Hudson Valley Farm Photo Exhibit at Olana

Olana has announced the opening of a new exhibition by photographer Brandt Bolding entitled FARM: Agricultural Life of the Hudson Valley. The exhibit in the recently restored Coachman’s House Gallery at Olana State Historic Site.

In 1860, Frederic Church purchased approximately 126 acres of farmland and immediately set out to build a new “farm house” for his family. The artist expanded his land holdings over the next ten years and ultimately moved his family to the larger stone-and-brick house he built near the summit of the hill, but he continued to work on and operate a farm at Olana for the rest of his life. Church was proud of his farming accomplishments, writing friends and family of the success of his orchards, vegetables, and livestock.

The FARM exhibit coincides with extensive farm restoration work about to begin in Olana’s historic farm complex. The Olana Partnership and Olana State Historic Site have secured two major grants to focus on restoring Frederic Church’s farm. Over the next several years, meadow and orchard restoration projects will return the neglected farm to potentially active agricultural use. “According to a report of the American Farmland Trust, every hour we lose 125 acres of farm and ranch land in the U.S.,” reports Olana Partnership President Sara Griffen. “By focusing on the restoration of Olana’s farm we hope to play a small role in ensuring the agricultural future of Columbia County.”

Photographer Brandt Bolding states, “through extensive travels photographing and documenting the farms of northeastern America I am attempting to bring awareness of just a small part of what is at stake. Nowhere is this more of a concern than in the Mid-Hudson Valley…where citizens, and civic organizations large and small rally to preserve the irreplaceable beauty of our landscape from less than circumspect development.”

The photos included in the exhibition will be printed by the photographer in a limited edition of twelve and are available for purchase in the Olana Museum Store. The exhibit will be open every day through October 30, 2011 at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York.

About Brandt Bolding:

Brandt Bolding’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and have appeared in newspapers, journals, and publications by various preservation organizations in New York State. His work on agricultural life will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY, later this year. Two of his photographs appeared in the book entitled Old Homes of New England: Historic Houses in Clapboard, Shingle, and Stone published by Rizzoli in April 2010.

Photo: Level Acres Cornfield, Route 82, Columbia County. Courtesy Brandt Bolding Photography.

Olana Offers Childrens Summer Programs

The Olana Partnership has announced two summer programs for children that will be offered in July and August. Each of the week-long programs offers a distinct experience for children ages 7-14 and parents can register their child for either one or both offerings.

Panorama &#8211 Olana’s new summer program for children will be held at the Wagon House Education Center from Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The week-long adventure will explore art, history, and nature through the prism of artist Frederic Church. Children will learn about artist techniques and Olana’s working farm in the 19th century- they will paint in the beautiful Olana landscape and create historic crafts for children. Professional authors and illustrators will enhance the experience of participants through hands-on activities. On the final day of the program, a museum will be set up in the Wagon House to display the children’s artwork.

River School &#8211 Olana’s summer dramatic arts program will be held at the Wagon House Education Center from Monday, August 8 through Friday, August 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children will create their own play from soup-to-nuts in this non-competitive program that explores all aspects of story and dramatic arts through the fun and magic of live theater. During this week-long “full process” experience, participants will create original scripts, design and construct sets and props, and stage a performance for family and friends at the end of the week. The theme of the play will derive from exploration of a painting by Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church. While using their imaginations in the inspiring Olana landscape, participants will work on public speaking and expression. Parents of past participants have summed up their children’s experience in River School as an “educational, dramatic arts exposure,” where children gained “confidence, and public speaking experience, and a sense of mastery and achievement.”

Registration forms for children ages 7-14 can be downloaded from Olana’s website. For more information on these programs, please contact Sarah Hasbrook, education coordinator for The Olana Partnership, at [email protected] or (518) 828-1872 ext. 109.

Olana’s Wagon House Education Center offers public programs for children, families and the community. The Education Center is located at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York. After entering the site, take your first right after the lake and continue down to the Farm Complex parking lot.

