Category: history

Women Take Center Stage in Museums This Year

As we’re coming out of the pandemic, 2021 appears to be a year dedicated to women in the arts as several museums and art centers in Europe and the United States are hosting programs devoted to female artists, far too long left out of the history books.

Hedda Sterne, Chandelier, 1945, oil on canvas, 38 in. x 32 in. Source: The Hedda Sterne Foundation

When speaking with art historians and scholars, the often-cited reasons that left women behind were: they had no access to education, they were living reclusive lives and did not have as much access to sources of inspiration as men, women painters were not accepted in art shows and museums, they also did not sign their paintings, and finally they were deliberately left out.  

In recent years books were written to correct that, including The Trouble with Women Artists by Laure Adler and Camille Vieville, published in 2019, and Broad Strokes by Bridget Quinn, published in 2017. They provide a wider perspective on the significant achievements and contributions made by women in the arts.

Earlier this year the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam included for the first time ever works by women artists in the Gallery of Honor, alongside works by 17th century Dutch Golden Age masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. Paintings by Judith Leyster, Gesina ter Borch, and Rachel Ruysch are now exhibited in the Gallery of Honor as a move by the Museum to highlight women’s contribution to Dutch cultural history.  

Musée du Luxembourg in Paris is hosting the exhibition “Peintres Femmes 1780 – 1830”, which includes seventy paintings by forty female painters, most notably Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, both members of the famous l’Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (the precursor of the Louvre Museum), and Marguerite Gérard, the sister-in-law of Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Curated by Martine Lacas, the exhibition can also be explored virtually. 


Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat, 1872, oil on canvas, 38.50 in. x 27.75 in. Source: Wikipedia

Centre Pompidou is hosting the exhibition “Women in Abstraction” featuring one hundred and six artists, and more than five hundred works dating from the 1860s to the 1980s in various disciplines. Included in this exhibition are works by Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, Verena Loewensberg, and many others. Centre Pompidou is also hosting an online class through June this year, free of charge, titled Elles font l’art and presenting a different history of modern art, one that focuses on women artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. This class is held in French.   

In New York, of course, there is a long tradition of women being active in the art world going back to Sarah Cole, the sister of Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of Painting (Luminism); Georgia O’Keeffe (Modernism) – married to photographer Alfred Stieglitz, O’Keeffe enjoyed painting Lake George where she vacationed extensively; and Hedda Sterne (Surrealism), who was married to The New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg – both Sterne and Steinberg were born in Bucharest but met in New York.

In 2019 the exhibition “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future” hosted by Guggenheim attracted more than 600,000 attendees, becoming the museum’s most visited show in its 60-year history, according to Artsy. This year, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting “Alice Neel: People Come First”, a retrospective that positions Neel as a radical painter, champion of social justice. 

Art in the Catskills has consistently featured works by women artists who have maintained studios in the Catskill Mountains including Amy Masters, Ann Lee Fuller, Ellen Wong, Helene Manzo, June Lanigan, Lisbeth Firmin, Molly Rausch, and many others.

 See below Gallery of selected works.  

BOOK RELEASE: The Zadock Pratt Museum Coloring Book

The Zadock Pratt Museum has just released a coloring book for adults, essentially a collection of historical quilts accompanied by text and drawings that provide a unique perspective of the region’s settlement history. Inspired by the 2018 exhibition titled “Undercover Stories,” the book was funded by The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation and The Nicholas J. Juried Family Foundation. The exhibition, the brainchild of Carolyn Bennett, the Museum’s Executive Director, included thirteen quilts, all of which are also included in the book along with an additional thirteen from the Museum’s historical textile collection. All text and drawings are by Suzanne M. Walsh, who curated the 2018 exhibition. The Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave assisted with fact checking. The book is endorsed by Dr. Michelle Delaney, Assistant Director for History and Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, among other notable endorsements. 

After the 2018 exhibition closed, there was a spontaneous desire to keep the quilt stories alive, which is how the coloring book idea came about in 2020. The preservation work to keep the quilts intact is a tedious process that requires re-folding in acid free paper every three to six months. Volunteers at the Museum help keep the tradition alive. There is a vibrant community of quilters in the area that met regularly before the pandemic. They often helped at the Museum with the preservation efforts.  

