By joannearnold, Sep 22 2013 03:28AM
There’s one week left to catch “The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision” at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY. I had the urgency to catch this exhibition before it closed. I recently missed the O’Keeffe Lake George show at the Hyde Collection and I wasn’t going to miss this.
The Hudson River School and I go way back. I remember going to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC around the age of ten and being blown away with Thomas Cole’s large scale series, “Voyage of Life”. As a child I was mesmerized with the imagery and the size. I imagined myself in these landscapes and part of the voyage.
I also received my undergraduate degree at SUNY New Paltz located in the Hudson Valley which gives me an instant connection with anything Hudson Valley.
Thomas Cole was well represented at the Fenimore. This exhibition included a series of five canvases, “Course of the Empire”. It covered an entire wall and although my tastes have changed since I was ten, I appreciated Cole’s “Last of the Mohicans” far more than the series.
One of my favorite paintings was walking into the gallery and being enveloped with a large scale Albert Bierstadt landscape. It filled the front wall. The exhibit was well represented by other known Hudson River artists like Frederic Church, Asher Durand and Jasper Cropsey. The gallery included a timeline of events that covered everything from music to inventions during this 19th century period of art.
The artists were not limited to their local landscape. European travels of their commissions were part of the show. However, it was the pastoral Hudson Valley scenes that impressed me the most. Several of the paintings reminded me of a print my grandparents had over their living room sofa (before they replaced it with my art) when I was growing up. My grandmother grew up in Mechanicsville, NY at the northern tip of the Hudson River and I feel that the sofa print was a connection to her childhood which in turn was connected to mine.