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Queens Chronicle

Queens’ Dutch heritage seen through art

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:30 am

Paintings of peasants and an old Dutch cocoa can at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College are just a few of the pieces of art at an exhibit showing how important Queens’ background is to the history of New York, as well as the country.

“Queens is a crucible of history,” Godwin-Ternbach Museum Director Amy Winter said, “not only of New York but of America.”

For all of February and March, Queens College will be hosting the “Re-Forming the Image in Northern Europe in the Dutch Golden Age,” curated by art history students and their professor, Christopher Atkins.

“We love where we’re from,” Atkins said. “We tried to see a different angle of what we see every day.”

The students placed the works in a specific way to show how the focus of Dutch art changed through time, starting first with traditional origins and religion to modern society and still-life portraits of everyday life.

In the pieces they chose, the rise of science, democracy and the middle class are seen, as well as places that were impacted by the revolutions people experienced.

“There’s an education, therefore, a preservation,” Winter said. “As the exhibit shows, art isn’t just something pretty to look at, but it’s filled with history and history that is important to us today.”

Etches and prints represent how the Dutch transformed their focus of art and made their way to a modern society, and did so from Flushing’s back yard, where the college is located.

The exhibit is also a way to show off pieces of the collection the school already had, such as a glass with raspberry prunts, which are pieces of glass that look decorative but also serve to give a better grip. A picture next to the glass shows it in use in that era.

One piece of particular interest and importance is by Rembrandt van Rijn, the 17th-century master. Another is a striking colonial map of the borough. A family and children workshop on April 3 at 1 p.m. will be dedicated to the Queens flag, presented in partnership with the Queens Historical Society.

Walking through the exhibit, students and visitors will see how the Dutch were pivitol to the growth of Queens.

“Queens is so multicultural,” Atkins said. “Influences go back to the beginning with European settlements, so what we wanted to do was show history, and how relevant and connected it is to today and Queens.”

The exhibition includes programs such as a screening of PBS’s documentary film “Dutch New York” on March 4 at 12:15 p.m. and tours, including one of the Bowne House in Flushing on March 5 at 5:30 p.m.

The students tied events outside of the exhibit to pieces of art inside the exhibit, such as images and floor plans of historic sites. A map painted on the wall shows then-New Netherlands’ areas of Queens and parts of Brooklyn, with lines representing current streets such as Corona Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

Other historic sites included in the programs are the Queens County Farm in Floral Park, the Lent-Rykers-Smith Homestead in Astoria, Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Flushing and the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood.

‘Re-Forming the Image in the Dutch Golden Age’

When: Through March 23, Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing

Tickets: Free, (718) 997-4747

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