River to river

The recent unrest in Egypt has dashed my hopes of seeing the River Nile, at least for the near future.  But, I did get a glimpse of what it must have been like, back in the old days, at a “Voyage to the Nile” gala at the Hudson River Museum (www.hrm.org).  Jan Adelson, board chairperson,  was dazzling in an Egyptian inspired dress, as was Elizabeth Taylor, whose 1963 Cleopatra image flashed on a screen all during dinner. The Nile journey was glamorous, as organized by gala chairs Eileen Price Farbman and Susan Fraysse Russ.  Highlights of the evening were the Yonkers high school students, dressed in Egyptian costume, who were knowledgeable guides and a much-deserved tribute to Mayor Phil Amicone.

Seems like the museum is captivated by rivers as well as landscapes.  Situated on the Hudson with spectacular views, the museum is steeped in the science, history and art about the river through Riverama, its recent show of Hudson Valley photographs by Susan Wides (www.susanwides.com) and its major collection of Hudson River School paintings, which will be on view in a new Permanent Exhibitions Gallery starting June 18th.  Along with the City of Yonkers, the museum is planning an amphitheater, so we can all engage more in the river.  Bart Bland, the museum’s cultural affairs director told me that it is all about “nature touched by the hand of man,” or as HRM Director Michael Botwinik says about artists whose subject is nature, they are “Visitors in the Landscape.”

The Nile gala journey was a precursor to HRM’s fall exhibition of the works of American artist Elihu Vedder (www.elihuvedder.org), who was so fascinated by the exoticism of  the ancient ruins and panoramas of the desert sand and cliffs that he did more than 100 drawings as a sequel to his Questioner of the Sphinx painting, which he did in 1863, many years before he visited Egypt and the Nile.  Who could blame him?  Egypt and the Nile were much farther away and mysterious in the 19th Century than they are today.  Like many others, I saw the pyramids and Sphinx only in books like “The Seven Wonders of the World,”  Now that all these marvels are as close as a “click,” I wonder whether kids still curl up in their beds dreaming of faraway places and winding rivers?

Fortunate for us, we have the Hudson River Museum, which may be as close as any of us get to the 4,000-mile Nile.  We can go there and get up close and personal with the 315 mile Hudson River, learn about the ebbs and flows of nature, marvel at the art work that was inspired by rivers, understand the commonality of communities built around rivers and other transportation hubs, think about concerns like flooding and other challenges of nature, hear the stories of the rivers, and listen to the music of ripples.  That’s what a museum does…expands our horizons.

Visit our website for more information on HRM’s Riverama exhibition.