Artist’s Date

It’s been some time since I took some time out to do an artist’s date, those expeditions when I go somewhere to see or hear things that feed my creative side. Between Christmas with all it’s travel, then my dad’s passing, there has been too much to do, and too little energy.

So when I found myself without any “have to do’s” on my list today, I hopped in the car and drove down to Albany and the Albany Institute of Art and History.

Actually, my son and I tried to go there over Christmas, but ended up at the Albany State Museum (and the great art under the Empire Plaza) instead. So it was good to finally find the right place.

The Institute is a nice mix of old and new. When you walk in, you’re immediately hit with the classical, a nice showing of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson School of art. 2_resize


Very pretty. Very well done. But what really grabbed me for some reason, were his sketchbooks and ink drawings. Maybe it is because I began my artistic journey with pen and ink, and recently have been thinking I need to go back and do some more. But whatever the reason, I poured over his drawings, from the simple quick sketches, to the highly detailed studies from nature:



When you finished with Thomas Cole, you are led into a set of rooms of contemporary Adirondack artists. I have to admit, I felt more at home here.


I fell in love with this one by Gina Occhiogrosso. I am not sure if it was the art itself, or the woman’s sense of humor. It’s called “This Could be Good or Bad.” I am voting for Good, since I kept coming back to it all morning. Don”t ask me why. I can generally say why, but with this one it was a simple “I just like it.”.


Some of my readers are followers and friends of the author and photographer Jon Katz, who lives not far from me. So, when I saw a pair of works by a Paul Katz, I had to go look closely, just on the odd chance this was some distant relative. This one is called Prelude  #129.


Take a look at the detail below. I found myself tracing words and phrases, in a giant (these were big pictures) piece of poetic art. And then my quirky humor kicked in and I wondered, if he did 129 or more of these, how long did it take him?


Some of the contemporary art was NOT abstract. I lingered for a long time at this small painting, maybe 8 inches square, called by Communion by Thomas Sarrantino. If I were going to buy one painting from this collection, it would have been this one. I just got lost in it.


There was quirky stuff too. And being in a quirky mood today, I did a lot of smiling. for instance, there was this thing, called Shaft by Susan Meyer. It was fun from a distance, full of color…..


But then you look close, and it suddenly became something else, a futuristic habitat, with people working and playing. The kid in me that read so much sci fi spent way too much time taking this in, thinking, as I did when I was a kid, about the amazing possibilities of a future I’ll never see.


Then there was this tent. An actual refuge tent with… ah… modifications by Louanne Getty.The combination of knowing it’s original purpose, with the circus like additions, left me with a feeling of everything being out of place. Wonderful in a way, but inappropriately so.


The inside was simple. A place I would enjoy being, in fact, like a monastery in a way. I wanted to lay down and shut my eyes and just think in peace, but somehow I didn’t think that was the best idea….


Then it was upstairs, which is mostly history, passing through this colonial blue stairway with it’s guardian angles and sculpture. It’s odd, I love modern art, but when it comes to sculpture, it’s the classical that sings to me.

Believe me, the singing was happening in this stairway.


They had MUMMIES!

I’m sorry, did I just blurt that out like a ten year old? Well that’s because they’re mummies! Ever since I was a kid and got to go see mummies at the Virginia Museum, I have been fascinated by these rag clad corpses of history. I’m still like a little kid when I get to see them.


So yes, I spent all kinds of time there. It was me and the other little kids who filled the room. (The parents seemed bored. No sense of amazement left, I guess.), taking it all in. But the kids and I had a blast.


They had rooms of furniture, and this big exhibit of quilts. My ex wife was a quilter, and though I didn’t know a dang thing about quilts before, I learned a lot about quilts and though I’ll never do one, I enjoy looking at them. And I particularly fell in love with the bed plunked in the middle of the room. It looks small in the picture, but trust me, it’s large. The room is just that large.


Often, and my kids know this in spades because it’s happened to us a zillion times, the coolest thing on a trip is not planned. So when I wandered into an open door that was obviously not part of the exhibit (:It’s always easier to ask forgiveness than permission.), and that turned out to be the case today.

There was this door, And it was open, and when I looked it.. I found the furniture storage room. Forget Ikea, THIS is furniture.


Then it was back out the door, and home. Was I hugely inspired? No, not really. But it fed my soul, made me think, made me laugh and I’m better off for it. It was good to get back to it. I said goodbye to the stern faced angel as I left, to the consternation of the old couple who were preparing to go upstairs as I left.


Be well, Travel Wisely,


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