December 10, 2023
By Arthur H. Gunther III
There probably isn’t a unflattering photograph, sketch, watercolor, pastel or oil painting of the Nyack, N.Y., birthplace home of Edward Hopper, the American artist. Until at least the one that accompanies this essay.
And not because I took it. I was just there for that moment. As a former trustee and now the volunteer general handyman and schlepper at the 1858 home, I am about 82 North Broadway at odd hours and in the best light situations. The latter is key since it was the reflective Hudson River light streaming into Hopper’s boyhood bedroom that clearly influenced the man. He said that all he wanted to do was paint sunlight on the wall of a house.
That he did over and over, if not always light on a house exterior, then window illumination into urban interiors or from his summer trips to Cape Cod, light spread onto barns and rolling hills.
So, a painter of light, from his particular language. Yet with light comes shadow, the yin and yang. So it is with ourselves as we navigate days and nights with ups and downs, high moments that can be brilliant in the light of understanding and darker ones that have us seeking mooring.
When I was at the Hopper House one early week-day morning, in the backyard where the artist sat with his father after church Sunday, and the Hudson light was bursting from the side walls and roof yet the full back was obscured in shadow, it occurred to me that this was Edward Hopper too, of light but also of shadow. His house, his life. His works.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.