Hudson River Museum Presents Lincoln on the Hudson and The Blue and The Gray
Press Preview: Wednesday, October 5, 10:30am
Red Grooms Available for Q&A
The Civil War, America’s story, is told by Red Grooms, who for 50 years has brought city and country life to sculpture and canvas.
In two exhibitions, Lincoln on the Hudson and The Blue and The Gray, Grooms creates the world of 1860s America and its parade of personalities who fought the Civil War, a war now 150 years old that continues to hold our thoughts and feelings in books, movies, and music. It percolates, even today, through our nation’s politics.
Lincoln on the Hudson
Red Grooms has filled the galleries of the Hudson River Museum with Lincoln on the Hudson, a larger-than-life, walk-through scene of the historic appearance of President-elect Lincoln in Westchester County’s village of Peekskill on the banks of the Hudson.
Grooms is famed for creating environments in which colorful sculptures of people navigate scenes filled with details that make us smile and want to walk through a Grooms’ world. “I’m so excited to be showing The Blue and The Gray at the Hudson River Museum, said Red Grooms. “And as soon as I heard the story of Lincoln’s train stopping in Peekskill, the idea for Lincoln on the Hudson hit me in a flash. I saw the whole thing in the Museum’s 30-foot-tall main gallery. That doesn’t always happen to me.”
The artist created a “Lincoln” work that fills 775 square feet of the Museum’s gallery space and stands 17 feet high — a world constructed from foam core, canvas, and bright paint. Lincoln stands at the back of the train that crossed the country from Midwest to east to take him to his 1861 inauguration and is greeted by cheering villagers, mounted soldiers (the Civil War is about to begin), a drummer boy, and a brass band. He thanks New Yorkers for their “kind greeting” and says, . . . I will say in a single sentence, in regard to the difficulties that lie before me and our beloved country, that if I can only be as generously and unanimously sustained as the demonstrations I have witnessed indicate I shall be, I shall not fail. . .
A happy moment in time, it is underscored with concern that Lincoln expresses. Grooms crowns Lincoln with a very tall stovepipe hat, branding him the country’s leader and its hope.
The Blue and The Gray
Forty-six paintings record, unforgettably, four years of history.
Red Grooms has been painting the Civil War for over 20 years. Growing up in the South, close to the battlefields of the epic struggle, he turned to its battles and key players to paint large and small-scale works for the exhibition The Blue and The Gray. In oil and graphite, on sliced logs and wood, he records the faces of steely-eyed generals, femme fatale spies, crusading abolitionists, and teen aged African American soldiers. Each year Grooms adds another face and another perspective to The Blue and The Gray. In 2016 using paper much like the cloth squares of a quilt, Grooms has assembled a monumental drawing of Sojourner Truth, the great female Black activist who joins a panoply that includes General George Custer, standing tall with the attitude for which he is famous, and Grooms’ triptych of Robert E. Lee that shows the embattled general growing grimmer as the flag behind him changes from Confederate red to Union blue.
Laura Vookles, Chair of the Museum’s Curatorial Department said, “One thing people may not know about Red Grooms, when they look at his whimsical art, is how devoted he is to the real. For the Museum’s Bookstore, he filled sketchbooks with drawings of the Pierpont Morgan Library and Mendoza’s used book shop. The same holds true for the Civil War. When his subject is the past, he seeks out historical photographs that bring those personalities and scenes to life for him.”
The Blue and The Gray is based on an exhibition organized by the Tennessee State Museum. Lincoln on the Hudson was organized by the Hudson River Museum.
Long linked to the Hudson River Museum by The Bookstore, 1979, a “walk-through” environment, Red Grooms, in the 1950s, first joined New York City’s cultural scene to make films and participate in “happenings,” both involving the creation of artistic stage sets. From The City of Chicago, 1967 and Ruckus Mountain, 1975, he has evolved large-scale artworks into complex environments, inviting audience participation. All of his environmental installations evoke a feeling of place, which he achieves by researching primary sources and sketches on the spot.
Who Fought to Save the Union
The Museum’s collection of photographs, paints, prints and objects personalizes the conflict. It includes the prints of Winslow Homer, the artist who reported the war for the newly popular magazines of the time.
October 2016 – February 2017
Civil War Programs at the Hudson River Museum
The Hudson River Museum interprets and expands on the themes of the Civil War exhibitions—the human cost of the war and its impact in New York in talks, music, performance, storytelling, and tours. All programs FREE with Museum admission.
Sunday Scholar Series: The Civil War and the American Spirit 2 pm
Oct 9 How the Civil War Transformed American Literature with author Randall Fuller
Nov 20 Music, the Civil War, and American Memory with musicologist Lawrence Kramer
Dec 18 Lincoln and New York with Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer and actor Stephen Lang.
Oct 16, 23; Nov 13; Dec 11, Jan 29; Feb 12 1 & 3 pm
Sunday Stories: A Civil War Story Series
In drama and music, storyteller Vienna Carroll and Performer Keith Johnston show us Civil War times in a Westchester African American community.
Saturdays Oct 15, 22; Nov 5, 19; Dec 3 11 am
Coffee and Conversation: The Civil War Through Lincoln’s Speeches
Read and discuss nine brilliant Lincoln speeches. Borrow the book Lincoln on the Civil War at the Museum. Sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities
Arts in the Afternoon, Lifelong Learning for Adults
Wednesdays, 1:30 pm, followed by tours of The Blue and The Gray
Oct 19 Civil War happenings in a Westchester African American community.
Nov 9 Civil War Songs
Dec 14 Grooms Civil War Paintings, a Talk with Artists Red and Lysiane Grooms and Curator Laura Vookles
Wednesdays–Sundays 1 & 3 pm
Glenview in the Aftermath of the Civil War
Guided tours of Glenview, a restored 19th-century Hudson River home in the context of the political climate of Westchester in Civil War times.
Oct 8; Nov 12; Dec 10; Jan 14; Feb 11 1 & 3 pm
Saturday Stories: All About the Civil War
Museum Junior Docents read stories about the African American experience.
October 16 12–5 pm
A Civil War Encampment in the Museum’s courtyard.
Story: Mr. Lincoln in Peekskill, with Storyteller Vienna Carroll
Civil War Songs with Matt Turk
Family Guide: Red Grooms: The Blue and The Gray
Tom Burckhardt: FULL STOP
Tom Burckhardt has created a three-dimensional immersive environment filled with the materials of a modern painter. FULL STOP is made of cardboard, wood, glue, and flat black paint. The installation, 10 feet high by 18 feet wide is filled with art historical references, such as Jackson Pollock’s shoes and Jasper Johns’ Savarin coffee can that holds paintbrushes. The viewer who enters the walk-through studio observes the tools for art making and art books that provide inspiration, but sees no product. In the center of the studio stands an empty canvas. Burckhardt said, “I wanted to capture the situation when an artist has run out of ideas and is blocked…” or, comes FULL STOP. Burckhardt, himself, is the foil for the “block.”
Tom grew up in the 1960s New York art world. As a teen he began assisting family friend Red Grooms to create sculpto-pictoramas, a relationship that continued for the next 22 years. Rudy Burckhardt’s photographs and Grooms’ studio inspired many of the elements in Full Stop. He wanted a lively cartoon quality and chose a brown palette — “Rather than painting it in full color, I like the cartoon quality of black and tan, so you can really see that it’s cardboard.”
Tom Burkhardt: FULL STOP is organized by the Columbus College of Art & Design, in collaboration with the artist.