Roberta Griffin

This site is intended as a source of information and a look at the artist's inner thoughts concerning her paintings.  All paintings contained here are either in private hands or are the personal property of the artist.

Brief resume

Roberta Griffin was born into a family that included several professional artists and writers.  Her uncle, a textile designer, had a home studio where she discovered the joys of painting while very young.
At the age of fifteen she began classical training under Frank J. Reilly.  Reilly’s lectures opened her mind to the Symbolist school—the idea that natural things could represent multiple philosophical meanings. 
“From then on I was intrigued with finding a way to express this duality—the realism of the image and the expression of what I felt stretching beyond.”
In 1983, after raising a family of four, she returned to painting and studying Hudson River artists such as Cole and Church.
“I was beginning to see landscape painting not merely as a static view of a site but also as a record of how that view had been interpreted over the years.  Rather than approaching a particular view as an immovable point in space, I began playing with the essence of that view and how it could be expanded through time and space to represent the history of a place.”

The Hudson River School

In recent times artists and collectors alike have taken a new interest in the paintings of the Hudson River School. The movement was led by Thomas Cole (1801-1848) who, after a journey up the Hudson River on a sketching trip in 1823, caused a stir among collectors back in New York with three heroically scaled wilderness landscape paintings.  The epic detail of these works and their rugged subject matter were a dramatic departure from the formal portraiture and historical paintings then in vogue.
Cole believed that the pristine wilderness was “God’s first cathedral.”  His beliefs, along with those of poet William Cullen Bryant and others, were to touch the hearts of a nation that was rapidly forging a modern identity.
The modern world has irretrievably changed many of the landscapes that inspired the Hudson River School.  Griffin’s art attempts to explore and question the original assumptions of this movement, the first truly native American school of painting.  Was the destiny those artists glimpsed the paradise many viewers thought it was?  Did the artists necessarily think so themselves?  What would they make of the contemporary art world and our current sociopolitical climate?

Robin DollTimeline:

1958 – 1963 - Studied intermittently with Frank J. Reilly at the Art Student’s League in Woodstock, N.Y. and at his school in Manhattan.
1965 – 1967 – BA degree at SUNY, Oswego.
1971 – 1983 - Engaged in raising a family and sculpting dolls.  (at right Robin, 24", composition)
1983 – Returned to painting after a move to the Hudson Valley.


Selected recent solo and group shows:

Group show,  An Induring Influence: 8 Painters Inspired by the Hudson River School, ASK Gallery, Kingston, NY,  October 2009
Solo show,  The Magic of Bannerman's Castle, Bannerman Island Gallery, Beacon, NY,  June, 2007
Solo show, Kubrick-A Landscape Essay,  Gallery 384, Catskill, NY,   September 2006
Group shows,  The Woodstock Artists’ Association, Woodstock, NY,  June 2006-7
Solo show,  Air Earth Fire-Oil!, Gallery 384, Catskill, NY,   March 2006
Group show,  A Curatorial Excursion, The Bard Curatorial Center, Bard College, NY. Jan. 2004
Solo show,  Hudson Valley Beauty, John Haywood Gallery, Newburgh, NY. Sept 2002

Press Release

…Just in over the transom is word of another show with a sense of play, at Gallery 384 in Catskill. Kingston-based Roberta Griffin will be showing a series of recent large-scale landscapes that riff on classics of the Hudson River School. Employing the style and compositions of artists like Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, and Jasper Cropsey, Griffin depicts contemporary events, from post-Katrina destruction in New Orleans to the smoldering ashes of post-9/11 New York, raising "questions about the Romantic Sublime and its relationship to overwhelming tragedy." Yet…there seems to be more than a little gallows humor involved in the project.
Beth E. Wilson, Chronogram, 2006, 04 Issue: “No Kidding!”

Kubrick-A LAndscape Essay:

“A fascinating new exhibit of a series of Hudson River School-like paintings based on the opening sequence of the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining… [follow] recent successes such as her Burning of the Catskill Mountain House--a revisit of a Jasper Cropsey classic—[and her] truly epic rendition of last summer's flooding of New Orleans.”
Paul Smart, Woodstock Times, Ulster Publishing Newspapers, 9/13/2006: “Catskill exhibition & screening reveal Roberta Griffin's macabre new twist on the Hudson River School”

Air Earth, Fire--Oil!

“[Gallery 384 features] Esopus-based Roberta Griffin, among whose works are two of the wildest paintings we've seen in quite some time. One is a Luminist depiction of the flooding of New Orleans last year, pulled from a New York Times photo, and the other a takeoff of a work in the Jasper Cropsey retrospective at the Cole House, reworked and renamed as The Burning of the Catskill Mountain House. The latter is a must-see.”
Paul Smart, Woodstock Times, Ulster Publishing Newspapers, 7/06/2006: “SoHo on the Hudson?”