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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A lot has been written about the role of museums in the 21st century when collections can be seen and learned about in virtual galleries rather than taking the trip.
Traditionally, museums have played the role of research and educational institutions, not just as mere collectors and guardians of cultural artifacts. They have also been economic engines, strengthening local business climates through cultural tourism. The museum giftshops are amongst the most meaningful and artful shopping experiences that can capture wider and wider audiences. In recent years museums have begun playing a social and community function as well by offering services otherwise outside the scope of their mission, such as hosting training programs and other events. By visiting MoMA nowadays you can enjoy not just modern art, but also culinary art at its finest: the museum’s restaurant The Modern, which overlooks The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, has gotten a great review in The New York Times, Art on the Walls and on the Plates, as well as in the New York Magazine, Modern Love. At the Corning Museum of Glass you will not only explore thousands of years of glass history, but you will also learn to make glass yourself. At the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, upstate New York, you will be taught to print holiday cards, make lavender and rose water, and other 19th century activities, not just be told about them. Actors enacting different periods of time may also be on site, making it a “living” history experience to remember. In recent years holograms have emerged as a new way of experiencing a visit to a museum, understanding its artifacts, and be part of something you will never forget, as exemplified in an article for Gizmodo magazine.
Museums are community assets, and an integral part of the social fabric of our communities. According to Ford W. Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums from 2007 to 2015, as quoted in a 2013 interview with CNN, “Museums hold more than 1 billion objects, and together these constitute our shared heritages cultural, historic, scientific, natural. As the keepers, protectors, interpreters and exhibitors of these heritages, museums play an essential role. In recent years, museums are playing perhaps an even more essential role, but one that is less tangible. In an increasingly virtual world, museums are among the last bastions of authenticity.”
How do museums remain relevant in the 21st century? In 2013 Linda Norris and Rainey Tisdale, two scholars and museum professionals, published a book titled Creativity in Museum Practice, replete with creativity exercises and stories from the field as a guide to developing an internal culture of creative learning in museums, and delivering an increased value to museum visitors. Creative leaders are looking for interactive programs, love to improvise, engage the community in conversations, and take risks.
There is a project underway called #FutureMuseum Project which explores this very question: how will museums of the future look like? According to Oliver Vicars-Harris, director at Connecting Culture, a museum consultancy based in London, “Museum curatorship will have evolved beyond preoccupation with preserving and presenting collections, to propensity for encouraging connections. A genuine two-way relationship will exist, with the audience given agency to drive the agenda. The distance between past and present will be reduced, with history providing meaning. The division between high and low art will be dissolved, with heritage providing contrast to popular culture.” The museums of the future will provide context to contemporary events. This is just one point of view. You can add your voice to the conversation by submitting your opinion to email@example.com.
Some of the best museum experiences are the ones we go to not just to learn, but also to socialize and converse. A visit to a museum will not only satisfy our curiosity, but it will also benefit our social life. It is by far more stimulating to gaze at a work of art with a friend, and muse over its meaning or aesthetic value, rather than doing it alone (although that has its own merit, especially for researchers and critics). Younger generations are increasingly driven by experiences rather than purchasing tangible goods: they prefer “collecting” memorable moments to physical objects. Museums, large and small, can benefit from this trend by offering “instagrammable” experiences to engage millennials, and making it part of their brand.
Among innovators, one can certainly name Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which has recently introduced a program called The Art Hive that brings together art and well-being. The aim of the project is to form “a creative studio supervised by an art therapist, with art materials provided free of charge.” This will be a space “where participants can meet to discuss, participate or exhibit.” As a step further, as outlined in an article for Quartz magazine, doctors in Montreal will prescribe visits to the art museum.
You may be accustomed to visiting art, history and science museums, but in recent years museology has expanded to include for instance a National Language Museum, which opened in Washington DC in 2008, and currently operates only as a virtual museum, although some of its exhibits are available for loans; or the National Museum of Mathematics, which opened in New York City in 2012, and whose exhibits include seeing math as everyday experiences, news from the world of mathematics, but also more fun and playful activities such as using math symbols to create quirky logos, and other math inspired games.
It will be fascinating to see what the future brings in museum practice, and how the makers, collectors, curators, preservationists, and educators will transform visitor experience in the years to come.
ART CONVERSATION AND WRITING WORKSHOP WITH AUTHOR SIMONA DAVID
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2018, 1 – 2:30 PM
THE ZADOCK PRATT MUSEUM, 14540 MAIN STREET / RTE 23, PRATTSVILLE, NY
As guest of the Zadock Pratt Museum, Simona David, author of “How Art Is Made: In the Catskills” (2017), will talk about her experience interviewing artists, and discuss what moves and inspires the creative mind, how a new artistic project is born, how materials are used and different stylistic choices are made, how setbacks are dealt with, and how success is celebrated.
Ms. David will then teach a workshop on art writing, and discuss various research and writing techniques.
To register, call Pratt Museum at (518) 937-6120.
This event is funded in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The University at Albany’s Art Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The Museum opened in October 1967 with an exhibition titled Painting and Sculpture from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection, which featured over fifty works by some of the most prominent artists of the 20th century: Picasso, Miro, Braque, Klee, de Kooning, and Calder, among others.
In 2015 the Museum hosted a retrospective show titled Bordering Utopia: Sculptures by Brian Tolle, dedicated to alumnus Brian Tolle, an internationally acclaimed sculptor known for The Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City (2002), and more recently for Miss Brooklyn and Miss Manhattan, two replicas of Daniel Chester French originals that sit on the façade of the Brooklyn Museum – Tolle’s replicas were installed on Flatbush Avenue by the Manhattan Bridge in December last year. He is one of the artists featured in our book How Art Is Made: In the Catskills.
To learn more about the University at Albany’s Art Museum, visit www.albany.edu.
Situated on the east bank of the Hudson River in Hyde Park, Dutchess County, Vanderbilt Mansion is a classic example of the Gilded Age country estate in America. The Gilded Age spanned from 1870 to 1900, and was an era characterized by rapid economic growth and wealth accumulation.
Frederick William and Louise Vanderbilt bought the estate in 1895, and expanded and re-modeled the property in the Beaux-Arts architectural style. The interiors are lavishly decorated with European antiques and period reproductions. The estate also includes gardens, designed in the Italian style, and overlooks the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. Guided tours are offered every day, year round.
119 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538
For more information and current hours of operation, visit
The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, Steuben County, has on display some of the world’s most exquisite glass collections, spanning over thousands of years of history. Glass objects and glassmaking techniques from various parts of the world are showcased in several different galleries. A gallery dedicated to Glass in America includes early and rare artistic and decorative pieces. Glassmaking is considered to be the country’s first industry: it started with a glass workshop in Virginia in 1608.
A new wing, dedicated to Contemporary Art and Design, opened at the Corning Museum in 2015 in a newly designed 26,000 square foot modern building shaped like a large white box. A GlassApp, including videos, photographs, and artists’ bios, also launched in 2015 to enhance visitor experience. Demonstrations and workshops as well as lectures and other events are offered from time to time.
Earlier this summer I spoke with Dr. Marvin Bolt, Curator of Science and Technology at the Corning Museum of Glass. Dr. Bolt’s job is to enhance the museum’s science and technology-based collections and exhibits, and to interpret the information for diverse audiences, from schoolchildren to working scientists. Dr. Bolt holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science, and is a specialist in telescopes.