Fog and Sublimity along the Hudson

This afternoon I took a short ride on the Metro-North up to the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers where I saw the temporary exhibition – Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York’s Rivers, 1900-1940 – before it ends next week.

It was my first visit to the Hudson River Museum and I was impressed by both its permanent collection (especially, its Hudson River paintings of the Yonkers area) as well as the temporary exhibit, which I had traveled to see.  Industrial Sublime was made up of paintings representing all three area rivers: the Hudson, East, and Harlem.  While I was most interested in seeing the artistic representations of the Harlem River, it was inspiring to see them all.  In fact, many of the exhibition’s most memorable images were of the Hudson and East Rivers.

Brooklyn Bridge (1900) by Theodore Earl Butler

Brooklyn Bridge (1900) by Theodore Earl Butler

On the Hudson at Newburgh (1918) by Gifford Beal

On the Hudson at Newburgh (1918) by Gifford Beal

As with any art exhibition, it is always a thrill to see and examine images in person that you might have seen previously in a book or magazine.  I had the opportunity to do this with a few of the Harlem River paintings there.  However, the majority of the works were new to me.

I left the museum rejuvenated inspired by the sublimity of the region.  The lower Hudson Valley is such a majestic place and Industrial Sublime did a great job at reminding visitors of this.  The train ride north along the Hudson River to Yonkers also brought this point home.  With temperatures hovering in the mid-50s coupled with high humidity, a blanket of thick fog and clouds covered the area offering very little visibility all day.  I had never seen the Hudson so magical.  From the Metro-North train, one could see the enveloping fog billowing just feet above the Hudson River creating a most incredible and unique sight.  It looked like steam was rising from the water just as sheets of ice varying in size and thickness moved downriver with the tide.  The Palisades of New Jersey were obscured noticeable only for seconds in the small pockets of visibility that appeared and disappeared amidst the thick fog.  It was an incredible scene: both ghostly and beautiful, eerie and curious, strange and captivating.

If only I had my camera gear with me, I could have gotten off at Spuyten Duyvil (right where a Metro-North train made national news when it derailed a few weeks earlier) on the ride north and photographed this spectacular sight before hopping on a subsequent train to continue my journey.  Despite not having the opportunity to photograph today’s magical weather, it gave me a lot of photographic ideas for the future.

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