Anthony Sisti (1901-1983)
Tony Sisti was a boxer turned painter, art collector and teacher who spent most of his life in Buffalo. Born in Greenwich Village in 1901, Sisti relocated to Buffalo in 1911 where he attended art classes at the Albright Art School. He began boxing at the local gym at 17, and after winning a New York State bantamweight title, became a professional boxer with 76 victories in 101 fights. He traveled to Italy and studied painting under Felice Carena, receiving his Doctor of Arts degree in 1929. He continued both his boxing career and his art studies, later teaching at the Art Institute of Buffalo before opening his own gallery at 469 Franklin. Active from the 1920’s until his death in 1983, Sisti was best known for his oil paintings and murals but also painted formal portraits of notables such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, among others. His works have been exhibited in major museums around the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, which has many of his paintings in its permanent collection.
Sisti in the classroom
Donated in 2012 by art curator and writer David F. Martin of Seattle (originally from Niagara Falls, NY), this particular collection of Sisti papers consists primarily of personal and professional photographs, news clippings, correspondence and programs from numerous artist shows at the Sisti Gallery in Buffalo.
A recent donation of five travel scrapbooks that once belonged to a former Grosvenor Library staff member have been added to the many unique collections in the Grosvenor Rare Book Room.
Jane Van Arnam, later Wiseman, was the daughter of Seymour and Harriet Van Arnam who resided at 76 Highland Ave. in Buffalo. Seymour was an executive at the Pitts Company, a leading manufacturer of machinery prior to World War II, and Harriet was active in church, clubs, and charity work. Jane graduated from the Buffalo Seminary in 1920 and soon after joined her sister Anna as an assistant in the Catalog Department of the Grosvenor Reference Library, later moving to the Periodical Department and working as a librarian until 1954. Her meticulous skills as a reference librarian are evident from the 5-volume travel scrapbooks she maintained from 1925 until the late 1940’s.
Within the carefully organized volumes are photographs, post cards, letters, menus, passenger lists and pamphlets from the many trips she took throughout Europe, Canada, the U. S., South America and other exotic places. The scrapbooks as a whole provide a glimpse into the life of a working Buffalo blueblood, as well as the world of popular travel in the early-to-mid-20th century. Jane died in 1989 at the age of 86.
The Pan American Exposition Booklet pictured above was recently acquired by the Rare Book Room. Dr. R[ay] V[aughn] Pierce sponsored the publication of this “Free Guide to the Exposition, Buffalo and Vicinity, with Map.” Not only did this booklet impart valuable information about the 1901 Expo and the Buffalo environs, but it also dispensed medical advice while it promoted “Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery” and “Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription” too! Pierce’s patented elixirs claimed to cure everything from pimples and problems nursing to hemorrhoids and heart failure.
This particular booklet is remarkable for its excellent condition and unique for the owner/visitor’s pencil annotations. The reader is transported back in time to October 7, 1901 when this person notes arriving at the Pan Am “at 15 to 2 p.m.” S/he makes full lists all of the buildings, the Midway and other sights s/he toured and was apparently a neighbor from the North based upon the last note in the booklet stating s/he “went on train & home … arrived in Toronto,” . There is even a note “saw spot where McKinley was killed.” There is a also a page on which s/he has tallied up his/her trips expenditures which add up to “880”. In 1901 this must have meant $8.80 although today such a trip to a world’s fair would probably cost upwards of $880.00!