frederic church

The view from The Bell Tower at Olana - glasses less peaked windows in the foreground and a view of the Hudson River Valley below - a green landscape and an overcast sky
Sarah LaDuke

In Frederic Church’s Ombra: Architecture in Conversation with Nature” is a new exhibition on view at Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York. Hudson River School painter Frederic Church worked with Central Park architect Calvert Vaux to create Olana’s main house. Their design incorporated vast Hudson Valley views. A key space in Olana’s main house design is the “Ombra”, an outdoor room which is a transition zone between the central Court Hall and the surrounding landscape. In the new exhibition, several architects have paired with visual artists and other designers to develop their concepts and treatments regarding the indoor-outdoor spaces at Olana.

The exhibition is guest-curated by Barry Bergdoll, the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University and a curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Featured speakers from our visit to Olana, in addition to Barry Bergdoll: Senior Vice President and Landscape Curator at The Olana Partnership, Mark Prezorski; Jennifer Sage, one of the architects who created work for “In Frederic Church’s Ombra: Architecture in Conversation with Nature,” Sage and Coombe Architects is located in New York City and led by Jennifer Sage and Peter Coombe; and Stan Allen, an architect working in the Hudson River Valley and George Dutton ’27 Professor of Architecture at Princeton University.

“In Frederic Church’s Ombra: Architecture in Conversation with Nature” is on view through November 3, 2019.

Frederic Edwin Church, a central figure in a group of artists known as the Hudson River School, became internationally renowned as a painter of monumental landscapes. The spectacular panoramas he painted in the 1840s through 1890s helped shape not only the cultural identity of the United States, but also of himself when he applied his vision as an artist to the house and 250-acre landscape that he named Olana, known today as Olana State Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark.

Olana’s designed landscape has been sensitively restored over the last ten years and can now be experienced by visitors very much as Church and his family experienced it in the 19th century. The new book: "Frederic Church’s Olana on the Hudson: Art Landscape Architecture," includes nearly fifty paintings and sketches by Church, alongside gorgeous photography by Larry Lederman and engaging essays by David Schuyler, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Stephen Hannock, and Thomas Woltz and Eleanor Jones Harvey who join us.

Teresit Fernandez "Overlook" at Olana
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The new exhibition Overlook: Teresita Fernández Confronts Frederic Church at Olana A collaboration with the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros is now open at Olana State Historic Site. In the exhibition, artist Teresita Fernández examines Frederic Church and his contemporaries’ response to the cultures and landscapes they experienced during their 19th century Latin American travels.

Visitors will have the opportunity to explore Fernández’s perspective and respond to her provocative installation in Olana’s Sharp Family Gallery. Combining portraits of indigenous people, dramatic horizon lines, and botanical representations of the natural world, Fernández presents the works through a contemporary lens that prioritizes the individual within the landscape.

Teresita Fernández is best known for her prominent public sculptures and unconventional use of materials. Her work is characterized by an interest in perception and the psychology of looking.