Northeast Field Office
Report From the Center's Outpost in New York

The Center’s office in New York state supports projects in the northeastern United States. It is located in the 19th-century industrial city of Troy, across from where the Erie Canal once entered the Hudson River, in the exact middle of the CLUI Northeast Interpretive District, which spans from Pennsylvania to Maine.

296 Up River exhibit opening at the PARC Foundation Gallery in New York City. PARC photo

Up River Show Floats Around the Hudson

Up River: Points of Interest Along the Hudson From the Battery to Troy is being exhibited up and down the river that is its subject. Up River was on display last summer at the PARC Foundation Gallery in Bleecker Street in Manhattan. It was then displayed at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, at the northern end of the Hudson River. Drifting downstream, it was on view in May 2009 at the Beacon Institute, located in the town of Beacon, roughly midstream between Manhattan and Troy. Up River: Man Made Sites of Interest from the Battery to Troy is also a book, published in 2008 by Blast Books, which reproduces the over 80 aerial photographs in the exhibit.

297 Neil Caplan of the Bannerman Castle Trust is seen here being interviewed by the NY Times while floating next to Bannerman’s Island, as part of a series of excursions on the Hudson River arranged by the CLUI in 2008, aboard the CLUI boat 1/10th Moon, as part of the Up River Program. CLUI photoCLUI Displays Work About Massachusetts

Thirty images of thirty locations from the CLUI database were exhibited at MassMoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts. The show, entitled Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape, was on view from May 2008, to April 2009. A catalog of the exhibit was published by MIT Press.

Lectures Around the Northeast

Over the last year, the Center’s director, Matthew Coolidge, has been invited to talk at several academic and museum locations around the northeast. At an interesting landscape/cinema symposium based at Hamilton College and Colgate University in upstate New York, he described the Up River project as a nonkinetic yet cinematic portrayal of the landscape of the Hudson, presented in the context of Peter Hutton’s Hudson River film Study of a River, and other landscape filmmakers showing there. The conference was largely organized by Scott MacDonald, a historian of alternative cinema.

Coolidge spoke in May 2009, at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in the Caroline Werner Gannet lecture series. He was able to enlarge on some of the work of Ed Burtynsky, who spoke a few months earlier in the series, and to explore the landscape of Rochester, that upstate city, home of Kodak, the industrial wellsprings of photographic imaging.

Last fall, at the Dia Art Foundation in New York City, Coolidge was asked to base a talk on one of the artists in their collection, which includes landscapers such as Robert Smithson. Coolidge chose to talk about the Hudson River School. The Dia’s collection of Hudson River School paintings and drawings was assembled by Dan Flavin, who started collecting the images in the 1970s, with the support of the Lone Star Foundation, a Texas-based precurser to Dia. Flavin intended to use these images in his Flavin Institute of the Hudson Highlands, to be based in Garrison, New York, where he lived for a time. Dia purchased a large house for this purpose, a monumental unfinished Moorish-ish structure, known as Dick’s Castle. However plans changed, and Flavin instead established the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, and the Hudson River collection went on semi-permanent loan to Vasser College.

At the New Museum, in fall 2008, Coolidge spoke on a panel called New York: Past, Present, and Possible Future, which looked at the Hudson River landscapes of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The panel was related to the New Museum’s exhibit After Nature, up at the time. Representing the past was Eric Sanderson, leader of the remarkable Mannahatta Project, which has reconstructed the appearance of Manhattan Island, as it was in 1609. The writer Matthew Sharpe represented the possible future by reading from his novel Jamestown, set in a future Manhattan. Coolidge was on hand to represent the present.

Additional appearances in New York included a panel discussion at the Museum of Modern Art. Moderated by the museum’s director, Glenn Lowry, the panel was a discussion between Matthew Coolidge, representing the CLUI, and the Neue Slowenische Kunst group IRWIN.

In November, Coolidge made a second visit to Yale (the first visit, a year earlier, was to talk at the Forestry School), this time at the invitation of the Yale School of Architecture. The school had published an account of the Center’s tour around the Great Salt Lake in Perspecta 41:Grand Tour, the Yale Architectural Journal.

In December, Coolidge gave a talk at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in association with the show Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities, up at that time. Though no one can deny the importance of the work of those two legends of landscape art, the CLUI had more of natural affinity with the exhibit of Frank Gohlke’s photographs in the gallery next door.