Another Summer in the Books

Another Summer in the Books

Summer comes and goes very quickly here in Vermont—blink and you’ve missed it, as some would say—and like the season itself, our summer exhibits vanish with a similar haste, like a Fumé Blanc that you wish would have lingered just a bit longer on your tongue. As I watch the works come off the wall and go back into storage or back to their lending institutions, I often find myself wishing that I had spent more time with them, and inevitably I turn to the exhibit’s comment book to absorb others’ insights about the show as a way of allowing it to hang a little longer in my mind’s eye.

This summer’s exhibit, Edward Hopper in Vermont, has been a rather special one for our audience given the rarity of the works and the revelation of the level of inspiration he drew from our landscape all those years ago. As we enter the final ten days of the show’s life here on our walls, I’ve been drawn to the comment book earlier than usual by virtue of the fact that so many visitors have raved about their experience, and I’m heartened by the chord we seem to have struck with so many people. I’m also taken aback by the sheer volume of comments—easily twice what we usually get—as well as the ebullient nature of what some have chosen to share, and I’ve gotten to wondering whether others have read its contents as closely as I have. There are some useful thoughts to be gleaned.

If you haven’t been able to see the exhibit, or if you did but gave the comment book a miss, it occurs to me that you might enjoy leafing through a few. So herewith a relatively modest selection of our visitors’ comments about the Hoppers—both the artworks and the husband/wife team themselves—some glowing, some less so. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and all that sort of thing. Enjoy.

And by all means, if you wish to comment some more, feel free to do that here, or better yet, get into the galleries before August 11 and share your thoughts in the book. If you do, then you’ll see and experience for yourself the one sentiment shared by an overwhelming majority of commenters, one word, “wonderful.”

“Tremendously exciting and appropriate that these paintings in watercolor and drawings by Hopper are being exhibited in the Middlebury Museum of Art. Wonderful documentation and informative labels, beautifully installed, welcome home to Edward Hopper’s Vermont works!”

“While this great American artist is perhaps best known for several ‘iconic’ oil paintings, his watercolors are more often than not compelling, original and superb, especially the later ones, 1936–1938, of the White River and the Slaters’ Farm. And bravo for the chronological sequence, the detailed chronologies, the case of Hopper memorabilia!”

“One cannot describe the joy of seeing these views that have been locked away for most of my life. ‘Thank Yous’ to all for freeing the colors for us commoners to see, to enjoy!”

“What a unique opportunity to see Hopper’s creations in their own locale! Thank you!”

“Thank you for this gem. I will NEVER forget it. I was privileged to see an exhibition of Edward Hopper’s paintings at the National Gallery some years ago. But this has been a truly unexpected pleasure we found by chance while traveling in Vermont. I will be taking a watercolor class soon and am inspired by what I’ve seen here. I live in Pittsburgh and visit ‘Cape Cod Afternoon’ at the Carnegie Museum of Art often. I wish this show could be coming there!!” 🙂

“This is a very refreshing view of VT landscape. Thank you!”

“Where are Jo Hopper’s watercolors? Why exclude them from this show?”

“An amazing exhibit, especially so to be here in Vermont. The journal pages add so much to the story of the Hoppers’ time in VT. Thank you for the insightful commentary and well-structured story.”

“What a beautiful exhibit. It is so meaningful that the Hoppers cherished the beautiful Vermont scenery as much as I do. Beautiful work and thank you for giving the community the opportunity to view this wonderful exhibit.”

“Traveling through Middlebury on business/pleasure, noticed the sign outside—couldn’t resist visiting the Edward Hopper show! He is a favorite artist of mine, and I never knew of the Vermont connection. Thank you, Middlebury College, for this show!”

“Vermont without the cutesy. Well done!”

“Super exhibit. I loved the color and shadowing technique. Thank you.”

“A welcome shift from the iconic images we all know—Hopper’s Truro. The most telling part of the exhibition, however, lies in the glass case—the paragraph in the LIFE magazine, 1937 about Jo’s sacrifices to stand by her man. It is about time that she truly be recognized for her talent and not just her ‘kitten’ stature.”

