On April 2nd 1813, the Village of Sing Sing (now called Ossining) became the first incorporated municipality in Westchester County. To recall and honor that historic day, the Village of Ossining will be holding a series of commemorative activities from April through October of 2013.
The bicentennial celebration, kicks of with “Ossining in 3D,” a historical photo and map show that runs through April 29th and depicts 200 years of Ossining’s history including its numerous historically and architecturally significant buildings, structures and sites. Continue reading →
Thomas Cole (1801-1848) , English immigrant, is regarded as a father of the Hudson River School, the first national art expression of the American identity in the post-War of 1812 period. It was a time when we no longer had to look over our shoulder at what England was doing and could begin to think of ourselves as having a manifest destiny. Cole also was very much part of the birth of tourism which occurred in the Hudson Valley and points north and west. Continue reading →
Many of the iconic landscape scenes painted by Hudson River School artists, now hanging in major museums all over the world, are the breathtaking views surrounding the Hudson River Valley. Thanks to preservationists and conservationists, several of these vistas remain remarkably similar to their 19th-century appearance and are instantly recognizable. Continue reading →
To celebrate the many talented artists who continue to be inspired by the landscapes along the Hudson River School Art Trail, the Thomas Cole Historic Site has issued a “call to artists” to submit a new postcard-sized artwork for an exhibition and sale entitled “Postcards from the Trail” that will take place on Sunday September 23, 2012.
A preview will benefit the Greene County Council on the Arts on the Saturday before. Artworks may depict any one of the 22 magnificent views that are now part of the Hudson River School Art Trail, a series of driving and hiking routes to the places that inspired the great landscape paintings of the 19th century. Hurry! The deadline for submissions is August 31st. For information about the Saturday preview, contact the GCCA at 518-943-3400. Artists can get the details and entry instructions online.
In 1974, an Italianate building that Thomas Cole had designed and used as his painting studio in the mid-19th century was demolished. It had fallen into disrepair and the art movement that Thomas Cole had founded, the Hudson River School, had fallen out of favor. Over the years, the site was overcome with trees and shrubs, and the exact location of the former building was lost. The site is now part of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and the building is in the process of being revived. This Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm, the art history professor from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Julie Levin Caro, will be at the Thomas Cole site to speak about this piece of history – the building that Cole designed as his “dream studio”.
The talk is the last event in the series of Sunday Salon lectures, which take place once per month from January through April at the home of Thomas Cole, where the Hudson River School began. Tickets are $8 per person, or $6 for members, and admission is first-come-first-served.
Ten years ago the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opened its doors with no endowment, no government operating funds, and no paid staff. Thanks to members, volunteers, donors, scholars, trustees, staff, interns, advisors and fans the birthplace of the Hudson River School is still inspiring us today.
Over the next ten years Historic Site staff hope to see Thomas Cole’s “New Studio” rebuilt in the exact spot where it stood for 128 years – a building that he himself designed and the interior rooms of the 1815 “Main House” restored. On Sundays at 2 pm once per month Thomas Cole State Historic Site offers a popular Sunday Salon series of lectures. Here are the first two:
January 15 The Hunt for Thomas Cole’s Lost, Last, Unfinished Series In the late 1980s, a legendary New York art dealer acquired an oil study for one of five paintings in Cole’s monumental series, The Cross and the World. Learning that the series – still on Cole’s easel at the time of his death – had vanished from sight in the 1870s, the dealer sent Christine I. Oaklander out to hunt them down. Dr. Oaklander will discuss the history and iconography of Cole’s last, lost series and give us a “behind the scenes” glimpse of her quest.
February 12 Thomas Cole in Love In 1825, young Thomas Cole stepped out of the Catskills autumn with a body of work so exceptional that it kicked America’s drowsy cultural ambitions into a new state of excitement. Join Kevin Sharp, Director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, as he explores Cole’s use of Romantic imagery from English poets such as Byron and Coleridge to create dramatic works that stood in stark contrast to the gentle landscape images that had come before.
It has been ten years since the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opened its doors, and they have a great many milestones to celebrate, so they are opening their doors on Sunday, September 25, from 1-4 pm for a Community Day, featuring a new exhibition focusing on the past decade. Admission is free.
