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Hudson River Museum Presents “Rivers Flow / Artists Connect” and “Embrace: Cinematic Moments by James Seward”

Yonkers, NY, January 12, 2024—The Hudson River Museum will open two exciting new exhibitions on February 2, 2024, taking the opportunity to celebrate the cultural, societal, and spiritual significance of rivers, while also examining the power and complexity of the embrace in iconic American cinema.

In Rivers Flow / Artists Connect, the Museum features, for the first time, more than forty-five historic and potent contemporary artists who explore our profound, symbiotic relationship with significant rivers, in new galleries overlooking the Hudson River. Together, these prescient American voices—from Robert Duncanson and Jasper Cropsey to Scherezade Garcia, Maya Lin, and William Villalongo—open our eyes to see rivers across the globe in fresh ways, from the Hudson and the Susquehanna to the Indus and the Seine.

In another first, Embrace: Cinematic Moments by James Seward presents significant moments of embrace in iconic American films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Godfather Part II, 12 Years a Slave, Brokeback Mountain, and The Farewell. Together, the paintings by artist James Seward delve into the intricate interpretations and significance of these physical gestures. The exhibition includes insights from the film’s actors, directors, producers, and screenwriters, that were expressly gathered for this project.

“This is a special moment for us as we present an impressive array of artists’ perspectives and voices at the HRM,” states Director and CEO Masha Turchinsky. “Each exhibition explores the power of connection—in complex relationships with family and friends inspired by remarkable American films, and through our personal connections and sense of responsibility to rivers and nature worldwide. With the incredible growth of the film industry in Yonkers and Westchester, along with our enviable position on the Hudson, the timing and intersection of these two themes could not be better.”

Rivers Flow / Artists Connect
February 2–September 1, 2024

The cultural significance of rivers is universal, as proven by their lasting presence in art and our collective imagination. Rivers Flow/Artists Connect features works by more than forty exceptional artists exploring various aspects of river subject matter from diverse perspectives and heritages. Together, the artists demonstrate—through painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and video—their role in recalling and reinforcing our instinctive connection with rivers.

Laura Vookles, HRM’s Chair of the Curatorial Department and co-curator of these exhibitions, says, ”There are few places as ideal for thinking deeply about artists and rivers than the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, where the Museum is located. Visitors will be able to experience these wonderful works of art, from past to present, while basking in a dramatic view of the river from the cantilevered overlook of our new West Wing galleries.” Co-curator Jennifer McGregor states “Rivers Flow/Artists Connect is an unusual opportunity to bring together artists who have been fascinated by rivers over the last 200 years. There are a broad range of entry points and perspectives that encourage visitors to reflect on their own relationships to rivers that are important in their lives.”

The exhibition considers these bodies of water through aesthetic, functional, spiritual, and ecological lenses. The Allure of the River section addresses the interrelation of scenic beauty and our attraction to rivers. In Sustainer of Life, artists investigate the essential need for access to rivers for water, food, and transportation—our daily infrastructure—as well as profound sacred connections. Finally, Endangered Rivers: A Call to Action reflects on urbanization, industry, and the critical need for continued conservation and activism.

In many ways, the artists and the rivers they depict are kindred spirits. Just as rivers shape the land and surmount obstacles on their inexorable journey to the sea, artists also boldly confront barriers and challenges, from land access to environmental change. Their creative expressions help us see rivers with new eyes, and perhaps even a renewed sense of wonder, connection, and purpose, as we consider our own community’s rivers and our own responsibility for stewardship.

