58 Nyack Art Imitates Life

While I waited for my evening date at Maria's, I investigated Hopper's hometown.

A huge, horrific condominium had just gone in on the waterfront down the hill, and development was rampant farther from the river, on the road into town from the Interstate. Otherwise, Nyack was still in many ways a quaint river community centered on the business district up from the docks. The Broadway and Main storefronts provide a gathering spot, and on the mild Fall Saturday that I visited, they were overrun with bikers, either motorized or self-powered. Garret Hopper was a dry goods dealer, and that storefront still stands on Broadway.

I ducked into one of the three used book stores on Broadway. The owner bore an intimidating stare that felt like he had been cultivating his whole life. He told me that he chose his college because "my high school counselor pulled me out of class and wanted to know why I wanted to go a place so liberal and activist. That only made me want to go there all the more." Actually, he spoke with the aloof tone of a high school counselor as he told me about local Hopper lore.

"The storefront that Hopper used in Seven A.M. is at Broadway at the corner of School. I used to have that shop. A local minister received when Marion Hopper died a series of paintings on wood shingles that were said to be by Edward. They were just awful. They were unsigned, but that's what they were. I told Gail Levin this and mentioned that they were in a shop up on Franklin Street, and she was out of here like a shot. She didn't believe me about my former shop being the one in Seven A.M. But she did go after those paintings."

I went to see for myself the storefront that might have been in Seven A.M., and I have to admit it looked very like the one in the painting. But there's a danger in trying to find a one-to-one relation between something in art and something in real life.

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