Spotlight Columns

Crocker Art Museum transcends with ‘Summer of Impressionism’

By August 29, 2011

It is hard to believe, but summer is nearly over, and autumn will be here before we know it. Like the beautiful delicious fruits of summer some art exhibits will come to a close in September.

Among these art events are two exhibits running concurrently at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento: “Transcending Vision: American Impressionism 1870 – 1940” and “Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism.”

These exhibits are a rare treat. While not of the level as the famous Impressionism exhibits from the Musée d’Orsay at San Francisco’s De Young Museum last year, there is much to appreciate — and even a few Monets that are owned by the Brooklyn Museum.

The beauty of being able to go to an exhibit like this one is two-fold: a) It’s here in our Sacramento Metro region so there’s no need to drive to the Bay Area (yay!) and b) One can truly appreciate the technique of the artist when one can see a work “up close and personally.”

It is an opportunity to marvel at the talent of the artist and to discover new favorites.

My favorite work from the “Landscapes” exhibit surprised me. Entitled “A Back Road,” is was painted by Frederick Childe Hasam in 1884. It is a supposedly simple scene of a road in the countryside. What impressed me about this work was the texture, clarity and realism. The paint has such texture that one can “see” the sky reflected in the wagon ruts of the road. And these are deep ruts. The water, simply ponded water from a recent rain (one supposes), looks really, really wet. A moment in time suspended and I want to enter into that moment to make it mine.

It’s terrible for me to admit … I want to touch that painting so badly. A failing of mine. Hence, that is why I unintentionally look so studious in art galleries — I keep my hands clasped behind my back lest I forget myself. It keeps me out of a lot of trouble at local galleries.

A simple road in a country setting from a century long gone. Yet it evokes such a personal response in me. And it was a complete surprise. I’ve thought often about that painting. I suppose I could purchase the book of the exhibit in the museum’s delightfully well-stocked store but a photograph simply cannot duplicate the depth of brushstroke reflected in the original.

There are 40 works on exhibit in the “Landscapes” show. These are all on loan from the Brooklyn Museum in New York. This exhibit will close on Sept. 18.

“Transcending Vision: American Impressionism” explores the dissemination of French Impressionism in American painting. These works are on loan from the Bank of America’s private corporate art collection. “Vision” closes on Sept. 25.

The Crocker Art Museum, one of the leading art institutions in California, is located at 216 O St. in Sacramento. Visit for museum hours, admission rates and much more.

Have a favorite fall event or El Dorado Hills family tradition? Tell Susan about it. Send column suggestions for consideration to [email protected].

Susan Laird


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