Monday, August 6, 2007


We live in the land of the Hudson River School of painters of which the founder Thomas Cole and one of his students, Federick Church, are two of the most famous. Both loved this area and often depicted the Hudson Valley and the Catskills in their spiritually expressive symbolic paintings. Church built an interesting (to say the least) house on a high hill overlooking both the mountains & the Hudson. He and his wife were taken by Persian architecture so - because they could - built this homestead that is a combination of Middle Eastern design and Victorian furnishings. Some love it, some are appalled by this unusual structure that sits among spawling, rural farm country. To me the point is that this home, its location and the love that Church poured into it epitomizes an artist's pursuit of passion. Church loved this home and designed every detail, every vista and every tile with the care and attention he gave to his masterpiece, The Heart of the Andes.
As an aside, I was recently in the company of two artists who declared they were 'bored' (yes, that is the word they used) with the Hudson River School style of painting. How pretentious I found this statement. I do agree that sometimes a style or type of art may get so copied it becomes watered down and can seem uninspired but throwing the baby out with the bathwater misses the point of great art. The reason this and other painting styles have been so studied and replicated is due to the fact that they are of mounumental merit in the art history world and remain of importance even after having endured falling in and out of favor with those that become 'bored' with the latest art fads.


Donna said...

What a fascinating home. I love the detail pictures you've taken. Thanks for sharing them. I understand how some can say they become "bored" with a great art tradition -- at least for me it has little to do with the value of the art itself, and everything to do with my need for variety...

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

What a unique buiding! Does someone live in it now or are there tours through it? It must have taken years to make all of the decisions with all of the details.

Anonymous said...

From the CD "Burning Down the Daze" by Marc Cohn.

They say my final masterpiece
Was this house upon the hill
High above the great and mighty river
My hand could not hold the brushes
Yes I guess I lost my will
And you can't keep painting paradise forever
Oh forever

From the Andes to Niagara
To where we stand today
I drew the great creations of my master
'Til the oil and the canvas
Lord I threw them all away
And traded them for stone and brick and plaster
I traded them all for you

(Winter wind blows and the river lies frozen at my feet)
I traded them all for you
(Springtime come and the river wanna run above the street)

She came to me one night
While I was tossing in my dreams
She said she'd give my family protection
I recall the night I died
Beneath her arches and her beams
I thanked her for the shelter and direction
I was lost until Olana

(Sun beat down on a summertime town -- he left me there)
I was lost until Olana
(Watching these hills turning gold for one more year)

Oh I've been from Jerusalem to Rome
Now I'm floating through these rooms tonight alone
And looking back on everything
All I ever wanted was a home

I was lost until Olana
How sweet the sound
How sweet the sound

They say my final masterpiece
Was this house upon the hill

Denise Aumick said...

Who are you Anonymous? No matter! Thank you so much for leaving the words to this song. Cohn has captured Church's love for his house completely. Beautiful, beautiful words.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, beautiful words . . .

and beautiful music too! Try the CD "The Very Best of Marc Cohn" - not a bad track on it!

Sheila Browning
Dalgety Bay, Scotland