The Hudson River anthology has grown organically out of my photographic work documenting rural and agricultural life in the Hudson Valley over the last decade – the subject of a number of exhibitions in galleries and museums in New York State.
The primary approach to the photography of these landscapes is the same as perhaps the early 19th c. painters in the Hudson River Valley and others later in the century in the forest and landscapes around Fontainebleau - and that is to use color and form to build works of art – with nature itself being the sole subject of the image making. Sometimes there is a view to the “simplest of artistic narratives” as in Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot’s Italian plein air oil painting – and in others to a more transcendental and atmospheric approach that one would find in the later work of John Frederick Kensett. Second, the work is the result of the evolution of the landscape over time - culminating from hours, days and months spent watching, waiting, collecting… just as Kensett, Cole, Church, and Bierstadt and others did in their earliest record of the Hudson River Valley. This new work is in no small part the result of the same evolutionary experience. It is to be patiently aware of the changing azimuths of the sun, the rising of tides, the direction of winds. Finally, and most importantly for me photographically and as an artist, is to continue to explore and chronicle the remarkable intersection of light in the natural world – record what has been given each day…and then assemble poetry from the evidence.
A selection of images from the recent trip to Belgium and the Netherlands can be seen on my Vimeo page by clicking the title link above. The first images are from the visit to the Bokrijk Open Air Museum just east of Brabant in Belgian Limburg. On display there are over four centuries of rural farm buildings and architecture from Antwerp and the Limburg Kempen, Limburg Haspengouw and Maasland, Belgian Brabant and East and West Flanders. Having spent a number of years working to help preserve early Dutch and Flemish culture in my home state of New York sometimes against all odds, and often with ever diminishing returns - it is a pleasure to see Belgian history and material culture preserved so well and cared for by both Belgium and the Province of Limburg at Bokrijk. It is a paragon in the world of architectural preservation and definitely worth seeing if in Belgium. Afterwards, there is a selection of images from Bruges and Amsterdam.
Presently I'm working on a set of illustrations of the ca. 1728 Van Ostrande house in Albany, NY. This is the only existing Dutch style timberframe house left in what were the two principal "urban" settlements of the Dutch West India Company, New York (New Amsterdam) and Albany (Beverwyck). The short clip has a brief historical background of the immigration and settlement in the Beverwyck area. In 2010 I produced and directed a short institutional film called "Building The Dutch Barn". The film will be used to prepare educators and museum docents in New York State whose classes or visitors will be involved in raising a quarter-scale Dutch barn model. The 20 minute film briefly covers timberframe building practice, the historical background of the Dutch barn in America, it's very unique characteristics, and finally shows a very excited fifth grade class from Albany School of Humanities put up the barn model.