Albany International Airport and Thomas Cole Site Present New Exhibition

Sep 21, 2018

Albany International Airport’s Art & Culture Program and the Thomas Cole National Historical Site in Catskill have partnered to present a new exhibition.

The Airport Gallery will host an upcoming exhibition called "Landmark," scheduled to run from September 29th to February 25th.

Landmark considers the legacy of Thomas Cole’s paintings and advocacy for environmental stewardship.

Cole is regarded as a proto-environmentalist who advocated for the appreciation and preservation of America’s landscapes. He is recognized as founder of America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School of landscape painting.

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Betsy Jacks is executive director of the Thomas Cole Historic Site. "The exhibition features 10 contemporary visual artists and seven writers, so it's interdisciplinary, it has both paintings, sculpture, video, photography, as well as these essays that people wrote in reaction to Thomas Cole's essay."

Jacks says Cole's "Essay on American Scenery" isn't that well-known.   "Thomas Cole is most famous for his paintings of course, but he did write this very influential essay back in 1836, and it was really one of the earliest verbalizations of an environmentalists point of view. He was very concerned about the changes that were taking place in the landscapes that he loved so much and he wrote very passionately about it."

According to organizers, the exhibiting artists have international careers and also maintain deep local ties to the Hudson River Valley, as did Cole. Artworks include works on canvas and paper, video, photography and sculpture.

  • The 10 visual artists are Ellen Driscoll, Valerie Hammond, William Lamson, Portia Munson, Kenneth Ragsdale, Anne Roecklein, Lisa Sanditz, Kiki Smith, Darren Waterston and Susan Wides.

Jacks notes each artists' work has compelling connections to Cole’s, covering similar issues from a 21st-century vantage point.

Kathy Greenwood is director of the Art & Culture Program at Albany International Airport.  "The Albany International Airport Gallery is located on the third floor of the main terminal, and it's open to the public 15 hours a day 7 days a week, so it's very accessible. Often people leave time before their flights or after their flights to check out the exhibitions."

A public reception to celebrate the launch of Landmark is set for October 5, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Albany International Airport Gallery.

“This exhibition is the perfect complement to this landmark year, as the Art & Culture Program celebrates its 20th Anniversary, which coincides with the 200th Anniversary of Thomas Cole’s arrival in America,” said Kathy Greenwood, Program Director and Landmark co-curator. “At its core, this Program seeks to showcase the outstanding cultural institutions and artists that populate this region, and it’s exciting and satisfying when we can accomplish that within a single exhibition.”

“We’re excited at the Thomas Cole Site to have this opportunity to work with the Albany Airport to create such an extensive project,” said Kate Menconeri, curator at the Thomas Cole Site and Landmark co-curator. “Thomas Cole was an advocate for living in harmony with the natural world and thoughtful development. What he saw happening to the landscape in the 19th century – new train tracks and industries expanding along the Hudson River – resonates with what artists and writers are responding to now. The project bridges art and ideas past and present but also inevitably is building new connections and conversations about how we might navigate today.”

Among the contemporary visual artwork presented will be a selection of Ellen Driscoll’s large-scale works on paper from her recent Thicket series; Valerie Hammond will develop an iteration of her lyrical Forest installation; an immersive projection of William Lamson’s Infinity Camera will allow visitors a journey along New York waterways that defies a single viewpoint. Portia Munson’s Future Fossils will consist of an encased arrangement of common green plastic objects that both reflect and reject notions about ecology, resource consumption, and the persistence of plastics in the environment. Kenneth Ragsdale has produced a new site-specific installation for Landmark, titled Course of Empire. This work shares its title with Thomas Cole’s iconic 1836 painting series and expresses metaphorical cautionary concerns about the inevitable collision of expansion and consumption. Anne Roecklein’s panoramic vintage travel postcard collages are spliced-together landscapes both real and imagined; Lisa Sanditz’s vibrantly-hued paintings describe places in America that are both revered for their beauty and imperiled by human reach. In Kiki Smith’s 10-foot-high tapestry Harbor - jacquard-woven by Magnolia Editions - birds circle a rocky island amid star-studded sky and sea. A selection of Darren Waterston’s Ecstatic Landscape paintings reveals places habitable more by the spiritual than the corporeal form, and in Susan Wides’ I Kaaterskill series of photographs, relationships are drawn between Thomas Cole’s paintings of the Hudson Valley and those locations as they appear today.