Leah Harper: Complimentary

February 1 - 28, 2015


A Compliment in a Capsule

Not a rose, not a candy, but even better, it’s a Compliment for you in time for Valentine’s Day. Artist Leah Harper turns the everyday vending machine (with a long tradition of spewing out gumballs and tiny toys) into a Compliment dispensing marvel. Harper’s interactive art piece, “Complimentary,” will be installed in the Hudson River Museum Lobby.

Turn the knob on the dispenser and out comes your compliment in a plastic toy capsule, and for free! A container next to the dispenser lets you dispose of the plastic capsule for recycling. If you want to give a compliment, too, there is a box close by in which to place it.  Your submitted compliment will be incorporated into a spreadsheet of good words Harper gathers from submissions and online surveys. Her favorite compliment to date, “If you were a potato, you would be a sweet potato.”

The Compliment dispenser first made its appearance this fall at New York City’s Art in Odd Places festival and its cheerful mission is the direct output from Harper’s study of design for social causes at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  Her work also featured in Site95’s “Transforming New York Street Objects” and FIGMENT Festival NYC make environments eventful and interesting, inviting you to join the fun.

Looking ahead, she says, “I want to do more work that makes people happy!”

Compliments Do Just That.
Samples from the Compliment Dispenser:

  • You Are the Mercedes-Benz of Caviar!
  • You’ve Certainly Gotten Enough Beauty Sleep!
  • That Smile Looks Beautiful on You!

Frohawk Two Feathers:
Kill Your Best Ideas, The Battle for New York and Its Lifeline, the Hudson River
February 7 - May 17, 2015




      Frohawk Video

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.

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.


The Seven Deadly Sins: Envy
An Installation by Adrien Broom

June 6 – September 26, 2015

Adrien Broom. Web of Envy, 2015

The smoldering “green-eyed monster,” envy, the most corrosive of the seven sins, makes its appearance at the Hudson River Museum. Part of the Westchester/Fairfield Museum Alliance (FWMA),a cultural collaboration begun in 2009, the Hudson River Museum joins seven of the region’s art institutions to present Envy, in The Seven Deadly Sins, the Alliance’s inaugural exhibition that launches in Spring 2015, and continues into summer and fall.  Sin, a favorite subject of painters and poets over centuries, provides grist for provocative art exhibitions and programs for the public, and is offered free to Museum Alliance members. FWMA Members participating in The Seven Deadly Sins are: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT): Sloth; Bruce Museum (Greenwich, CT): Pride; Hudson River Museum (Yonkers, NY): Envy; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (Peekskill, NY): Lust; Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY): Gluttony; Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, NY): Greed; Wave Hill (Bronx, NY): Wrath

Multimedia artist Adrien Broom interprets “envy” at the Hudson River Museum from June 6 to September 26, 2015. Envy is the sin we are most likely to conceal, successfully or unsuccessfully. Unlike lust and gluttony, there is seems little pleasure to be taken in envy, instead, this covetous emotion implies not just resentment of others but dissatisfaction with oneself.  

For her installation, Broom creates Web of Envy, and in its entangling filaments we catch glimpses of objects that have always stimulated envious desire – a beautiful face, a youthful body, a pile of gold. Broom turns to social media, too, to discover contemporary causes of envy, then expands our look at this sin in a Gallery of Fairy Tales, peopled by characters whose envy for what others enjoy enlivens age-old stories, just as it warns us to beware of its fruits. Snow White’s stepmother longs for her stepdaughter’s youth and beauty; Cinderella’s stepsisters scheme to take her place. Kings, queens, knights, and fairy godmothers, who covet what others have, plot to get it, and are ruined by their evil envy. We may not recognize all the names of the Gallery’s kings and queens that harken back of the days of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm but some of the faces in these portraits are straight from today’s media — such as the Firestone Sisters, Mary and Lucy, travelers and lifestyle enablers, who here the Black and White Brides from the Grimm fairy tale, competing for a king. Broom says, “Fairy tales are very dark, but very fascinating. I'm going to be living in those old, old texts for a while.” Colors, barometers to our feelings, make up the Colors of Life, Broom’s photography series, and the third part of her installation. Most definitely the wheel will show us the green of envy as well as colors that signal light, curiosity, and transformation. 

Adrien Broom lives and works in Brooklyn and is an artist with a penchant for the bizarre and beautiful. She took a degree in computer animation from Northeastern University and studied fine art in Florence and art history in London. Broom's photographs have been featured in numerous exhibitions in Connecticut and New York City, as well as in the American Dreamers exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence in 2012. The exhibition is organized by the Hudson River Museum and curated by Bartholomew Bland, the Museum’s Deputy Director.


