Who was Mary Porter Sesnon?
This exhibition at UCSC’s Sesnon Art Gallery will celebrate the life of Mary Porter Sesnon and her influences on the arts in Santa Cruz County. Mary Porter Sesnon's sketches and water colors from her historic scrapbook will be on display, along with paintings by great-granddaughter Molly Porter Cliff Hilts (Porter College ’81) and the work of other family members. Prominent California historian Geoffrey Dunn will be contributing an essay on the history of Mary Porter Sesnon. The Sesnon Gallery will also host a series of salons during the 4-week exhibition at UC Santa Cruz, including tours of the historic Sesnon House (Pino Alto) in Aptos.
Mary Porter and William T. Sesnon held salons at Pino Alto (Sesnon House) from 1911 to 1926. These cultural salons were extravagant gatherings that lasted for days. The guests included patrons and artists as well as thespians, who sometimes performed on the stage off the grand living room. Original music scores, poetry, and prose from the scrapbook will be on display. The guests were given pages on which they could draw or paint, write poetry or limericks. We will recreate a new scrapbook for visitors to contribute to in the gallery and online.
In the vintage scrapbook we found signatures of such dignitaries as Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lee Henry Hoover; John McLaren, the landscape architect for Golden Gate Park and for the grounds at Pino Alto; and of foreign dignitaries visiting during San Francisco's 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Mary Porter Sesnon was on the women's committee for the exposition, and William T. Sesnon was instrumental in arranging for a number of foreign dignitaries to attend.
More info to come...