Frohawk Two Feathers: Kill Your Best Ideas, The Battle for New York and Its Lifeline, the Hudson River February 7 - May 17, 2015
From Kill Your Best Ideas, the catalog
It's all very tragic and poetic, yet beautiful. A true dirge.
Frohawk Two Feathers
Frohawk, artist and storyteller, paints and writes stories about battles, conquests, and the cast of characters that makes it all happen for his imaginary Republic of Frengland. In ink, acrylic and tea, on paper and on canvas, Frohawk, born Umar Rashid in 1976, creates a fictional world that looks quite a bit like our real one.
Frohawk Two Feathers: Kill Your Best Ideas
This exhibition is the final episode in the artist’s series on Colonial America, his successful combining of art, history, and sometimes wicked but always fun-to-read commentary on people — Europeans adventurers and explorers, North American Indians, freed and enslaved blacks, and ravishing women who love, laugh, and die on the banks of the Hudson from Manhattan up to Lake Oneida.
The action begins in 1791 and continues through 1793, real time for New York City just flaunting its new identity on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, and thriving under English rule. The city’s first denizens, the Dutch, are “has beens,” unwillingly departed from the city they called New Amsterdam, and now skirmishing with their Iroquois allies in the Hudson Valley nearby to the north.
Real and not real, fact and fiction, Frengland (a combo of France, England, and Ireland) and Batavia (the Netherlands) fight the climactic Battle of Yonkers, recorded and viewed for the first time at the Hudson River Museum, situated by the river in the very countryside that inspired the 19th-century Hudson River School painters. The landscapes of three artists, Jasper Cropsey, Asher Durand, and James Renwick Brevoort, paintings on view at the Museum, inspired Frohawk’s scenic work for this exhibition, which also include almost a dozen new pieces among them The Battle of Yonkers and the Death of Iroquois Chief Joseph. Also new to Frohawk’s story and the Hudson Valley is a Trojan Horse. Named for the war machine with which the ancient Greeks surprised the Trojans, Frohawk’s horse holds some surprises of its own — it sports two heads and is filled with warriors from both sides of the quarrel. Glass figures, they are fragile and exhausted from the wars. The wooden horse soars 22 feet high in the center of the exhibition and is illuminated from within. For Frohawk followers, favorite characters reappear, too, among them Bonnie Prince Johnnie and his flamboyant general Orlande, Duc du Rouen, who “admidst his shit-colored crew was a gilded peacock with sapphires for eyes.”
Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), an Illinois native who now lives and works in Los Angeles, California, first studied photography, film, and writing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. His recent solo exhibitions include the Wadsworth Athenaeum (Hartford, CT), Wellin Museum of Art (Clinton, NY), the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, NJ), the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, NV), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver, CO).
The exhibition is organized by the Hudson River Museum and curated its Deputy Director Bartholomew F. Bland. Exhibition design by Dillon Lundeen Goldschlag. The fully illustrated catalog that accompanies the exhibition explores Frohawk’s work and contains the full narrative of this final episode, the fifth and last in his series The American Proteus: An Invocation and the Wars Between the Rivers. Proteus, mythic Greek god of rivers and seas, is the name the artist has selected for his contemporary myth of the New World.
Images courtesy of the artist and Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York
Promoting the President
In celebration of Washington’s Birthday February 7 – May 17, 2015
We look for our president in paintings, photographs, and sculpture, where we may see him as a warrior, family man, or a man of faith. Washington, the nation’s first soldier and president, is the prototype for political promotion, too. For this exhibition, Gilbert Stuart’s famous painting, George Washington, on loan to the Museum, as well as the Museum’s collection of artifacts and engravings show this leader in images beautiful, respectful, and, sometimes, flamboyant, that were made to frame our vision of him and charge our patriotism and memories.
George Washington was painted three times by American painter Gilbert Stuart between 1775 and 1776. Everyone wanted a portrait of the hero of the American Revolution and Gilbert, himself, made rare copies of his second —“The Atheneum portrait.” All are treasured. One, at the Museum for this exhibition, shows the president looking to the right out at the viewer, his left hand framed by a gilded arm rest.
Images of Washington often show him an elder statesman, bringing peace and stability to the new nation of the United States after the turmoil of its Revolutionary War. The Museum complements these images with early books and prints that illustrate his life in many aspects and the popular perceptions of him after his death. People tend to turn to Washington and look for his image during trying times such as Washington’s own death in 1799 and during the Civil War in the 1860s as well as in times of celebration at the Centennial of the United States in 1876, and the Bicentennial of Washington’s birth in 1932.
Promoting the President focuses on images of George Washington grouped in four themes: first, General-Hero, seen in a number of notable prints, including Alexander Campbell’s 1777 George Washington General and Commander en Chief of the Continental Army in America; or General Washington, 1781, after John Trumbull; Memorials and Mementos, illustrated by Washington’s Headquarters, a mid-19th century a painting attributed to E. C. Coates and on the covers of popular media in the 1930s that celebrated the Bicentennial of Washington’s birth in poster art and merchandising; third, Portraits, foremost the Gilbert Stuart painting as well as engravings such as the famous “Porthole” engraving from the Original painting of Washington from life by Rembrandt Peale, circa 1870; and, last, Washington as Man or Myth, illustrated here in the famous myth: “Father I Cannot Tell a Lie, I Cut the Tree,” in the 1867 engraving by George White.
The successful visual promotion of Washington to his public was adopted by the presidents who followed as they sought visual presence before the public. By Abraham Lincoln’s time from 1861 to 1865, photographs like paintings less than a century before became the vehicle for showing the president at work. Both leaders were continually linked together in the public’s perception as seen in a pair of 1860s’ engravings based on paintings by F. B. Schell: The Washington Family and The Lincoln Family. In each, the president is seated, his wife and children surrounding him, a grouping that reflects the 19th-century’s idealization of domestic life and that society’s desire to see its leaders as moral men. An 1865 Currier and Ives lithograph pictures Washington (The Father) and Lincoln (The Saviour) of the country.
The combination of the magnificent Gilbert Stuart loan with the art and popular culture collections from the Museum’s holdings tells much about how we view and remember historical figures. The exhibition is organized by the Hudson River Museum.