John Singer Sargent, Totem Pole, at Fenimore Museum

On Saturday, May 29, the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. becomes a hub of family-friendly activity with two exciting events: the long-awaited unveiling of the Museum’s newest acquisition – a thirty-foot Haida totem pole as well as the opening of the John Singer Sargent exhibition.

The Museum opens its doors at 10:00 a.m. offering the first public glimpses of the new exhibition John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women. This major exhibition features 25 works by John Singer Sargent, the foremost American portrait painter of the late 19th-century.

At 1:00 pm, the Museum unveils the latest addition to the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art &#8211 a Haida Totem Pole carved by Reg Davidson, Haida artist and master carver. The 30’ tall, 4’ wide cedar carving will showcase the work of a contemporary Native artist to a large public audience. Renowned art collector Mr. Eugene V. Thaw commissioned the internationally acclaimed artist to create the contemporary totem pole for the Museum which was completed and delivered early this spring.

Schedule: (Related activities begin Wednesday, May 26th)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

10:30 a.m. Village Library of Cooperstown – Story Hour
Children’s Librarian Martha Sharer will read a totem pole themed book and have a related craft project during their preschool story hour. Please bring your little one to share in this fun family time.

7:30 p.m. FAM Auditorium &#8211 Otsego Institute lecture

Chuuchkamalthnii (Ron Hamilton) This is Mine: Nuu-Chah-Nulth Territory, Beliefs, and Material Culture

Nuu-chah-nulth artist Chuuchkamalthnii (Ron Hamilton) of Hupacasath First Nation has over 45 years experience as a member and active participant in traditional ritual and ceremonial life, acting as: singer, dancer, speaker, composer, carver, painter, and, most significantly as a planner concentrating on traditional Nuu-Chah-Nulth protocols. Most recently he collaborated on the documentary film, We Come From One Root, (Histakshitl Ts’awaatskwii).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

10:00 a.m. Fenimore Art Museum opens for the day

11:30 a.m. Children’s Center – Story Hour

Children’s Librarian Martha Sherer will read a totem pole themed book and have a related craft project. Come share in this fun family time. (Suggested ages: 1 &#8211 8)

1:00 p.m. Official unveiling of the totem pole

Join D. Stephen Elliott, Dr. Douglas Evelyn, Totem Pole creator Reg Davidson, and others for this long-awaited event.

1:30 p.m. Performance by the Rainbow Creek Dancers (Haida)

2:30 p.m. Totem Pole Talk by Steve Brown (associate curator of Native American art at the Seattle Art Museum) &#8211 Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium

Totem Pole Carving Styles of the NW Coast

A photo-illustrated presentation on the various totem carving styles of the NW Coast, their differences and similarities. The Kwakwakawakw, Nuxalk, Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit, and other NW Coast peoples developed individual sculptural techniques and styles that enable one to differentiate between the totemic works of these groups, and this presentation will be an introduction to the carving styles that have developed on the coast.

Steven Clay Brown has been a student of NW Coast Native cultures since the mid-1960s. He has participated in numerous carving projects from totem poles to dugout canoes in Native communities in Alaska and Washington State. In 1986, he began a writing career that has flourished to include more than five major books in this field, a large number of chapters in other books as well as numerous articles and scholarly papers. Brown lives in Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula with his wife Irma and their son Abaya.

5:00 p.m. Fenimore Art Museum closes to the general public.

7:00 p.m. Members Opening for John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women
(Not already a member? You can sign-up at the door!)

The Fenimore Art Museum will have ongoing children’s’ activities such as totem pole pages to color in the Education Room throughout the day. Please check the Museum’s website ( or inquire at the admissions desk for more information.

Food will be available for purchase.

About the totem pole

The figures on the pole, from bottom to top, include: Beaver, Raven, Eagle – one of the major crests in Haida culture, and Black-finned Whale – one of the artist’s family crests. These figures tell a traditional Haida story of a raven stealing a beaver lodge. The totem pole is painted in the traditional Haida colors of black and red, with the natural cedar as a base.

The totem pole will be permanently sited on the Museum’s park-like front lawn and will be accompanied by an interpretive panel to provide important details about the piece.

Totem poles have a long tradition among the Native American peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and may be one of the most widely recognized art forms from that region.

