Thursday, October 10, 2013

Unveiling October 21, 7pm, 2216 Rosa Road

© Charles Wilson Peale
Not so long ago the studio arts dominated the visual culture of world. Images had to be handmade, and reproductions of those images, in the form of etchings, engravings, and lithographs were also handmade. Up until the 19th century, to see a color image that was not a painting would have been practically impossible. Paintings rested at the pinnacle of images and incited both admiration and hostility. Sargent's portraits were frequently caricatured in Punch magazine and Harper's Bazaar. At the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1913, response to the New York Armory Show was so hostile that Henri Matisse was put on mock-trial and burned in effigy.

On the more positive side, and as the visitors to Olana are told, crowds waited in long lines for the unveiling of Frederic Edwin Church's latest landscapes in the later half of the 19th century. The Civil War was over, and the nation needed new narratives and mythologies about their relationship to the New World. They found it in the pristine, edenic paintings of the Hudson River School painters. These monumental canvases showed the sublime western landscape unstained by violence and ideology. North and South could be united in their subjugation the West. At the forefront of the movement was Church, who travelled who toured the east packing theaters and exhibition halls with eager audiences. He was kind of like Elvis. Young women swooning as he tore the curtain off his latest masterpiece. Young men practicing their brushwork and glazing, dreaming of galleries and museums. Parents disapproving of the "new art" of landscape painting. Give me a Charles Wilson Peale any day over this garbage they would say. (Or for the radically conservative--Sir Benjamin West).

All this is to say that the painting, St. Kateri Tekakwitha in God's Creation, will be unveiled on October 21st, at 7:00pm in the church at 2216 Rosa Road.  Hope to see you all there.

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