Quilting has been described by scholars as “the art of necessity.” When textiles were scarce, women patched old blankets, coverlets, and table runners with cloth they had available and ready to use. European settlers brought this practice to the New World, and it flourished here and took on a new life. A utilitarian activity at first, quilting did eventually become an American folk art. American Folk Art Museum in New York City has an impressive textile collection, and has begun the New York Quilt Project to locate, document, preserve, and create an archive for New York State quilts. Dr. Jacqueline M. Atkins, a curator who worked at the Folk Art Museum, wrote the introduction for the The Zadock Pratt Museum Coloring Book, and shared “the thrill of the hunt, as one is never sure just what new and exciting quilts, patterns, and designs will turn up in addition to renewing acquaintances with many old favorites.”     

As part of her research, Walsh was able to date the quilts and also found fascinating details about their making. During the Civil War, the region stopped using cotton from the South and that is when imported cotton was largely introduced to the Catskill Mountains. After studying the quilts, Walsh felt inspired to draw them in a way that best reflects their personality. “The art dictated itself,” she explains. She followed the thread and each quilt led to a different approach and style whether whimsical, serious, or as a cartoon. For each quilt Walsh had to make the decision whether to use pen or ink, or what other approach the style might have required. They are all different and carry fascinating stories.


© Zadock Pratt Museum

For instance, the Lost Ships quilt cover was made in 1893 by Frankie Drum, a thirteen-year-old girl who learned the art of quilting from her grandmother. Quilting was a required skill for girls in the Catskills around that time. The project took two years to complete and includes 8,460 individual little pieces of fabric. If you look closely, you will see a horseman depicted in one of the patterns, suggesting Frankie’s love for horses.

© Zadock Pratt Museum

The Crazy Quilt bedcover resembles a Surrealist painting by Marc Chagall, who incidentally had a studio in the Catskills in the 1940s. The “crazy quilt” pattern reached the height of its popularity in the 1890s, the Gilded Age in America, when the industry provided an immense variety of fabric choices in color, prints, and textures. Dr. Atkins, a quilt expert, explains that American women’s fascination with the crazy quilt was inspired by the Japanese kimono which was introduced to the American public at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia. 

© Zadock Pratt Museum

Another popular pattern throughout the 1800s was the octagon. The Octagon quilt included in the book is made of 352 individual octagonal pieces in different colors and patterns. As Walsh explains, the octagon has held a spiritual significance for centuries signifying “the infinity of eternal rebirth.” The octagonal shaped houses also gained in popularity around the same time, and there is still one in existence not too far from the Pratt Museum.

From 2013 until 2020 Walsh had been tour guide, exhibition designer, curator, and archivist at the Zadock Pratt Museum. Undergraduate work in the arts and post-graduate work in early childhood education, including American Montessori certification, became her background credits for the many years in the professional theatre world that followed, working both on stage and behind the scenes in costuming, scene building, playwriting and children’s puppet theatre production. Walsh’s life-long love for fabrics, their history and women’s fashion has coalesced in her serendipitous collaboration with all the people who had an impact on the Pratt Museum’s Historical Quilting Designs Coloring Book. She sums up her experience in one attitude-altering sentence: “Every single one of these wonderful quilts really deserves a history book unto itself.” Walsh is currently working as an independent artist, author and art history consultant.

The book is available at the following retailers: Blooms & Fabrics in Margaretville; Roxbury General in Roxbury; Carrot Barn–Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie; The Conglomerate in Middleburgh; Catskill Mountain Country Store in Windham; Windham Pharmacy in Windham; Taconic Orchards in Hudson; Mahalo Gift Shop in Catskill; Plaid Palette in Cherry Valley; The Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave; The Jefferson Historical Society in Jefferson; The Gilboa Museum and Nicholas J. Juried History Center in Gilboa; What The Soap & Company in Prattsville; Young’s Ace Hardware in Prattsville; Prattsville Diner, and the Zadock Pratt Museum.

