I am a writer and researcher (aka “independent scholar”), retired from a long career as an editor and administrator for nonprofit organizations. You can find my name listed in the acknowledgments of many books by other writers, but Edward Hopper in Vermont is my first book as a sole author.
I have a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in New York City, where I first learned to love fine art in general and Edward Hopper in particular. But with only a single course in art history, and graduate study in other areas, I can make no claim of expertise. What, then, led me to write about Hopper in Vermont? Two simple things: time and opportunity.
Opportunity came when Mike Hogan and I built our home in South Royalton. Serendipitously, we found a reproduction of Hopper’s Barn and Silo, Vermont. We then learned that Edward Hopper had been in “our town” during the summers of 1937 and ’38, staying on a farm just down the road from us. Moreover, he had painted watercolor landscapes of the White River, scenes that we saw every day on our drive into town to pick up the mail. This was a story waiting to be told. It had been given scant attention by art historians–despite the plethora of books about Hopper–and those with whom I spoke seemed uninterested in pursuing it beyond the basic documentation that Gail Levin had published in her biography of Hopper and the Catalogue Raisonné. More important, Hopper’s Vermont works remained virtually unknown in the place where they were made, even among those Vermonters who, like many Americans, had reproductions of Hopper’s more famous paintings hanging on their walls.
Retirement has given me the luxury of time: time to spend in libraries and archives and in the virtual vaults of the web, searching for answers to my questions about Hopper’s life as an artist and his sojourns in Vermont; time to read what others have written about Hopper, about American art in the 1920s and ’30s, and about Vermont during the Depression; time to sift through all my finds and to follow leads in new directions; time for Mike and me to explore the White River Valley in search of Hopper’s places; and, finally, time to indulge in the joy of writing, weaving what I’ve found and learned into the stories that make up my book.
And there are more stories to tell. Some are in the book, summarized in footnotes and begging to be expanded. Others aren’t in the book at all, and I still want to write them. Watch this space.
- Bonnie Tocher Clause