A true Moscow-on-the-Hudson story comes to fruition this month with a retrospective exhibit at St. Margaret’s Historic Site in Red Hook. Russian-born Impressionist painter Tatiana Rhinevault now lives and works in Hyde Park, looking back on years of growing up in the Soviet Union, going to school and earning her Master’s degree at the Moscow Institute, emigrating to the US to live in New York (where else do aspiring artists land)? All the while, she was stretching her creative boundaries and developing her technique and style to amass a body of work in watercolor, oil and other media that reflects her passionate interest in world travel and human endeavors in music and art.
Her work has been likened to “windows through which one can see the old streets and monuments of Europe.” Still Life in Motion, for example, has the feel of a Carl Larsson Et Heim painting with its delightful suggestion of a hospitable repast – the voluptuous flowers, the sliced fruit, a shiny liquor bottle with red crystal stems – all being knocked over and pulled off the table by a child hiding under a bookshelf. The warmth and coziness of the scene, countered by this bit of humor, are detailed in rich colors.
In contrast, Hudson River Poughkeepsie represents a dreamy view of our favorite river without any clues as to how we should react, with blotches of autumn on one shore and a swath of seagulls flitting over the flood of water; while Amber Waves and After Rain rely even less on fine lines and hints of sentimentality. The viewer gets a sense of the artist’s experimentation and growth in this progression of styles.
Forty-seven watercolor and oil paintings are on exhibit at St. Margaret’s. The rooms of the one-time orphanage for girls hold works loosely organized according to themes, with one room of watercolors and the others filled with oil paintings. A special room is dedicated to “lighting a torch” for children who have been traumatized by war. Housing a significant work that has never before been shown, and that memorializes Rhinevault’s own familial experiences of World War II in Russia, this dedication is meant to raise awareness for the plight of suffering children all over the world.
“I feel honored to show my work in this building,” she says, referencing its historical and architectural importance recorded on both the State and the National Registers of Historic Places. As a young woman in 1990, Rhinevault worked on a project for the US Embassy in Moscow, where she met her soon-to-be husband. Their job was to create English maps of Moscow to promote tourism: a task that took half a year. “And when it was published in 1991,” she says, “revolution happened! Our map turned into an antique map, because a lot of streets, we decided to return to old names [from] before the Soviet revolution. Last time I was in Moscow five years ago, I saw our map [hanging] in the American Embassy!”
The prolific artist – who started out as a makeup artist with a theater company that took her out of Moscow and to stages all over Europe – talks about finally settling in New York’s Hudson Valley, known even in the former Soviet Union for its beauty made famous by Hudson River School artists. “My husband likes better the country, while I’m a city girl. So we chose a place only two hours from the big city, thinking that’s not too far away.” Rhinevault has opened an art studio/gallery in the back yard of her home, which is located in the Historic District of the village of Hyde Park at 6 Main Street. (Please call before you come at 845-229-8225.)
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, May 12, with a special musical performance by young members of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra: Akiko Kamigawara on violin with Jean Vilkelis on cello. The exhibit at St. Margaret’s continues through Memorial Day weekend. Don’t miss it.
Tatiana Rhinevault art exhibit Grand Opening, Thursday, May 12, 4 p.m., St. Margaret’s Historic Site, 7260 Albany Post Road (Route 9), Red Hook; (845) 705-8076, www.tatianarhinevault.com/news.php.