“Around the Riverbend” is a collection of impressionist paintings of the Lehigh Valley area that was on display in the Moravian College Payne Art Gallery for the past month or so. These paintings were from when the town was beginning to develop, not at all like the present day landscape.
There are many landscape paintings that are included in the collection, and they are at once similar and different. Many of them are either looking down into the Lehigh Valley or are along a river at some point.
Many of these paintings are paired up with a photo of what the area looks like today, to show the change of the area over time. This one painting of Glen Onoko Falls for example shows how there once used to be a bridge that crossed over the stream and there was a trail that ran alongside it. There were people scattered along that trail that were either out just to enjoy the beauty of the spot, or they were perhaps on their way to or from the hotel that could only be reached from that nature trail. I wish that I could have gone to that hotel.
Nowadays however, the hotel must be long-abandoned, and the trail and bridge are gone, destroyed by the ravages of nature as it reclaimed the area for itself. It is still a beautiful area though. No housing developments have moved in, and hopefully that land is under some sort of protection from encroachment by society in the future.
My favorite piece shows a moon reflected over a slow moving river. The color of this piece is absolutely gorgeous, with a bluish- purple hue cast over the entire scene. Unfortunately the painting has suffered some damage over the years and there are cracks and lines that have formed in the upper right corner of the piece.
The photo that accompanies this painting makes for a very interesting pairing. There is now a concrete bridge that spans the width of the river, and where in the original painting the moon had been now there is a streetlight. This is just an interesting fact to me, and it’s kind of funny, the way things lined up.
Many of the other paintings were very similar to each other. They either showed valleys full of flowers or perhaps barns or other farming-related buildings. The little details in these were also kind of interesting to look at, such as some of the livestock in the farming pieces. However, I just don’t think the images were really as striking as they could have been.
Either way, this is still a great representation of the Lehigh Valley, both today and in years past.