About Reg Davidson, Haida artist and totem pole carver

Internationally acclaimed Haida artist and master carver Reg Davidson creates large and small cedar sculptures, silk-screen prints, jewelry, weaving, carved masks and painted drums. Born in 1954 in Masset, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia. Davidson was taught by his father, Claude Davidson, chief of the village of Dadens, Haida Gwaii. Many members of the Davidson family are artists, including his well-known brother, Robert Davidson. Davidson is an accomplished dancer and singer with the Rainbow Creek Dancers, a Haida Dance group formed by the brothers in 1980. Davidson designed and created much of the dance regalia for the group including masks, drums, and kid leather dance capes. Davidson’s style shows reverence for the masters and has changed only slightly over the years. &#8220Simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve,&#8221 he says. His work is included in private collections throughout North America, Germany, Holland, England and Japan.

About John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women

Divided into three thematic sections &#8211 Women of Fashion, Women of Mystery, and Women of Substance &#8211 the exhibition showcases images of women who exerted leadership in the arts and society as well as in their careers and in the intellectual community. It will also demonstrate Sargent’s keen interest in exotic women little known or understood by an American audience, and his visual assertion of the importance of mystery in the definition of femininity.

John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women features well known subjects such as Sargent’s famous Capriote model Rosina Ferrara and perhaps his most famous (or infamous) subject of all, Virginie Avegno Gautreau, or Madame X, represented in the exhibition by two preparatory drawings for her 1883-4 portrait.

“John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women breaks new ground in several ways,&#8221 commented Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, Vice President and Chief Curator at the Fenimore Art Museum and exhibition organizer. &#8220It is the first museum exhibition devoted exclusively to Sargent’s portraits of women. It is the first exhibition to directly compare the varied attributes of the women Sargent portrayed and the visual strategies employed by the artist to communicate those characteristics. Lastly, paired with the Museum’s new exhibition Empire Waists, Bustles and Lace, the first exhibition of the Museum’s collection of historic costumes, the Sargent exhibition will be the first to allow visitors to see and experience broader historical context of women’s fashion.&#8221

A full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. A variety of public progra
ms will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition.


The Totem Pole Celebration takes place on the Museum’s front lawn and is free to everyone. Museum admission is only $12.00 for Adults and Juniors (13-64)- $10.50 for Seniors (65+)- Children 12 and under are free. NYSHA members are always free as well as active and retired career military personnel.

Cooperstown: Food For Thought Programs

Food for Thought, the popular lunch and lecture series of The Farmers’ Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum, kicks off the 2010 season on Wednesday, May 12. All programs are held on Wednesdays beginning at noon at the Fenimore Art Museum or The Farmers’ Museum.

Food for Thought programs are a lunch and lecture series which offers visitors a more in-depth understanding of our exhibits and programs. All programs begin at noon on Wednesdays and include lunch ($15 for NYSHA members and $20 for non-members). Registration is required at least three days in advance. Cancellations without advanced warning will be charged. To reserve your spot, please call Karen Wyckoff at (607) 547-1410.

Food for Thought programs at the Fenimore Art Museum:

May 12 Virtual Folk: A People’s Choice Exhibition

June 2 Thirty Feet of Legend and Lineage

June 16 John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women

June 23 In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers

July 7 Civil War Arms & Equipment: The New York Soldier

Food for Thought programs at The Farmers’ Museum:

June 9 New York State Barns

July 14 The History of Thrall Pharmacy

July 28 Phrenology in 19th-Century America

Mothers: Free Admission to Fenimore, Farmers’ Museum Sunday

In recognition of Mother’s Day, all mothers and grandmothers will receive free admission to the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum on Sunday, May 9.

Visitors can start the day at the Fenimore Art Museum by taking in one of the new exhibitions, such as Empire Waists, Bustles and Lace: A Century of New York Fashion &#8211 an exciting exhibition of the Museum’s collection of historic dresses. The exhibition includes the oldest known example of a dress with a label, stunning examples of Empire, Romantic and Civil War era dresses and turn-of-the-20th century items. Afterwards, visitors can enjoy lunch on the terrace overlooking Otsego Lake and then stroll across to The Farmers’ Museum to visit the baby lambs and ride on The Empire State Carousel.

About the Fenimore Art Museum

The Fenimore Art Museum, located on the shores of Otsego Lake &#8212- James Fenimore Cooper’s “Glimmerglass Lake” &#8212- in historic Cooperstown, New York, features a wide-ranging collection of American art including: folk art- important American 18th- and 19th-century landscape, genre, and portrait paintings- an extensive collection of domestic artifacts- more than 125,000 historical photographs representing the technical developments made in photography and providing extensive visual documentation of the region’s unique history- and the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art comprising more than 800 art objects representative of a broad geographic range of North American Indian cultures, from the Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Great Lakes, and Prairie regions. Founded in 1945, the Fenimore Art Museum is NYSHA’s showcase museum.

