.

Onan’s mother passed away in August of 2000 and his father passed in February of 2005, but Onan believes that Stampers work is finally making its way back to where it belongs — the same place that provided he and his family with decades of wonderful memories.

“We believe these paintings and sketches belong where they were created. Katherine and Bob, Sr. would be thrilled with this outcome. We are grateful for [the Library’s] willingness to accept them,” Onan said.

The dedication will take place on Saturday, Nov. 6 at noon at the Captiva Memorial Library, 11560 Chapin Lane.