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Hudson River School Comes West


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

In the spirit of the Hudson River School, an American art movement of the 19th century, local landscape painter Ronnie Wainwright brings to her viewers an aesthetic vision of wild landscapes of the American West and Europe. Ronnie embraces the vision of the Hudson River artists in her commitment to preserve the pristine landscapes of Arizona’s wild natural heritage. Her work is characterized by realistic, detailed, and sometimes-idealized portrayal of nature, often juxtaposing peaceful “outside your window” scenes with the power and grandeur of towering mountain peaks. She appears to take inspiration, for her European oils, from painting masters such as Claude Lorrain and John Constable. But her viewers can safely say at the end of the day that Ronnie is very much her own “woman of style.”

Ronnie has been a painter from early childhood, influenced by her mother, who was an accomplished oil painter, and her first fine art instructor. Although Ronnie grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., she spent long and happy summers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where she acquired an appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.  She took her inspiration for her first plein-air oils from those mirrored mountain lakes, tall majestic trees, and rolling hillsides that characterize east coast forested areas.

Never losing her quest to preserve and share the landscapes she so appreciated, Ronnie studied art in college and later in both formal classes and in studio settings.  She returns to her roots in plein-air painting by participating in workshops with painter Mark Farina on the Monterey Peninsula. She continues to draw her inspiration from her hikes through Switzerland and Italy as well as the majestic Canadian Rockies and the colorful canyons of southern Utah.  Just as the Hudson River School artists realized in the 19th century that the Hudson River Valley’s wild space and uninterrupted natural horizons were vanishing, so Ronnie realizes the same unimpeded disappearance of our western expanses.  Her ultimate goal is to educate the public in becoming more involved with the land and its preservation.

Ronnie and her husband, Abbott, relocated to Arizona over 15 years ago from the east coast. She is an attorney, Guild member at the Heard Museum, and a member of the Desert Foothills Chapter of the Arizona Archaeology Society, the Desert Foothills Land Trust, and the Sonoran Arts League. Both her children are artists as well; son Michael is a ceramist, specializing in fine china and porcelain dinnerware, and daughter Lisa is dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ronnie’s paintings are in private collections throughout the country. For information or to view Ronnie’s work, contact her at

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at