by Nick Stauber
In the 1860’s, Harry Fenn, an English born artist, traveled to the U.S. to visit Niagara Falls and became so inspired with America’s natural landmarks that he stayed for six years. During this time, he visited western North Carolina and painted many landmarks, including the French Broad River, Lovers Leap, and of course, Chimney Rock. His goal was to highlight and illustrate the many natural and historic treasures in our country and compile all of his art into a travel book. Inspired by his illustrated book “Picturesque America”, released in 1872, the Preserving a Picturesque America (P.A.P.A.) group has been re-tracing his steps and hosting local artist outings to remake these wonderful illustrations from the same vantage points that Fenn did long ago.
On May 30th, P.A.P.A. teamed up with Asheville Urban Landscape Painters to go on location and paint/sketch Chimney Rock from the decks of the Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery. Over a dozen local artists came out and spent most of the day re-creating their own versions of Fenn’s masterpiece.
“Our goal is to have new artwork of all of the vantage points depicted in the French Broad chapter of his illustrated book.” said Scott Varn, founder of P.A.P.A. “By re-visiting these locations, we become a part of the modern version of the original conservation movement that this publication started.”
Scott and his non-profit group plan to recreate Fenn’s travel logs and release their own version of his publication soon. They hope in doing so that it will rekindle efforts to forever protect our natural and cultural treasures.
To learn more about Preserving A Picturesque America, visit their website at www.preservationthroughart.org.
Nick Stauber is Public Relations Manager, Chimney Rock State Park.