The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts Shows "American Legacy"

artwork: Joseph McGurl - "Hull Gate (Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, MA)" - Oil on canvas - 9" x 12". © the artist, courtesy of the Michele  and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts on view in the "American Legacy: Our National Parks" exhibition through November 6.

Springfield, MA.- The most beautiful natural scenery in the United States is presented in the exhibition “American Legacy: Our National Parks, on Location with the Plein-Air Painters of America”, on view through November 6 at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition includes 94 paintings by 35 landscape artists who are members or guests of the Plein-Air Painters of America.

All the works were created between 2008 and 2009. The Plein-Air Painters of America was established as a by-invitation painting group in 1986. “American Legacy: Our National Parks” was organized by the Haggin Museum, Stockton, California. The traveling exhibition is managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, Kansas City, Missouri.

The term plein-air is used for a painting done in the open air rather than in the studio. Beginning in the early 1800s, as America was expanding westward, lengthy survey expeditions were conducted to measure the land and draw up maps of the territories. In addition to surveyors, cartologists, geologists, and naturalists, the expeditions included artists to pictorially record the appearance of the land. Their color paintings provided the public with their first view of the grandeur and beauty of the American West. Artist Thomas Moran’s 19th-century paintings of the geysers and towering waterfalls of the Yellowstone Valley were instrumental in the creation of our nation’s first national park. Since then, artists have joined naturalists and preservationists in convincing American presidents and legislators to set aside more than 350 locations as part of our American Legacy. Each artist represented in this exhibition selected a favorite park to document, and their paintings depict sites from throughout the United States. The exhibit is organized chronologically from the earliest park designation to one of the most recent. A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue is available in the Museum Store.

artwork: Ralph Oberg - "Sitting Pretty on a Sleeping Giant (Yellowstone National Park, WY)" - Oil on canvas - 20" x 40". © the artist, courtesy of  the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. On view until 6 November.

The Springfield Museums, located in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, is comprised of five world-class museums; the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts., the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and the Museum of Springfield History. The Museums Association is proud to be home to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, a series of full–scale bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss’s whimsical creations, honoring the birthplace of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. The Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is one of the two Springfield Museums dedicated to fine and decorative arts. The Art Deco-style museum was erected in response to a bequest from Mr. & Mrs. James Philip Gray, who left their entire estate for the “selection, purchase, preservation, and exhibition of the most valuable, meritorious, artistic, and high class oil paintings obtainable,” and for the construction of a museum to house them. The museum opened in 1934. The first floor of the museum is dedicated to American art ranging from “Portrait of Nymphas Marston” by John Singleton Copley to “Promenade on the Beach” by Winslow Homer to Contemporary glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. The American collection also includes the country’s only permanent museum gallery dedicated to the lithographs of Currier & Ives. The second floor is a chronological tour of the museum’s fine European art collection. Beginning in the Middle Ages with an intricate 15th-century, Hispano-Flemish Fuentes Retable (altarpiece), the galleries lead visitors through the Renaissance and subsequent centuries with fine paintings from Italy and France. The Dutch and Flemish collection is particularly strong. Familiar names in the Impressionism Gallery include Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro and Paul Gauguin. Traveling exhibitions can be found in the Wheeler Gallery. Performances, lectures and presentations are offered in the Davis Auditorium. Visit the museum’s website at …