Published: September 23, 2003
“Imaging the River,” an exhibition at the Hudson River Museum on view from October 4 through May 23, presents the Hudson River as a natural wonder and as an inspiration for artists from the Nineteenth Century to the present.
Employing maps, paintings and drawings from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition contrasts the Nineteenth Century romantic view of the river – man and nature living harmoniously – with works of contemporary artists who capture, in many media, the ever-changing river.
Painters of the Hudson River School were drawn to the Hudson’s beauty and its path to the sea, framed by the Adirondacks and the Palisades.
Contemporary artists see this same river changed in the Twentieth Century by the nation’s explosive growth. The once bountiful Hudson landscape is for them a cautionary image of conflict between industry and nature. The works of 23 living artists, using video, site-specific installations, photography, painting and sculpture, complete the contrasting picture in “Imaging the River.” While presenting the Hudson’s contemplative beauty, they also capture its degradation and its more recent reclamation.
Artists include: Colin Barclay, Bob Braine, Jaime Davidovich, Dan Ford, Larry Frankel, Sandy Gellis, Helen and Newton Harrison, Maxine Henryson, Basia Irland, Susan Jennings, Alan Michelson, Alison Moritsugu, Raquel Rabinovich, Renata Rainer, Aviva Rahmani, Alexis Rockman, Ann Rosenthal and Steffi Domike, Rosalind Schneider, Buster Simpson, Roy Staab, Jason Walz and Timothy White.
“Imaging the River’s” contemporary artists are motivated by environmental and social concerns. Braine, voyager of waterways from the Bronx River to Guyana’s Mazaruni, builds his own boats to see and record postindustrial landscapes. For “Mid Hudson Formation,” Braine traveled to Hudson locations to take infrared aerial photographs of sites that inspired Hudson River School artists before the sites underwent industrialization.
To produce her art, Rahmani focuses on landscape trigger points where attention can have a restorative ripple effect on adjacent ecology. Rahmani’s installation, “Through a Glass Darkly,” is a series of paintings and a PowerPoint presentation that shows river views from The Hudson River Museum building.
Moritsugu, a native of Hawaii, turns her interest in environmental themes into her use of raw wood, taking classic romantic landscapes out of familiar context and painting them on decaying logs, to question our own ideas about nature and artifice.
Some of “Imaging the River’s” artists took inspiration from the museum’s collections and its river location. Michelson’s installation recasts a Hudson River School painting as the video projection of a real-time river view, set against Indian Point. Rosenthal and Domike mine the museum’s postcard collection to profile the Saw Mill River, a Hudson tributary. Going to the postcard sites, the artists created river paintings by saturating and staining cloth in the Saw Mill, and then produced new postcards showing the sites as they are today.
Husband and wife Helen and Newton Harrison have created four computer-generated map drawings of today’s Hudson River Basin and show its possible future.
“Imaging the River” was organized by the Hudson River Museum and is accompanied by a gallery brochure. Amy Lipton was guest curator of the exhibition.
The Hudson River Museum is at 511 Warburton Avenue. For information, 914-963-4550, ext 218.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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