Featured Artists
Norman Akers • Joe Baker • James Bard • Bahar Behbahani • Karl Bodmer • Daniel Putnam Brinley • Lorenzo Clayton & Jacob Burckhardt • James & Ralph Clews • Samuel Colman • Jasper Francis Cropsey • Betsy Damon • John Douglas • Joellyn Duesberry • Robert S. Duncanson • Elaine Galen • Simon Gaon • Scherezade Garcia • John Hill & William Guy Wall • Daniel Ridgway Knight • Ellen Kozak • Courtney Leonard • Rejin Leys • Maya Lin • Nikki Lindt • Mary Fairchild Low • John Maggiotto • James McElhinney • Frances McGuire • Alison Moritsugu • Tammy Nguyen • Don Nice • Jon Louis Nielsen • James Prosek • Winfred Rembert • Alexis Rockman • Shuli Sadé • Kamala Sankaram • Charlotte Schulz • Madge Scott • Paul Scott • Francis Augustus Silva • Joseph Squillante • Jerome Strauss • William Villalongo • Jason Walker • Mansheng Wang • Susan Wides • Tom Yost


The exhibition is co-curated by Laura Vookles, Chair of HRM’s Curatorial Department, and guest curator Jennifer McGregor.

Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.

Rivers Flow / Artists Connect is supported by the City of Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano.

Additional support is provided by the Ann and Arthur Grey Foundation, Sound Associates, and Yonkers Paddle and Rowing Club.

Embrace: Cinematic Moments by James Seward
February 2–May 12, 2024

Discover the dynamic emotional spectrum of embraces in American film through a collection of nine evocative paintings by James Seward. Shaped by a childhood filled with movies, Seward explores pivotal moments from classic films such as It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Godfather Part II, to more contemporary films including Brokeback Mountain, 12 Years a Slave, Marriage Story, and The Farewell. What makes this collection unique is his exploration of these embraces removed from their original context, often resonating with viewers irrespective of their familiarity with the films or characters involved.

“As a child of the 80s, television and movies were an integral part of my childhood,” stated James Seward. “Every weekend, my family would rent a movie from the local video store and watch it together. It was a special treat—and our way of connecting, escaping, and bonding. Years later, I began to collect screenshots of scenes from movies that inspired me. Most scenes that moved me revolved around hugging. I was drawn to the aesthetic and symbolic nature of this simple, but genuine gesture. I began to see how each one symbolized powerful moments that we all go through in life; joy, love, understanding, surrender, loss, affection, new beginnings, and most importantly our overall human connection.”

The exhibition is enriched by quotes specifically contributed for the exhibition from the actors, directors, producers, and screenwriters of the films, adding a behind-the-scenes perspective and a glimpse into the movie-making process.

Diana Ossana, writer/producer for Brokeback Mountain, commented on Director Ang Lee’s process. “Ang rarely speaks to the actors once actual film production begins. I explained to Jake and Heath on set that their creative instincts were excellent and that if Ang felt they needed guidance, Ang would let them know. Heath and Jake were young, fresh, and utterly open to each of their character’s journeys, together and apart. I was so moved the first time I saw the boys in their wardrobes, and in character, I had to go outside and gather myself. Seeing these young men come to life, characters who were more real to me than the corporeal, was an out-of-body experience.”

Kelsey Scott, who played Anne, wife of Solomon Northrop, in 12 Years a Slave, recalls shooting the final scene: “I imagine that Solomon’s return was the first time Anne gave herself permission to confront the trauma of her husband’s disappearance. That she’d spent 12 years privately and incessantly reliving the stages of grief—while determining to do whatever was necessary to take care of her children. This reunion brought the emotional hamster wheel to a halt and breath to her spirit.”

Whether marking a welcome or departure, hello or goodbye, each painting beckons viewers to reflect on the nuanced meanings of this universal body language. By bridging the realms of popular American cinema, portraiture, and our own lives, the exhibition invites you to rediscover and reconsider significant moments in film, delving into the intricate layers of human connection depicted in these enduring embraces.

About the Artist
Born in El Paso, Texas, James Seward currently resides and works in Brooklyn, NY. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design with a B.F.A., Seward’s artistic journey has been marked by notable achievements. He received the National Scholarship for Portraiture from The American Society of Portrait Artists and earned an honorable mention in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s The NEO Show. One of his paintings was accepted into the first Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. and went on to receive the “People’s Choice Award.”

