If you lived in a house with stunning countryside views from every room, would you want to cover your walls with bucolic landscape paintings? Or modern cityscapes, if you lived in a Manhattan penthouse? Not necessarily. Sometimes we want art to be a window into a different world from our own, real or imagined.
So although it may strike one as counterintuitive at first, it makes perfect sense for our top two local 19th-century shrines to the Hudson River School – the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill – to co-host an exhibition of big-name contemporary art. Works that might inspire completely different associations when viewed at the Museum of Modern Art are seen in a new Luminist light at “River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home,” opening on Sunday, May 3 at both Frederic Church’s Olana and Thomas Cole’s Cedar Grove.
Artworks by Romare Bearden, Elijah Burgher, Chuck Close, Will Cotton, Gregory Crewdson, Lynn Davis, Jerry Gretzinger, Don Gummer, Duncan Hannah, Stephen Hannock, Valerie Hegarty, Angie Keefer with Kara Hamilton and Kianja Strobert, Charles LeDray, Maya Lin, Frank Moore, Elizabeth Murray, Rashaad Newsome, Thomas Nozkowski, Stephen Petegorsky, Martin Puryear, Cindy Sherman, Sienna Shields, Kiki Smith, Joel Sternfeld, Letha Wilson and Elyn Zimmerman will be juxtaposed in the exhibition with complementary works by Thomas Cole and Frederic Church from the two historic sites’ permanent collections.
Co-curated by painter Stephen Hannock and art historian Jason Rosenfeld, “River Crossings” is the first time that these two sites have formally collaborated on such a major scale to present a two-venue exhibition that crosses the Hudson River. “This region has remained an incubator for the new in American art since 1833,” Rosenfeld notes. “This exhibition provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these magnificent recent works in a unique visual conversation with Cole, Church and the sites that inspired so much early American art,” says Hannock.
This Saturday, May 2 from 4 to 7 p.m., members of either of the two historic sites will be treated to a free preview reception. The public opening occurs this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a shuttle conveying visitors between the two sites. Admission costs $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Curators Hannock and Rosenfeld will speak about the exhibition at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 17 at Columbia-Greene Community College. Tickets for the lecture cost $9 general admission, $7 for members. “River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home” runs through November 1. For more information, visit www.rivercrossings.org, www.thomascole.org or www.olana.org.
“River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home” opening, Sunday, May 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $12/$10, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, 218 Spring Street, Catskill, Olana National Historic Site, 5720 Route 9G, Hudson; Stephen Hannock/Jason Rosenfeld lecture, Sunday, May 17, 2 p.m., $9/$7, Columbia-Greene Community College, 4400 Route 23, Hudson; www.rivercrossings.org,www.thomascole.org, www.olana.org.
For more on this landmark exhibition, read our Almanac Weekly interview with co-curator Stephen Hannock at https://bit.ly/1AbyLT9.