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Hudson River Museum opens summer 2021 exhibitions
Alphabet Quilt. Artist unidentified. Possibly Pennsylvania, Early twentieth century. Cotton, 76 x 90 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Karen and Werner Gundersheimer, 2018.2.5 Photo: Gavin Ashworth.

YONKERS, NY.- Hudson River Museum announces four summer exhibitions that share the impact of quiltmaking, painting, and drawing. With a nod to the power of craftsmanship, visitors are welcomed to explore a selection of fine quilts from the American Folk Art Museum, along with notable textiles with significant community history from the HRM’s collection. The Museum will debut a compelling new series of celestial works by artist Richard Haas, as well as imaginative and colorful landscape paintings by California-based, Yonkers-born artist Jack Stuppin, which will transport visitors through mountains and vibrant vistas of our Hudson Valley this summer.

“All of these exhibitions are about experimentation; our visitors will experience the impact of compositions in color, pattern, geometry, and intersections. The artists are connecting with something far bigger than themselves in terms of space, history, and community. We are all trying to understand our piece within that bigger puzzle, and these splendid works invite us to be part of that process,” stated Director and CEO Masha Turchinsky.

Laura Vookles, Chair of the Curatorial Department, added, “I love working on exhibitions that give greater context and meaning to artworks in the Museum’s collection. The paintings and drawings by Richard Haas and Jack Stuppin expand our understanding of individual artworks visitors have seen displayed here; and the quilts in Wall Power and our own examples combine to offer a larger story of American quiltmaking.”

Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Collection

As an art form, quilts have deep roots in American life and experience. For more than three centuries, artists, primarily women, have created highly individualized expressions in this medium that are both yielding and unforgiving, challenging the maker to test the limits imposed by cutting and piecing bits of fabric. Each work on view is a graphically striking example that embodies a sense of “wall power,” packing a tough visual punch and defying the deceptive softness of its nature.

The very fine selection of quilts on view in this show is from the distinctive collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. They range across time and place from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century, from Alabama to Pennsylvania. The four sections of the exhibition highlight early twentieth-century quilts from a period of craft revival, designs developed by Amish communities, examples by African American makers, and traditional nineteenth-century patterns that formed a foundation for generations of quiltmakers to come. The exhibition is on view from June 18, 2021–September 21, 2021.

The exhibition begins with quilts that reflect the popularity of traditional American handicrafts. Quilters moved away from the ornate designs of the Victorian era, which featured sumptuous velvets and silks, and embraced the use of cotton fabrics, clean lines, and schematic patterns. Amish communities have also produced some of the most beloved American quilt patterns and their bold blues, pinks, and purples belie common conceptions of the plainness of Amish visual culture.

The African American quilts in the exhibition are infused with stunning dynamism. Although they may draw on traditional Euro-American patterns, their asymmetry, bold colors, and outsized designs may also be linked to earlier African textile practices. Wall Power! closes with a selection of traditional patterns dating from the mid to late 1800s that illustrate the techniques of piecing and appliqué, which formed a foundation for generations of quiltmakers to come.

Collection Spotlight: Storied Quilts from the Hudson River Museum

The HRM is displaying five important quilts from its own collection, on view from June 18-September 26, 2021, as well as premiere additional selections online. The quilts highlight regional pride and collaboration: Three nineteenth-century examples include a Pieced Sampler Quilt by New York tailor Adolph Schermer, an elaborate silk and velvet Crazy Quilt by couple Pinkus and Ernestine Turk, and a Chimney Signature Quilt featuring the names of forty-two residents of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Also on view for the first time in decades will be a Commemorative Quilt made in 1976 by Ellanora Kolb, Anna McDonough, and Pauline Ringler to present to the Woman’s Institute of Yonkers in honor of the United States Bicentennial. Among the local City sites depicted are historic Glenview, the Museum’s Gilded Age home, the 17th-century Philipse Manor Hall, and the historic St. John’s Church in downtown Yonkers, designed in 1872.

Richard Haas: Circles in Space

In his most recent series of paintings and drawings, artist Richard Haas explores intersections between abstraction, color theory, and the geometry of the universe, bringing together passions and preoccupations from throughout his expansive and celebrated career. Richard Haas (American, b. 1936) is best known for his illusionistic architectural murals and trompe l’oeil style, painted on and within prominent buildings across the United States from Portland, Oregon, to New York City and Yonkers, as well as international commissions in Munich, Germany.

During the pandemic and while working from his home in Yonkers, Haas turned to painting on a more intimate scale, moving away from realistic imagery. He was inspired by the circular geometry of the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), for whom he worked as a teenager. The experience played a formative role in cultivating his fascination with architecture and urban design, which features in a majority of his paintings, drawings, and prints. Haas was inspired by seeing hundreds of circular irrigation wells on flights over the Midwest and Plains states. He was also influenced by Hubble Space Telescope photos, which called to mind the early twentieth-century color experiments of artists Wassily Kandinsky, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and Stanton MacDonald-Wright.

Haas was also reminded that artists and theorists have used circles to conceptualize our relation to the universe for millenia. The earliest drawing in the exhibition is his own take on Dante Alighieri’s concentric conceptions of heaven, purgatory, and hell. The installation of these visions of space in the Troster Gallery, outside of the Museum’s Planetarium, emphasizes these enduring connections between art and science and celebrates the much-anticipated reopening of the Planetarium on July 16, after being closed to the public for more than a year. Circles in Space will be on view from June 25–September 10, 2021.

Jack Stuppin: The Beginning of My World

Jack Stuppin (American, b. 1933), renowned for vibrant landscape paintings of Northern California, grew up in Yonkers and returns again and again to reconnect with the formative Hudson Valley scenery of his youth. Jack Stuppin: The Beginning of My World, which will be on view from July 2–September 12, 2021, highlights nine oil paintings, ranging from 2008 to 2020, from this ongoing series the artist has called his “Homage to the Hudson River School.”

He begins these paintings with oil studies outdoors, and seeks to evoke something more than realism in his finished works. In the studio, he makes a digitally enlarged version of a favorite plein air painting and uses it as a guide to move beyond a purely realistic interpretation and create a world filled primarily with intensified hues of his own vision and sense of design. Stuppin’s simplified forms emphasize the solidity of the landscape, imparting the same stillness and unity of surface to topography, water, and sky. The artist’s landscapes—filled with bright, super-enriched colors—fuse a certain folk-art primitiveness with deeply personal feeling.

After graduating from Columbia College in 1955, Stuppin studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1960s and has had a long artistic career on the West Coast. In the 1990s, Stuppin was part of a group of landscape painters known as the “Sonoma Four,” which also included Bill Wheeler, Tony King, and William Morehouse. He is represented in New York City by ACA Galleries. His work is in the permanent collection of twenty-one museums across the country.

Stuppin’s paintings resonate with memory—of hills, cliffs, and vibrant leaves that are simultaneously filled with nostalgia as well as an urgent call to protect this natural beauty for future generations. He asserts that if his career in California explored the edge of the continent, then, for him, Yonkers and the Hudson River Valley will always poignantly and proudly serve as his beginning.

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