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Ox-Bow: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Ox-Bow Summer School of Art)

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Ox-Bow Summer School of Art
1873–present. 3435 Rupprect Way by way of Park St., 1.9 miles north of Center St.

Established in this idyllic location along the old Saugatuck harbor in 1910, the Ox-Bow school is one of the oldest summer art programs in the country. It was founded by John C. Johanson of the Chicago Art Institute, along with institute artists Frederick F. Fursman and Walter M. Clute. Later, in 1915, Thomas Eddy Tallmadge assisted in the school's development. They bought the Riverside Hotel at Oxbow Lagoon to be used for classes. The inn was built in late 1873 by Charles Schriver (1842–1905), who had come to Saugatuck from Buffalo, New York, with his brother, Henry, to operate a commercial fishing business. At that time, before a cut was made to aid navigation, the Oxbow Lagoon was a bend in the Kalamazoo River and the site served as a landing for river shipping. Summer boarders stayed at the Schrivers' home, and eventually it became one of the early resort hotels patronized by Chicagoans, who arrived by boat. The original part of the inn, known today as the Oxbow Inn, is a plain symmetrical Italianate building with a belvedere. Long verandas tie together and unify this early portion and a later 1880s addition. In 2006 the inn underwent a major renovation and addition.

The school also has three small gable-roofed outbuildings, which were built by Schriver in the 1890s as the caretaker's cottage, stable, and shed. They were adapted in the 1920s for use as student quarters. Now there are over forty structures scattered throughout its campus. Several artists in residence and prominent Chicagoans, including distinguished Prairie School architect and author Tallmadge, built cottages on the grounds of the school. The Tallmadge cottage, erected in 1923, is a simple, brown-stained, clapboarded building trimmed with red. With its wood footings, screened windows with awning drops, fireplace, decorative carving on the exposed interior studs, and hand-painted Native American designs, it is the epitome of the simple Michigan summer cottage. Newer structures accommodate glassblowing, paper-making, and print-making studios. Many of its students have attained national recognition: Peter Agostini, Richard Artschwager, Janet Fish, Leon Golub, Joan Mitchell, Claes Oldenberg, Richard Hunt, and Peter Saul.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


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Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Ox-Bow: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Ox-Bow Summer School of Art)", [Saugatuck, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 274-274.

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