Wagon House Education Center programming is made possible in part through support provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency- the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation- the Educational Foundation of America- the John Wilmerding Educational Initiative, and the members of The Olana Partnership.

Olana Hosts Artists Handmade Houses Book Event

The Olana Partnership and Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios will offer a book talk and signing with author Michael Gotkin and photographer Don Freeman to celebrate the publication of Artists’ Handmade Houses on Saturday, June 18 at 4:00 p.m. on the East Lawn at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York. This event is free and open to the public (a vehicle use fee applies). Light refreshments will be served. Please call (518) 828-1872 ext. 103 or e-mail [email protected] to reserve.

Artists’ Handmade Houses is a collection of private domains handcrafted by the finest artists and craftsmen in America. This diverse selection of artists includes familiar names such as George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, Frederic Church, and Russel Wright, as well as those deserving wider recognition. Constructed between the late-nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, these homes were designed and built by artists as expressions of their art and craft. A few of the featured homes have been awarded National Historic Landmark status and several are open to the public, while others have sadly fallen into disrepair or are in the hands of new owners. In some cases, the photographs in this book represent the last record of the house as created by the artist.

Michael Gotkin’s text places each house in the context of its owner’s life and career, providing anecdotes and insights about its development over time and its place in the oeuvre of the artist. With brief histories about each artist and house, and spectacular new photography by Don Freeman, Artists’ Handmade Houses offers a rare glimpse into the personal living and work spaces of some of the greatest American artists and craftsmen.

Don Freeman’s photographs appear regularly in the pages of World of Interiors, Vogue, House Beautiful, and Vanity Fair, among other magazines. Michael Gotkin works as a landscape architect and city planner in New York City, where he is also an advocate for the preservation of postwar design. He has organized design exhibitions with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Municipal Art Society of New York.

The hardcover book published by Abrams retails for $60.00 and has 240 pages, with 230 color photographs. Copies of Artists’ Handmade Houses will be available for sale at the event and online.

Olana Civil War Exhibition, Reception

This year marks the sesquicentennial of the fall of Fort Sumter, and the start of the Civil War. Olana’s exhibition: Rally ’round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War on view in the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery at Olana is one of the first exhibitions in the multi-year, regional and national commemoration of the conflict.

The exhibition opens May 26 and runs through October 30, 2011, and features Frederic Church’s most patriotic work, Our Banner in the Sky, a sensational sunrise resembling a Union flag, as well as numerous oil and pencil sketches related to the war and rarely on view. The exhibition is also the first retrospective of the very talented and little known artist John S. Jameson (1842-1864). A free public lecture by Dr. Kevin J. Avery, Frederic Church scholar and senior research fellow at The Metropolitan Museum of Art will kick-off the exhibition season on May 22, 2011 at 2 p.m. in the Wagon House Education Center at Olana.

Fort Sumter was bombarded by the newly formed Confederate States of America on April 11 and 12, 1865, launching the American Civil War. At the time, Church was preparing to debut his latest masterpiece at Goupil’s Gallery in New York City. His reaction was not to cancel the unveiling, but instead to re-title his painting of icebergs, The North, showing his support for the northern cause. Church also pledged the exhibition fees to the Union’s Patriotic Fund – a fund to aid the families of Union soldiers. Less than a month later, in a further act of nationalism Church painted a sunrise as a Union flag, Our Banner in the Sky, in response to the patriotic fever that swept the North. Church’s salute to the flag was published as a chromolithograph by Goupil & Co. and quickly became popular.

The renaming of his great picture, now known as The Icebergs, The North, and the creation of Our Banner in the Sky only represent Church’s initial reaction to the conflict. During the next five years, as the Civil War raged on, Church produced some of his most important works. And many reflected the turbulence of the war. The wonderful artistic source material for these epic paintings remains at Olana, and will be on view in the exhibition. The powerful and surging Under Niagara, 1862 (unlocated) was done from the lively oil sketch, Study for Under Niagara, 1858, in Olana’s collection. The study, which will be on display in the exhibition, represents the inspiration for the masterpiece and an important link to the lost canvas. To create his most devastating war-time vision of the exploding volcano Cotopaxi, 1862 (The Detroit Institute of Arts), Church referenced sketches from his trips to South American in 1853 and 1857.