The book can be ordered by phone at (518) 299-3395, email at prattmuseum@hotmail.com, or mail at Pratt Museum, PO Box 333, Prattsville, NY 12468. To learn more, visit zadockprattmuseum.org.

Prattsville Clews – A Case Study by Clover Archer

The Zadock Pratt Museum in collaboration with Prattsville Art Center presents Prattsville Clews – A Case Study by Clover Archer, an online exhibition exploring micro or granular histories – small ordinary moments in everyday lives that fill in the vast amount of time around lifetime milestones or what is more generally considered “important.”

In the summer of 2019, as an artist in residence at the Prattsville Art Center, Clover Archer worked closely with the Zadock Pratt Museum to learn more about the history of the area. During this time, she met with Prattsville citizens who generously shared their family histories, stories, photographs, and memorabilia. While meeting with local residents, the artist made notations on large family tree charts documenting their stories as the Prattsvillian contributors reminisced. The artist calls these small human histories “clews.” Our contemporary word “clue” is derived from the word “clew,” originally meaning a ball of yarn or thread. In one Greek myth a “clew” or ball of yarn is used to lead the way out of a labyrinth, which is how we have come to understand the word to mean something that leads to a solution or an answer. Thinking of the labyrinth as a metaphor for life, the artist considers these granular histories to be the moments that lead us through the maze of our existence – guiding the way and filling the time between the more memorable and more commonly documented occasions. Based on this information, the artist has created a series of graphite drawings illustrating a small sampling of the clews that are connected to Prattsville. These small details are both particular to Prattsville and yet not geographically specific. Looking at these illustrations of the ordinary (i.e., a broom, a sled, a car, a cow, etc.), we all have associations with them – we see them as familiar and share the humanity of the small particulars. All drawings are 8 x 10 inches, graphite on paper, made in 2019 and 2020.

The project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by public funds from the Greene County Legislature through the Cultural Fund administered in Greene County by CREATE/Greene County Council on the Arts, the O’Connor Foundation, New York University, and others.

Visit the exhibition online at https://zadockprattmuseum.org/prattsville-clews-exhibition/

Featured Destination: The Hyde Collection

The Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls, Warren County, includes a wide array of artworks and antiques – paintings, sculptures, pottery, books and furniture – spanning from the early Renaissance to modern and contemporary era. The collection was established by Charlotte Pruyn Hyde and her husband Louis Fiske Hyde, who acquired art from the Renaissance to the 19th century. Later on, the collection expanded to include 20th century modern and contemporary works.

The Hyde Collection
The Hyde Collection Art Museum. Source: Facebook

Housed in the Hydes’ 1912 American Renaissance mansion, the collection includes works by Italian Renaissance masters Domenico Tintoretto, Raphael, and Sandro Botticelli; Spanish Renaissance painter, sculptor and architect El Greco; Baroque painters Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn; French Neo-Classical painter Ingres; French Impressionists Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir; Post-Impressionist painters like Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh, as well as modern painters such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. American masters including Winslow Homer are also represented in the collection. In addition to its permanent holdings, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions and other educational programs.

Because of its growing collection, in the 1980s the Museum expanded with a large Education Wing, comprised of three galleries, an auditorium, an art studio as well a storage and visitor amenities area, complementing the adjacent historic Hyde House.

In 2015 we interviewed Erin Coe, then executive director at The Hyde Collection – Coe is currently director of the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State. In 2013, while at The Hyde Collection, Coe organized the acclaimed O’Keeffe and Lake George exhibition in association with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which brought together 58 paintings from public and private collections, created between 1918 and 1934, when O’Keeffe summered at Lake George in the company of Alfred Stieglitz and his family. In fact, Coe co-authored the book Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, which presented groundbreaking scholarship that shed new light on O’Keeffe’s work.

