NEW PALTZ — Three exhibitions offer perspective on Hudson Valley
Three exhibitions highlighting historic and contemporary art of special significance to the Hudson River Valley and Catskill regions will greet visitors at the dedication and grand opening celebration of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz on Saturday, Oct. 20.
The grand opening celebration features three important exhibitions organized to specifically address the rich cultural heritage of the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions, a significant aspect of the museum’s mission.
In addition to its unique commitment to the region, the museum is also committed to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting historical and contemporary works of art from diverse cultures. The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 19th and 20th century American and European works on paper and paintings, Asian art, pre-Columbian art and artifacts, decorative arts (metals), and photographs.
The celebration, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. with a short dedication ceremony featuring David Dorsky, son of Samuel Dorsky and chair of the museum advisory committee; David Lavallee, New Paltz’ acting president; Patricia Phillips, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts; and Neil Trager, the museum’s director. Following the dedication, all of the museum’s galleries will be open for viewing.
The three exhibitions featured during the opening celebration offer an engaging perspective on Hudson River Valley art.
- “All That is Glorious Around Us: Paintings from the Hudson River School” offers an extraordinary collection of traditional 19th century American landscape paintings.
- Renowned contemporary artist Robert Morris is the subject of the museum’s first exhibition highlighting prominent artists from the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions.
- Award-winning photographer Len Jenshel explores the “Charmed Places” that shaped the lives of artists of the Hudson River School.
All That is Glorious Around Us: Paintings from the Hudson River School
The Hudson River began to figure prominently in the artistic consciousness of the 19th century when the painter Thomas Cole journeyed up its waters in the summer of 1825. He settled at Catskill on the Hudson and became the model for other American landscape painters, thus launching the Hudson River School and its romantic, idealized vision of the American landscape.
Scenes captured on the canvases include the Hudson River Valley, the Adirondack Mountains, Catskill, Niagara Falls, and several other breathtaking views as seen through the eyes of these masters. Highly stylized, these scenes depict America as a vast landscape filled with the raw promise of youth, and signify the presence of “God on Earth.” Drawn from a comprehensive private collection, All That is Glorious Around Us includes three generations of artists associated with the School: Thomas Cole, John F. Kensett, William Trost Richards, and Worthington Whittredge. Of particular interest is the work of many lesser-known artists including that of women such as Eliza Greatorex, Laura Woodward; forgotten masters John H. Carmiencke and Regis Gignoux; and the most illustrious African-American artist associated with the school, Robert Duncanson.
All That is Glorious will run through Dec. 15.
Len Jenshel: Charmed Places
Concurrent with “All that is Glorious Around Us,” the SDMA is exhibiting an intimate exhibition of color photographs by award-winning photographer Len Jenshel. These contemporary images depict the homes and studios of Hudson River School painters, and provide an interesting context for the landscape painting exhibition. Originally created for a traveling exhibition of paintings, photographs and drawings which focus on the homes, studios and environs of Hudson River Valley artists, the images provide a close-up look at how these artists chose to shape their own private environments.
Len Jenshel is a pioneer of the “new color” revolution and one of the foremost contemporary photographers of the changing landscape. He balances two careers: one in the museum/gallery world and the other working commercially for magazines. He has photographed features for magazines including National Geographic, Life, Fortune, New York Times Magazines, Cond¿ Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, and House & Garden.
In the fine arts, his monographs include Travels in the American West, Charmed Places, and Hot Spots: America’s Volcanic Landscape, which was co-published with Diane Cook. His photographs have been exhibited in one-person shows around the world and collected widely. He has been the recipient of numerous grants including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.
“Charmed Places” will run through Dec. 15.
Selected drawings and performances on video comprise an exhibition of works by Robert Morris. Morris’s critical writing and artistic work helped to shape some of the most notable art movements of the 1960s and 1970s, including minimalist sculpture, process art, and earthworks.
However, even after an initial exhibition of the artists’ drawings at the Williams College Museum of Art in 1982, curated by Thomas Krens, this work received little notice. Yet the sheer volume of drawings that Morris produced – over 2,000 pieces in 20 years – and the conceptual weight of these works suggest that this form of expression deserves the attention given by this exhibition.
Drawing provided a similarly effective means for expressing Morris’s somewhat abstract and complicated ideas and allowed further contemplation on the concepts of possibility and actuality. “Drawing,” says Christophe Cherix, catalogue essayist and exhibition curator, “is the ideal technique, because it suggests a possible realization without implying it de facto.”
The Robert Morris catalogue, which accompanies the exhibition, is generously funded by Jim and Mary Ottaway of New Paltz, New York. It is the first catalogue in a series that will feature contemporary artists who live and work in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions. The Morris exhibit will run through Nov. 18.
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is a not-for-profit, educational institution located in Ulster County at the State University of New York at New Paltz. A primary cultural resource in the Hudson Valley, the Dorsky Museum has a year-round exhibition program that showcases both its permanent collection and work by contemporary artists who are nationally and internationally recognized. Utilizing a permanent collection that spans a 4,000-year period, the museum is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures. A fundamental component of the museum’s mission is to collect and exhibit works of art by the many artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12-4pm, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4pm. There is no admission charge. For further information please call the SDMA at 845/257-3844 or visit them online at www.newpaltz.edu/museum.