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One of the first environmentalists was a painter

Daily Staff Report
Special to the DailyLast of the Mohicans, by Thomas Cole.
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VAIL – Artist Thomas Cole founded America’s first native school of painting in the early 19th century, the Hudson River School of Art, and was our nation’s first environmentalist. Dr. Elliot S. Vesell, a homas Cole historian, will discuss the characteristics and influences of this American genre of landscape painting in a presentation and dinner hosted by the Vail Symposium on Thursday at the Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek.Dr. Vesell edited “The Life and Works of Thomas Cole” (Black Dome Press, 1997), which presents an intimate portrait of the American whose art captured the spirit of his times and helped shape the soul of a new nation. The publication features Cole’s own writings – his poetry, essays and descriptions, and describes how during Cole’s peak popularity in the 1820s-1840s, artists flocked to New York’s Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley to confront the wilderness and emulate Cole’s vision. America’s first indigenous art movement was born – the Hudson River School of landscape painting.The Hudson River School of Art encompasses two generations of painters inspired by Cole’s romantic images of America’s wilderness – those of the Hudson River Valley and later, the newly opened West. The particular use of light effects, to lend an exaggerated drama to such elements as mist and sunsets, developed into a sub-specialty known as “luminism.”

Inspired by Cole, the best-known practitioners of this style were Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran. Moran would earn the nickname “Father of the National Park System” because of the tremendous influence his paintings had on the emergence of Western tourism and on the members of congress who resolved to set aside vast areas of the West as National Parks.Dr. Vesell, a private collector of Thomas Cole’s works, will describe the characteristics of the Hudson River School of landscape painting and emphasize the reactions of these artists to nature around them, and to the threats posed to this heritage by industrialization in the 19th century. This talk will feature 40 paired paintings from artists of the Hudson River School of Art.A Hudson River Valley themed dinner will be offered in addition to the presentation. Grouse Mountain Grill Executive Chef Ted Schneider will prepare a three-course meal featuring cheeses, produce and culinary delights from the famed New York Hudson River Valley region. Currently, Dr. Vesell is the Evan Pugh professor and founding chair in the department of pharmacology at the Penn State University College of Medicine, and graduated with honors from Harvard Medical School.

Admission to the presentation and dinner is $75 for Vail Symposium supporters and $100 for all others. This evening will begin at 6 p.m. at the Grouse Mountain Grill located at The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek. For more information or to make a reservation, call the Vail Symposium at 476-0954.A nonprofit, grassroots organization, the Vail Symposium was created in 1971 as an educational, literary and cultural organization for the purpose of presenting programs that are stimulating, diverse and affordable for the Vail Valley. Painting the land



Dinner and discussion on artist Thomas Cole6 p.m. ThursdayGrouse Mountain Grill in Beaver CreekFor more information, call the Vail Symposium at 476-0954Vail Colorado


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