The Thomas Cole National Historic Site The Thomas Cole National Historic Site
Catskill, NY

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site
218 Spring Street
Catskill, NY 12414
(518) 943-7465


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Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment

The Pollinator Pavilion: MARK DION & DANA SHERWOOD


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Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment
June 12 - October 31, 2021

Olana State Historic Site and Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Catskill and Hudson, NY – March 1, 2021 – The Olana Partnership, Olana State Historic Site, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site announced today that “Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment” will open on June 12 at the two historic sites – the only opportunity to see the unique presentation of the exhibition in New York, in the landscapes and historic spaces that so dramatically influenced and continue to influence the evolution of art in America. For the first time in over two decades, 16 paintings from the influential series of hummingbirds and habitats – The Gems of Brazil (1863-64) – by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) will be on view in New York for public audiences. The project uses the metaphor of cross-pollination inspired by Heade’s paintings to explore interconnections in art and science, between artists, and across the 19th and 21st centuries. Paintings, sketches, sculpture, and natural history specimens will be displayed in provocative juxtapositions.

Artist Martin Johnson Heade has long been associated with the Hudson River School of landscape painting, which is characterized by the epic landscapes of the artists Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and Frederic Church (1826-1900). Heade, though, with his series The Gems of Brazil, was making a different kind of “landscape” that magnified the intricate operations within nature itself. Heade traveled to Brazil in 1863, so that he could study the hummingbirds in their natural habitat. Heade’s focus in The Gems and his related writing, which decries the overhunting of bird species, aligns with the proto-environmentalism of Thomas Cole, who wrote against deforestation in his own time. Heade’s own Brazilian journey was inspired by Frederic Church’s travels in Latin America. The environmental awareness and advocacy of these 19th-century artists connect thought and conversations taking place today, as concern for preservation and protection of the environment reaches critical urgency.

The exhibition will also include paintings by Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, as well as botanical works on both paper and porcelain by Emily Cole, Cole’s daughter, and Isabel Charlotte Church, Church’s daughter, which will be shown together here for the first time. The exhibition highlights natural specimen collections amassed by Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, including Cole’s mineral and herbarium collections and a sampling of the Church family’s extensive collection of bird eggs.

“Cross Pollination” positions these 19th-century artists in a call and response with 21st-century American artists, whose works engage contemporary issues related to biodiversity, habitat protection, and environmental sustainability. The contemporary artists are Rachel Berwick, Nick Cave, Mark Dion, Richard Estes, Juan Fontanive, Jeffrey Gibson, Paula Hayes, Patrick Jacobs, Maya Lin, Flora C. Mace, Vik Muniz, Portia Munson, Lisa Sanditz, Emily Sartor, Sayler/Morris, Dana Sherwood, Jean Shin, Rachel Sussman, and Jeff Whetstone.

The joint project will be presented simultaneously as one exhibition at both Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, NY, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY, from June 12 to October 31, 2021. The two historic sites are connected by the Hudson River Skywalk, a scenic walkway across the Hudson River – with sweeping views of the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains – that opened in June 2019. “Cross Pollination” is the second major collaborative project between Olana and the Thomas Cole Site and builds upon the success of the inaugural “River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home” exhibition in 2015.

The “Cross Pollination” exhibition was created by The Olana Partnership at Olana State Historic Site, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. The exhibition was originally scheduled to open in May 2020 at the two historic sites in New York but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition tour is presented at a total of five venues: Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, FL, Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, Thomas Cole National Historic Site and The Olana Partnership at Olana State Historic Site in New York’s Hudson Valley, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. The exhibition tour is organized by Crystal Bridges.