The pencil drawings of Cotopaxi, featured in the exhibition, were done on location and illustrate Church’s amazing ability to capture the ever changing eruption. As the war turned in favor of the Union, Church returned to the subject of the frozen north, inspired in part by a sketch on display by Isaac Hayes of Church’s Peak, a mountain the explorer named to honor the artist. This watercolor, and Church’s own oil sketch Aurora Borealis (also in the exhibition) informed his large celestial tour de force Aurora Borealis, of 1865 (American Museum of Art, Smithsonian). And after the war, the end of the conflict and the return of hope are reflected by the passing storm and rainbow in Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866 (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), worked out in a small compositional pencil sketch on view in the exhibition.

A number of Church’s paintings were displayed to support the Union, at Sanitary Fairs – public exhibitions held throughout the northeast to benefit wounded soldiers. The best-known was the Metropolitan Sanitary Fair which took place in New York City in spring 1864. Church’s epic canvas The Heart of the Andes was a feature of the exhibition. Church had sold the masterpiece to William Blodgett, but for himself, Church kept Study for Heart of the Andes, featured in the exhibition, as a reminder of the painting that brought him world renowned.

Church was not immune from the tragedy that the war brought to so many American citizens on both sides of the conflict. He lost a good friend and watched the careers and aspirations of others derailed by the war. Church’s friend Theodore Winthrop, after whom the artist’s named his son, was an emerging poet and travel writer and was one of the first Union casualties of the war, falling at the Battle of Big Bethel in June 1861. Arctic explorer and physician Dr. Isaac Hayes was called away from his primary passion to witness first hand the horrors of the war while commanding an army hospital. John S. Jameson was a young landscape painter described in Church’s own words as having an enormous talent and potential, whose life was tragically cut short when he died on August 31, 1864, at the age of twenty-two, only months after enlisting in the Union army.

A Hartford native, Jameson was both an exceptional artist and musician. Church recognized the extraordinary artistic potential of Jameson, commenting to the young man’s mother, “Of all the younger artists whose personal acquaintance I have made, and whose works and characteristics of mind and heart came to my observation, no one has interested me so much, as your son or held out better grounded hopes of future high excellence.”

Jameson completed very few canvases during his brief life cut short by imprisonment and death in Andersonville Prison. Olana has gathered the six identified paintings by Jameson and for the first time these works are shown together: Landscape in the Olana collection and five works from private collections.

Jameson’s poignant story represents only one of countless young men, on both sides of the battlefield, who gave their lives in the conflict. It is hoped that this initial gathering of Jameson’s works, together for the first time in any exhibition, will provide an opportunity for discovery and artistic comparison, and garner appreciation for this heretofore lesser-known gifted Hudson River School painter.

The stories of Jameson, Winthrop and Hayes serve as a personal counterpoint to the more professional and public support Church would give through his art.

To launch the exhibition, noted Church scholar Dr. Kevin J. Avery will lecture on Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War at the Olana Wagon House Education Center on Sunday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. There is a $5.00 per car fee charged to enter the site on weekends. Members of The Olana Partnership have free access to the site. Please call 518-828-1872, ext. 103 to reserve a seat.

Dr. Avery will discuss the ways in which the Civil War impacted the artist both personally and professionally. Avery will examine Church’s major works from the era of the war and the beginning of reconstruction as barometers of the failures and successes of the Union army and the hopes for the Nation. During this time, Church was at the height of his career and these paintings are his most important canvases.

Kevin J. Avery is a senior research scholar at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and an adjunct professor at Hunter College, City University of New York. A short essay by Dr. Avery will be available in a fold-out pamphlet in the exhibition gallery.

Evelyn Trebilcock, Olana Curator and Valerie Balint, Olana Associate Curator, serve as the exhibition curators. This is the third annual exhibition in Olana’s Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery.

