Hill Country, c. 1913, by Walter Elmer Schofield (Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Sydney E. and Seymour Schofield, 1949)

by William R. Valerio, PhD, The Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO, Woodmere Art Museum

If you haven’t already, please come visit, or come again to Woodmere by Sunday, Jan. 27 to see The Pennsylvania Landscape in Impressionism and Contemporary Art. This special exhibition showcases important paintings on view by the artists of Pennsylvania Impressionism.

Edith Emerson, Woodmere’s director from the early 1940s until her retirement in 1978, was instrumental in supporting artists like Walter Elmer Schofield, Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, Martha Walter, William Lathrop and George Sotter, organizing many of their first museum shows and acquiring their works for Woodmere, sometimes selecting works of art for purchase directly from the walls of the museum’s galleries.

As a result, the current exhibition serves as a veritable encyclopedia of the major figures of Pennsylvania Impressionism and offers a view of one of the great strengths of Woodmere’s collection. I hope that everyone in our community comes to know that Woodmere has an importance in the broad spectrum of American art because of this particularly rich concentration in the collection. And we have many such concentrations and strengths in the collection at Woodmere to explore and get to know!

The current exhibition is an example of Woodmere’s creativity in combining different parts of the collection to spark curiosity and a dialogue over time between artists. A museum dedicated to Philadelphia’s artists could not be successful without a serious engagement with and collecting of the art of the present moment: the work of our city’s contemporary artists.

The Pennsylvania Landscape adopts an approach based on subject matter, combining works by contemporary artists and Pennsylvania Impressionists that similarly investigate the characteristics and elements of Pennsylvania’s unique landscape.

The exhibition is organized around subjects like farms and forests, mines and quarries, canals and rivers, roads and bridges, places of industry and places of leisure and places that bring joy – like our Local Wissahickon Creek – and places that are tragic – like the Flight 93 Memorial site. If there is one over-arching message I hope everyone takes from the exhibition it is that artists of the past, like those of the present and future, nourish our emotions about the green and brown world we share.

The exhibition closes on Sunday, Jan. 27, and we hope to see you before then!