In the ten years since the 2001 opening, over 60,000 people have visited the historic site and attendance is now 400% higher than it was in the first year. Once near ruin, the house and grounds now provide an evocative environment where visitors can learn about the founder of the Hudson River School of art.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site is offering a third season of guided hikes to places that inspired Thomas Cole and fellow artists of the Hudson River School. Hikers will see the views that appear in some of the most beloved landscape paintings of the 19th-century, and hear stories that bring their history to life. The hikes range from easy walks to moderately vigorous climbs. Each hike is limited to twelve people, so sign up soon to be sure to reserve your place. The next hike is Saturday June 18- all hikes depart from the Thomas Cole Historic Site at 9am. Hikes designated as “Easy” are approximately two hours in length. Those designated as “Moderate” are closer to four hours. Each of the guided hikes includes a copy of the Hudson River School Art Trail Guidebook and a guided tour of the Thomas Cole Historic Site at the end of the hike. The total price per person: $16, or $12 for members.
2011 Hike Schedule
JUNE 18 Sunset Rock and the Catskill Mt House (moderate)
JULY 16 Kaaterskill Falls and Catskill Mt House (moderate)
AUGUST 13 Catskill Mt. House and North-South Lake (easy)
SEPTEMBER 10 Kaaterskill Falls and Catskill Mt House (moderate)
OCTOBER 15 Sunset Rock and Catskill Mt House (moderate)
More about the hikes is available online [pdf]. Illustrations: Thomas Cole, The Clove, Catskills, 1827 (New Britain Museum of American Art), and the same view today. Photo by Francis Driscoll.
The Hudson River Valley is the birthplace of American Art. For more than 200 years artist have been inspired by its beauty—from Charles Willson Peale and Samuel F.B. Morse to Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School of landscape painting—artists painting the valley and living in the city where a century later Abstract Expressionism emerged. Before Hollywood, Fort Lee on the Palisades was a center of motion picture production, where painters like Thomas Hart Benton worked as grips and extras. Today the Hudson Valley inspires artwork that spans a wide spectrum…from Realism to Abstraction, process-based modes, photography, digital media, hybrid media, drawings made by hand, inventions and transmutations to collages and assemblages that explore issues of environment and sustainability…all are gathered for Boscobel House & Garden’s 2011 exhibition, Hudson River Contemporary: Works on Paper and represent the continued evolution of a great American tradition.
Many of the distinguished artists in the exhibition have never shown together before. Sigmund Abeles, Fern Apfel, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Frederick Brosen, Naomi Campbell, Linda Cross, Anne Diggory, Richard Haas, Walter Hatke, Eric Holzman, Peter Homitzky, Erik Koeppel, James Howard Kunstler, Don Nice, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Vincent Pomilio, Raquel Rabinovich (2011 Lee Krasner Award for Lifetime Achievement winner), Susan Shatter, Joanne Pagano Weber, Ruth Wetzel and Douglas Wirls, who all respond to the Hudson watershed in various ways, while others like John Moore, Stephen Hannock, Dean Hartung and Don Stinson update the 19th century landscape painting tradition.
Abstract works by Luis Alonso, Sasha Chermayeff, Lisa Lawley allude to mapping, journals, books and domestic objects. Aurora Robson and Emily Brown use plastic waste retrieved from waterways and recycle materials from their own prior works. Photographs by Morse descendant Sarah McCoubrey document a fictional 19th century woman painter. Lensless photographs by Willie Anne Wright capture haunting images of formal gardens. Expeditionary artists Janet Morgan and Gregory Frux have kept journals and made paintings on their travels from the Shawangunks to Death Valley, Morocco and Antarctica.
Hudson River Contemporary: Works on Paper is organized by noted art historian Dr. Katherine Manthorne with her husband, visual artist and writer James Lancel McElhinney, in their first collaboration as co-curators. Catalogue essays are written by Dr. Manthorne’s doctoral students at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan with an introduction by the curators and acknowledgements by noted Hudson Valley leader and benefactor Barnabas McHenry.
