En Plein Air: Joy in the Little Moments

High above the streets of New York City, artist John Sloan (1871–1951) watched as newcomers to the city snuck a few minutes of escape from the cramped, hot quarters of tenement buildings. From afar, the artist watched women hang freshly scrubbed laundry, men train pigeons, groups gossip, and families sleep in the open air.

John Sloan Exhibition Hyde Collection Glens Falls

Each moment Sloan captures in From the Rooftops: John Sloan and the Art of a New Urban Space, an exhibition at The Hyde Collection that runs through September 15, could have passed unnoticed, just another bit of everyday beauty overlooked.

In this gorgeous region — where the mountains and lakes inspired the likes of Winslow Homer, Asher Durand, and Georgia O’Keeffe, and the people were fodder for Norman Rockwell and Seneca Ray Stoddard — we too often take for granted the beauty around us.

From August 7 to 11, The Hyde Collection celebrates the grandeur of Glens Falls and its surrounding communities with its second Plein Air Festival. Artists from throughout the northeast applied to participate in the four-day festival; seventeen were accepted.

The Butterfly Garden at The Hyde Collection

Beginning Thursday, August 8, talented plein air painters will hit the streets, hills, and riverbanks to capture the incredible scenery we drive by every day without taking notice. Prizes, determined by guest juror and accomplished plein air artist George Van Hook, will be awarded in categories that include Nocturne, Best in Show, Water, and Structure.

Last year’s festival resulted in paintings of scenes so pretty, we can’t help but notice them, like the still water of Crandall Pond reflecting a picturesque pedestrian bridge in Kate Edwards’ Crandall Park (outdoor still life category winner) or Tom Ryan’s Evening Entertainment at Davidson’s (nocturne category winner) capturing the beauty of Hometown USA’s bustling downtown just after dusk. But we also saw, perhaps for the first time, how stunning the mill looks, steam melding into the clouds at day’s first light in Eden Compton’s Morning at the River (waterways category winner), or the serenity to be found on train tracks winding along a wood, with silos in the distance in Elissa Gore’s Tracks (historic buildings category winner).

John Sloan and his contemporaries in the Ashcan School of art chronicled life of the poor in New York City, but their images still portray a sense of living in the moment and not letting the ugliness of the world dampen the joy that can be found in all the little moments that make up a life.

Hyde Collection Glens Falls NY

Seeing the world — especially our idyllic little corner of it — through an artist’s eyes reminds us to appreciate the sunset, to stop and look at the roofline of that old building, to bask in the sheer beauty of the people and places around us.

Certainly, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found right here in Glens Falls.

Glens Falls Living NY
Rhonda Triller The Hyde Collection Glens Falls NY

Rhonda Triller is the Director of Communications at The Hyde Collection, a historic house and fine art museum at 161 Warren St., Glens Falls.

The Hyde Collection’s Plein Air Festival will be held August 7 to 11 throughout Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, Queensbury, South Glens Falls, and Lake George. Each artist will display four works of art created during the Plein Air Festival at Community Day, from noon to 5 pm Sunday, August 11, at The Hyde. Get all the info about this free day of activities here.