Influencers: South Mountain Road

2019 Influencers
April 24, 2019 —November 04, 2019

Winner of a 2019 Greater Hudson Heritage Network Award for Excellence!

Influencers: Art and History on South Mountain Road
A Joint Exhibition by the HSRC and Rockland Center for the Arts

When: April 24–November 4, 2019
Where: HSRC History Center, 20 Zukor Road, New City
Price: $FREE

Named for its geographical location at the southern base of the ridge that ends at the High Tor peak overlooking Haverstraw Bay, South Mountain Road is a winding four-mile stretch of road with a rich and varied history. Originally inhabited by Munsee Lenape Indians, the valley became home in the early 1700s to Dutch and English settlers who farmed and quarried local sandstone deposits. The landscape remained relatively unchanged until the early 20th century, when South Mountain Road was discovered by a group of artists and intellectuals seeking respite from New York City. From 1908 through the present, South Mountain Road has provided shelter to an enclave of creative people who have left lasting marks not only locally but also on the wider world of art and letters.

"Influencers" uses objects, archival material, images, and works of art from the artists' family and from the collections of the Historical Society of Rockland County and Rockland Center for the Arts to explore how the landscape of South Mountain Road influenced its many residents over the course of the twentieth century and how, in turn, the artists and intellectuals who found inspiration here influenced one another. Among the notable residents of "The Road" featured in the exhibition are John and Mary Mowbray-Clarke, co-founders with the painter (and fellow Rockland resident) Arthur B. Davies of the 1913 Armory Show that introduced Modernism to America; the sculptor Hugo Robus; the ceramicist and painter Henry Varnum Poor; the poet Amy Murray; the playwright Maxwell Anderson; the textile artist Ruth Reeves; the painters Morris Kantor and Martha Ryther; the composer Kurt Weill and his wife, the actress Lotte Lenya; the cartoonist Milton Caniff; and the actor and director John Houseman.

Despite intensified surburban encroachment since the 1980s, South Mountain Road has managed to retain much of the rural character with modern convenience that attracted artists to it more than a century ago. From early efforts to reclaim rustic farmhouses to today's work to protect the West Branch watershed and save Henry Varnum Poor's Crow House, South Mountain Road also reveals a legacy of environmental conservation and historic preservation that go to the core of the unique culture of Rockland County.

We are also pleased to announce that our semi-permanent exhibition "Rockland Voices" will feature a special mini-exhibition for 2019:  Crow House: Handmade by Henry Varnum Poor. Henry Varnum Poor seemed to turn everything he touched into art. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the house and studio he designed and built as a place of comfort for his family on South Mountain Road in New City. How it was conceived, constructed, and enjoyed are illustrated through archival images and documents. Contemporary photographic images from the past decade help shed light on the present condition of this important artist's home and studio and beg the question: What does the future hold for Crow House?

Thanks to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Elizabeth Felicella, Caroline Hannah, Julie Scholz, Chuck Stead, and Karen Zukowski.


"Influencers: Art and History on South Mountain Road" was made possible by a grant from the Office of the Rockland County Executive, Department of Economic Development and Tourism. We are grateful for the support. We also thank the Hon. Harriet Cornell, Rockland County Legislator, for her personal support of this exhibition, as well as of the Rockland Center for the Arts and the Historical Society of Rockland County.

Special thanks to Peter Poor and Daly Flanagan, executive director, Rockland Center for the Arts, for paintings on loan; Caroline Hannah, Elizabeth Felicella, James Kaval, Julie Scholz, Susan Stava, Chuck Stead, Karen Zukowski; the Smithsonian Archives of American Art; the New-York Historical Society; HSRC staff and volunteers Richard Anderson, Meredith Campbell, Bob Carroll, Susan Deeks, Christine Kowalski, Marianne Leese, Jennifer Plick, Clare Sheridan, Caroline Tapley; and the Trustees of the HSRC.

For information about arranging a group tour of "Influencers," contact Christine Kowalski, Museum Services Assistant, (845) 634-9629 or [email protected].

2019 Influencers Exhibition Brochure PDF


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