Local artist Ilse Gordon is running out of wall space in her Cos Cob home. Luckily, 28 of her paintings and etchings have found a new address for the summer. Since late June, a collection of Gordon's pieces have hung in the historic Bush-Holley House as part of the Greenwich Historical Society's "Community Artists Series."
The collection, titled, "Revisiting Greenwich: One Hundred Years of Summer Later" includes etchings, drawings, pastels and oil paintings. She will host an on-site gallery talk at the Bush-Holley House on Sunday, July 11 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"What I love is just capturing what's there and putting my own feeling into it," she said. "Even though I'm a realist painter, I'm very passionate about my work and I think that comes out." Gordon trained in figurative painting before moving to Cos Cob in 1989 where she was inspired to paint and etch the landscapes and life throughout the area.
One of the pastel paintings in the collection is a view of the Cos Cob Railroad Bridge Gordon painted while standing on a bobbing, floating pier. Gordon discovered that over a cerntury ago, artists of the Cos Cob School painted the sights of the region, including that very bridge. This compelled Gordon to follow in their footsteps and recreate her own version of those same sights. "I was enamored by the local landscape, not really knowing about these artists who painted here over a hundred years ago," she said. The theme of the passage of time in Greenwich is apparent in all of her work.
"When John Twachtam painted there it was all fields and farmland and now there's huge trees everywhere," she said. "I had been excited about documenting, almost like a chronicler of the landscape here in town because of how much it changes."
Chronicling the evolution of Greenwich throughout the years, her collection depicts parks, neighbors' gardens, the Long Island Sound, the old Augustine farm on King Street, and other scenic staples in the community. Her process involves repeatedly painting the subjects of her work at different points in time.
"I often will go to a sight and paint repetitive scenes of the sight. At different times of year, or sometimes from day to day or hour to hour, it really varies," she said. Two paintings featured in the show depict the dramatic change in rainwater volume at Horseneck Falls before and after a thunderstorm. The same waterfall was the subject in the 1890s of Twachtman's impressionist painting, "The Cascade."
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