Dancers Among Us: Jordan Matter
October 17, 2015 – January 17, 2016

Jordan Matter. Dancers Among Us (Meghan G. Meehan at the Hudson River Museum, October 2014). Courtesy of the artist

Jordan Matter’s stunning photographs appear at the Hudson River Museum in Fall 2015 in the exhibition Dancers Among Us, the photographer’s first major museum exhibition in the United States. Matter’s photographs, the subject of the New York Times-acclaimed best-selling book of the same name, Dancers Among Us, is “A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday,” just as it highlights the exuberance of the dancers who interpret a day’s moments, big and small, in beautiful movement.  Over thirty of Matter’s images, which include photographs from his book, new work, and new images of Westchester scenes, will be presented.

Video - Dancers Among Us: Jordan Matter - Making the Shot

Matter photographs dancers off the stage in unexpected places, no computer manipulation allowed. The world is his studio — its streets, libraries, playing fields, coffee shops, and highways. First a portrait photographer, Matter soon focused on the entire human figure and in the spontaneous movement of the dancer for a purpose — to use the dancer’s leaps and movement in everyday settings to capture life’s moments that we all live — joy, love, silence, grief, curiosity. He titles his photographs with his wit, poetry, and sometimes, quotations from  performers to philosophers, from Sammy Davis Jr. to Goethe.  We see A Good Catch  in a bikinied swimmer playfully tossed in New Rochelle’s waters, A young woman seems to hover in air above a Columbus Circle park bench in Rise Above it All, and illustrates Emily Dickinson’s phrase, “I Dwell in Possibility.” In another New York scene, Opening Night, a dancer points her toes at a starry sky, giving truth to Dante’s verse, “If thou follow thy star, thou canst not fail of a glorious heaven.”  Another dancer in Skinny Dip, her muscles gleaming in Chicago’s night lights, bounds close to Lake Michigan’s shoreline, reminding us of the Zen saying, “Leap and the Net Will Appear.”

Matter makes his point with light, color, and a supreme ability to capture a moment in time. Of the dancers so integral to his message, he writes, “Dancers are. . . trained to capture passion with their bodies. They often create a fantasy world or offer us a deeper look into familiar settings.

Weekend programs will feature a wide variety of live dance performances on a stage in the Museum galleries.     Dancers Among Us: Jordan Matter is organized by the Hudson River Museum.


Oh Panama! Jonas Lie Paints the Panama Canal
February 7 – May 8 2016

Central Wall, Pedro Miguel, 1913     Oil on canvas, 36 x 34 in.         Courtesy of the West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy


One hundred years ago the Panama Canal linked east to west, opening for the first time in history a water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Now the Panama Canal Expansion Project, slated for completion in 2016, will open a new water lane to more and larger ships. Celebrating today’s Panama project, Oh Panama! looks back to the determined and spirited efforts of the architects and crews who accomplished the 1914 canal that was captured in paintings by Jonas Lie from the West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy. Lie’s paintings continue today to impress viewers as a sublime and beautiful document of man’s relentless quest to conquer nature and harness its riches.

    Heavenly Host, 1913    Oil on canvas, 50 x 60 inches
    Courtesy of the West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy

Norwegian-born painter Jonas Lie (1880-1940) inspired by a motion picture documentary of the construction of the canal visited the Panama Canal Zone for three months in 1913. He was enthralled by the feats of engineering required to dig the Culebra Cut, as well as the sublime visual qualities of the massive trench being carved across the Isthmus of Panama. Working tirelessly in the intense tropical heat, he produced oil sketches and drawings and took careful notes on the technical aspects of the canal construction.

Recognized by his peers as a scientist and a poet for his depictions of New York City, Lie’s canvasses were both historical documents of technological progress and dramatic interpretations of the urban environment.  The thirty known pictures he made of Panama are lively and colorful, capturing the spirit of that endeavor as well as its heroic quality and monumental scale. Lie recalled the Panama experience as a pivotal moment in his career, one from which he received national recognition for his work and also developed the aesthetic and technical strategies that influenced his landscape compositions from that point forward.

Panama by Air (Reel 4) (1914)

When Lie returned to New York, he exhibited twenty-eight paintings from the Panama cycle at the Knoedler Gallery; two —The Conquerors and Culebra Cut— were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts before the exhibition embarked on a national tour in 1914. “… the exhibition embarked on a national tour in 1914. The exhibition was very popular with broad interest in Lie’s paintings fueled by publicity photographs, news reports, and the release of documentary films following the canal’s progress, such as the Edison Company’s The Joining of the Two Oceans, The Panama Canal.

Organized by the Hudson River Museum and James A. Michener Art Museum, Oh Panama! Jonas Lie Paints the Panama Canal is curated by Kirsten M. Jensen, Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Michener Art Museum and Bartholomew F. Bland, Deputy Director of the Hudson River Museum. A fully-illustrated catalog with essays Jensen and Bland accompanies the exhibition, on view at the Hudson River Museum February 7 - May 8, 2016 and travels to the Michener Museum on view from July 23 to October 30, 2016.