Forget contemporary art and the Valley's continuing hold on creators' imaginations for the moment, and for this day. How did the Hudson serve not only as a Muse for this nation's first great arts movement, but also as a starting point for a continuing body of philosophic and ethical thought that is about to come to the fore once again in Copenhagen this December? And where, in the works and effect of those early Hudson River artists whom we seem to pedestal eternally these days, has the region's draw continued, or floundered?
The daylong symposium is not only bringing together the top minds in this specialist field of art history, but also allowing participants free range of the great exhibit of lesser-known images of the River from the 19th century still showing at the Dorsky, as well as several enterprising and engaging contemporary takes on that heritage in accompanying galleries. In conjunction with the Hudson 400 celebrations, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and the Department of Art History at SUNY-New Paltz are organizing a symposium focusing on "The Hudson River to Niagara Falls: 19th-Century American Landscape Painting from the New-York Historical Society" exhibition now on view at the Dorsky through December 13.
After an 8:30 a.m. welcome, things kick off on the 7th with a series of two-hour morning talks starting at 9 a.m., including "Scenes 'Most Impressive and Delightful': 19th-Century Artists and Tourists in the Shawangunks, Catskills and Hudson River Valley," from Vassar College's professor emeritus of Geography, Harvey K. Flad; Kenneth John Myers, curator of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, on "The Rise and Fall of Landscape Painting in the Shawangunks: 1845-1890"; "Glories of the Hudson," from Olana curator Evelyn Trebilcock; and "The Hudson Highlands: 'A 50-Mile Extension of Broadway,'" by Kenneth W. Maddox, art historian for the Newington-Cropsey Foundation of Westchester County.
After lunch, and guided tours of the current Dorsky historic show (and free-range time for those interested in the contemporary shows), Linda Ferber, senior art historian at the New-York Historical Society and curator of the Dorsky show, will speak about "A Geography of the Ideal: Thinking about the Hudson River and the Hudson River School." From 2 p.m. until the symposium's close at 5 p.m., talks will include Kevin J. Avery, associate curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, on, "Maya on the Hudson: Frederic Church's Cayambe and the 'Folly' of Cruger's Island;" "Ruins on the Hudson and Beyond: The 19th-Century Delight in Decay," from Kerry Dean Carso, assistant professor of Art History at SUNY-New Paltz; "Thomas Cole: The Artist as Conservationist," from David Schuyler, professor of American Studies at Franklin and Marshall College; SUNY-New Paltz History professor Reynolds J. Scott-Childress on "The Parlor in the Landscape: 19th-Century Picnic Paintings and the Invention of a Middle-Class National Identity"; and "William Wade's 1847 Panorama of the Hudson River from New York to Albany: Reading the Landscape," from Roger Panetta, visiting professor of History at Fordham University.
The whole thing's being supported with help from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the National Park Service. For further information on it all, and reservations for this free event on Saturday, November 7 at SUNY-New Paltz, call (845) 257-3844 or visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum/programs/symposium.html.