Artist At Work

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Alice Ericson Cosgrove

[1909 - 1971]

Story and pictures by Duane Bradley

New Hampshire Profiles, February 1955

Alice Cosgrove
Alice Cosgrove at work
[Photos by Duane Bradley]

ONE OF THE PEOPLE who works for the people of New Hampshire is an artist. Her name is Alice Cosgrove and she is best known for her latest creation, "Chippa Granite", that beamish young man who is advertising the Granite State all over America.

[Photo right: All types of art work come from Alice Cosgrove's drawing board at the Planning & Development Commission offices in Concord. Here she works on a ski poster for the International Sports Show at Madison Square Garden.]

Chippa came into being about three years ago when the state began to think about issuing a new ski poster. Normally a number of artists are asked to submit designs, which are judged by state officials, and the best one is used to promote our winter sports. The last time it happened, Alice decided to put one of her own ideas on paper -- an idea completely different from any she had seen on ski posters. Her conception was the bright-faced, tousled haired little boy in a blue snow suit, standing against the bright New Hampshire sky and surrounded by snowy peaks, which most of us have seen.

When it was first viewed by Governor Adams, who was then in office, he said, "That looks just like Sammy when he was little." Governor Adams' reaction was that of almost everyone else who saw the still unnamed Chippa. He looks like all the little boys who love to romp in New Hampshire snow, and makes it quite clear that winter sports are for the whole family — not just for the relatively few experts and professionals in the field.

Chippa Granite
"Chippa Granite"

The judges chose Chippa, probably the first time a New Hampshire artist had won the competition to provide a New Hampshire ski poster. He was officially launched for the 1953-54 winter season, and as soon as the ski posters were distributed, the State Planning and Development Commission began to receive compliments. Chippa went straight to the heart of everyone who saw him, and people wanted to know his name. He wasn't just a picture to them, but a real little boy. So the school children of New Hampshire were asked to select a name for him, and Chippa Granite was the result.

That was the beginning of Chippa's meteoric rise to fame and his present position as super-salesman for New Hampshire. To date, Alice has done about twenty different Chippas, in every medium from pen and ink to papier-mach, and the P & D thinks he has only begun his career. He made a real hit at the Eastern States Exposition where he appeared in life size 3 D figures, and he is very busy appearing on stationery, recreation booklets, and all sorts of New Hampshire products that are distributed nationally. He bids fair to take his place alongside the Old Man of the Mountain as the new trademark of the state -— a symbol that carries with it all the warmth, friendliness, and fun of New Hampshire.

Chippa On Skies
Typical Chippa on skis represents New
Hampshire on posters and folders promoting
Granite State winter sports everywhere.
If Alice Cosgrove had done nothing else for the state than produce Chippa, she would be an outstanding citizen, but this is only one of her contributions. She has worked for Planning and Development for eight years, beginning as the only woman draftsman employed by the state, and now is official state artist along with her other duties. A list of what she does and has done would take a volume, but a paragraph will serve to show some of the ways she enters our lives.

Everyone who drives a car has an original Cosgrove on the windshield -— Alice designed the inspection sticker. Owners of motor boats can thank her for navigation charts, which are prepared by P & D and distributed through the Public Utilities Commission. School Board Members can see her work on the cover of the Handbook for School Board Members published by the State Board of Education. Parents can thank her for illustrative material in firearms safety education.

A little time spent in the Planning and Development offices in the State House annex makes it very clear that our state family is just that -— a group of friendly, hardworking people who combine their efforts to make every phase of our life in New Hampshire better. Every department of our state government is constantly working to inform and educate our citizens, and Alice is called on constantly to supply the pictures and art work that go along with this effort.

On a normal morning she arrives at work at 8:30, and in a very few minutes Vincent Dahlfred, Industrial Director of P & D, may be at her desk asking about the cover for a new "Made In New Hampshire" booklet which will report on all New Hampshire manufacturers. John Brennan, Information Director, will confer with her about the new fall foliage bulletin which needs illustrations, and Deak Morse may drop in to show her clippings from a new story about Chippa Granite. Former Governor Gregg, who adopted Chippa and used him on official place cards, signs, etc., often stopped in at her office to discuss a new idea.

A portrait of Alice's mother
Portrait of the artist's mother,
Mrs. Sophia Ericson,
is inspected by the artist and the subject.

Plain citizens visit Alice's desk during the day too. Aerial maps of New Hampshire towns are available through P & D, and many people drop in to purchase them. Salesmen, new residents, town fathers, and milk carriers -— anyone who wants to know exactly how a certain town is laid out may stop by for such a map.

P & D Director Ernest Sherman may come in to discuss the displays that will represent New Hampshire at various travel and sports shows held in Metropolitan centers. These are frequently joint projects with the state Recreation Department, so it may be a three way conference with Al Evans from Recreation.

Winslow Melvin of Public Utilities may say the supply of navigation charts is almost exhausted, and more will be needed soon. The Bureau of Dental Services or the state Education Department or one of the secretaries of the Regional Associations in the state may need a cover or illustrations for a new booklet. Alice uses her skill to produce everything from maps to pen and ink drawings for the Mineral Resources Survey, and last year when the Wall Street Journal wanted pictures by a New Hampshire artist to illustrate their coverage of the state, Winfred Foss, director of P & D's Industrial Division, recommended Alice.

Alice's Christmas Card

In person, Alice looks quite a lot like her brain child Chippa. She is slim, blue-eyed, blond, and has the engaging smile and charm that one might suspect from seeing her work. Born in Concord, she decided very early that she wanted to be an artist and completed her education at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. When she took her job as draftsman with the state almost nine years ago, it didn't seem to have much connection with her ambitions, but gave her an opportunity to work in Concord. The state wanted someone who could do art work as well as drafting, and perhaps no one suspected at the time that Alice had not only the talent but the ability to express the warm spirit of the state in her work.

Whimsical self-portrait, showing Alice teasing shy Santa with mistletoe, was personal Christmas card.

Gradually, as her ability became known, she was asked to do more and more such work, until now it forms a large part of her duties.

In her private life she has exhibited paintings with the New Hampshire Art Association, and did the murals in the Way School at Claremont in the first grade room. She is the artist who painted the three well known portraits of George Putnam for the Putnam Hall at UNH, the N. H. Farm Bureau, and the Merrimack Farmers' Exchange, and her pastels of some of her friends are among their most treasured possessions. Her own Christmas cards which she designs each year are famous among her friends. Many youngsters throughout the state have enjoyed her puppet shows which she has given for Sunday School groups, and now her own grandchildren are her most ardent fans.

Alice says New Hampshire is a wonderful place for an artist to work and live, and her joy is reflected in everything she does for the state.


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