Four Generations Art Gallery opened its second annual Hudson River this weekend, yet in the coming weeks the gallery will continually add new works featuring the river, its cliffs its now-vanished fishermen and its now transformed views of new York city.
The Ortlip family maintained a studio for over 50 years atop the New Jersey Palisades, overlooking the river and the glittering lights of New York city. Paul Ortlip, father of gallery director Michele Ortlip, created a huge series of paintings and drawings depicting the Hudson River.
The family first moved to the New Jersey cliffs in 1923, and they were first-hand observers of many of the changes that took place to the region and the skyline during the decades they were there. This vast series of paintings of the river, city and cliffs were painted right from the grounds of their home and studio, or on the cliffs nearby, and much of the scenery has now changed forever.
The cityscape grew ever larger, the Jersey shoreline of the river is now home to fast-paced development, and the very shape of the Palisades was changed to accommodate residential apartment towers. The Ortlip studio was torn down to make way for a large building, but the family’s record of the physical changes and the bygone era of the shad fishermen remains.
Earlier this year, the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey, honored the Ortlip artists by mounting the largest-ever exhibition of the family’s artwork throughout three buildings in the borough. The mayor and council made a special proclamation, thanking the Ortlip family for their cultural contributions to the community. Three openings were held on one weekend in April, and jitney tours brought viewers to many of the public installations of Ortlip art throughout the area.
A reproduction from Paul Ortlip’s mural of George Washington on the Palisades will be used to raise funds for a new statue of Thomas Paine in the borough, slated for completion in 2008.
Mr. Ortlip’s portrait of Captain Eugene A. Cernan, Commander of Apollo XVII, was unveiled at the New Jersey exhibit. The painting is still on display at Four Generations Gallery, prior to traveling for a special exhibit in Washington D.C. in December, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of NASA’s last manned lunar mission.
Paul D. Ortlip came from a family of professional artists, and spent time as an artist recording his experiences on-site during the Viet Nam conflict, and as an artist for NASA on the recovery ships for Gemini 5 and the Apollo 12 and 17 lunar missions. As a portrait artist, he painted elected officials in New Jersey and beyond.
His work hangs in private collections as well as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. A volume of his life and work, Paul Ortlip: His Heritage and his Art, by M. Stephen Doherty, editor of American Artist magazine, was published in 1982.
The gallery is located at 517 State Road in Vineyard Haven, just past the Black Dog Bakery Café as you head up-Island. For details, call 508-693-5501. Hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 2 to 6 p.m. and by appointment.