Credit: Paul Irish

The Arts in the Hudson River Valley

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Murals in the Hudson River Valley


The Hudson River Valley inspired the first, and arguably only, American School of Art. And the Hudson River School began the evolution of a distinct American Consciousness. A country widely regarded as little more than a wild frontier had proven that it could draw divine inspiration from its wilderness just as it gathered timber and pelts.

Over the years, the Hudson River School of Painting enjoyed times of great popularity as well as times of near obscurity, only to be revived again and again as it re-inspired new generations of artists and activists along these shores and across the nation.

Just as no one could challenge the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley, no one could deny its proximity to New York City either. The Hudson River Painters may have trekked into the wilds of what are now Rockland and Putnam Counties on their way to Kaaterskill Falls and the Catskills, but they began their pilgrimages in Manhattan. And they always brought the bounty they had found back to their studios and galleries the City.

Today the Hudson River Valley, still anchored at its south end to the Island of Manhattan, is home to many of the Country's highly recognized artists, schools, and museums. Artists of all ranks and ages still enjoy the splendor of our Valley and its proximity to New York City as an international center for arts and culture. Descendent of the Hudson River Painters maintain studios alongside photographers, sculptors, dancers, and actors along the River's banks and hidden in the hills to the east and west. Art enthusiasts can attend concerts in landmark theaters, or dance recitals in a restored barn, tour galleries on picturesque main streets, or see world-class exhibits in converted factories and in old manor fields.

The juxtaposition of the wilderness to the north and the metropolis to the south continues to inspire and sustain works of all imaginations in all mediums.  Our "Arts in the Hudson River Valley" page seeks to provide an entry into all eras and areas of artistic endeavor in the Valley with articles, essays, images, and links to other regional resources.

Read about a local WPA project,  Murals In The Hyde Park Post Office By Olin Dows, and take a Virtual Tour of Murals at Hyde Park Post Office.

In 2009, Julia D'Angelo, an intern at the Hudson River Valley Institute, undertook a survey of all the post office murals in our region that were done as a part of the WPA. She compiled a field report of these trips and then created one updated mural image for each of the post offices visited (Beacon, Ellenville, Hyde Park, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, and Wappingers), and created the video presentation below.