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Uncategorized US (Missouri) Art Art & Architecture

Ode to the Hudson River School

Photo: M. Yung

Wherein I kinda-sorta compare my silly little iPhone 8 photo to six sumptuous American masterpieces

I took the above photo yesterday afternoon at the Pomme de Terre River about six miles east of Bolivar, Missouri. After I posted it on Instagram and Facebook, a friend commented that it reminded her of paintings from the Hudson River School. I vaguely knew what she meant, but I wasn’t exactly sure.

So I did what we all do when we’re a little fuzzy on a subject: I googled. Two seconds later, I found this entry on Wikipedia,

“The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism. The paintings typically depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the CatskillAdirondack, and White Mountains.”

Wikipedia

I also read that two of the more prominent Hudson River School artists were Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886) and Thomas Cole (1801-1848).

That Wikipedia entry rang a bell. In my mind’s eye, I could hazily recall Kindred Spirits, the masterpiece by Durand I saw a few years ago in the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. (Read my article about this fabulous collection here: There are no crystal bridges at Crystal Bridges: and other thoughts about the best art museum you’ve probably never heard of).

If you can’t picture Kindred Spirits any better than I could, here it is:

Kindred Spirits | Asher Brown Durand | Public domain | That’s fellow artist Thomas Cole and poet William Cullen Bryant talking on a ledge in the Catskill Mountains.

I can see what my friend meant by her Facebook comment. A few things give my photo that “Hudson River School” look:

  • The colors… All those gorgeous greens and golds.
  • The composition… That tree trunk on the left. Those leaves and branches that gracefully frame the sky.
  • The subject matter… America the beautiful, in all her glory.

The Wikipedia article also noted that…

In general, Hudson River School artists believed that nature in the form of the American landscape was a reflection of God.

Wikipedia

Even though the various artists of the Hudson River School differed in their beliefs or devotion to Christianity, they apparently shared an inclination to record a pastoral, peaceful co-existence between mankind and nature. The paintings accomplish that goal. They are uplifting, calming, and restorative… just like that little bend in the Pomme de Terre.

Just for fun, let’s look at some other Hudson River School paintings by Durand…

A Stream in the Wood | 1865 | Asher Brown Durand | Public Domain
The Catskills | 1859 | Asher Brown Durand | Public Domain

And now, three by Thomas Cole…

View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, After a Thunderstorm a.k.a. The Oxbow | Thomas Cole | 1836 | Public Domain
View on the Catskill – Early Autumn | Thomas Cole | 1836 | Public Domain
Daniel Boone at His Cabin at Great Osage Lake | Thomas Cole | 1826 | Public Domain

Who says social media isn’t educational?

Yesterday, I was just taking a pretty picture down by the river east of Bolivar. However, thanks to my friend’s comment, I learned a little about 19th-century American art. Hopefully, with this blog post (by the way, blogs are another form of social media) you learned a little, too.


Thanks for reading! Ever take a picture that you found later resembled a famous photo or painting? Click like, leave a comment, and let me know. Become a follower for more posts like this one or click on my menu of art-related posts at the top of the screen.

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US (Missouri) US Travel

La Petite Gemme Prairie: like none other in Missouri

A short afternoon outing west of Bolivar, Missouri

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Today after lunch, my husband, daughter, son and I ventured out to La Petite Gemme Prairie just a mile or so west of Bolivar. My son told me recently about this nature preserve, but we hadn’t taken time to go see it until today. We decided to take a short jaunt out to see what we could.

And honestly, this is likely NOT the prime time of year to see this sight.

It takes a keen eye, an ability to notice subtle colors and textures, and an open mind as to what exactly constitutes beauty.

Must a landscape always contain exotic foliage, flaming sunsets, and towering mountains to be considered beautiful? Can the somber, drab colors of deep December reveal their own beauty?

I’ll let you decide as you peruse the shots I took as we walked the 37-acre preserve.

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There’s a gravel parking lot sized for about four vehicles just in front of this sign. We parked here and then took out walking.