About The Farmers’ Museum

As one of the oldest rural life museums in the country, The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, New York, provides visitors with a unique opportunity to experience 19th-century rural and village life first-hand through authentic demonstrations and interpretative exhibits. The museum, founded in 1943, comprises a Colonial Revival stone barn listed on the National Register for Historic Places, a recreated historic village circa 1845, a late- nineteenth-century Country Fair featuring The Empire State Carousel, and a working farmstead. Through its 19th-century village and farm, the museum preserves important examples of upstate New York architecture, early agricultural tools and equipment, and heritage livestock. The Farmers’ Museum’s outstanding collection of more than 23,000 items encompasses significant historic objects ranging from butter molds to carriages, and hand planes to plows. The museum also presents a broad range of interactive educational programs for school groups, families, and adults that explore and preserve the rich agricultural history of the region.

Otsego County: A Historical Introduction Lecture

F. Daniel Larkin will discuss the development of the Otsego County region from the late 18th century to the late 20th century at an evening lecture in the auditorium at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown. The event will take place tomorrow night from 6 to 8 pm- the lecture is free and open to the public.

Larkin’s lecture will cover the expansion and movement of people and goods across the region as well as the rise and decline of agriculture, industrialization, and trade. Dr. Larkin is the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SUNY College at Oneonta. The lecture is co-sponsored by Hyde Hall and Hanford Mills Museum.

For more information, contact the New York State Historical Association at (607) 547-1453

Illustration: Otsego County, 1792-1793

Fenimore Art Museum Opens For Season

The Fenimore Art Museum, in Cooperstown, reopened for the 2010 season with four new exhibitions on Thursday, April 1. These diverse exhibitions include examples of 19th-century fashion, folk art, photography, and contemporary landscape painting.

Starting this year, admission for children 12 and under is free. This price change will allow more families the opportunity to experience the Museum, its acclaimed exhibitions, and its unique educational programs. Adult admission (13-64) is $12.00 and senior admission (65 and up) is $10.50. NYSHA members, active military, and retired career military are always free.

Exhibition highlights include:

Empire Waists, Bustles and Lace: A Century of New York Fashion
(April 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010)

Empire Waists, Bustles and Lace is an exciting exhibition of the Museum’s collection of historic dresses. When viewed in conjunction with the John Singer Sargent exhibition (opening May 29), the show enables visitors to see and experience a broader historical context of men’s and women’s fashion. Even though upstate New York was considered the edge of the western frontier in the 19th century, residents of the area kept up with New York City and the world in terms of fashion. The exhibition includes the oldest known example of a dress with a label, stunning examples of Empire, Romantic and Civil War era dresses and turn-of-the-20th century items. Additionally, visitors will be able to peek at what was worn underneath the dresses which were vital to giving them their distinctive shapes. This exhibition is funded in part by The Coby Foundation.

In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers
(April 1, 2010 – September 6, 2010)

In Our Time was organized to celebrate 50 years of photography at Magnum Photos Inc. and the 150th anniversary of the invention of photography.

This exhibition of 150 black-and-white photographs is from a comprehensive survey of Magnum Photos, Inc., which is considered to be one of the world’s most renowned photographic agencies. These images are a result of the extraordinary vision of the many talented photographers who have been associated with Magnum since its founding in 1947.

The broad events captured in these Magnum photographs include the D-Day landing in Normandy, France (1944)- prisoners of war returning home to Vienna, Austria (1947)- Ghandi’s funeral in India (1948)- James Dean in Times Square (1955)- Castro delivering a speech in Havanna (1959)- Martin Luther King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (1963)- Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy at Arlington (1963)- a Shriner’s parade in Boston (1974)- women supporters of Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran (1979)- and a crack den in New York City (1988).

In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers is toured by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

Watermark: Michele Harvey & Glimmerglass
(April 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010)

Michele Harvey spends most of the year in her summer studio in upstate New York. Among her various formats, Harvey’s signature triptych formats often include quiet roads or paths framing a central scene that provides one with the sense of simultaneously entering and leaving her misted landscapes. The union of the darker colors of the trees and the distinct light of the vaporous sky create a calming rhythm that draws the viewer into a mysterious world where time appears to stand still.

Harvey is enchanted by the environs of Cooperstown and the opportunity to create works based here. &#8220The lake, its history, the views&#8230- all conspired to take me off the beaten path. I felt the lure of Glimmerglass as it must have felt to James Fenimore Cooper. For the first time I became a tourist, humbled by the scenery.&#8221

Watermark: Michele Harvey & Glimmerglass represents a melding of the two- adding her own style to the venerable history of landscape art already created here.

