CATSKILL — The Thomas Cole House had a special reception for its new exhibit Saturday.
The reception allowed visitors free entry to see the new exhibit, “Spectrum,” which will be displayed until November at the Thomas Cole House in Catskill. The exhibit features pieces that are the reactions contemporary artists had to Cole’s work.
Research Fellow Amanda Malmstrom finds the exhibit to be particularly unique.
“Eleven women from the 21st century are reacting to the work of a male artist from the 19th century,” she said.
The pieces are very different, but the color the artists use are very similar, Malmstrom explained.
The visitors at the site are just as unique, said Malmstrom. “It brings in a diverse crowd,” she said.
“Some people wouldn’t come without the contemporary exhibit. Others come for Cole’s work but get introduced to contemporary,” she said.
Malmstrom was among those attending the reception Saturday.
“It was a really large turnout,” said Malmstrom, referring to the reception, adding that the lawn was sprinkled with both people and art.
There were a lot of locals at the reception, said Visitor Center Associate Sarah Bradicich.
“Many people were from the Hudson Valley,” she said. “There were some from Connecticut and New Jersey, but definitely a lot of New Yorkers.”
Bradicich also saw a wide-ranging age range in the attendees.
“The contemporary art attracts a lot of young adults, but also older generations,” she said.
In addition to the free admission, there was also complimentary food available for visitors, said Bradicich.
“There were colorful vegetables, cheese and crackers, and wine,” she said. “The vegetables were specifically selected to fit the color theme [of the Spectrum exhibit].”
Darina Karpov and David Petersen, from New York City, decided to come tour the grounds with their daughter Iris on Sunday.
Karpov and Petersen had a unique perspective coming to the exhibit — both are artists themselves.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wow, art really pays out here,’” Petersen said with a laugh. “We’re not used to nice studios and an abundance of land,” he said, adding that Cole married well.
Cole’s work is not as romantic as people think, said Petersen. “He always had a tincture of poison in his paintings... it gives him an edge,” he said, describing the work as both beautiful and warped.
“He really loved color and let it show,” Petersen said.
Kim Dilts, of Beacon Falls, Connecticut, visited Sunday because of her appreciation for the Hudson River School of Art.
“We liked it, but it wasn’t what we expected,” she said of her and husband Jim Louey’s experience with “Spectrum.”
“The work was aligned with the vibrant colors in the house,” she said.
“I really enjoy the romanticism, the colors and the warmth,” said Louey.
“I didn’t realize there was a larger meaning behind it,” he added, referring to Cole’s subtle protest to the deteriorating landscape.
Elizabeth Berberian, of Albany, led a group outing to the Thomas Cole House for her “Summer of Fun” retirement club. Four of the club’s 13 members attended.
“The two exhibits sound fabulous,” said Berberian while waiting for her tour to start Sunday.
Berberian admires the activism of Cole’s work.
“He was really the first environmentalist,” said Berberian. “His work was saying that man had no respect for nature.”
Berberian was especially excited to see the New Studio, which she had never seen before.
Berberian had previously gone to the Thomas Cole exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art and plans to go see another Cole exhibit at the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown, she said.
The Thomas Cole house offers a more outdoor experience than most museums.
“It’s always great when you combine summer and contemporary art,” Malmstrom said. “It’s a great way for people to experience art.”
Visitors can tour the Thomas Cole House and see the new exhibit Tuesdays through Sundays.
Admission is $14 dollars for adults, children and members are free, and students, seniors, veterans and National Park pass holders receive a $2 discount.
Tours are available every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., lasting 45 minutes each. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can explore the grounds at their own pace.