In this plein air painting project, Minnesota-based artist Tom Stewart revisited and painted four views along the Mississippi River that were originally painted in the 1800’s. Reproductions of those historic paintings are displayed here, from the Minnesota Historical Society archives. Tom set out with the intention of discovering how the landscape had changed over the last 130 years, but found that the more intriguing question was, “What hasn’t changed?”
To present a true comparison, Tom sought out the viewing locations in the same seasons as the originals and painted with the same medium and canvas size. In repainting these views, Tom found that changes had indeed occurred (as expected) in the amount of human development as well as in changes to the vegetation and the river’s course.
But, according to Tom, “What has not changed, in probably thousands of years, was the viewing location itself. Three of the four painting sites are now designated as scenic overlooks and one nearly so. This raises many questions: How have these overlooks served humanity over thousands of years? Who also stood and looked across the landscape from these viewing locations and why were these sites chosen?”
Tom Stewart is a fiscal year 2019 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.