The exhibition is made possible by support from Questroyal Fine Art, the Lois H. and Charles A. Miller Jr. Foundation, TD Bank, The New York State Council on the Arts Museum Program, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Brock Ganeles, David and Laura Grey, Henry and Sharon Martin, Chas A. Miller III, Richard T. Sharp, Susan Winokur and Paul Leach.

Olana is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson, NY 12534. The grounds are open every day from 8:00 a.m. until sunset- guided house tours (reservations recommended) are available Tuesday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, May through October, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and include access to the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery- the last tour starts promptly at 4:00 p.m. Telephone: (518) 828-0135 for reservations and to confirm hours.

Illustration: Frederic Church, Our Banner in the Sky, 1861. Courtesy Olana.

Olana to Host Irish History Themed Tours

Events such as the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s led to a major influx of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Like many other families in this area, the Churches hired numerous Irish immigrants for their staff at Olana during the years Frederic Church lived on this property (1860-1900).

Two of the longest-serving employees were the Churches’ coachman and head cook, Michael and Jane McKenna – a brother and sister – both of whom were employed here for over a quarter-century. Olana will present special Irish-themed tours Friday-Sunday, March 11-13 & 18-20, at 10 and 11AM, 12, 1, 2 & 3PM.

Photo: Frederic Church’s coachman Michael McKenna is shown here with one of the Church’s horses. Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP.

Olana Partnership Elects New Chair, Board Members

The Olana Partnership has elected Richard Sharp as Chair of the Board of Trustees at its annual meeting in New York City on January 29, 2011.

Mr. Sharp has been an active member of the Board since 2005, and was a driving force behind the creation of the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery which opened two years ago at Olana. He is an avid collector of nineteenth century American art and has frequently donated and loaned works in his collection to public museums. Mr. Sharp is a senior partner in the litigation department of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP, a leading international law firm. He received his B.A. degree, summa cum laude, from Brown University in 1970. He studied at Oxford University and the Hague Academy of International Law in 1970-1971, and received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979.

Mr. Sharp stated,

“Olana is unique in combining extraordinary landscape design, architecture and collections. One of my top priorities is to renew our ties to the local community, while increasing our visibility nationally and internationally.”

Mr. Sharp also seeks to foster close collaboration among the many Hudson Valley historic sites.

The Partnership also welcomed three new board members at the annual meeting: Stephen Clearman, Rebecca Desman, and Stephanie Zhang.

Stephen Clearman bought Kinderhook Farm in 2003 in Columbia County where he and his partner have established themselves as leading local producers of sustainably-raised beef cattle and sheep. Mr. Clearman started Geocapital Partners in 1984, where he managed a series of institutional venture capital partnerships. In 2002, he started Kinderhook Partners, which invests in small and little unknown publicly traded companies. His interest in Olana coincides with his interest in art and collecting, including Hudson River School paintings.

Mr. Clearman received an M.S. from Columbia University in 1974 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978.

Rebecca Desman is director at Deutsche Bank (DB) and has been an integral part of the growth of DB’s U.S. sales platform in flow credit and derivatives. Rebecca graduated from Princeton University in 2001, where she received her B.A. in Political Science. She plays an active role in undergraduate and diversity recruiting at DB and sits on the Global Markets Women’s Network Advisory Committee. While working at DB, Ms. Desman earned her M.S. in Non-Profit and Fundraising Management at Columbia University. After completing her masters, she joined two major clients of DB and helped set up The Darfur Project, which provided relief supplies for refugees. She is particularly involved in and motivated by global women’s issues and is active in several global charities. She is an avid appreciator and collector of art.

Stephanie Zhang is executive director in the Technology Division of Morgan Stanley and has 19 years of experience working in the financial services industry in New York and Asia. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Ms. Zhang worked in EJV Partners to help build out their data center operations. Since 2001, she has focused on building a set of technical solutions and processes in the area of Identity and Access Management for the global Morgan Stanley enterprise.

Ms. Zhang has travelled extensively in Asia, Europe and the Americas. She enjoys the diversity of New York City and takes advantage of its many cultural opportunities- her hobbies include jewelry-making, painting, photography, modern dance, and performance art. She holds a B.A in Computer Science and Statistics from the University of Wisconsin/Madison.