#HRMEmbrace #JamesSeward

This exhibition is supported, in part, by Donald and Juliana Rosenfeld.

Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.

Teaching Artists-in-Residence
As the HRM’s Spring/Summer 2024 Teaching Artists-In-Residence MorDance will be collaborating on multiple public events and performances inspired by the exhibition Rivers Flow/Artists Connect. Founded in 2014, MorDance is a trailblazing, women-led dance company and nonprofit that has consistently challenged ballet’s traditional structures to embody a more inclusive and diverse vision of the artform. It is now entering an exciting new chapter. After ten years delivering groundbreaking ballet to audiences across New York City, the company is moving into its own space in Yonkers while maintaining its NYC programming.

MorDance’s mission is rooted in fostering a more dynamic and inclusive future for the performing arts by enhancing accessibility and creating empowered environments for creative expression. The company is renowned for pushing artistic boundaries and fostering impactful social change, and its relocation to Yonkers and residency at the HRM mark a pivotal moment in the City’s history, opening doors to expanded opportunities, heightened community engagement, and the realization of our shared vision.

Related Programs

Artist Tour of Embrace: Cinematic Moments by James Seward
Sunday, February 18, 1:30pm
Join artist James Seward on a special tour of Embrace, which features a series of his large-scale paintings of memorable moments in American cinema. Delve into the intricate interpretations and significance of the physical embrace and hear about the artist’s process.

Free First Friday: Ballet, Bach, & Bold Women’s History
Friday, March 1, 5–8pm
Celebrate Women’s History Month with Yonkers’s newest resident dance company, MorDance, a trailblazing, women-led ballet company striving to advance accessibility, diversity, and creativity in ballet. The company will present Humanism, an immersive contemporary ballet inspired by Bach’s melodies and civil rights speeches that harmonizes classical beauty with contemporary urgency. Follow the dancers that make up this vibrant young company through the galleries in their first presentation as the HRM’s Teaching Artists-in-Residence for the exhibition Rivers Flow / Artists Connect.

Generous support provided by Art Bridges Foundation’s Access for All program.

Family Art Workshop: Collaborative Mural
Saturdays & Sundays, March 2–17, 12–4pm
In this workshop, designed by Teaching Artists-in-Residence MorDance, use the fluidity of dance movements that mimic the flow of a river to paint and decorate a collaborative mural. Once complete, our mural will be displayed in the Greene Education Center. Recommended for ages 4+.

Curator Tour of Rivers Flow / Artists Connect
Sunday, March 10, 1:30pm
Join Laura Vookles, Chair of HRM’s Curatorial Department, and guest co-curator Jennifer McGregor on a tour of Rivers Flow / Artists Connect with a focus on the nuanced works of women artists and how the exhibition’s themes are explored, expressed, and expanded through female perspectives. #WomensHistoryMonth

Artist Workshop Series with Madge Scott
Wednesdays, March 13-August 14, 1–3pm
Join artist Madge Scott, whose work is featured in Rivers Flow / Artists Connect, in this first in a series of art workshops inspired by the life of rivers. Attend the entire series, offered on the second Wednesday of the month from March through August, or choose your favorites! Adults at all skill levels are welcome; fine-art materials will be provided.

Part 1: Wednesday, March 13, 1–3pm
Draw or paint a species of river bird.

Part 2: Wednesday, April 10, 1–3pm
Draw or paint a riverscape with avian activities.

Part 3: Wednesday, May 8, 1–3pm
Draw or paint a riverscape with human and avian activities.

Part 4: Wednesday, June 12, 1–3pm
Draw or paint the Palisades or other landmarks along the Hudson River.

Part 5: Wednesday, July 10, 1–3pm
Draw or paint a riverscape with barges, boats, or kayaks traveling up- or downriver.

Part 6: Wednesday, August 14, 1–3pm
Draw or paint a river-based story at any time of the year, showing the connection between people and nature and the spirit of the Hudson.

