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Desires (detail), Hal Larsen, oil on canvas.


Art at THE INNS OF AURORA

Over 250 pieces of exceptional contemporary art from the personal collection of our founder, Pleasant T. Rowland, hang throughout the Inns of Aurora. This extraordinary collection—including works by noted artists Romare Bearden, Chuck Close, Wayne Theibaud, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, and Alberto Giacometti, among others—graces every guest room, parlor, hallway, and bathroom throughout the resort, infusing each environment with harmony, color, and creativity.

 

Zabriskie House East Parlor
Left to right: Through the Chartruesed Into, Through the Green Into, and Through the Oranged Into, Sam Richardson.

Emotion Remembered 

Pleasant T. Rowland

Forty years ago, I walked up the main staircase at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to find waiting for me at the top a painting so radiantly beautiful that I can close my eyes today and still see it clearly. The enormous canvas that hung at the end of that long formal space shimmered with intense color and inner light so luminous that it looked like a giant emerald. In fact, like all great paintings, it was a precious jewel—the priceless gift to me, to all who would see it, of a superb artist. That moment, that painting, that gift changed my understanding of art and the way I “saw” forever after. 

Left: Red Barn on the Stark Road, Wolf Kahn, oil on canvas. Right: Apple Tree, Jennifer Bartlett, baked enamel on tiles.

Until then, I had had two separate and distinct reactions to art. One was intellectual—a response of the head that assessed the skill, the craft, the talent of the artist and his place in the history of art; the other, emotional—a response of the heart that I believed was a result of the painting's subject matter. But on that evening in Boston I was looking at a painting that stunned me emotionally with the sheer beauty of its execution. There was no story to it, no subject to “understand,” no recognizable image to contemplate and react to. It was simply a glorious field of green. Yet standing there, I felt emotions of joy, awe, and gratitude inexplicably welling up inside of me, not unlike those that rise on a luscious spring day when the sky is high blue, the air is fresh, and your spirit quickens.

Rowland House Library Sofa
Red, White and Blue, Roger Bechtold, oil on canvas.
“Do you try to capture the essence of a landscape you have seen?” I asked. “No,” he answered, “I paint from emotion remembered.”
Rowland House Dining Room Head of Table
Night Fall, Roger Bechtold, oil on canvas.

Years later, I had the pleasure of meeting the artist of that lovely painting, Friedel Dzubas. He was a small, shy man who spoke so softly I had to strain to hear him. What a surprise that that enormous, ravishing piece should have come from such an individual. I spoke with him briefly about the source of inspiration for his huge Color Field paintings. “Do you try to capture the essence of a landscape you have seen?” I asked. “No,” he answered, “I paint from emotion remembered.” There was nothing more to ask, nothing more to say. He had drawn from the wellspring of his own emotion so skillfully that he had evoked emotion just as deep in me. Forever since, that is first and foremost what I ask of a work of art. I hope the paintings from my collection touch your spirit in that same simple way.  ☙

 

E.B. Morgan House Room Two Sitting Area
Phenomena Path, Paul Jenkins, oil on canvas.
Top Left: Together (left), Stand Up (right), Maser, reliefs. Bottom Left: A Somewhat Conventional Study of a One Gallon Can, Raimonds Straprans, oil on canvas. Right: Leslie, Chuck Close, woodcut.
Wallcourt Hall Parlor
Red Scherzo, Burton Phillips, oil on canvas.
Top Left: Early Rise (left), Starry (middle), Nocturnal Life (right), Maser, reliefs. Bottom Left: Man (left), Diver (right), Emma Amos, silk collagraphs. Right: Desires, Hal Larsen, oil on canvas.
Night Fall, Roger Bechtold, oil on canvas.