The exhibition will include site-specific artwork created expressly for this occasion and inspired by The Gems of Brazil, the natural environment, and the landscapes, historic homes, and studios of Cole and Church. The following artists made new work for these specific settings: Rachel Berwick, Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood, Lisa Sanditz and Emily Sartor, and Jean Shin. In addition, Sayler/Morris, Portia Munson, and Paula Hayes drew from existing works to create new site-specific installations for “Cross Pollination.” The Pollinator Pavilion, for instance, is a major public artwork by Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood created for the exhibition at the Thomas Cole Site; it is designed so that pollinators and humans may share the same space. Nationally renowned artist Jean Shin will create a site-specific installation at Olana titled "FALLEN," a memorial artwork created from a much-beloved hemlock tree that died of natural causes. “FALLEN” creates an opportunity to reflect on the sadness of both this hemlock and the wider history of environmental loss in the Catskills region. The installation is in process and will open on May 1.

Olana and the Thomas Cole Site interpret and open their landscapes to the community for free as public parks and follow all pandemic protocols laid out by New York State. All guided tour and program participants are required to wear masks covering the mouth and nose and maintain social distancing (six feet at all times). More information and tour details are available at the historic sites’ websites (below).

“Cross Pollination” is curated by Kate Menconeri, Curator & Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Julia B. Rosenbaum, Associate Professor and Chair of Art History & Visual Culture, Bard College, and former Director of Research & Publications at The Olana Partnership; Mindy N. Besaw, Curator of American Art & Director of Fellowships and Research at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and William L. Coleman, Director of Collections & Exhibitions at The Olana Partnership. The exhibition was created collaboratively by the partner museums and in conversations with leading American artists, scholars, scientists, and historians.

A richly illustrated companion book – also titled “Cross Pollination” – accompanies the exhibition and features new original essays by the exhibition curators. The book is published by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and The Olana Partnership.

Support for the exhibition and its national tour is provided by Art Bridges. Additional major support is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition is supported in New York in part by The National Endowment for the Arts, Market New York through I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism as part of the Regional Economic Development Council awards, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and the New York State Legislature; the Robert Lehman Foundation; The Bank of Greene County Charitable Foundation; Greene County Legislature through the County Initiative Program of the Greene County Council on the Arts; The Olana Partnership’s Novak-Ferber Exhibitions Fund, the Kindred Spirits Society of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Charina Foundation, The Stainman Family Foundation, Anne Miller & Stuart Breslow, Kristin Gamble, and Deedee & Barrie Wigmore. Support for the catalogue is provided by Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

OLANA STATE HISTORIC SITE AND THE OLANA PARTNERSHIP: Olana is the greatest masterpiece of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), a preeminent American artist of the mid-19th century and the most important artist’s home, studio, and designed landscape in the United States. Church designed Olana as a holistic environment integrating his advanced ideas about art, architecture, landscape design, and environmental conservation. Olana’s 250-acre artist-designed landscape with five miles of carriage roads and a Persian-inspired house embraces unrivaled panoramic views of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains and welcomes more than 170,000 visitors annually. Olana State Historic Site, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, is a designated National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited historic sites in the state. The Olana Partnership, a private not-for-profit education corporation, works cooperatively with New York State Parks to support the restoration, conservation, and interpretation of Olana to make it accessible to all.

THE THOMAS COLE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE is an international destination presenting the original home and studios of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the nation’s first major art movement. Located on 6 acres in the Hudson Valley, the site includes the 1815 Main House; Cole’s 1839 Old Studio; the reconstructed historic New Studio building; and panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains. It is a National Historic Landmark and an affiliated area of the National Park System. The Thomas Cole Site’s activities include guided tours, special exhibitions of both 19th-century and contemporary art, printed publications, extensive online programs, activities for school groups, free community events, lectures, and innovative public programs such as the Hudson River School Art Trail—a map and website that enable visitors to visit the places that Cole painted. The goal of all programs at the Thomas Cole Site is to enable visitors to find meaning and inspiration in Thomas Cole’s life and work. The themes that Cole explored in his art and writings—such as landscape preservation, our conception of nature as a restorative power and the need for public art museums—are historic and timely, providing the opportunity to connect to audiences with insights that are highly relevant to their own lives. The Thomas Cole Site’s programming and operations are continually evolving under its initiatives for Greening, and Diversity, Equity and Access.

