Caldwell Gallery Hudson

Deep Woods, Deep Snow, Deep Thoughts. Canvas, Paintbrushes, and…Skis?

It’s hard to describe the magic of skiing and snow to those who huddle in their caves all Winter anxiously awaiting signs that Spring’s thaws have gained the upper hand. Since some of my earliest memories are snow based, and sliding on snow (and ice) are in the family DNA, I’m never sad if Spring is forced to wait patiently just a bit longer for Old Man Winter to have his say.

Sledding Fun (c.1937). Our intrepid founder (r) and his Big Sis ride their rockets…

My Big Sis and I embrace the legendary Blizzard of ’66.

This past week saw a series of late Winter storms blanket the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont with deep snow. In a moment of keen and decisive decision-making as the storms were rolling in, I decided that playing hooky was in order and therefore moved our office operations (and my body) to my “home away from home” in Vermont’s beautiful Mad River Valley – home to Mad River Glen and Sugarbush. Today’s modern business owner is both blessed and cursed with technology that enables us as never before, yet hounds us as never before. We’re never more than our smart phone away from the pull of the office, yet we can efficiently operate from almost anywhere. This past week found me, at one point, standing in a grove of old growth trees laden with snow, atop five feet of snow, taking a client’s call and then sending her images and information via e-mail. The only witnesses to my efficient business dealings were hibernating black bears. They seemed rather unimpressed, but I’m thinking that’s just because they’re lazy and jealous of my iPhone (which I chose in…you guessed it…white!).

Standing in the Green Mountain National Forest, with just my skis beneath my feet and my wits to guide me, I felt contemplative and free. Amidst the profound silence and beauty, connections between skiing and art entered my mind. Before any artwork is created, the artist confronts a blank canvas (or paper, or lump of metal, or digital “canvas”, et al). And before any ski run is taken, the skier also confronts the blank canvas which is the possibilities inherent in flowing down a snow-covered mountain through time and space. The responsibility of the artist is to be true to the creative forces that define their art…and in a similar fashion the skier must define each run. With those thoughts in mind, I’d like to share some images of my time spent in “hooky heaven”, and of some of the paintings we own which show the end results of what talented and creative artists can create when confronted with blank canvases.

I see a creative path. It calls to me.


Confronted with a blank canvas, the artist must contemplate choices.

After the artist chooses, he or she must accept the risks, take the plunge…and live with the results…

Creativity, float, and flow…painting with my skis.

Peace, solitude, and personal challenges resulting in sun dappled fresh tracks.

Fleeting and temporal creative output.

Although I’m not sure exactly why, our gallery holdings have always seemed to include numerous works with Winter themes (hmmm…I’m sure we’ll figure that one out someday). In the meantime, we currently own some exceptional snow scenes by artist’s as diverse as Oscar Berninghaus, Will Shuster, Walter Koeninger, and Walter Launt Palmer. The dates of execution range from c.1915 to 1959, and the styles range from Traditional to Impressionist to Modern. It seems skiers aren’t the only ones inspired by Winter’s beauty.

Walter Koeninger picturing snow covered New England hills – a subject close to the heart.

Walter Launt Palmer–master of snow, capturing magic.

Santa Fe legend Will Shuster’s 1959 “Reflections of a Falling Ski Bunny”.

Oscar Berninghaus shows us Winter travel, circa 1915.

The artist’s final touch on a work of art is usually the addition of the signature. As a skier, I like to think of the tracks I leave behind as my signature…however fleeting. This past week’s storm cycle found me heading back to secret stashes where I had laid tracks just the day before…only to find my “signatures” completely covered by a fresh blanket of snow. Awesome! I think Mother Nature was challenging me to be creative in new and interesting ways. And if art is about anything, it’s about how we see and experience our world…and how our perceptions change over time. Great art challenges the viewer every single time he or she is “confronted” by a work. It is our responses to those challenges that shape us, and our interactions with the world around us. Although it’s now officially Spring, I’m hoping Old Man Winter still has a few fresh challenges in store for me. And my skis…

The powder skier’s “signature”.

A magical Bluebird powder day completed, the “artist” prepares for a hot tub and a warm meal.