Joanna Gabler, Our River, an exhibition of digital “Transcapes,” devoted to the Hoosic River and its tributary, Broad Brook

Joanna Gabler, Hoosic River in the Fall
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Joanna Gabler, Hoosic River in the Fall
Joanna Gabler, Hoosic River in the Fall

Joanna Gabler, Our River, an exhibition of digital “Transcapes,” devoted to the Hoosic River and its tributary, Broad Brook

DownStreet Art, North Adams,  Gallery C,  33 Main Street (Corner of Main Street and Marshall Street), 30 July-August 23, 2015; Opening reception: July 30, 6-9 pm.

North Adams owed its development into a small but important industrial city to its abundant water supply, above all, the Hoosic River. Often this reliable source of power and drainage for its factories overflowed its boundaries and flooded neighborhoods of the city with its water, which eventually became toxic from the wastes of the textile and dyeing factories. In the 1950s the US Corps of Engineers constructed concrete flood control chutes some 45 feet wide and 10-15 feet high, funneling the two branches of the Hoosic River through North Adams’ downtown. Today the factories are gone.  A smaller North Adams, with slightly over half the population it enjoyed at its industrial peaks around 1900 and 1950, must now rebuild its economy and quality of life.

Bodies of water—lakes, harbors, and rivers—have once been and are increasingly today, features of cities which provide beauty, recreation, and open green space for inhabitants and visitors in cities as diverse as Boston, Cleveland, Seattle, and San Antonio. In Europe, where rivers, as paths of transport, occupied a central place in urban organization, their aesthetic and recreational functions have long been respected. The San Antonio Riverwalk, a vibrant and profitable center for leisure and tourism, has been a model for American urban renewal. Providence, Rhode Island and Greenville South Carolina are only two of the cities which have made the restoration of their rivers successful centers for the renascences of their downtown areas.

Artist Joanna Gabler, since moving to the Berkshires from New York City in 2002, has formed a deep connection with the area’s forests, mountains, and rivers. She often goes into nature for material and inspiration for her art, or simply to meditate, above all, by Broad Brook, a tributary of the Hoosic and the Hoosic itself, as it flows through Williamstown. As she planned her recent move to North Adams, she pondered the potential beauty of a Hoosic flowing through the city freely, without the unsightly concrete chutes. She could envision the connection between North Adams’s Hoosic and the unfettered streams in the surrounding mountains.

Hoist River Revival's Riverfront Plan
Hoist River Revival’s Riverfront Plan

She believes strongly that practical measures should be taken to bring the river back and that the Hoosic River Revival is the organization to carry this out. For this exhibition, dedicated to the river  she invited and has partnered with Judy Grinnell, the Revival’s President, who will include an informational component in the exhibition, so that visitors who have enjoyed Gabler’s river visions can learn about the practical work necessary to make the Hoosic a living part of North Adams.

Gabler believes that her work will open up the inner qualities of the river to locals and visitors and deepen their appreciation of the river which once made North Adams rich and now awaits restoration to make it the centerpiece of the city’s beauty. Her Transcapes show the restorative and healing powers of the flowing water and the nature that surrounds it.

As she developed as an artist Joanna Gabler experimented with many media, finally concentrating on two; oil painting and photography. Oil paint is her medium of choice, as she expressed her love of nature in many flower portraits, landscapes, and abstractions, which she calls Meditations, in view of their direct relation to her passion for spirituality and philosophy, which she studied and taught at college level. In her oils she uses intense colors to express the spiritual life in nature, as we see, hear, smell, and wander through it. Some years ago, she began to work in digital photography and to rework on the computer what her camera saw into abstract patterns of color, light, and shade, which express the inner force and meaning of nature. Some of her first efforts in this process began at the Hoosic River by Mass MoCA. These were exhibited at the Brill Galley at the Eclipse Mill in 2009.

Gabler has had many solo art exhibitions, among them shows at the Bennington Museum, Sawyer Libraries (both old and new) of Williams College, The Public Libraries in Williamstown and North Adams, the Centerpoint Gallery in New York City and Rowe Conference Center in Rowe, Massachusetts.

For further information contact Joanna at (413) 441-7803 or joanna@naturetransfigured.com

Joanna Gabler, Riverlight
Joanna Gabler, Riverlight


About Michael Miller

Michael Miller, Editor and Publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts, was trained as a classicist and art historian at Harvard and Oxford, worked in the art world for many years as a curator and dealer, and contributed reviews and articles to Bostonia, Master Drawings, Drawing, Threshold, and North American Opera Journal, as well as numerous articles for scholarly and popular periodicals. He has taught courses in classics, the English language, and art history at Oberlin, Rutgers, New York University, the New School, and Williams. Currently, when he is not at work on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, he writes fiction, pursues photography, and publishes scholarly work. In 2011 he contributed an introductory essay to Leonard Freed: The Italians / exh. cat. Io Amo L’Italia, exhibition at Le Stelline, Milan, and wrote the revised the section on American opera houses in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is currently at work on a libretto for a new opera by Lewis Spratlan, Midi, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea set in the French West Indies, ca. 1930.

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