The Seasons at the Nassau County Museum of Art – Introduction

The Seasons exhibition is curated by Franklin Hill Perrell and Debbie Wells of Artful Circle. It is on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, Long Island from Nov 15, 2019-March 1, 2020.

This is a series of articles about the art and artists in the exhibition written by Perrell and Wells for the museum signage.

WELCOME TO THE SEASONS
“ART FOLLOWS THE CALENDAR”

In this exhibition, we would like to welcome you to experience the wonder of every season through paintings, sculpture, photography, illustration and fashion. In humans, the body’s inner clock is dictated by time and the change of the seasons. The weather, light and color theme of each season affect our body and spirit and all these features are worthy of creative exploration. Despite modern technology, it is the natural palette of the seasons that truly rules us. The calendar was created to make sense of our time on earth and artists have long been inspired by this power. Each season has its own distinct personality, but there can be much gray area as one season transitions into the next. As expressed in art, there will also be certain colors and subjects that are considered specific to a given season – manifest in characteristic landscapes, interiors, food, clothing, decorative objects, and activities.

This exhibit presents the spectrum of artistic interpretations of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall on both floors of the museum. Although there will be a few examples of art representing all four seasons in a single series or grouping, our aim is to guide the viewer through each season from one gallery to the next, similarly to the natural sequence throughout the calendar year.

A roadmap for the exhibition will prove helpful. After a glimpse of fall in the library gallery the largest gallery (Gallery 1 off the lobby) starts with winter paintings (left of entrance) by American greats Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell and a famed work by the Flemish master, Breughel, and transitions into Spring as the viewer progresses to the right.  Gallery 2 (middle) continues Spring and transitions into Summer, which continues into Gallery 3 (far gallery). The only exception in the trail is the elegant mini-exhibition, a show within a show, honoring Gerson and Judith Leiber. The glittering collection of Judith Leiber purses is housed beautifully in cabinetry built when the museum was the Frick family country estate. Judith Leiber, throughout her career, was inspired by nature, and particulars of each season are evidenced throughout her work, particularly in her motifs of flora and fauna as emblems of the seasons. Across is Gerson’s colorful abstract painting as a loving ode to their garden in springtime.

The inner galleries on the second floor are reserved for art representing Fall and Winter. Expect many surprises, including some novel creative approaches to seasonal holidays, a section presenting Long Island regional artists, an area for works on paper, and even a “walk-in closet” gallery with seasonal fashion. We even have a couple of spots where we invite you to guess which season the artist had in mind!

Our motto, “Art Follows the Calendar,” will be evident as you explore the galleries. We truly hope you enjoy the adventure!

WINTER

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
– Lewis Carroll

This is the season for appreciating the impact weather has on our lives. We need shelter from the harsh elements, so it’s best to be indoors. Colors are bleak and monochromatic, sometimes a stark black and white with only touches of icy blue.

But when we can, winter is a wonderful time to play in the snow and celebrate community with friends and family. Americana and nostalgia are important aspects of how we imagine the spirit of this season. Seasonal holidays are a way to connect people when we are more isolated indoors. Feelings of warmth, togetherness, humble appreciation, spirituality and love are much needed at this time of year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day are a few of the holidays showcased in this exhibition – some also portrayed with a welcome touch of wit.

SPRING

“always it’s spring and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves”
– e.e. cummings

This is the season for shedding the remnants of winter and introducing a fresh, bright attitude. The arctic freeze has ended and it is now a time for growth and renewal. Flowers blossom, the air feels lighter and people are craving the outdoors again. Time to enjoy the smell of the grass, the gentle breezes and the opportunity to play.

The art is reflective of this romantic and joyous mood with pastel color palettes and pretty scenery. Artists start to focus on the playful nature of animals and the beauty of the landscape. There are picnics, yard sales, garden parties. Homes are decorated with flowers inside and out. The living is easy in springtime. 

Traditional holidays this season have their own sense of celebration as in the Easter parade paintings by American illustrator, JC Leyendecker. He successfully portrays the whimsy and femininity of the Easter bonnet and fanciful dress of the holiday.

SUMMER

“Summer afternoon- summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
– Henry James

This is the season for long days of enjoyment in the sunshine. Thoughts of fun and relaxation are dominant our minds. People take advantage of the high temperature on summer days to spending more time outdoors: traveling, swimming, boating, and other sports or recreational activities.

National holidays delineate our summer schedule starting with Memorial Day and ending with Labor Day. Summer calls for different clothes, different foods, and different activities. A succession of floral blooms, in a set sequence for annuals and perennials, high points and quiet times, marks the progress of the seasons. These happy holidays encourage long weekends and vacations for those eager to take a break. To schoolchildren, summertime symbolizes freedom and they often spend time vacationing with their families and attending summer camp. Summer is the time to kick back and enjoy life.

The palette of summertime is filled with bright colors of food and flowers: daisy yellow, tangerine orange, cherry red, lime green, cornflower blue, pink watermelon and more. They reflect the love of the outdoors from water to sky. Everything is bright, breezy, cheery and pleasant.

FALL

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is the season with many names. The word autumn comes from the ancient Estruscan root autu – meaning the passing of the year and was later borrowed by the Romans to becomes the Latin word autumnus. Before the 16th century, harvest was the term usually used to refer to the season; but, as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns, the word lost its reference to the time of year. During the 17th century, as the English settled in North America, they referred to the season as fall.

The colorful changes in nature are bountiful in the fall. One of the most popular road trips this time of year in the Northeast is travel to observe the leaves change in picturesque foliage settings. Artists also choose to showcase cornucopias of fruits, vegetable and grains as main subjects of still life paintings. Variations of the harvest theme dominate the art of this season.  The colors and themes of Thanksgiving art have become synonymous with autumnal art.

Artists recognize our society’s emotional connection to this time of year as well. September marks the start of the school year, signifying the end of summer fun for children. New clothes, new teachers, new experiences await schoolchildren. This feeling of starting anew never leaves us – we still get that tinge of excitement in September, even when we are grown!

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