A one-man art show that runs through April 9 in Niagara Falls showcases several breathtaking views of the falls from a historical perspective. It also offers patrons the opportunity to take pause and perhaps consider a quote from Henry David Thoreau: "In wildness is the preservation of the world."
Paul Thomas Honover, artist, naturalist and environmentalist, hopes that through art he can raise people's awareness of their natural surroundings and the need to protect them.
"We need the natural environment," the soft-spoken artist said. "It does something for us spiritually. It's nourishing."
Hanover works largely in oils on either canvas or board and his self-described style of traditional realism and impressionism pays homage to the Hudson River School.
He has been commissioned to produce several paintings of pre-industrial Niagara Falls, which takes scrupulous study to produce in painstaking detail. These are views of the falls that he would love to see at least partially restored.
"I've been studying the geography and geology of the times and I really try to imagine in my mind what it was like back then," he said. "I still think of the falls as a sleeping giant. Nature has a way of reclaiming itself."
Hanover believes that restoring the falls to a more natural state would prove to be a draw for tourists, and he doesn't believe environmental responsibility and tourism need to be exclusive of one another. He points to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, where he has hiked and painted, and where he believes the two ideas exist in harmony.
"I don't see this as a lost paradise, but only as being buried under tackiness," he said of the falls. "We need to get the ball rolling in the new millennium."
Hanover studied last fall with wildlife artist and naturalist Robert Bateman, whom he regards as a great inspiration.
"I could never be satisfied just painting now, with the people I've met through the national parks and through my own studies," he said. "Your level of consciousness expands and you realize you need to raise your voice. I would like to make a difference in my own little corner of the world."
Hanover's artwork has earned more than 75 awards in the past decade, and his originals and limited edition prints hang in collections throughout the world.
Hanover's current show, which features 24 paintings, marks his one-year anniversary in his Rolling Thunder Arts gallery at 1517 Main St. It also features cityscapes from Buffalo's bustling streets and landscapes echoing visits to parks throughout the United States.
The gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. You may also view the show by appointment by calling him at 283-5338 or 471-9798.