Hudson River Contemporary: Works on Paper opens June 15, 2011 and will run through September 15, 2011 with Gallery Talks scheduled for July 10 & 31, August 14 & 28 and September 11, 2011. The exhibition gallery is open during regular business hours and is included in the purchase of a House & Grounds pass. A full-color exhibition catalogue and poster will be available for purchase in the gift shop after June 15.
Boscobel is located on scenic Route 9D in Garrison New York just one mile south of Cold Spring and directly across the river from West Point. From April through October, hours are 9:30am to 5pm (first tour at 10am, last at 4pm). The House Museum and distinctive Gift Shop at Boscobel are open every day except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit Boscobel.org or call 845.265.3638.
Illustration: Don Nice, Highlands Bass, 1991, 40 x 60 inches, watercolor on paper, Collection of the Hudson River Museum. Gift of the artist, 2010
On May 1, 2011, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opens Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedman’s Son, the first exhibition featuring the work of the nineteenth-century African-American landscape painter Robert S. Duncanson in many years, and, the first exhibition of his work to appear on the east coast, even in his lifetime. The exhibition will bring the work of this Ohio artist to the home of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School and major influence on Duncanson. Robert S. Duncanson was the first American landscape painter of African descent to gain international renown and occupies a critical position in the history of art. Widely celebrated for his landscape paintings, Duncanson began his career in the family trades of house painting and carpentry, before teaching himself art by painting portraits, genre scenes, and still-lifes. His success is remarkable as a “free colored person” who descended from generations of mulatto tradesmen, to graduate from skilled trades and participate in the Anglo-American art community.
Duncanson’s turn to landscape as his subject was influenced by Thomas Cole in the late 1840s. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, then the largest and most prosperous city in the western United States, Duncanson became the cornerstone of the Ohio River Valley regional landscape painting school and, according to the Cincinnati Gazette declared that he “enjoyed the enviable reputation of being the best landscape painter in the West.”
Duncanson achieved his artistic success despite the oppressive restrictions that Anglo-American society placed on him as an African-American, a “free colored person.” His paintings earned him international attention with especially high esteem bestowed on him by the art press in Canada and England. Canadians acknowledged Duncanson’s seminal role as “one of the earliest of our professional cultivators of the fine arts.” And, the critics of the London Art Journal praised him as possessing “the skill of a master,” whose paintings “may compete with any of the modern British school.”
Duncanson adopted the style and metaphors of east coast landscape painting that depicted the “natural paradise” of the New World as a romantic symbol for the European settlers’ perceived covenant with God. But in so doing he also appropriated the art of landscape painting–both in subject and content–for African-American culture. In some of his paintings he subtly expressed the perspective of an African-American through his works.
A careful reading of his landscapes, reveals how Duncanson expressed his particular perspective. The grandson of a freedman, Duncanson’s artistic ambitions and the content of his paintings epitomize W.E.B. Du Bois’ statement that “the spiritual striving of the freedmen’s son is the travail of souls.”
Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is curated by Joseph D. Ketner. Ketner is the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and the Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston. He is the author of a definitive book about the artist, The Emergence of the African-American Artist: Robert S. Duncanson 1821-1872. The catalogue for this exhibition will contain an essay by Ketner including new information on the artist and color illustrations of many new paintings discovered over the past fifteen years.
“We are honored to have Joseph Ketner, the authority on this fascinating Hudson River School artist, curate our 8th annual exhibition,” said Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Site. “The artist’s work, which can be found in the permanent collections of major museums across the country, stands alone in its beauty. What makes this exhibition even more powerful, however, is the fact that Duncanson achieved his success under the oppressive conditions of being a ‘free colored person’ in antebellum United States.”
Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is on-view through October 30, 2011.
This exhibition is the 8th annual presentation of 19th Century landscape paintings at the Thomas Cole site, fostering a discussion of the influence of Thomas Cole on American culture through a generation of artists known as the Hudson River School. The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. For information call 518-943-7465 or visit www.thomascole.org.
Illustration: Robert S. Duncanson’s Times Temple, 1854. 34 x 59 inches, Oil on Canvas. Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington DC.