The Art of Walter Long and the Dauber’s Club

The Dauber’s Club

The Daubers’ Club was the most instrumental group in the history of the Cayuga Museum, as it was at a meeting of the Club on February 2, 1932 that the idea for an art center in Auburn was first mentioned, and members of the Club worked tirelessly to establish the Museum. 

Forest Stream, 1941 S. Edgar George

The Daubers’ Club was established sometime before 1914 by local artist Maude Myers as an art appreciation group that included both artists and art lovers.  Membership was open to anyone interested in art, and was coeducational, rather than a ladies’ club like many were at the time. The first meetings were held in the lower rooms of the Chamber of Commerce, and exhibitions were held on the first floor.  Later meetings were held on the second floor of S. Edgar George’s men’s clothing store at 10 State Street, what members referred to as the “Studio.”  Meetings included supper, sharing of recent work, and presentations and demonstrations by other artists.

The most well-known member was Frank Barney, who was held in the highest regard by the Club. Members looked to him as the “Dean of Auburn Painters” and learned from his techniques.  His latest sketches were shown at every meeting.

Old Bridge Near Cayuga, 1894 Frank Barney

Portrait of William Dewitt Sr., Helen Palmeter

Members were categorized by their specialties, like landscapes, portraits, still life, and by favorite media, watercolor, oil, pastel, etc.  Three-dimensional work was also included.  Members would take turns presenting their work and giving demonstrations at meetings when a guest speaker was not present. 

Quoting Helen Palmeter, “We were one big happy family.” Friendly criticism of one another’s work, encouraging words to the beginner, the president [Maude Myers] bubbling over with good cheer and Edgar George with a handclasp and a bit of flattery. His own pictures, many of which hung in his clothing store, depicted the fine character of the man. Herman Salomon’s landscapes were full of genius and beauty. Ed Davis had a sincere regard for form and color.”  Helen Palmeter’s portraits, as well as Doris Fishers’ were always admired. Miss Florence Gifford’s specialty was still life. Mrs. Regina Gates, an adept at seascapes and brilliant flowers, together with her modeling was a versatile artist and much appreciated.

During a talk in 1932, local artist and teacher Walter K. Long mentioned the need for an art center in the city of Auburn.  Subsequent talks resulted in the idea for a museum, and Long, Mr. Leonard Searing, Mrs. E.D. Clapp, Mrs. H. Dutton Noble, and Mrs. Wilfred Sefton took the lead as the initial founders of the Cayuga Museum. 

Once the Cayuga Museum opened in 1936, Daubers’ Club meetings were held in the main building through the late 1980’s. The Club featured a picture of the month that was displayed in the hallway, as well as an annual show, the “Seven County Finger Lakes Art Exhibition”.

Take a Look at these Art Classes and the Work they Produced Below!

Walter Long

Walter working on Mount Rushmore:  “See that little bug clinging to Washington’s nose?” he asks. “That little bug is me in 1935.” photo of Washington sculpture

Walter Kinsella Long was born in Auburn on February 2, 1904. He was the son of an electrical engineer responsible for installing the first street lights in the city. His father died when he was in his early teens and Long moved to Fair Haven with an aunt and uncle to attend high school. 

After high school Long enrolled in the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, where he worked teaching art classes and setting up exhibits at the Syracuse Museum of Fine arts. 

After finishing at Syracuse University, Long went to work for the University of Illinois where he spent a year establishing their new School of Fine Arts. He went on to establish similar programs at the University of Florida. After three years in Florida, Long returned to Syracuse to earn his Masters in Fine Arts in Painting. 

Over the next several years Long traveled and worked as an artist. He received commissions to do work for Syracuse University; he designed the Soldier and Sailor Monument in Skaneateles and even went to South Dakota in 1935 to help Gutzlum Borglum with the sculpting of Mount Rushmore. His job was to study busts of Washington and help Borglum plan the construction of the final carving. Long says “it took very careful designing” to plan where the light would reflect off the sculpture so that details would be visible.

He exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, where he was in charge of the exhibit for the Finger Lakes region producing displays on its history, industry, resource map, and agriculture. He supervised a pair of paintings by art students which depicted the important industrial, agricultural, and historical significance of the Finger Lakes region.  

Professor Long also dabbled, successfully, in industrial design. He did industrial designing for Auburn Button Works and many designs for Firth Carpet Company. His most important work was with the Welch Allyn Company, first in Auburn at the buildings on Clark Street and later in Skaneateles. He was responsible for their transition into the field of surgical instrument design, showing his new style, packaging and effective displays at medical conventions. During WWII he designed medical, surgical, and scientific instruments for Bausch and Lomb, Welsh-Allyn and IRI.

Sculpture Class at Cayuga Museum

As a teacher, he organized art classes at the museum for children and adults. In 1942 he began teaching at the newly formed Auburn Community College, building a widely recognized art department. As an artist, his greatest love was sculpture.

For 50 years Professor Long faithfully operated the Museum. He was much loved and remembered by all who visited, and many who grew up in Auburn have a story about a class or museum visit with Professor Long. As his wife Carmelita stated, “Most of all Walter Long loved people, loved to share with them his feeling for the beautiful, his knowledge of history, local and Native American, sharing with them his excitement and enthusiasm, that special spark that changes the drab to the interesting. “

Walter Long’s Statement on Art and Museums:



I BELIEVE that life without art would be unendurable. Man must live, not merely exist.  The prehistoric cave painters’ efforts prove to us how long art has been essential to life.  The first impulse of man was to make thought and feeling visible to his fellowman. Man as artist through the ages has endured the long struggle toward the refinements of his existence. 

I BELIEVE Art is the reflection of human experience. Through art we know the glory of the ages and the richness of each culture. Art is the common domain for the knowledge and understanding as well as the joys of life for all mankind. In one way or another art touches each human life.  The intensity of the art experience is bounded only by circumstance and sensibility.

I BELIEVE Art is made for enjoyment. We are created to discover the world and we are endowed with a desire to know ourselves. This we do through others- – and through art. Herein perhaps lie our deepest joys and satisfactions.

No generation in past history has been more diverse and more fortunate than this one.  By design or happenstance vast amounts of our treasures have reached the museums to be researched and safeguarded.  The Museum today has become the storehouse of man’s artistic accomplishments.

Museums consider themselves not storage places, but rather wardens of the property of everyman.  Museums are dedicated to revealing with every discipline the full meaning of the art within their walls.  The duty of the museum is to provide pure delight and at the same time to incite learning.  Another duty of the museum is to let art speak with utmost clarity to the young as well as to the mature.

I BELIEVE this to be the mission of the Museum in our world.

– Walter K. Long