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Finding poetry in the commonplace


Photography by Charles Sternaimolo

Some artists, including Sternaimolo and Koch, look to Hopper’s work as a conscious inspiration for their own, but others with completely different styles also find in him a muse. Lucy Beecher Nelson, an art teacher at Falmouth Academy, paints with a more detailed focus than Hopper did, but she appreciates his style and marvels at the way he treated shadows. Beecher Nelson studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and has showcased her work in exhibitions across the country. “He painted like Hemingway wrote,” she says, “with as few adjectives as possible. He had a pared-down way of describing the world . . . and for him it wasn’t so much about the truth of the scene but about making something beautiful and interesting.”

Notably, unlike many artists who paint on the Cape, Hopper produced few images depicting the shore and the sea. For Hopper, it was the angles of the houses, the shape of the land, and the interaction between those forms that he found attractive and intriguing; to him, these aspects of the Cape held just as much of the region’s character as the beaches.

Finally, Koch says Hopper’s Cape Cod paintings can be looked at not merely as representative of this region, but of the country overall. “He had a willingness to search out the unexpected in the middle of the ordinary,” Koch says, “and his compositions strike a chord in viewers’ hearts. He taught generations how to feel more deeply, and how to find poetry in the commonplace.”

A resident of East Sandwich, Catherine Aviles is a student at Washington University in St. Louis.

Learn more about the artwork tours at In addition, Addison Art Gallery in Orleans continues a unique series in 2016 on local artists who have been inspired by Hopper. Learn about these “After Hopper” events at

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