Albert Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt, Yosemite Valley (1865), oil on canvas, 21 3/4 x 30 in. Source: The Hyde Collection

Painters affiliated with the Hudson River School of Painting, founded by Thomas Cole in 1825 and considered the first authentic American art movement, had painted at Lake George, including Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John F. Kensett, Sanford Gifford, and others. The Hyde Collection’s most significant Hudson River School painting in its permanent collection is a painting by Albert Bierstadt, who did not paint at Lake George, however. His Yosemite Valley oil on canvas, painted in 1865, is on display at The Hyde Collection in the Downstairs Guest Room. Because of his interest in the West, Bierstadt is often grouped with the Rocky Mountain School as well. In the 1850s, he studied in Düsseldorf, under the influence of the prestigious Düsseldorf Academy, characterized by detailed, plein air paintings in muted colors. Düsseldorf School exercised influence over the Hudson River School.

In the summer of 2015, The Hyde Collection hosted the exhibition The Late Drawings of Andy Warhol: 1973 – 1987, organized in partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg. Drawing was critical to Warhol’s development as an artist from his early years as an art student to the last few days of his life in 1987. The show included fifty large drawings from the artist’s late period. It was a prolific time in Warhol’s life, when the artist used as inspiration celebrities, flowers, and ads, as seen in his most iconic works. Some of these drawings were shown for the first time at The Hyde Collection. The show drew visitors from all over the world and across the United States.

Currently on view is a modern art exhibition dedicated to Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger, which explores exclusively the three artists’ work as printmakers. Organized by Contemporary and Modern Print Exhibitions, the show includes Picasso’s print series Suite des Saltimbanques (1904-1905) and Le Cocu Magnifique (1968), Braque’s L’Ordre des Oiseaux (1962), and Léger’s Les Illuminations (1950). The exhibition will remain on view through January 5, 2020.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

For more information about The Hyde Collection, and current hours of operation, visit http://www.hydecollection.org/.

161 Warren Street, Glens Falls, NY 12801

(518) 792-1761

“How Art Is Made” Reviewed in A Time and A Place Magazine

“David creates a seamless rapport with each artist, drawing out their individual personalities with meticulously researched questions. Her interviewing style is so natural and unobtrusive that the reader feels like “a fly on the wall” privy to the authentic, unrehearsed lives of the artists. They divulge their thought processes, creative developments, media, materials and muses, but David evokes them into sharing a glimpse of their souls.”

A Time and A Place Dec. 2019

CLICK TO READ THE MAGAZINE ONLINE

Zadock Pratt Museum History Award Recipients

EF_ZADOCKPRATTMUSEUMBENEFIT—2019,_160
From left to right: Donald Bishop (The O’Connor Foundation), Kevin Berner, Janelle Maurer, Ginny Scheer, Donald Teator, and Joe Loverro (WRIP). Photo Credit: ERIC FERRAR PHOTOGRAPHY

The Zadock Pratt Museum’s 2019 History Award Recipients are: Janelle Conine Maurer, Donald B. Teator, Kevin Berner and Ginny Scheer, all recognized for their outstanding work in the local and regional history of the Tri-County area of Delaware, Greene and Schoharie Counties.

The Award Ceremony took place on September 28 at Villa Vosilla in Tannersville, New York.

This year marks the Zadock Pratt Museum’s sixtieth anniversary. Located in Zadock Pratt’s Greek Revival home built in 1828, the museum opened to the public in 1959 as a research and historic preservation center. The founders, which included Hilda Moseman and Brayton Thompkins, envisioned the place as an edifice to honor Pratt’s legacy, recognized by then as a national leader and the founder of Prattsville, one of America’s earliest planned communities. Severely damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011, the museum recovered remarkably with great support from the community and generous benefactors, which included The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation and Nicholas J. Juried Foundation.

Learn more at zadockprattmuseum.org.

Catskill Tri-County Historical Views

Look for Catskill Tri-County Historical Views’ latest issue (June 2019) to read about Art in the Catskills and other cultural projects as well as the history of the region.

Learn about “How Art Is Made: In The Catskills,” reviewed by Leslie T. Sharpe, “Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art,” reviewed by Elizabeth B. Jacks, “Mohonk and the Smileys: A National Historic Landmark and the Family That Created It,” reviewed by Chris Pryslopski, and other topics of interest.

