Jamaica: A View from the HudsonValley

Submitted byJeeraik009 onFri, 09/03/2010 - 12:33

Jamaica's art history has always acknowledged the presence and influence of European itinerant artists such as Auguste Brunias (1730-1796), George Robertson (1748—88) and Joseph Batholemew Kidd (1808–1889) and who travelled through the islands in the 18th and 19th centuries. Maybe because of our colonial biases, scant attention has been paid to North American artists who came here with similar intentions. The exhibition of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church entitled Fern Hunting Among These Picturesque Mountains: Frederick Edwin Church in Jamaica, curated by Evelyn D. Trebilcock and Valerie A. Balint currently on view in the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery,  Olana, New York shows us that this is an aspect of our history that deserves greater attention. Frederick Edwin Church (1826-1900) visited Jamaica in May 1865 in search of solace after the tragic loss of their two children in a diptheria epidemic two months earlier. From the majestic quality of his paintings we sense that Jamaica was a tonic. His landscapes bring all of the Hudson River School's characteristic style to the depiction of the Jamaica's landscapes, they are breathtaking in their grandeur, parochial in their attention to details and disarmingly spiritual in their pre-occupations. His scenes of 19th century tourist spots across the island including Blue Mountain, Moneague and Fern Gully show us how dramatically our vistas have changed in the face of modernity and tourism. It is also significant that during his stay he too experienced the island's drought and remarked on the disparity between the cities aridity and the greenness of the mountains. Our lesson from the past and Church's paintings reveal that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Read more about the exhibition on view until October 2010.