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Ed Stitt

Paintings & Drawings

My First 40 Years

Lower Falls

Lower Falls    1995    oil on polyester    30x34"    collection of Donald and Barbara Stitt

I did a number of paintings of the upper falls of the Genessee River which flows through Rochester, a very scenic and interesting urban area where pulleys and belts drove industry in the mid-1800s.

But the lower falls were inaccessible, shielded by cyclone fences. At least I thought so until George Nick told me he’d done paintings down there and I needed to jump the fence to do it. So I went to the parking lot nearest the falls and, sure enough, found the fence pulled back and a path down the steep hill toward the lower Genessee below.

I found a nice place to paint viewing the falls with the bridge just out of the painting from above and worked there in the afternoons.  It was lovely, but I noticed there would be surges of water like I’d never seen before! It turns out that the Genessee was being controlled by locks and dams upriver and now and then they’d release more water than usual.

Also, I recall hearing large splashes behind me and wondering why the water was so active. It turns out there were HUGE Atlantic salmon in this river.  I found this out when I noticed someone walking toward me with a 2x4 lined with hanging… what? Suits on coat hangers?  No, he got closer… to my astonishment, they were fish! Each fish was about five feet long and large, probably weighing 30 pounds!   The salmon would breed behind me in the water, then try to climb the tall waterfall (impossible), die trying, and fishermen would easily collect them to bring home to dinner.