Sharp Family Gallery 2015
This season the Sharp Family Gallery features a range of the artwork and objects transferred from the first floor of the main house to accommodate the installation of Olana’s 2015 exhibition River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, guest curated by Stephen Hannock and Jason Rosenfeld. These highlights from collections deinstalled for River Crossings will be on display in the Sharp Gallery from May 3 –November 1, 2015.
The gallery provides visitors with the opportunity to examine closely a selection of paintings, sketches, and decorative arts that may otherwise be somewhat obscured within the historic interiors. Church’s sketch Cayambe from his first trip to Ecuador in 1853 was recently cleaned in the Paintings Lab and then reframed by Eli Wilner & Company. Freshly conserved, the blue highlights in the snow gleam under the heavy cloud. At 18,996 feet Cayambe and the “grand snow peaks” as Church called them, were often shrouded by weather of their own. Church’s ability to render weather and light is also demonstrated in The Hudson Valley in Winter from Olana, a brilliant winter day with lofty white clouds, and Twilight, A Sketch, a vibrant sunset study for Church’s masterpiece Twilight in the Wilderness (Cleveland Museum of Art).
Church was an avid collector and the array of decorative arts he placed in the Court Hall is almost overwhelming; a few of the most interesting objects are displayed in the Sharp Gallery. One of a set of eight chairs with a carved back inspired by Chinese design is a perfect example of Aesthetic Movement furniture. Imogen, a sculpture by Church’s great friend Erastus Dow Palmer (1817–1904), is one of many works by Church’s fellow artists in the house. A Spanish maiolica plate with luster decoration normally brings sparkle to the darker areas of the Court Hall, and the tabouret table would have provided both shimmer and geometric pattern.
The Olana Partnership and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation work in strong collaboration to preserve and conserve the Olana collection at the highest museum-level standards. Many of the collections on display have been cleaned and preserved with the support of The Olana Partnership, and other works removed for River Crossings are currently in the New York State Conservation Labs for research and conservation.