I visit my local museum periodically. A recent exhibit, Painting a Nation: Hudson River School Landscapes, is the focus of my most recent bout of interest. The paintings vary in size from small and intimate to sizable, giving the viewer a sense of the region’s real-life expansiveness.
In the exhibition’s gallery talk, the lecturer emphasized that the artists focused on grandeur and majesty in nature, particularly in the Hudson River Valley. Professor WIlliam Otremsky observed – “Great art is a marriage between content and technique.” That statement crystallizes my musings on the individual paintings. It also reminded me of what I strive for in my own work.
Forests glimmer in russet gold and daubs
of green leaves fight the change of season.
I kneel breaths away from children
dressed in woolens and heavy cloth at play.
My spring-weight cotton shirt and pants
don’t fare well against the autumn chill.
In a blink I hang above a valley open
for miles along the river. Rolling shoulders
of land rise before me and I smell
the crisp apple of air. Down below
and away the river moves strongly. I fight
an urge to shout greetings to the sloops
going who-knows-where. They’d not hear me
being so far, and many decades, removed.
Closer, rowboats skirt the shore
Iike scattered wading birds. Finally I see,
what seemed an outcropping,
a hand of people out for a jaunt
are but clever brush strokes — blue, gray,
white, yellow — on painted canvas. And I,
vivant, stand in the gallery’s hushed echo.