As I walked across New York City’s famous High Line for the first time a couple years ago, I was stopped in my tracks by an extraordinary artwork that immediately caught my eye. After admiring it for a few minutes, I never really thought I’d come across it again.
As I was scrolling through Valerie Hegarty’s website last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see the stunning piece once again. The work, entitled Autumn on The Hudson Valley with Branches, imagines a nineteenth century Hudson River School landscape painting that has been left outdoors, exposed to the elements. The piece, made of fiberglass, aluminum rod, apoxy, treated plywood, vinyl, acrylic paint and artificial leaves, looks fantastically different in every season.
Tattered and frayed, Hegarty's painting is based on Jasper Francis Cropsey's Autumn on the Hudson River of 1860. The partially exposed stretcher bars appear to be morphing into tree branches, as if reverting back to their natural state. As Hegarty describes it, her piece will “appear as if nature has become the artist, altering the idealized image of the early American wilderness to be a more layered representation of the area and times today.”