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The Hudson River Museum exhibits works by two contemporary artists
Janelle Lynch, Post-Election 2016, 2016. Archival pigment print, 26 ½ x 22 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

YONKERS, NY.- The Hudson River Museum announces its fall exhibitions, with works by two contemporary artists—James McElhinney and Janelle Lynch—who take different but complementary approaches to exploring the Hudson Valley landscapes to create evocative works of art that are keenly attuned to the environment around them. The exhibitions are on view at the Museum from September 13, 2019–February 16, 2020 and are organized by the Hudson River Museum.

Laura Vookles, Chair of the Museum’s Curatorial Department, says: "The Hudson River Museum is ideally poised to make connections between contemporary artists, our collection, and the Hudson Valley landscape. James McElhinney and Janelle Lynch approach nature from different vantage points; McElhinney’s panoramas give us a broad overview of nature’s splendor, while Lynch’s photographs focus our attention on the meaningful connections in natural still lives. Together, they demonstrate and inspire a deep appreciation for the Hudson Valley.”

James McElhinney: Discover the Hudson Anew
Big ideas often come in small packages. James McElhinney (American, born 1952) has journeyed around the world with a pocket-size sketchbook and watercolor tin, communing with nature, and stopping to observe and record the glorious views around him. Fourteen years ago, during a period of convalescence, he used a sketchbook and watercolor to paint views from his hospital windows. That pragmatic decision was pivotal for the artist. He fell in love with the mobility and intimacy of this small-format media, which can be packed into the lining of a hiking vest, as he follows in the footsteps of historical expeditionary artists. Since then, he has engaged in pictorial conversation with the Hudson River, always with materials on hand.

This exhibition presents the painter’s sketch books and prints related to the River in a comprehensive showing for the first time. A video program, animating turning pages, will allow visitors to see additional sketchbook paintings. McElhinney says he wants his art to demonstrate “that constructive dialogue between humanity and nature is alive and well, while underscoring how art provides durable and dynamic modes of engagement.”

McElhinney also collaborated with Laura Vookles, Chair of the Museum’s Curatorial Department to select relevant nineteenth-century pieces from the Museum collection by William Guy Wall (Irish, 1792–1864), Jacques-Gérard Milbert (French, 1766–1840), and Samuel Colman (American, 1832–1920) to display side-by-side with his art. These artists also depicted the River as part of travels or over a period of time. Painting the Hudson in 1820, Wall likely embarked on this project because of a perceived public demand for American scenery. Milbert, on the other hand, used art for scientific reasons, to record his naturalist observations. He published his views in books to promote public knowledge. Like Wall and Milbert, McElhinney has recently turned to printmaking to allow the images in his sketchbooks to reach a wider audience. He believes in the process of coming to the River and drawing its scenery as a commitment to personal enrichment: “I promote mindful travel and engagement with nature, as a process that benefits both humans and the environment.” McElhinney encourages all of us to engage in the age-old art of seeing and mindfulness, slower paced and offering insights that often prove elusive in the momentary snap of our phone cameras.

McElhinney earned art degrees from Tyler School of Art and Yale University. He has taught painting and drawing throughout his career, including at the University of Colorado at Denver and the Art Students League in New York. His work is in numerous collections, including the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Asheville Art Museum, Avery Fine Art and Architecture Library at Columbia University, Boscobel House and Gardens, the Chrysler Museum, and the Denver Art Museum. He was the recipient of a prestigious 2017 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, which funded the production of his limited-edition archival pigment prints: Hudson Highlands: North River Suite Volume One and O.T.W. The Schuylkill River, both published by Needlewatcher Editions.

Janelle Lynch: Another Way of Looking at Love
Also on view this fall is a selection of color photographs of Catskills landscape from Janelle Lynch’s series Another Way of Looking at Love. Finding subjects on her property during all seasons, Lynch (American, born 1969) explores the interconnectedness of all life forms and supports a renewal of human relationships to each other, and to the natural and spiritual worlds.

The exhibition comprises fourteen photographs and, from the Museum’s collection, an accordion portfolio of five original prints. Speaking about her project, begun in 2015, Lynch says, “Another Way of Looking at Love is borne of awe for the power of nature, and seeks to reimagine our connection to one another, to the planet, and to the generative possibilities of the moment.” The resulting photographs reward time spent in their presence, to look long and look again.

Lynch uses an 8×10 inch view camera, which affords her a contemplative approach to perception and image-making. For Another Way of Looking at Love, she found precise vantage points that created points of connection on her 8×10 ground glass viewfinder among elements from the same species—Japanese Barberry or Burdock, for example. For other images, she combined multiple species, such as Goldenrod and Pokeweed or Burning Bush and Pine trees. The space within the created geometric formations represents an area where new realities can be envisioned. The depiction of unity, together with color and light, shows the beauty and magic of the Catskills.The series’ title is a quote from contemporary Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton, who upholds neuroscientific research that humans are biologically hardwired to connect and that our personal and cultural well-being depends on our connection with others and with nature.

Lynch’s Another Way of Looking at Love has been shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Pictet 2019, recognized as “the world’s leading award for photography and sustainability.” This year’s theme is “hope.” In November, an exhibition of twelve shortlisted artists will open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. From there, a global tour of the show will continue to twelve venues.

Lynch earned an MFA in Photography and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in 1999. Since then she has completed long-term projects in the landscapes where she has lived, including New York, Mexico, and Spain. River (2000–2006), her series from Manhattan, is also represented in the Museum’s collection. Her photographs are in other public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Museum of the City of New York; New-York Historical Society; the George Eastman Museum, Rochester; the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; and Fundació Vila Casas, Barcelona. She has three monographs published by Radius Books, Los Jardines de México (2011), Barcelona (2013), and Another Way of Looking at Love (2018), which is available in the Hudson River Museum’s Shop.

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