Phyllis McGuire: 'Reflections in a River' at the delta of water and art

WILLIAMSTOWN — As a member of the Hoosic River Watershed Association, John Case has been able to meld his interest in the Hoosic River with an interest in the arts.

I struck up a conversation with Case, a Williamstown resident, when he was at the Milne Public Library, hanging art work for the art show "Reflections in the River." Created by 25 artists, the artwork will adorn the walls of the library throughout January.

"The mission of HooRWA is to restore and protect the quality of water in the Hoosic and to get people to appreciate this invaluable resource," Case said.

"Reflections in the River" showcases the beauty of the river, and some pieces also illustrate threats to the watershed.

Case recalled that when he moved to Williamstown in the late 1960s, the Hoosic River was in poor condition. It had been polluted with garbage, dyes and other industrial waste. "That was before laws regarding disposal of waste were passed." Case said.

"The quality of the water has definitely improved, but problem areas still exist," Case said. "We are actively trying to get the Green River (a tributary of the Hoosic River) removed from the impaired list."

In explaining how art and HooRWA became connected, Case went back to about 25 years ago. "Before I was on the HooRWA board of directors, two dimensional art was displayed inside a tent where we held Riverfest," Case said, speaking of an event HooRWA organized to celebrate the river.

"Karen McCoy, an art professor at Williams College; Bill Botzow, a Vermont artist; and I were the planning committee for the next Riverfest," Case said. "We invited artists to create environmental pieces, sculpture and installations to be displayed outside on the Cole Field river trails during the week of the festival. This show was called Riverworks and was repeated for many years."

Then four years ago, Riverfest was discontinued.

"John Case kept Riverworks going with a show in May. It was part of a way to get people interested and involved with the Hoosic River, " said Ann Kremers, a longtime member of HooRWA, who has a painting in the current "Reflections in a River" show at the Milne Library. Then she added, "I always appreciate John Case, who has a commitment to the river and the arts."

According to Case, in 2016 HooRWA's executive director, Steve McMahon, suggested inviting painters and photographers to display pieces responding to the Hoosic and its watershed for a show at the Milne Library. Called Reflections on the River, that show was so successful that we have repeated it this year with many new artists contributing," Case said.

"I want to particularly thank Ann Kremers and Greg Winerhalter, Vermont artists, who helped hang the show," he said. "Pat McLeod, director of Milne Library, Alex Charron, custodian, couldn't have been more generous in helping us set up the show."

Kremers is one of the artists whose painting in the show is for sale. She spent 42 hours creating that watercolor titled "Green River Flowing to the Hoosic, Mount Hope Park, August 2017."

"I like to work a very quick sketch and value study, then, if possible, take the painting to a certain point on site," the Bennington artist said.

With this particular painting, Kremers worked on site a whole day and then went back for a half day in August.

"I did not have time to complete the painting until November," said Kremers, who is a professional artist, a calligrapher, an illustrator and an art teacher.

Not all contributors to the art show are professional artists; some are students or people who have never before shown their work to the public, Case said.

"We want anyone who has a creative inclination to feel welcome to participate in HooRWA art shows," he said.

Phyllis McGuire writes from her home in Williamstown. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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