Olanas Annual Holiday Bonfire

This Sunday, December 5th marks Olana’s 6th Annual Holiday Bonfire, with caroling by The Merry Minstrels. Explore the house at your own pace, with guides stationed in each room to answer your questions. Afterward enjoy a winter sunset, the company of neighbors and the warmth of the bonfire while enjoying the sounds of traditional Victorian caroling of The Merry Minstrels.

House tours 10AM-4PM (last tour starts at 3), Caroling from 2-4PM, Bonfire from 3-4PM. Call 518-828-0135 for info.

Photo courtesy Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP.

77th New York Regimental Balladeers at Olana

Sunday, October 10th, from 1-3 p.m., at Olana State Historic Site, the New York 77th Regimental Balladeers will reenact musical selections from the Civil War era.

Co-founded by John C. Quinn and Michael Yates, the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers are dedicated to preserving the songs, history and spirit of the 1860s. John, Mike, and fellow Balladeers John Perreault, Jim Broden and Kathleen Ross use the original Civil War music arrangements and lyrics to convey the thoughts, motives, and sorrows of the men and women who lived during one of the most defining periods of our American heritage. The songs are sung as they would have been performed in camp or the family parlor 138 years ago.

A $5 per vehicle grounds fee includes the performance. House tours will be available on a first come, first served basis starting at 10 a.m., with the final tour of the day beginning promptly at 4 p.m. Come early to ensure tour availability and shorter wait times. House tour tickets are $12/adult, $10/student or senior. Children under age 12 receive free tour tickets! Call 518-828-0135 for information.

Olana, the home and studio of Hudson River School artist Frederic E. Church, is a New York State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. It is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. Olana is one of six historic sites and 15 parks administered by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region. The Olana Partnership is a private, not-for-profit organization, which works cooperatively with New York State to support the preservation, restoration, development, and improvement of Olana State Historic Site. Call 518-828-0135, visit for more information.

Call for Artists to Olana Plein Air Event

Pre-register by September 18th for Paint Out Olana. Artists of all ages, mediums and experience levels are invited to showcase the Olana landscape on Sunday, October 3rd, from 12-4 p.m. Be inspired by the spectacular views and creative atmosphere of Olana State Historic Site.

Participation in the event is included in the site’s $5 vehicle use fee. A listing of artists pre-registered by September 18th will be available in the Visitor Center. Call 518-828-01356, x305 to pre-register.

House tours will be available on a first come, first served basis starting at 10 a.m., with the final tour of the day beginning promptly at 4 p.m. Come early to ensure tour availability and shorter wait times. House tour tickets are $12/adult, $10/student or senior, and free for children under 12 years of age.

Olana, the home and studio of Hudson River School artist Frederic E. Church, is a New York State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. It is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. Olana is one of six historic sites and 15 parks administered by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region. The Olana Partnership is a private, not-for-profit organization, which works cooperatively with New York State to support the preservation, restoration, development, and improvement of Olana State Historic Site. Call 518-828-0135, visit or for more information.

Barry Hopkins Run at Olana

On Sunday, September 12 at 9:30 a.m. the Barry Hopkins Run will take place at Olana State Historic Site. This Onteora Runners Club Grand Prix event also offers a free children’s run that precedes the adult event at 9:00 a.m. Runners will spend the morning on this 3.8 mile course traversing primarily unpaved carriage roads in the designed landscape of Hudson River School artist Frederic Church.

Registration is $10 per person- $9 for members of The Olana Partnership or the Onteora Runner’s Club. Email [email protected] or call (518) 828-0135 to receive a registration form. Unique awards will follow the race.

Olana, the home and studio of Hudson River School artist Frederic E. Church, is a New York State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. It is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. Olana is one of seven historic sites and 15 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Taconic Region. The Olana Partnership is a private not-for-profit organization which works cooperatively with New York State to support the preservation, restoration, development, and improvement of Olana State Historic Site.