DoNorth

The Natural Inspirations for Northern Museums

The North Country is full of green fields scattered with landscapes and wildlife. In this mountainous haven, art and culture grow out of its iridescence. The beauty of the Adirondacks, captured by many artists, sits on display throughout the region. Small town galleries tell stories of local and foreign lands through art. Here’s a sampling of the winter visual-arts scene. The Nina Winkel Sculpture Court brings a piece of Germany to the second floor of Plattsburgh State’s Meyers Fine Arts Building. Nina Winkel, a German artist who moved to New York, donated these sculptures 27 years ago. The court’s warmth…

sculpture court

Nina Winkel Sculpture Court at Plattsburgh State

The North Country is full of green fields scattered with landscapes and wildlife. In this mountainous haven, art and culture grow out of its iridescence. The beauty of the Adirondacks, captured by many artists, sits on display throughout the region. Small town galleries tell stories of local and foreign lands through art. Here’s a sampling of the winter visual-arts scene.

The Nina Winkel Sculpture Court brings a piece of Germany to the second floor of Plattsburgh State’s Meyers Fine Arts Building. Nina Winkel, a German artist who moved to New York, donated these sculptures 27 years ago. The court’s warmth may shelter visitors from the cold weather outside, but that’s not what attracts them there. What attracts them is the dark sculptures peeping from the corner of their eye.

The court is the country’s largest collection of a female artist’s work. It has 45 years’ worth of sculptures. Some are made of terra cotta, others of stone or bronze.

Winkel’s statues aren’t the campus’ only pieces of carefully placed art. The Plattsburgh Museum Without Walls takes art outdoors with seven galleries spread around the Plattsburgh State campus. The galleries consist of statues and sculptures donated or created by students and faculty.

“We have objects that represent various cultures throughout the world,” says Cecilia Esposito, the museum director.

A new exhibit, the PAN exhibition, will be open until Jan. 11. The exhibit focuses on European art from 1895 to 1900, highlighting the conflicting feelings of the artists at that time. The introduction to the exhibition shows Europe through graphic art, says Robert Flynn Johnson, the curator who collected the art to fit with the theme of the gallery.

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts believes in educating small towns with art.

“We do try to have different exhibits where you get to see things that you normally don’t get to see,” says Diana Reynolds, the gallery chairperson.

Once art enthusiasts push through the tall dark-brown 42-year-old wooden doors, they enter a world of exhibits that not only reflects the lives of the people of Lake Placid but also introduces locals to foreign countries.

A previous exhibit, called, “VOLKSKUNST (Folk Art),” showcased German artist Hannelotte Wilmes. Wilmes’ brother, Rolf Shulte, found these paintings in her belongings after she died in early 2013. Shulte thinks Wilmes painted the scenes to pass the time after she lost her son. Even with all her sadness, Wilmes still managed to create wonderful paintings, Reynolds says.

One painting depicted a day in a snowy German town. The stark white snow contrasts with the vibrant colors radiating from the yellow and red clothes of a woman feeding ducks. All of Wilmes’ pieces exuded saturated color with the small linear detailing of houses and landscapes.

Across Lake Champlain sits the Shelburne Museum, a 45-acre giant representing 17th-to-20th-century artifacts. Located in Shelburne, Vermont, it has more than 150,000 works divided into 38 exhibition buildings. The museum features impressionist paintings, folk art and even 22 gardens, but its newest exhibit is all about jewelry from the Roaring ’20s.

“Natural Beauties: Jewelry from Art Nouveau to Now” runs until March 8 and explores the concept of nature in jewelry design through the past 100 years.

The exhibit is split into three sections: “Precious Gems,” “Flora” and “Fauna.”

Section one focuses on gems and metals created by premiere artists, including Harry Winston, Cartier, Van Cleef, and Arpels, Bulgari, Vendura and Tiffany & Co. “Flora” features jewelry made from semi-precious stones and other organic materials that resemble flowers and their greenery. The final section, “Fauna,” focuses on jewelry based on animals in nature.

The exhibit’s jewelry is natural. Soft, smooth rope combined with stones, pearls and submarine algae creates this collection. The necklaces, rings, and bracelets vary in colors of white, gold, pink, dark gray and hues of black. The collection even won two awards in 2011: the Czech Grand Design award and the Editors-in-Chief Designblok prize.

“Nature has always been a great source for creativity,” says Kory Rogers, the exhibit’s curator.

The exhibition shows the ever-changing relationship humans have with their environment, from the Art Nouveau movement to the environmental activism happening today.

The trails of museums across the Adirondacks have many personalities, but they all have a common goal: to share art.

Issue 4: Winter/Spring 2014

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  • Very nice article but what about the Strand Center for the Arts located right here in Plattsburgh that is so important in showcasing local Clinton County artists?

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