Madge Scott is a self-taught artist whose studio overlooks the Hudson River, which is featured in many of her paintings.


Drawing Upon the Rivers: A Workshop with Charlotte Schulz
Sunday, March 24, 1:30–3:30pm
Gaze at the Hudson River from the Museum’s West Wing galleries, and draw alongside artist Charlotte Schulz, whose painting Suspended in Multiplicity is on view in Rivers Flow / Artists Connect. Tap into your memory and experience of rivers to create drawings and collages of landscapes that are both literal and symbolic. Fine-art materials will be provided. Appropriate for ages 14+ at all skill levels.

Charlotte Schulz studied art at Kent State University, Ohio, and the University of South Florida, Tampa (MFA). She is the recipient of individual artist fellowships from the Gottlieb Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the State of Florida, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Schulz maintains a studio in Philadelphia and the Hudson Valley. She teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York City.


Breaking the Glass Ceiling in the Performing Arts
Saturday, March 30, 2pm
Attend a thought-provoking panel discussion centered around breaking barriers and advancing gender equality within the performing arts, and the ballet industry in particular. Hear from prominent figures in the performing arts, including choreographer Morgan McEwen, dancer Claire van Bever, and composer Polina Nazaykinskaya, who will discuss their experiences, challenges, and triumphs in breaking the glass ceiling. Delve into the stories of trailblazing women who work onstage, backstage, and offstage, and explore the evolving landscape of gender roles within various art forms. Their inspiring conversation will shed light on the historical lack of equity in the industry and the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the world of the performing arts. This panel is organized by Teaching Artists-in-Residence MorDance in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Community Art Project: From the Silk Road to the Hudson River
Saturday, April 27, 1:30-3:30pm
Mansheng Wang, whose work is featured in Rivers Flow / Artists Connect, explores Chinese art and tradition with subject matter that ranges from botanicals to landscape. The Hudson River has been a frequent subject of his landscapes, and he often uses materials associated with the river in the creation of his artwork. During this workshop, Wang will demonstrate Chinese calligraphy and discuss the history of the Silk Road and its connection to the Hudson River. Participants will then be invited to try their hand at Chinese calligraphy by writing on a large canvas that will be exhibited in the Joyce Greene Education Center.

This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by ArtsWestchester

Images: Left: Scherezade Garcia (American, b. Dominican Republic, 1966). The Garden of Many Gods I, 2023. Acrylic, pigment, charcoal, and ink on linen. Courtesy of the artist and Praxis. Right: James Seward. “You broke my heart”, 2020. From Godfather ll, 1974. Oil on linen. Courtesy of the artist. © James Seward.

Press contact:
Jeana Wunderlich
(914) 963-4550 x240

Samantha Hoover
(914) 963-4550 x216

Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM’s mission is to engage, inspire, and connect diverse communities through the power of the arts, sciences, and history.

The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-evolving collection of American art; dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations. The HRM’s new West Wing offers sweeping views of the Hudson River in dedicated exhibition galleries. The campus also includes Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.

Hours and Admission: Hudson River Museum is open Wednesday–Friday, 12–5pm, Saturday & Sunday, 11am–5pm (effective February 1). On Free First Fridays, the Museum is open and free of charge on the first Friday of the month, from 5-8pm. Learn more at

General Admission: Adults $13; Youth (3–18) $8; Seniors (65+) $9; Students (with valid ID) $9; Veterans $9; Children (under 3) FREE; Members FREE; Museums for All* $2, *SNAP/EBT card with photo ID (up to 4 people). Planetarium tickets: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (65+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. Glenview tours: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (65+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free.. The Museum is accessible by Metro-North (Hudson Line—Yonkers and Glenview stations), by Bee-Line Bus Route #1, by car, and by bike. Make your visit a One-Day Getaway, and buy a combined rail and admission discount ticket. Learn more about Metro-North Deals & Getaways.

Learn more about our current & upcoming exhibitions:

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