Frederick Church

Mark Prezorski waxes enthusiastic when it comes to the Olana landscape. He not only lives in the shadow of Olana, but he is its landscape curator, a job as vital to the preservation of Frederic Church's legacy as the preservation of Church's house. As Mark points out, Church considered the Olana landscape the work of art of which he was most proud. Mark calls Church America's first landscape preservationist. Prezorski was giving us a private tour of the carriage roads in his new GEM, an electric golf cart that seats six. 
 Prezorski recalls how Church identified the hill across the river from Catskill where he studied landscape painting with Thomas Cole in the years 1844-46. The impression of that landscape stayed with him so when he looked for a place to build his house in 1860 he returned to that place on the Hudson, then called Sienghenburgh. He built Cozy Cottage on the first farm he acquired.

A show layered with meanings, connections and bold conceptions opened at two historic houses on Saturday, May 2 - Olana and the Thomas Cole house.  First is the idea that American art essentially began with Thomas Cole who saw the American landscape disappearing before his eyes in the 1820’s as population brought change.  He was conscious that he wanted to capture that landscape for an historical record and to elevate it as an expression of something uniquely American.  His charming house on the Hudson with its two studios was where the Hudson River School had its beginnings.  

 It is now where 32 works by living artists are displayed.  Kiki Smith, Stephen Hannock, Cindy Sherman, Angie Keefer, Thomas Nozowski and Stephen Petegorsky are some of the artists you will meet in the rooms of Thomas Cole’s restored house in Catskill, just over the Rip van Winkle Bridge.  They are a good cross-section of working, but established artists, most having connections to the Hudson River Valley.  Outside, in the grounds, two sculptures by Don Gummer look as natural in their surroundings as the trees that shade them. 

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