The Grand Opening!

On Sunday May 1, the grand opening and official ribbon-cutting for the New Studio took place at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Pictured here, left to right: Anne Miller, Chairman of the Capital Campaign Committee; Lisa Fox Martin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, George Amadore, State Senator; Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director; and John Mesick, Architect.

Betsy JacksThe Grand Opening!

Old Studio

The Old Studio is a barn-like building where Thomas Cole created many of his most iconic and celebrated paintings. The building was restored in 2004 and is now furnished with his original easels and other art-making equipment and tools.

Immediately after his marriage in 1836, Thomas Cole worked in the Main House itself. But in 1839, Cole was able to move to the Old Studio, a larger and more private space, thanks to John Thomson. The new location was a separate building on Cedar Grove’s grounds, as Cole explained in a letter to Asher B. Durand in December of 1839:

“Do you know that I have got into a new painting Room? Mr. Thomson has lately erected a sort of Store-house + has let me have part of it for a temporary painting room [;] it answers pretty well [;] is somewhat larger than my old one + being removed from the noise + bustle of the house is really charming…”

Although Cole considered this a temporary arrangement, he painted many of his most important works in this storehouse studio, including the Voyage of Life for his patron Samuel Ward, as the ceiling was high enough to accommodate large canvasses. A fireplace permitted Cole to work in any season, and Cole himself paid for the addition of a large skylight-like window to admit northern light, the preferred light for painting. Cole welcomed visits from his family to the studio, and the Cole children came and went while their father was working. The Old Studio also afforded the space for grinding pigments into paint, constructing stretchers, stretching canvasses, and fitting pictures into frames. Painting at this time involved a lot of hard physical labor—active, smelly, and frequently messy.

Cole painted in the Old Studio for seven years until December 1846. In his Christmas journal entry for that year, Cole recorded, “I am now sitting in my New Studio which is about completed though the walls are not yet dry.” Learn more about the New Studio here.

rootOld Studio

Finishing Touches

November 25, 2015At last the beautiful, hand-made, bright green shutters have arrived. The architect John Mesick designed them to be exactly like the originals, with smaller louvers on the top half of each shutter and larger louvers on the bottom half. The color was taken from two sources: one is a pencil drawing by Frederic Church from 1848 in which he indicates the colors in his hand-written notes on the drawing. The second is from a recently discovered painting of the building by Charles Herbert Moore, which will be on view inside the New Studio as part of the 2016 exhibition that will open on May 1, 2016.

Betsy JacksFinishing Touches

Preview for Supporters Coming Up

On Saturday September 19th we will open the doors of the New Studio for the first time for a special preview for everyone who has donated to the campaign. This is a truly thrilling moment for all of us. Please donate now and join this incredible celebration. Cocktails will begin at 5 pm, followed by remarks by the building’s renowned architect John I Mesick at 5:30. The event is free for anyone who has donated to the campaign at any level. Become a part of this historic moment.

Betsy JacksPreview for Supporters Coming Up

Thomas Cole’s New Studio

On May 1, 2016, the reconstruction of Thomas Cole’s New Studio officially opened to the public. Originally built in 1846 according to Thomas Cole’s own design, the building stood about 75 yards from Cole’s home in Catskill for 125 years. Tragically, it was torn down in 1973 after falling into disrepair. Now, after many years of research and a successful capital campaign, the building has been reconstructed and is open to visitors. Visit Reconstructing Thomas Cole’s New Studio for a behind-the-scenes look into the process.

The interior of the New Studio features a state-of-the-art exhibition space for displaying changing exhibitions, and its open floor plan provides a flexible space for lectures and educational programing. The building enables the Thomas Cole National Historic Site to effectively serve as a catalyst for the burgeoning national and international interest in 19th century American landscape painting, an outstanding destination for visitors to and residents of the Hudson Valley, and a resource and inspiration for future generations of scholars, collectors and artists.

