Flights of Fancy: Folk art at DCHA

Delhi — The Delaware County Historical Association will open a new exhibit in the Elijah Thomas Gallery, Flights of Fancy, focusing on the bird carvings of the late Charles Albert. An opening wine and cheese reception will take place at the museum on Friday afternoon, March 6 from 4 until 6 p.m. The exhibit, which is free to members of the public, will remain open through early July; hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Charles was born in Southern Illinois and moved to Sidney with his family when his father began work at the Scintilla plant in 1938. He graduated from Sidney High School where he met his longtime friend and fellow carver Ward Herrmann. Charles continued to live in the area, moving around to different towns including Sidney, Andes and Bainbridge where he taught Junior High. Eventually he moved into the administrative field as principal of Gilboa Central School. In 1962 he moved to Delhi and started work at SUNY Delhi where he stayed for 24 years, beginning in public relations then moving on to become the assistant to the president.

He did not start carving until he retired in 1985, encouraged to begin by his close friend and fellow hunter, Ward Herrmann. Charles received no formal art training; when he began carving he consulted just a few books for instruction and if he got stuck he would ask Mr. Herrmann for advice! According to Albert, wood burning was one of the more difficult parts to learn, taking about a year for him to develop the “burning touch.”

All of Charles Albert’s works were carved in soft basswood and then burned. Usually they were left unpainted, highlighting the fine detail of the carving. On display at the museum will be owls, swans, numerous ducks, birds of prey and songbirds.