Edward Hopper’s legacy not diminished
But the Cape Cod Commission's raison d’être certainly is
By Solon Economou
Edward Hopper has always been one of my favorite artists. He, more than any other, has captured the essence of Americana in his works. In fact, as I’m writing this I’m drinking my coffee from a cup emblazoned with his 1942 masterpiece, Nighthawks, that well-known painting of people sitting in a brightly lit cafÉ on a dark New York City street.
As a quick aside, if you didn’t catch the recent Hopper exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, you really missed out. The MFA exhibits some of the finest art in the world, and it’s just an hour-and-a-half drive from South Dennis on a nice day for a visit to the MFA and lunch in Boston. ’Nuff said. Plan a trip today.
Hopper’s paintings include several of his summer homestead in Truro and of the surrounding landscape, the dunes and beach cottages. Donald and Andrea Kline, who own about nine acres nearby, are planning to build a home about 130 feet away from the “Hopper House,” in what some people call the “Hopper Landscape.”
The Truro selectmen, purportedly hoping to preserve that landscape, are asking the Cape Cod Commission to review the Klines’ proposal as a “development of regional impact,” and they are using all the attention-grabbing catchwords — “historic,” “archaeological,” “environmental” — in their efforts to torpedo the project.
The Cape Cod Commission voted on Oct. 4 to review the proposal. “We certainly aren’t stalling the project,” said Robert Jones, chairman of Cape Cod Commission, but he admitted the commission cannot ultimately deny the Klines the right to build their house. The commission has up to 90 days to issue a recommendation.
What a load of claptrap.
The whole issue is a non-issue. It should be a slam-dunk for the Cape Cod Commission to decline to review. One Truro Historical Commission member is quoted as saying, “This landscape is essential to an understanding of the association between the artist and his work.” Sounds like something I might have written for a high school freshman art appreciation class if I hadn’t done my homework.
Cape Cod Commission representative Susan Kadar, in an act of apparent impropriety if not outright conflict of interest, has asked the Truro town board to request a commission review of the Kline project. It looks as if the opposition to the Klines is lining up for the witch burning.
It is time for Paul Niedzwiecki, to show some common sense
Anyone who truly appreciates Edward Hopper would recognize that Hopper’s legacy is not in the cottage or the landscape, but in his paintings of the cottage and the landscape. The cottage and the landscape can change, and even be obliterated, with the next gale. The paintings are forever.The Cape Cod Commission, known for its heavy-handed approach to certain issues in the past, should let this one rest and declined to review. This is the time for its new executive director, Paul Niedzwiecki, to show some common sense and to exercise leadership over a commission that at times has seemed to overstep its bounds.
Anyone who truly appreciates Edward Hopper would recognize that Hopper’s legacy is not in the cottage or the landscape, but in his paintings of the cottage and the landscape. The cottage and the landscape can change, and even be obliterated, with the next gale. The paintings are forever.
Where is the cafe from Nighthawks today? Who knows? Did it ever exist? But the image and the painting live on. Where are the old gasoline pumps from Gas? Most assuredly gone, but the image and the painting live on. Where is the Asian restaurant from Chop Suey?
It is Hopper’s art that is important. What Hopper did so effectively with his paintings was to capture a moment in time. That time is in the past, and that is what makes his paintings so wonderful.
The Klines, who have offered to place four waterfront acres of their property in a conservation restriction, merely want to build a home nearby, not obliterate the “Hopper House.”
This isn’t a case of “either/or.” It’s an “and.” The whole issue is a non-issue. It should be a slam-dunk for the Cape Cod Commission to decline to review.
Neither man nor nature can ever diminish Hopper’s vision or his view of those precious moments in time.