Monday, August 26, 2019

Hudson River Valley Art Workshop, Frederick Church's Olana, Friends and Longwood Gardens

(Above:  Selfie of Steve and me outside Olana Historic Site in the Hudson River Valley, New York.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This past week was magical in so many ways!  First (and very significantly!), my husband Steve was invited to come along to the Hudson Valley Art Workshops for the entire week during which I was teaching a five day "HOT" workshop.  This meant that I got to stitch during the drive to New York State and back, have excellent company, and share the adventure with my very best friend!  Plus, he was free to roam around the area while I was conducting the workshop ... scouting out all the best places for me to visit on Saturday and sampling local craft beers (many of which are currently in our refrigerator!)

(Above:  A visit to Longwood Gardens for the Festival of Fountains with family friend Anabel Pichler and her husband Mark Rybarczyk.)

On the trip north, we spent the night with Anabel Pichler and her family.  They live less than three miles from Longwood Gardens and had tickets for all of us to attend the "Over the Rainbow" Festival of Fountains performance.  It was incredible.  We certainly didn't see enough of this vast complex and hope to return in the future.  The greenhouses were gorgeous.  The landscaping was beyond amazing, and the show defied what one thought possible for coordinated lights, music, and spouting water.  What an evening!

The week at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops was truly grand.  We were housed in a suite above the 24/7 access studio space at the Greenville Arms 1889 Bed & Breakfast.  The studio is perfectly appointed, large, well lit, and comfortable in every respect.  Gourmet breakfasts and dinners made the experience absolutely decadent (especially since the Greenville Arms is home to a chocolaterie called Life By Chocolate.)

The participants came from Ontario, Canada; California; New York, and Massachusetts.  The work produced was as diverse as the locations from which they came!  I provide lots of pre-cut mats but 3D work also emerged during the five days.  People had a blast zapping synthetics with my heat gun, melting grooves with the soldering irons, fusing layers of polyester stretch velvet, applying heat-activated metallic foiling, adding both hand and machine stitched embellishments, and finally mounting their explorations for show-and-tell.

On the final day, everyone shared their finished pieces.  The new record for finished work is now twenty-one!

Creating this composite of work was hard.  There were so many fabulous pieces ... especially lots of horizontally oriented work!  The photo above shows just a sampling!

 (Above:  The Rip Van Winkle Bridge over the Hudson River as seen from Olana Historic Site.)

On Saturday after a sad farewell to the Hudson River Valley Workshop, Steve and I went to Olana Historic Site, the home of the renown 19th landscape oil painter Frederick Church.  We had to cross the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and Hudson River School founder Thomas Cole's historic site.  I was really excited to tour Olana.  Why?  Well, Frederick Church has been a personal inspiration for me!
 (Above:  Olana, home of 19th century landscape painter Frederick Church.)

Two years ago I wrote about this inspiration when exhibiting Saint Anastasia, a triptych that is now part of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) traveling juried show called 3D Expressions.  (CLICK HERE to read the early blog post about Saint Anastasia.)  Two years ago, I displayed my work as one-night-only installation for a single work of art.  I wrote:

I was inspired by Frederic Church's 1859 unveiling of Heart of the Andes.  This mammoth oil painting was elaborately framed with a large, theater curtain.  South American plants decorated the darkened room filled with benches.  Tickets were sold.  The curtain was drawn, intentionally creating the illusion of a window to an exotic landscape.  The public was even charged and admission to witness this single work ... and allowed to use opera glasses to examine the details.  Today, we'd call Frederic Church's presentation "installation art".  This spectacle was an instant success, and the work was later sold to the Metropolitan Museum for $10,000.

To actually go to Frederick Church's estate was WONDERFUL!

The architecture is a mixture of exotic tastes and the interior a testament to the 19th century passion for collecting rare items and rich appointments.

Steve and I took two tours:  one of the ground level and another of the second floor.  Both were too short to fully take in all the colors and details.  95% of the interior is original to the home.  It is truly magnificent!

The tours were limited to twelve people, and our tour guide was excellent.

Frederick Church's studio included his paint brushes and easels.  It was drenched in natural light.

The floor plan was straight-forward and included enormous windows to vast landscapes and light.

Every surface was covered in collections from foreign travels ... from South America, Egypt, Jordan, and all over Europe.  Frederick Church and his wife entertained famous people too ... including Mark Twain and his wife.  I could almost imagine them in the dining room.

The grounds were also glorious.  Situated atop a hill, there were views in every direction.

I couldn't snap photos of all the lovely vessels, books, paintings, carpets, sculptures, and wallpaper.

My camera couldn't capture all the personal touches, bedroom furniture, damask upholstery, servants' bells, tiles, or textiles.

Every angle was beautiful.  Every corner contained an object of beauty.  Every nook held something precious.  I hope to return!

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