The Search for America – A Trip West

Painting from National Museum of Wildlife Art.
Experiencing the Awe-Inspiring Majesty

For three weeks this past June and July, I traveled with my family throughout the American West. From the Great Plains to Yellowstone, the Tetons to Southwest Utah, the Grand Canyon to New Mexico, we searched for the wide open spaces, breathtaking unspoiled beauty, star filled skies…and the sense of awe, purpose and hope which natural beauty can instill in one’s psyche and soul. The following photo sample platter are some of my favorite selections and collages of the more than 2,500 images and movies I took during our 23 day sojourn. Every mile was memorable…

Prague – Summer 2018! Veletržní palác: A Národní Galerie Dream…

Getting ready to enter the National Gallery of Prague in 2018.
About to enter a repurposed Cold War relic…

This sums up an incredible building filled with art, and nearly devoid of people: “At the time of its construction, the Fair Trade Palace (completed in 1928), was the largest building of its kind in the world…and the first Functionalist building in Prague. Today it serves the needs of the National Gallery. A unique collection of Czech and international modern and contemporary art, it includes some extremely valuable examples of French and European art, including important works by such illustrious names as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt and many more”.

Statues in the Prague National Gallery.
Few people were visiting the National Gallery in Prague the day my family was there.
A rare human sighting…my daughter.
Giving a sense of the enormous scale of the Fair Trade Palace, now the home to the National Gallery in Prague.
The massive scale of the building on view. This is a tip of the iceberg.

The final few weeks of “on the wall viewing” (on extended loan) of Gustav Klimt’s “The Maiden” (1913) was a rare treat. If this stunning and seminal masterwork was on display in New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, or most other major cities, you’d have to fight the crowds and selfie-taking amusement park museum visitors to take a frantic peek. Not the case on this day, as I shared an hour with the work, while a few other viewers drifted by to take a peek, and studied it with a level of calm and intimacy that is rarely found these days. It was one of the true highlights of my museum going “career” !

Young man viewing Gustav Klimt's painting "The Maiden".
My eldest enjoys a moment with The Maiden.
Detail of Klimt's painting "The Maiden".
To dream, to dream…

The “regular” permanent collection is rather outstanding, and my immersion in the art of Czech born artists (1800-2000) was eye opening. Outstanding quality without the – to this viewer, anyways – name recognition and international reputations. Refreshing!

Visiting this museum “on the other side of the river” in Prague was a revelation. And the unhurried family luncheon in the nearly empty museum cafe and coffee shop was both inexpensive and absolutely delicious! The stunning views on the walk back to our AirBnB in Old Jewish Quarter (Josefov) were the cherry on top of a very yummy treat!

Oh my? Omi! Social Distance on 300 Acres…

Can going outside help us stay sane inside? Methinks yes! But where? Within fifteen minutes of Hudson there just happens to be an incredible spot for a healthy stretch of the legs, and satiation of the art hungry mind: Art Omi in Ghent, NY.

These uncertain times have made where we can go and what we can do something that must be carefully considered. Thankfully, when it comes to the great outdoors, a place like Art Omi offers a welcome respite from these unprecedented challenges. A month ago, I spent a lovely Spring day at an arts organization who’s mission (from their website) is: “Art Omi believes that exposure to internationally diverse creative voices fosters tolerance and respect, raises awareness, inspires innovation, and ignites change. By forming community with creative expression as its common denominator, Art Omi creates a sanctuary for the artistic community and the public to affirm the transformative quality of art. Art Omi is a not-for-profit arts center with a 120-acre sculpture and architecture park and gallery, residency programs for international artists, writers, translators, musicians, architects and dancers”. It was a day of wonder, therapy, and a healthy stretch of the legs.

If you’re seeking a place to enjoy the outdoors in a serene and idyllic setting – and if art puts a cherry on that cake for you (collection guide here), then please budget some time to stroll the grounds of Art Omi. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Art Omi arial view.

Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute

Our gallery has enjoyed a long history with the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. We’re fortunate to have this gem of a museum, research center, and art school in our own backyard. The “Munstitute” as it’s affectionately called, houses one of the stealthiest and underrated collections of important art in America. Need to view a 16′ wide Jackson Pollock from his most important period? Check! Need to view Thomas Cole’s original “Voyage of Life” series? Check!

Exterior of Philip Johnson’s first museum. Photo: Jay Caldwell

Originally established in 1919, the institute eventually added a School for Fine Arts in the 1940s, thus expanding the Institute’s mission from exhibiting fine art, to offering students the opportunity to study fine art as well. Today, the art school is connected to NYC’s Pratt Institute.

Easton Pribble's painting of the MWPAI being constructed in 1959.
Image courtesy of the Munson Williams Arts Institute.

In 1960 the MWPAI opened its stunning new museum building designed by Philip Johnson (1906-2005). This was the noted architect’s first museum commission. Above is Easton Pribble’s (1917-2003) painting of the construction phase of the museum. The museum’s collection houses treasures of American fine art from the 18-20th centuries, with especially strong holdings in 20th century American modernism.

Courtyard with glimpse of Jackson Pollock’s masterwork “Number 2, 1949”. Can you spot it? Photo: Jay Caldwell

Two paintings in MWPAI’s collection were acquired from our gallery – a rare fauvist 1922 landscape by George Ferdinand Of (1876-1954) entitled Houses, Westchester.

George Of painting of Houses Westchester, part of the collection of the MWPAI.
Image courtesy of the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute.

And a rare and important 1929 painting by artist, collector, and arts patron Katherine Dreier with I rediscovered – entitled Abstract Psychological Portrait of Ted Shawn.

Jay Caldwell in front of the Katherine Dreier work.

In 2015 we were fortunate to partner with the Museum in assisting them with their Easton Pribble bequest. The artist, who had taught at their fine art school for forty-five years, left 200 paintings to the Museum with the express intent they be sold to raise money for their Arts Acquisition Fund. We have been pleased to assist with this worthy fundraising effort.

Self-portrait of artist Easton Pribble at the MWPAI.
Image courtesy of the Munson Williams Arts Institute.

If you are traveling through Utica, New York (once we are past the shutdown from Covid-19) we encourage you to stop by and visit this fantastic, world-class museum.

The North entrance of an entrancing building. Photo: Jay Caldwell