Christmas Eve at River Ridge Farm

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Fred Carrow Biography

       Fred Carrow was born and raised in Oil City, Pennsylvania and graduated from Edinboro University. He currently holds teaching degrees in Art Education and Social Studies with Bachelor of Fine Art degrees in Painting, Printmaking and Ceramics. He has been teaching art and photography at Keystone High School for the past 25 years. He has been painting seriously for over 30 years.  His paintings depict a wide range of various subjects from Pittsburgh sports art to historical subjects such as Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia. His artworks are in private collections throughout the United States and abroad. Fred has also won numerous awards in both local and international art competitions throughout his lifetime and continues to be inspired mostly by what is just outside his own front door. He is married to his wife Laurie and, together, they have two children, Caleb and Madison. They reside in Cranberry Township.

“In painting ‘Christmas Eve at River Ridge Farm’, I found that my fondness of this area’s local history and my love of art came together as one in order to bring you this unique nighttime scene. I can remember even as a child riding along Route 8 and seeing the Sibley mansion, across the Allegheny River, nestled high in the hills. I wondered about that place then and I am still intrigued by it now. River Ridge Farm has such a colorful and vibrant history and hopefully, through my painting, I can help restore some of the magic and charm of Joseph Sibley’s dream. I hope future generations will continue to enjoy it as well.”

Fred Carrow
 

 

More about the "Christmas Eve at River Ridge Farm" painting
   

 Christmas Eve was indeed a magical time at Joseph Sibley’s residence and farm. After the acquisition of Galena Oil by John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, Sibley used his money to build his dream house and farm between Oil City and Franklin, Pennsylvania. It is nestled in the hillside overlooking the Allegheny River and has captivated and intrigued people for nearly 100 years. I have always wanted to paint a wintery night time scene of the farm in its day and Christmas Eve would serve as the ideal setting. Because many of the buildings are spread out, realistically, they could not be shown together. I used artistic license to incorporate five of the existing structures into one painting and illuminated it by the glow from a December full moon. The gated stone archway, the bell tower, the Hanna house, the five story brick barn and, of course, the Sibley mansion are all portrayed in this holiday scene. At its peak, there were nearly 30 families that lived and worked at River Ridge and Joseph Sibley was respected and loved by each and every one of them. The people in the sleigh are members of my own family; my wife, Laurie Jo and me, along with our two children, Caleb and Madison Jade. The two dogs you see chasing the one horse open sleigh are our beloved family labs, Brooklyn and Coalie.


The history of Joseph Sibley and his River Ridge Farm is fascinating and full of intrigue. Joseph was a scholar and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He was friends with some of the nation’s most notable and influential people of the early 1900’s, J D Rockefeller, President William MacKinley, William Jennings Bryan and President Woodrow Wilson just to name a few. It was at River Ridge Farm that, together, Bryan and Wilson wrote “the 14 points” that helped to end World War I. President Wilson was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for his peacekeeping efforts in 1919. To think that our own area played such a key role in world politics is astonishing and its legacy doesn’t end there. If you would like to learn more about Sibley and the colorful history of River Ridge Farm please visit www.riverridgefarm.org .


I hope that my painting helps to bring back memories of a bygone era and shine a little more light on the creative and industrious people who lived and worked at building River Ridge Farm and the mystical “castle on the hillside”. –Fred Carrow