Art, Architecture and Design: Learning from History

Richard Friswell
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 Richard Friswell, Publisher

EDITOR’S LETTER: Preserving the past for future generations…

In ways that were not entirely planned, this issue of ARTES is about preservation of our cultural resources, in the broadest sense of the word.  The green design movement has done much to increase public awareness about the treasures of a planet that seems to grow smaller and more fragile each day. Our Departments (now called Categories) will continue on the theme of discovering and appreciating treasures that are within our reach at museums and galleries and a wide variety of other stories on art and collectables that might just arise from unexpected sources.

But, we did not stop there…

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Frederic Church, Autumn in North America, 1856 (Vassar)

For a Features story, I undertook a ‘working vacation’ and headed up the Hudson River to learn more about the community of 19th century painters who lived and worked there in the, capturing the natural beauty of the river and the surrounding Catskill mountains.  I discovered that they, too, harbored deep concerns about the impact that industrialization and population expansion would have on the environment, as early as 1825!

Henry David Thoreau, well-known for his part in an active environmental movement during that same period, spoke for an entire group of painters, writers, poets and philosophers of the time, when he famously wrote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world”.  His call for a “direct experience of nature” propelled artists like Cole, Church, Cropsey, Bierstadt and others to travel the world and portray the wonders of nature and, through the use of light, color and scale, to illustrate our diminutive place in what they believed to be tangible evidence of God’s hand at work here on earth.  As I navigated the rough trails and steep climbs that brought me to some of the very sites pictured in their now-famous works, I recognized the extraordinary physicality they must have brought to their mission—recognizing that they painted miles from home, while relying on portage of all equipment, good weather, basic tools-of-the –trade (paint tubes had not yet been invented!) and the means to carry freshly-painted studies of a scene back to the studio, safely (as a painter, I can attest to the fact that this last step is no easy task).  They were rewarded for their sacrifice, however, as their dramatic images have moved many generations to view the gifts of the natural world as both sacred and awe inspiring.                                                                                                          

This month, ARTES will present a comprehensive field report on the Hudson River Valley and its inextricable role in the development of the preservation movement, as well as our self-image as Americans. See: River of Dreams- In search of the American Identity in literature, poetry and art                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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Robert Stern, Dean, Yale School of Architecture

As a unique feature, representing a first-step toward becoming a multi-media resource for our readers, ARTES presents an expanded interview with Robert A.M. Stern, Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University.  In streaming video format, my conversation with him regarding the sources of inspiration and objectives of architecture are explained in his own words. On the preservation theme, he too, points out the importance of learning from the past.  Once again, we are pleased and honored to have this eminent architect

as part of our offerings to readers (and now, viewers!).

California-based, Randall Whitehead has now joined the magazine as a feature editor and this month, his story on the conversion of a traditional residential dwelling to a dramatic Transitional beauty once again demonstrates how skillful design and lighting can make all the difference—conservation at its best!.                                                                        

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attrib. to Buoninsegna, Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Saints 1305-10

ARTES also presents Part II of a story by Alix Perrachon on another art form– Oriental rugs– and their ‘green’ features during production.  In addition to their environmental sustainability, their beauty, range of styles and versatility make them one of the great treasures of centuries past and a precious addition, worth preserving, for any décor today.

Together with these Feature stories, ARTES continues to build its Department offerings with experts in their respective fields providing insights and information on topics related to fine art and design, where care and stewardship of artifacts from the past become the common  thread that runs through their stories.  With those themes in mind, we also welcome Stephen Vincent Kobasa, as this month’s contributor to Opinion Poll, with a piece entitled, Showing Time: Can art be saved? Should it be?

 

Thanks for being part of our growing family of readers,

 Richard J. Friswell, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

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