Virtual Folk: A Blog Readers’ Choice
(April 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010)

Virtual Folk: A Blog Readers’ Choice is an exhibition of exceptional folk art objects from the Fenimore Art Museum’s vast collection, chosen by the readers of our folk art blog &#8211 American Folk Art @ Cooperstown.

Bits of Home
(April 1, 2010 &#8211 December 31, 2010)

Visitors to the Fenimore Art Museum have long enjoyed the extraordinary collections of fine art, folk art, and American Indian art held by the New York State Historical Association. Less well known are the thousands of historical artifacts in the collections storage areas. Bits of Home acquaints visitors with these historical collections by featuring a selection of more than 30 artifacts from NYSHA and The Farmers’ Museum’s extensive collections of domestic life in nineteenth-century New York.

Opening Later in the Season…

John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women
(May 29, 2010 &#8211 December 31, 2010)

The Fenimore Art Museum presents the first major exhibition on the topic of portraits of women by the well-known American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). The exhibition explores Sargent’s range of styles and depth of characterization in his portraits of society women, as well as his fascination with exotic working-class women of Venice and Capri. The paintings and drawings provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of these women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Included will be drawings of Madame Gautreau, the mysterious subject of Sargent’s famous portrait Madame X.

Picturing Women: American Art from the Permanent Collections
(July 18, 2009 &#8211 December 31, 2009)

Ongoing Exhibitions…

Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art
Eugene and Clare Thaw Gallery

The Coopers of Cooperstown
Cooper Room

Genre Paintings from the Permanent Collection
Paneled Room

American Memory: Recalling the Past in Folk Art
Main Gallery

From April 1 through May 10, the museum will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm, closed on Mondays. Summer hours begin on May 11 and continue through October 11. During the summer season, the museum is open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. Please visit their website for more information –

Call For Artists: Fenimore Art Museums Art By The Lake

Fenimore Art Museum is now accepting submissions for its third annual outdoor, summer event Art By The Lake &#8211 formerly called A Taste of the Sublime. It will be held Saturday, August 7, 2010 on the museum’s spacious grounds overlooking Otsego Lake.

Art by the Lake is a juried art invitational that welcomes artists from across New York State in a celebration of the historic relationship between the artists and the landscape that surrounds us. The event features outstanding artists in all genres of landscape art, interactive demonstrations, educational programming, live entertainment, and tastings of some of the best food, wine, and beer from across the state.

Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
• Best Interpretation of New York Landscape
• Most Outstanding Use of Color
• Most Original Style
• Audience Favorite

An artist’s information packet and application form can be found on the Fenimore Art Museum’s website at

Applications must be postmarked by May 3, 2010. (Late applications may be accepted at the discretion of the jury if space is available.) Artists will be notified of their acceptance by May 17, 2010, at which point they will receive detailed event information and an artist’s contract.

Virtual Vacations For Youth at Fenimore Art Museum

Young people will take a walk on the wild side this February as the Fenimore Art Museum presents &#8220Virtual Vacations.&#8221 Each day, children (ages 5 to 8) will be transported to faraway places using the Museum’s advanced video conferencing technology. The Museum will connect “live” with professionals from the Life Science Education Center at Marian College and The Toledo Zoo for entertaining and educational programs focusing on various types of animals. After each lesson, children will participate in a hands-on activity based on the theme of the virtual visit. Each “Virtual Vacation” will feature two live animals via video conferencing.

“Virtual Vacations” programs are designed for children ages 5-8 and take place from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day (February 16, 17, and 18) at the Fenimore Art Museum. The cost per program is $15 for NYSHA members and $20 for non-members. Or attend all three &#8211 $40 for NYSHA members and $50 for non-members. Pre-registration is strongly recommended. To register, please call Karen Wyckoff at 607-547-1410.


Tuesday, February 16 &#8211 Catch Me If You Can: Why do some animals have scales, stripes, stingers, or spines? Join the Life Science Education Center at Marian College to explore how some of nature’s most amazing creatures protect themselves. We’ll even see some of the animals!

Wednesday, February 17 &#8211 Desert Dwellers: The Toledo Zoo takes participants to the desert! We’ll learn what a desert is and explore some of the fascinating animals that live there. Discover how living things have adapted to the arid conditions and temperature swings.

Thursday, February 18 &#8211 Animal Coverings: Join the Toledo Zoo and play a game to discover how animal groups are formed using similarities and differences. Live animals will help us learn the differences between the 5 classes of vertebrates: fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.