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Touching up the untouched

Represented in the permanent collections of at least seven museums, painter and photographer Lew Wilson has come a long way and perhaps full circle.

"I've been hard-pressed at times economically, but I feel like God's instrument," Wilson said.

The first great American Art movement was the plein-aire painters of the Hudson Valley School who believed in the moral and spiritual transformation through the beauty and the majesty of the natural world they encountered.

"I've always been an artist, always been a painter," Wilson said. "I've come full circle back to the Hudson because that's where it all began. By being in this area it put me in touch with nature and the beginning of plein-aire painting."

Wilson has sought the majesty of nature from the Florida Everglades to the Continental Divide in Colorado to France and now to upstate New York. The Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia will host a reception for artist Wilson from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday April 5, to celebrate the opening of his photography exhibition, "Two Rivers -- Two Lands: An American Passage."

"This is an ongoing series," Wilson said. "I use this theme to bring attention to rivers and their sustaining role to people."

Using hand-painted black and white photographs and minimalist paintings, Wilson began in 2002 with a study of two distinctly separate rivers in Florida, the Aucilla and the Apolachicola. Each river flows from Georgia through northern Florida in to the Gulf of Mexico, yet each river is profoundly different.

"Remarkably, the Aucilla remains much as it has always been with its subtle flow and humble beauty in opposition to the more commercialized Apolachicola," he said.

Wilson grew up in Florida and observed firsthand what unchecked development could do the environment and the ecosystem. Along with others, he used his art to raise public awareness of the Everglades.

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