HUDSON RIVER SKYWALK REGION: The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY and Olana – across the Hudson River in Hudson, NY – joined forces with New York State to launch a new initiative to recognize the region as an epicenter of American art where the nation’s first major art movement began. The project – titled the Hudson River Skywalk Region – weaves together the home and studios of Thomas Cole at the Thomas Cole Site and those of his legendary student Frederic Church at Olana with the landscape that inspired it all to create one seamless experience. With support from New York State, a continuous pedestrian scenic walkway – the Hudson River Skywalk – connects the historic sites across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge over the Hudson River. The Region also includes the City of Hudson and the Town of Catskill. For more information, visit www.hudsonriverskywalk.org.

Olana VISITOR INFORMATION: The landscape is free and open to all every day from 8:30 am to sunset. For a current list of tours of the Main House and artist-designed landscape, visit www.olana.org/hours-and-admission. Keep in touch on social media @OlanaSHS.

Thomas Cole VISITOR INFORMATION: Admission to the gardens and grounds is free every day from dawn until dusk. The hours for Thomas Cole’s home, studios and special exhibitions vary by season. For details, see www.thomascole.org/visit. Keep in touch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @thomascolesite.

The Pollinator Pavilion: MARK DION & DANA SHERWOOD
August 7, 2020 – Fall 2021
On the Grounds

Open every day from dawn to dusk

Project Overview
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site presents The Pollinator Pavilion, a new public artwork by internationally renowned artists Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood. The new artwork provides a fantastical architectural setting that offers miraculous moments in which individuals can encounter hummingbirds while exploring a nurturing relationship with nature. The Pollinator Pavilion was designed specifically for the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

The artists created this interactive artwork to provide sustenance to pollinators and a place of wonder for human visitors, who may have an up-close encounter with these enchanting creatures, particularly the fleeting Ruby-throated hummingbird, an important pollinator and the only hummingbird species that lives in this region. The open-air, lavender painted Gothic style gazebo is filled with living pollinator gardens, feeders, original paintings by the artists, and seating for one guest at a time. Designed to attract pollinators and humans to share the same space, the pavilion creates a radical decontextualization in which individuals can see themselves as part of nature and understand their own capacity to foster an environment of ecological balance.

The Pollinator Pavilion is a 21 ½-foot-high, painted wood, architectural confection draped with flowers, plants, and paintings by the artists, designed as much for hummingbirds as for people. Sherwood and Dion have worked with living animals for years and their approach is to emphasize the animal as an individual that is best appreciated by an actual face-to-face encounter. The Pollinator Pavilion invites human viewers to slow down and allow the process of pollination and feeding to be observed with reverence and joy.

This work was originally inspired by the influential series of paintings known as The Gems of Brazil (1863-64) by the nineteenth-century artist, Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904), a protégé of Frederic Church, who was in turn a protégé of Cole. The Gems of Brazil will be on view as part of the major traveling exhibition, Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church and our Contemporary Moment, created by the Thomas Cole Site (Catskill, NY), The Olana Partnership at Olana State Historic Site (Hudson, NY), and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR), which will be presented jointly and open in full at the Thomas Cole Site and Olana State Historic Site in Spring 2021. The Pollinator Pavilion anticipates its arrival and will be a part of that exhibition, which was delayed by a year due to COVID-19.
From the Artists

“Thomas Cole delighted in nature and fantasy, and The Pollinator Pavilion shares that sense of delight. It creates a dialogue between architecture and nature that Cole would have relished.” Mark Dion

“We know that we have the capacity to destroy nature,” said Dana Sherwood. “Here art is enabling us to experience the wonder of co-existence with nature. It makes possible miraculous moments that can profoundly alter our sense of place within nature and our responsibility for it.” Dana Sherwood

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