A “Wild, Unsettled Country”: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks, which opened last week, includes a selection of paintings, maps, prints, and photographs that illustrate the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by artists, photographers, and cartographers who visited the area in the nineteenth century. While tourists were flocking to Saratoga Springs, near what is today the southern boundary of the Adirondack Park, in the 1830s, very few ventured farther north until after 1836, when the New York State Legislature authorized one of the first exploratory surveys of the area, headed by the geologists Ebenezer Emmons and William C. Redfield and documented visually by the painter Charles Cromwell Ingham. When Ingham exhibited The Great Adirondack Pass, which he had painted “on the Spot” during the expedition, at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1839, the view depicted inspired the poet Charles Fenno Hoffman and the artist Jervis McEntee to venture north the following year, starting a trend that would continue for decades.
The exhibition will include paintings by artists including Sanford Robinson Gifford, Thomas Cole, and John Frederick Kensett, as well as rare early photographs of the area taken by William James Stillman in 1859. These and many other of the works on paper that will be on view were sold as tourist souvenirs and to armchair travelers eager for a glimpse of what nineteenth-century guidebooks described as the “sublime” and “glorious” landscape. The exhibition was organized by Laura Rice, the museum’s chief curator. There is no accompanying catalogue.
Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters, organized by Hallie E. Bond and also opening on May 22, will include historical quilts from the Adirondack Museum’s collection, as well as contemporary quilts, comforters, and wall hangings on loan from quilters throughout the region. The exhibition will explore the themes usually considered in such projects-women’s work, domestic life, social networks in rural areas, generational community among women-while also taking a more specific look at women’s artistic responses to life in the Adirondacks.
A “Wild, Unsettled Country”: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks · Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters · Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York · May 22 to October 18 · www.adkmuseum.org
A Twilight in the Adirondacks by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880), 1864. Signed and dated “S. R. Gifford 1864” at lower right. Oil on canvas, 24 by 36 inches. Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York; photograph by Richard Walker.