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Unspoiled prairie land…

For more background on the preserve, here are some details from the yellow informational sign that appears near the end of this post:

“The 37-acre area was purchased by the non-profit Missouri Prairie Foundation in 1977. It is owned by the MPF, and co-managed by the MPF and the Missouri Department of Conservation. A botanically diverse and scenic upland prairie on soils derived from shale and limestone, La Petite Gemme is a beautiful spot in which to relax and wander. The name is French for “the little gem” and recognizes the French influence on Missouri as well as the gemlike quality of the prairie wildflowers.”

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First, you walk up this mowed path to the top of the hill.

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The curly lines of these silver-hued leaves caught my eye.

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Francie, our Jack Russell-Rat Terrier, burned off some energy this afternoon.

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The dark dots positioned against the golden vertical lines of the grasses is a nice contrast.

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The color of these delicate leaves!

Here’s an impressive list of flowers and creatures that make this preserve their home. All of these are listed on the yellow sign that appears at the bottom of this post.

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Here is the view of the countryside further west of Bolivar.

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Once you’re at the top of the hill, the mowed path takes you back down to the other side.

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These unspoiled prairie grasses grow off to the side of the path.

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I love these roller coaster blades of grass that careen over, under, and around the tufts of native grasses.

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Wild rosehips dot the walking trail.

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This nest appears to have been built in the middle of the path. Either it blew onto the path from a breeze, or this place sees little traffic this time of year. Either explanation sounds reasonable.

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My daughter noticed this deer trail veering off from the walking path.

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At the bottom of the hill, you’ll meet an asphalt path that travels north and south. It’s the Frisco Highline Trail, a “national recreation trail that connects Bolivar and Springfield, Missouri,” according to an informational sign along the trail. The trail is 35 miles long and follows the former Springfield and Northern Railroad tracks. The trail is managed by Ozark Greenways, a non-profit organization working to preserve and enhance the Ozarks’ natural heritage. Open from sunrise to sunset, no motor vehicles are allowed on the trail. 

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Ahhh, siblings!

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Here’s a trail marker along the asphalt trail heading north. 

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These signs can be read as you approach the prairie from the north. Some close-up shots of the signs are below.

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Signs provide information about the flora and fauna… 

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…of the native prairie.

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I took this one final view after taking our walk through Le Petite Gemme Prairie.


Thanks for reading! It was a mild 65 degrees F when we started out for the prairie, but as we walked, the temperature cooled, the wind picked up, and as we loaded into the car, a misty rain settled in. Back home now, I can still hear the rain gently falling outside. 

 

 

 

 

Categories
US (Missouri) US Travel

It’s lonely at the top: Lady Justice in Bolivar, Missouri

From a distance, she looks pretty good.  But there’s more to her story.

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I took this photo last fall of the Polk County Courthouse in downtown Bolivar, Missouri. I’ve always thought the statue of Lady justice on top appeared unusually large. In fact, she is about thirteen feet tall (six feet shorter than the Statue of Freedom that tops the U.S. Capitol) and was placed on the building when it opened in 1907, according to the Bolivar Herald Free-Press. The statue is hollow and is supported by an 8-inch by 8-inch oak beam.

From a distance, she looks pretty good.  But there’s more to her story.

In her earlier years, Lady Justice held a sword that was 5-1/2 feet long in her right hand. In her left hand were the scales of justice. Unfortunately, time and the elements have removed both.

In 2001, someone found the sword  on the courthouse lawn; strong storms and winds had pulled it down. It had likely been weakened by a crack in one seam on the handle, according to this article. There are no plans to replace either the sword or the scales, since they are difficult to attach and maintain.

There are also no plans to fix other damages—such as bullet holes— to the statue. Long ago, pigeons perched on and around the statue and some locals decided to keep the birds in check. As a result, Lady Justice is riddled with holes, including one on a big toe that’s since been repaired, and another hole right between her eyes, a commissioner said.

So there Lady Justice stands… empty-handed, full of holes, and obscured by her great height. Yes, it’s lonely at the top.


Thanks for reading! You can travel around the world or you can travel in your own backyard. It’s how you look at what’s around you. Click “like” and become a follower for more travel stories.