Pakatakan Art Colony focus of Erpf show
The public is invited to the opening reception of Margaret Leveson’s paintings featuring some of the buildings in the wonderful and historic Pakatakan Art Colony, on Saturday, Aug. 16 from 3-5 p.m. at the Catskill Center’s Erpf Gallery on Route 28 in Arkville.
The Pakatakan Art Colony was a turn-of-the-century gathering of artists who spent time in the small hamlet of Arkville. The colony began prior to 1886 when a prominent landscape painter from New York City, J. Francis Murphy, found accommodations in Arkville and urged Peter Hoffman, a local businessman and proprietor of the house where he boarded, to build a hotel, which today is called The Pakatakan Hotel.
Murphy brought his painter friends to visit the area. In 1887 Alexander H. Wyant arrived here from the Adirondacks. Other regular visitors were Parker Mann, E. Loyal Field, Frank Russell Green, H.D. Kruseman Van Elten, George Smillie, Walter Clark, Arthur Parton, Ernest C. Rost, and J. Woodhull Adams.
Many artists stayed in the hotel, but some purchased property and built their own studios. J. Francis Murphy and Adah Murphy built their first one-story shingle style studio in 1887. The artists did not want their houses to dominate nature but attempted to blend them with the rounded tree-covered mountains of the Catskills. What were built on a grand scale were the artists’ studios, with windows often rising two stories in height and facing north to bring in the light. The artists of the Pakatakan colony were different from their predecessors, the Hudson River School. Their landscapes tended to be more interpretive than descriptive. They preferred intimate scenes often of dawn or dusk with toned atmospheric views and the places they painted were more generalized than recognizable locations. Their concerns were to produce an art expressive of mood and insights into the human spirit.
Margaret Leveson graduated in fine arts from the University of Toronto and obtained her master’s from Brooklyn College. She has participated in more than 60 exhibitions around the country and her work is collected extensively. Some of the paintings she will be showing are of sections of houses; others are full frontal views incorporating the land and flora of the area. Architectural details and interiors are abundant.
One piece shows a large and rare tulip tree in front of the studio of Murphy, while others emphasize large studio windows. Leveson’s style is precise, detailing the essence of the structures and evoking of the landscape. The pieces dissolve the boundaries between the land and man-made structures.
In 1988, after five years of research and documentation, the Catskill Center for Conservation and Devel-opment obtained the nomination for the Pakatakan Art Colony in Arkville to be recognized by the National Register as a historic district.