You may find the magazine at Roxbury General Store, Delaware County Historical Association, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and other places.

Zadock Pratt: The Man, The Town & The Nation

Zaadock Pratt Museum in Prattsville, NY (Greene County) will open for the season Saturday, May 25 with Zadock Pratt: The Man, The Town & The Nation, an exhibit whose focus is on Zadock Pratt, the private individual.

Zadock Pratt Museum

The exhibit includes 19th century oil paintings and maps, as well as 20th century artworks in oil and pastel, exhibit text and photographic panels, and a hand-out explaining Pratt’s contributions on local, national and artistic levels. Pratt’s story will be told primarily through paintings by Frederick Spencer, Amos Hamlin, and several unsigned artworks. Other paintings, drawings and/or photographs include a Matthew Brady and canvases by several local artists. All artwork is from the Pratt Museum collections. The story of Pratt Rock Park, one of the nation’s earliest 19th century pleasure parks, in the style of Downing, Vaux and others, will also be featured.

“Zadock Pratt has been a folk hero in his home state of New York for almost 200 years. Most know him as the Greene County tanner, but he is so much more than that. Statesman, entrepreneur, innovator, philanthropist, and private citizen, Pratt is one of the most interesting early American figures that time has forgotten. This exhibit focuses on Pratt, the private individual; the founder of Prattsville, one of America’s earliest planned communities; and national leader, pointing the way to such revered American institutions as the Washington Monument, Smithsonian Institution, and Transcontinental Railroad. It’s about time that Zadock Pratt take his place alongside others in his lifetime whose biographies we know like the back of our hand,” says Carolyn Bennett, the museum’s executive director and curator of this exhibit.

Zadock Pratt Museum is located in Pratt’s 19th century Greek Revival home, 14540 Main Street, Prattsville, NY. The museum opened to the public in 1959. This year marks its sixtieth anniversary. Its collections and programs are dedicated to Pratt’s interests and long-lasting influence in the area. Learn more at zadockprattmuseum.org.

SPONSORED CONTENT

Featured Destination: John Burroughs Estates

Slabsides, West Park 

Naturalist John Burroughs built his log cabin in West Park, Ulster County in 1895, in the Adirondack style. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968, the cabin retains most of its original furnishings, and is open to the public year round. Slabsides is one mile east of Riverby, Burroughs’ main residence. The naturalist wrote some of his most celebrated essays while at Slabsides. He also wrote extensively at Riverby, as well as the Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury, Delaware County, in the Western Catskill Mountains.

Since 1993 John Burroughs Association has honored authors, illustrators and publishers of nature writing by awarding three annual awards: John Burroughs Medal, John Burroughs Nature Essay Award, and Riverby Awards. The Awards Ceremony takes place every year in April at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Burroughs Drive, West Park, NY 12493

(845) 384-6320

For more information, visit

http://www.johnburroughsassociation.org

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Woodchuck Lodge. © Simona David

Woodchuck Lodge, Roxbury 

Woodchuck Lodge, also known as John Burroughs Memorial State Historic Site, was built in the 1860s in the rustic farmhouse style, in Roxbury, Delaware County. It was Burroughs’ summer residence from 1910 to 1921. Burroughs is best known for his collections of nature essay such Wake Robin (1871), and Signs and Seasons (1886). The naturalist writer was friends with many luminaries including President Theodore Roosevelt, industrialist Henry Ford, inventor Thomas Edison, and poet Walt Whitman. Burroughs went to school with financier Jay Gould.

Born in Roxbury on April 3, 1837, he died in 1921, five days before his 84th birthday. He is buried at Boyhood Rock, where he used to play as a child, right next to the Woodchuck Lodge.

Guided tours are offered the first weekend of the month from May to October. Special events and talks are organized the first Saturday of the month, as part of the Wild Saturday series.

1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474

For more information and current hours of operation, visit

http://woodchucklodge.org

John Burroughs’ Signs & Seasons. © Simona David

Bird Note dedicated an entire program to Burroughs this Sunday, January 21, 2018. Listen to the transcript at:

https://www.birdnote.org/show/john-burroughs