Thursday, October 20, 2022

Hudson Valley, New York: 3 Artsy Day Trips

By Jacquelin Carnegie

Hudson River, Olana (photo: JCarnegie)
Looking for something interesting to do for a day trip or weekend getaway? Here are three artsy options:

The Wassaic Project
37 Furnace Bank Rd, Wassaic, NY;
Head to Wassaic, New York to experience a groovy, 1960s-esq, art-loving community. A group of artists, from different disciplines, have come together in this sylvan enclave to: Put on art exhibitions in Maxon Mills, an historic grain mill; Provide artists' studio space in Luther Barn, once used for animal auctions; and do artsy outreach to the local community and the like-minded public at large.
Art Exhibitions: The Wassaic Project curates exhibits by international, emerging artists showcased in the amazing Maxon Mills building.
Kelly Goff, Dumpster
Open Studios: Artists in Residence Studios in the Luther Barn are open to the public usually on the Last Saturday of the month (during COVID some "Chat with the Artists" are virtual.) Events: There are also some fun events such as a Community Block Party, an Artist Parade in May, and a Halloween Haunted House in October. Prior to COVID, and hopefully again in the future, a summer festival was held to celebrate art, music, film & dance, with on-site camping.
Wassaic: The Wassaic Project is right on Main Street in the heart of this little, woodsy hamlet. While in the area, explore other artsy aspects of Dutchess County, NY. 
Maxon Mills (photo: jwcofrin)
Eats: The Lantern (10 Main St) - Local joint with great pizza & micro brews on tap. 
Stay: Book nearby B&Bs or an Airbnb.
Getting There: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central), take Metro-North (Harlem line) to Wassaic (about 2 ½ hrs). Then, a ten-minute walk to The Wassaic Project or get a lift.

While artist Thomas Cole may not be that well known today, he launched America's first, original art movement: the Hudson River School (1825-1875). One of his students, the artist Frederic Church, went on to even greater fame and fortune. You can visit Cole's home and studio, Cedar Grove, in Catskill, NY as well as Church's home, Olana, in Hudson, NY. These historic homes--where American Art was born--are just two miles apart, across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
Thomas Cole, View Near Catskill Village

Church's House on a Hill
Olana State Historic Site
Olana (photo: JCarnegie)
5720 Route 9G, Hudson, NY;
(Make Tour reservations well in advance.)

After studying with artist Thomas Cole from 1844 to 1846, Frederic Edwin Church became a sought-after Hudson River School painter. Through his landscapes of worldwide locations, Church gained national and international prominence, becoming the best-known and most successful painter of his time. In 1867, Church and his wife, Isabel, traveled to Europe and the Middle East. Upon their return, Church built their new home on a hilltop, inspired by Middle-Eastern architecture. Hence, Olana is an impressive combination of Victorian architectural elements and Middle-Eastern decorative motifs. Church worked closely with famous architect Calvert Vaux on the house, but the landscape architecture for Olana’s 250-acres was his own design. The naturalistic landscape is considered another of Church’s great artworks. Today, due to conservation efforts, it's one of the best-preserved, artist-designed landscapes in the United States.
Frederic Church, View of West Point
Hudson, NY: Hudson is a pretty, hip little town with tons of eateries, nice shops, and art galleries on Warren Street, plus the Hudson Hall performing arts center. In addition to visiting Olana, the Omi International Arts Center (1405 Co Rt 22, Ghent, NY) with The Fields Sculpture Park is nearby, plus other Columbia County attractions.
Eats: Nice, inexpensive places for Lunch: The Cascades (407 Warren St), Le Perche (230 Warren St); Dinner:
 Ca'Mea (333 Warren St), Wunderbar & Bistro (744 Warren St); Gourmet Take Out: Talbott & Arding (323 Warren St).
Stay: Westcott House B&B (24 North Fifth St). Or, try Airbnb. Getting There: Drive or from New York (Penn Station), take an Amtrak train to Hudson (about 2 hrs, with stunning views of the Hudson River along the way). Then, a 10-minute taxi ride.

Cole's Home: The Hudson River School of Art
Thomas Cole National Historic Site

218 Spring St., Catskill, NY; Tel: 518-943-7465;
(House open year-round; Studios, March-Nov/May-Oct; Book a Tour)

While Church's Olana is opulent, Cole's Cedar Grove is modest. Born in England, Thomas Cole came to America in 1818 when he was 17 years old. Mostly self-taught, he worked with members of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, but struggled to make a living as an artist. Finally, he received recognition for paintings he made from sketching in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills during the summer of 1825. Cole became the leader of a group of landscape artists now known as the Hudson River School. Today, Cole's home and studio, Cedar Grove, is used for art exhibits and other arts-related events. There are “Sunday Salons” (Jan-April) and guided hikes (June-Oct) along the Hudson River School Art Trail to see the landscapes Thomas Cole painted.
Catskill, NY: Not upscale like Hudson, but this little town still has its' charms. There are quaint shops and some galleries on Main Street, plus other Greene County attractions.
Eats: La Conca Doro (440 Main St) & Frank Guido’s Port of Call (7 Main St) right on the water, open seasonally. Stay: Check out various types of Catskill’s accommodations.
Olana, Dining Rm (photo: A.Wainwright)
Getting There: Drive or from New York (Penn Station), take an Amtrak train to Hudson. Then, a 10-minute taxi ride. Another option: rent a car in Hudson. Cedar Grove & Olana are about 10 minutes apart.
Editor's NoteRiver Crossings: A fantastic exhibit that featured contemporary works by world-renowned artists to celebrate Cole's & Church's legacy; still worth checking out.

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