Jasper Cropsey, Thomas Cole's Studio, Catskill, New York, 1850. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Jasper Cropsey, Thomas Cole’s Studio, Catskill, New York, 1850. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

An Inspiration for Generations

After Cole’s death, his widow Maria, her three unmarried sisters and the Cole children – Theodore, Mary, Emily, and Thomas II – remained at the Cole property, known as Cedar Grove.  For decades little changed at the property, which was maintained consistently by the family into the twentieth century, as one reporter in 1871 described it, “like a shrine.”  After Cole’s passing, artists Frederic Church and Jasper Cropsey sketched Cedar Grove, including glimpses of the “new studio,” the only such images that survive before photographs from the turn of the century.   After his visit, Cropsey wrote this moving description of the space:

After breakfast we were invited to the studio. It is a new building about 1000 yards from the house, large and commodious, with a neat little porch and a wide open hall before entering the painting department. It is built in the modern florid style. We Entered; it seemed as if Mr. Cole would be in in a few minutes for every thing remains as when he last left painting. The picture he last painted on yet stands on the Easel, The brushes he painted with that last day are there; his paint table looks as when he was there – There too is the sketches upon the floor, and standing by the Easel as he left them – There are his books, his writing table, portfolios, and in short I felt like asking, “when will Mr. C be in,” Though the man has departed, yet he has left a spell behind him that is not broken, as you may sit there upon the sofa, and look upon his works, we will feel more than ever the devotion, genius and spirit of the man. Every thing breaths so much candor of will, truth of purpose, and love of the refined and beautiful, that we feel a kind of reverence there, we instinctively feel like taking off our hats, when we enter although He is not there.

A Comprehensive Plan

The Trustees and staff of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site completed a new strategic plan in 2010 focusing on transforming Thomas Cole’s home and studios into a leading center for education and scholarship about the artist and his influence on America’s cultural landscape. These goals will be achieved with dynamic and relevant programming, supported by an expanding permanent collection and well maintained physical facilities.

The New Studio is part of the overall site-wide plan to prepare the organization for a strong and sustainable future. Many pieces of the plan have already been implemented – including a site-wide landscape restoration, upgrades to parking and paths, reconstruction of the historic stone wall and fence along Spring Street, and relocating staff offices out of the 1815 Main House and into a different building on the property.  The reconstruction of the New Studio will provide the Thomas Cole National Historic Site with many of the remaining key pieces of the plan: an interior program space that serves as a museum-quality gallery for special exhibitions and a lecture hall for a variety of programs and events. It will serve all ages and segments of the community – students and teachers, families, scholars, area businesses and visitors from across the country. Most importantly, the New Studio project will ensure that present and future generations can learn about the profound impact of Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School.

Support provided by Market NY through I LOVE NY/ New York State’s Division of Tourism as a part of the Regional Economic Development Council awards.

rootThomas Cole’s New Studio

The New Studio Hits The New York Times

The lovely reporter, Eve Kahn, visited us a few weeks ago and just fell in love with the New Studio. As luck would have it, the exterior scaffolding had just been taken down, and the exterior painting just completed, revealing the beautiful little building in its full glory at last. She exclaimed, “It combines grandeur with adorableness!”, which I had to agree with. Here is her wonderful article that appeared in print today:

http://nyti.ms/1VCHCdk

Betsy JacksThe New Studio Hits The New York Times

Siding, trim!

The construction crew of Dimensions North continued work through the weekend to get up the siding and trim along the roofline. Every day the building looks more and more like the photograph.  The 2015 photo is taken from the south-east corner, while the 1900 photo is taken from the north-west.

2015+May+8+trim

New_Studio_c1900-lowres

Betsy JacksSiding, trim!

Barge board of solid mahogany

Over the winter, while the rest of us were wondering if the cold weather would ever end, the construction crew at the New Studio have been busy. With the building closed in and insulated, even the below-zero weather did not slow them down. On New Year’s Day, the cellulose insultation was blown into the wall cavities. The VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) was installed, along with the security system. The stainless steel pipes for the high-pressure mist fire suppression system were laid into the attic. A large sample of the “barge board” was created and approved by the architect. In the photo at right, the head contractor Rich Rappleyea shows off the woodwork sample, made of solid mahogany so that it will last at least 50 years. Now, with the weather turning at last, the crew will turn to work on the exterior once again.

Betsy JacksBarge board of solid mahogany

Cast in Silver

Right now, the New Studio looks as if it were made of solid silver. The building has an unusual construction: the plywood sheathing is on the inside, attached to the wooden studs from within. The insulation, therefore, was added from the outside. What you are seeing in the photo at right is the foil coating on the insulating foam board. Underneath that layer is cellulose insulation, in between the studs. Very soon, the contractor will be putting on the siding. I’m sure the siding will be beautiful, but I do like the solid silver monument that it is right now.

Betsy JacksCast in Silver

The Roof Takes Shape

We brought in a crane this week and lifted the trusses into place. The building is taking on its final shape in this video:

Betsy JacksThe Roof Takes Shape