Fine Arts Museum News

Natural Beauty of America’s National Parks Revealed in Art Exhibition

Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

May 6, 2011

The most beautiful natural scenery in the United States is presented in the exhibition American Legacy: Our National Parks, on Location with the Plein-Air Painters of America, on view from May 24 through November 6 at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition includes 94 paintings by 35 landscape artists who are members or guests of the Plein-Air Painters of America. All the works were created between 2008 and 2009.

The term plein-air is used for a painting done in the open air rather than in the studio.

Beginning in the early 1800s, as America was expanding westward, lengthy survey expeditions were conducted to measure the land and draw up maps of the territories. In addition to surveyors, cartologists, geologists, and naturalists, the expeditions included artists to pictorially record the appearance of the land. Their color paintings provided the public with their first view of the grandeur and beauty of the American West.

Artist Thomas Moran’s 19th-century paintings of the geysers and towering waterfalls of the Yellowstone Valley were instrumental in the creation of our nation’s first national park. Since then, artists have joined naturalists and preservationists in convincing American presidents and legislators to set aside more than 350 locations as part of our American Legacy.

Each artist represented in this exhibition selected a favorite park to document, and their paintings depict sites from throughout the United States. The exhibit is organized chronologically from the earliest park designation to one of the most recent.     

A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue is available in the Museum Store.

The Plein-Air Painters of America was established as a by-invitation painting group in 1986. American Legacy: Our National Parks was organized by the Haggin Museum, Stockton, California. The traveling exhibition is managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, Kansas City, Missouri.

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