“What Hopper saw in VT is its indestructible beauty, tranquility, and peacefulness. Juxtaposition of rural construction and a beauty that has not changed and continued to linger in the hills and brooks—unlike so many other places in the world. The landscapes are stunning.”

“Wonderful exhibit! Who knew Edward Hopper spent so much time in Vermont? Learned something new while enjoying Hopper’s marvelous style.”

“For the first time in my life, I am seeing familiar scenes. Viva Hoppers, Viva Vermont!”

“How wonderful to see so many Hopper works on paper all together in this intimate show—especially given how rarely, if ever, they see the light of day. There is such a wonderful combination of sculptural solidity played off against the light and shadow. Very Hopper, and very well done. Thanks so much Middlebury College Museum for working with Bonnie Clause on this great exhibition! A real credit to your museum.”

“Exciting. What wonderful research and important finds. Adds whole new perspective on VT history and American art. Thank you!”

“Drove from Cape Cod to see this exhibit. Wonderful presentation and research. We have been enriched and learned a lot.”

“Thank you for bringing this exhibit here. Hopper’s watercolors are spectacular!”

“A wonderful revelation! We so appreciate the informative and well displayed exhibit.”

“Love the Letters and sketches. How wonderful to pull this all together in one place. Gorgeous painting.”

“The progression in his work we found fascinating. The last six works (1937–38) have an amazing depth—all works 3-D. A wonderful use of a range of contrast and expressive forms. Thank you for bringing all these wonderful paintings together. The commentary is really informative and helpful.”

“Very well put together exhibit! Lots of interesting commentary displayed with it! *Not* excited about his water colors though! I found myself thinking if some of these were not Hopper’s they would have been given to the back of the closet. Loved the sugar shack and the maple, though.  He used his water colors like oil paint, so thick and gouache-like. I like his oils better. Fun to see though! And read about him! Thanks.”

“It appears that my mother’s sister and her [then] new husband spent part of their honeymoon at the Slaters’ (see guestbook) at the same time the Hoppers were there in 1937. Just a little coincidence, but it has put some frosting on this sweet little cupcake of an exhibition for me. Wonderful show. Thanks, Ms. Clause.”

“Would these watercolors be of note if not by Hopper? He is most comfortable with architectural images and even in nature they are the strongest. The Hopper mood is present here as in his oils that are so well known.”

“Thanks to a Masters of Letters program at Drew University in NJ, I learned that I had a passion for American landscape art and history painting. My sister and her husband viewed this exhibit at the end of June, and she insisted I must visit it. As she patiently reads in the comfortable chairs in the lobby, I have lost all track of time here. I studied only Hopper’s cityscapes in class, and the Cincinnati Art Museum retrospective in about 2002 did not emphasize his landscapes. This exhibit and the book by Ms. Clause have enhanced my knowledge of his work…tremendously. Well done, Middlebury, to have continued to support the arts despite our tough economy.”

“This exhibition was impressive. Wonderful expositions accompany the paintings, reflecting extensive pleasure. I especially appreciated the accompanying record keeping. They brought the Hoppers to life somehow.”

“Wonderful exhibit of Hopper’s work in VT. Wyeth mentioned he learned much from Hopper’s work. I can see why after seeing the Wyeth exhibit at Shelburne Museum. Especially the watercolors done of the farm buildings.”

“A wonderful small, manageable show revealing a side to Hopper that I was previously unacquainted with. I have my favorites but really like the range of pure landscapes. I was particularly taken by the two chalk drawings. The notes are really helpful and do not need to be unraveled. Thanks for putting this together.”

“Thank you for this inspiring and educational display of Hopper’s paintings of our beautiful state. His watercolors show an understanding of color and contrast in the landscape I have not seen in his other work.”

“How exciting this impromptu visit was as we journeyed south. The ‘Unknown Hopper’ revealed in another perspective through VT! The well-deserved beauty everyone should appreciate! White River will be forever remembered as a haven of beauty for Hopper himself.”

AuthorDouglas Perkins

Douglas Perkins '94 is Associate Director for Operations and Finance at the Middlebury College Museum of Art and steward of the museum's digital presence.

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