As some of you have read in my prior blogs, I am a big fan of Impressionist paintings. I love the seemingly spontaneous nature of the brushwork along with the creativity of colors and blending techniques. Any chance I get to go visit the paintings of recognized Impressionists I take. I had just such an opportunity a week or so ago at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, VA.
As I write, 55 works by American Impressionists dating from the 1880’s through the 1940’s (the Golden Age of American Impressionism) are on exhibit at the museum through April 20th. They are on loan from the Reading Public Museum in Pennsylvania and are part of their extensive collection representing artists from the various artist colonies around the country.
John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Edward Redfield, Colin Campbell Cooper, Frank Benson, and William Merritt Chase are just a few of the famous American Impressionists in the exhibit. The admission fee was only $7.50 to see so many wonderful works of art. I was able to get up close and study the techniques used by the painters without the security guard coming over and giving me a warning (happened on my visit to the Virginia Fine Arts Museum in Richmond).
Several paintings stood out to me. A large painting entitled On the Grand River by Frank W. Benson of the Boston School, I thought was exceptionally well done with strong lighting, movement in the water, and a striking cobalt blue color in the water and hills. There is a sizable piece by Edward Redfield from the New Hope colony entitled Winter in the Valley that shows unusually expressive brushwork.
I love the work by Colin Campbell Cooper and I spotted one impressive piece from way across the room. Many other paintings caught my eye, some by artists I was not familiar with.
I have been to the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA, many times and driven right by the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, not even aware of its existence. Now that it’s on my radar I’m going to be following all of their upcoming exhibits. They have a Studio Art school offering classes for those of you interesting in taking painting classes. Their mission is to be a “premier arts advocate in the region working to create a stronger community through art.”
If you can make it to the current exhibit it will be well worth your while. I enjoyed it immensely.