On Sunday, April 28, 2013, the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson will sponsor an event, “Picturing Paterson: Re-Imagining the City’s Past and Future” at the Montclair Art Museum. The program, which runs from noon to 1:30 pm, will include a discussion on the Museum’s current exhibit, “Oscar Bluemner’s America: Picturing Paterson, New Jersey,” along with a presentation on the Paterson Great Falls National Park by the Hamilton Partnership. The event is free to the public, but normal Museum entrance fees apply.
Gail Stavitsky, Chief Curator at the Museum, will talk about Bluemner’s paintings and drawings, which concentrate on Paterson’s industrial past, the factories and workers’ dwellings of the early 20th century. The Hamilton Partnership will look to the future with a discussion on New Jersey’s newest National Park, dedicated in November 2011, and the launch of the new Mill Mile Walking Tour and its free app. The self-guided audio tour is intended to teach Park visitors about the remarkable history, geology, social and cultural importance of the area around the Paterson Great Falls. The Hamilton Partnership will also present a brief video about the Mill Mile tour and an update on exciting plans for the Great Falls National Park.
Bluemner, born in Germany and trained as an architect, was clearly influenced by what was happening in Paterson during a significant period of the City’s history. The exhibition includes 29 of Bluemner’s works created between 1910 and 1917 when Paterson was a thriving manufacturing center that experienced social, political and economic upheaval. His images recall the City’s industrial past, and many works show the red brick factories that defined Paterson, the very same structures that visitors taking the Mill Mile Walking Tour will see
The exhibit coincides with the 100th anniversary of Paterson’s Silk Strike of 1913, one of the most famous in American labor history, and which took place just as Bluemner was developing his representations. The strike shut down the City’s silk mills, lasting five months. It ended when living conditions deteriorated for the strikers and they were forced to return to the mills. The City became known as the “Red City,” not only because of its red brick buildings, but also because of its political leanings during the labor movement. And during the Silk Strike, Bluemner began to use what would become his signature red color, for which he called himself the “Vermillionaire.”
“Bluemner’s Paterson artwork is one of many cultural treasures we learned about while working to create the national park,” said Leonard Zax, President of the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson. “The Park is new, but the site has captivated artists for centuries. We hope that Paterson Great Falls National Park will showcase the art, photography, poetry, literature, cuisines, and cultures that Paterson inspired and continues to inspire today.”
For more information on the Mill Mile Walking Tour, please see: www.millmile.org. For more information about the Paterson National Park, please see: www.nps.gov/pagr. For more information about the Montclair Art Museum and its exhibits, please see: www.montclairartmuseum.org.