I’ve had the note card on my desk since June – “Slate as Muse” – a special exhibit of art at the Slate Valley Museum in nearby Granville, NY, inspired by, and at times done with, slate. I’ve kept it on the desk because I wanted to go and I needed that reminder. But I almost missed it. I looked down at the card Friday and realized time was almost up. Fortunately I managed to sneak in under the wire and catch it just in time. It’s now officially done.
If you haven’t been to the Slate Valley Museum and you live near me in Southwest Vermont or nearby New York, it’s a good place to go. Slate quarries are everywhere in this part of the country. Some of them, like the one across from my house, abandoned, and some still very active and working. The Slate Valley Museum’s main mission is to help us understand the history and how slate was mined, and it’s importance in forming the communities around here.
There are exhibits and a great movie showing the history of how slate mining has changed since 1800’s, and there you can learn the story of the different cultures that came here at different times to mine the slate – Welsh, Slovaks, Italians, Jews…. and how they both brought their culture here, and merged into that thing we call the melting pot. It’s a great story. I’ve been 2-3 times since I moved up here, and even though the museum is small, I get something new from it every time I come.
Of course, this time I was coming for the art.
There’s a special exhibits room, and for this show, it had been turned into an art gallery. Some of the art was sculpture and reliefs cut from and crafted of slate – everything from shingles, to custom slate to “found” pieces, rough and polished. One of the unique things about slate in this part of the country is that we have every color – grey, blue, red and green all in this one area, making the Slate Valley unique.
There was also photography, like this piece of work called “Slate Abstact XXXII” by Alyssha Eve Csuk.
And art work. Some of it beautiful and representational like this one called “Deep Mysterious Lies” by Adriano Mannocchia. This small painting, maybe just 9 inches across, captures the feel of so many of the abandoned quarries around here, the light, the color, and the sense of ancientness.
And too, there were abstracts. This one, my favorite piece in the whole exhibit, is an oil painting called “Reflections of Lightning on Slate” by Thoams Merwin. I stood and soaked it in for a long, long time.
I came out of the exhibit inspired, my view of slate, and it’s possibilities, changed. I came out challenged, to take this new seeing and do something with it. I have no idea what, but my brain is noodling. Something will come of this.
Which is exactly why I do artist’s dates.