“Looking Over the River,” by George Inness is one of the many works that is on display as a part of the Kennedy Museum of Art’s “Land & Sea: Visions of New England” exhibition. (Wikimedia)

Kennedy Art Museum of Art Opens ‘Land & Sea: Visions of New England’

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The Kennedy Museum of Art, Lin Hall, 100 Ridges Circle, Athens, celebrates its twentieth anniversary year with a new exhibition of American landscape paintings titled “Land & Sea: Visions of New England,” guest curated by Jody Lamb, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts. The exhibition is on view Jan. 13 through April 16 in the East Galleries.

The Kennedy Museum partnered with the Huntington Museum of Art to temporarily exchange works from each of their permanent collections. “Land & Sea” covers the period between the Civil War and interwar years. It includes some of America’s finest and most popular painters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including American Impressionist & early modernist painters.

According to Director Ed Pauley, this is the first painting exhibition ever held at the Kennedy focusing on work from this period.
The American artists in this exhibition focus on the region’s seascapes and landscapes to examine the beauty, mystery and spirit of New England, and by implication, the nation.

These painters include Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, George Inness, John Marin, Willard Metcalf, Edward Potthast, John Singer Sargent, John Sloan, John Twachtman, J. Alden Weir and Andrew Wyeth. The work of a few French avant-garde artists including Eugene Boudin, Charles-Francois Daubigny and Auguste Renoir are included to provide context for the experimental styles and new subjects that innovative American artists explored while searching for a relevant contemporary voice through landscape.

An unusual aspect of this exhibition is the fact that The Kennedy Museum invited twenty individuals to respond to a work of their choice.

“We invited people who live or are involved in our community but who are not art experts to share their personal response to a single painting in this show that particularly interested them. As visitors will discover, these statements provide insights that greatly enrich the exhibition,” said Lamb.

These respondents are Pam Benoit, Bill Bias, Shawna Bolin, Dianne Bouvier, Jeff Chaddock, Jessica Cyders, David Descutner, LJ Edmonds, Janet Izard, Jorma Kaukonen, Vanessa Kaukonen, Janetta King, Brian McCarthy, Drew McDaniel, Joe McLaughlin, Jason Pina, Elizabeth Sayrs, Joe Shields, Nancy Stevens and David Wolfort.

Nancy Stevens, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, chose a painting by John Sloan, “Gully at Low Tide,” in part because she found it challenged her.

“With the tug of a distant moon, waves rise and fall, and the planet breathes. Continuous earth processes shape the planet, waves crashing, rocks resisting. A restless meditation stretching across millennia. Droplets of water break away from the body of the sea, splashing onto land in inexorable exploration. Boulders are reduced to particles in a steady contemplation of patience, the power of nature, evolution,” wrote Stevens.

The painting Looking Over the River, by George Inness, left a powerful impression upon Jessica Cyders, curator for the Southern Ohio History Center, who responded, “Rivers soothe and center me. Hours can pass while I am lost in the moment of watching the water flow, and I am never as satisfied as when I am standing midstream, feeling the cool water pressing against my legs and the silt squelching between my toes.”

These individual responses hang beside the respective works along with contextual statements by the curator.

The Kennedy Museum of Art is open Monday–Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m.–8 p.m., and Saturday, Sunday 1–5 p.m.