Jim Hamilton, a lawyer who played a key role in preserving Olana from destruction, Martin Puryear, a distinguished artist, and Jason Rosenfeld, co-curator of River Crossings, the art show hosted jointly at Olana and Thomas Cole’s house were honored at Olana’s annual benefit dinner Tuesday night Nov, 17 at New York’s Metropolitan Club. They were joined by Lucy Rockefeller Waletsky, MD who was awarded for her singular help as Chair of the Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in getting the State to make Olana a priority.
It was Stephen Hannock, a past honoree, who was the quiet powerhouse for pulling together the art show River Crossings that ran for most of the summer, combining contemporary sculpture and paintings in the two houses and on their grounds. He worked with Jason Rosenfeld in co-curating the show that drew thousands of awed visitors. One of the more striking sculptures was that of Martin Puryear that was installed in the main hall of Olana. Puryear has a current show at the Morgan Library in NYC. He lives and works in the Hudson Valley. Stephen Hannock’s own paintings were in the show. He is perhaps the living artist closest to the Hudson River School.
Among the artists who were applauding the work of the honorees was Frank Stella whose off the cuff comments on American art before the dinner was that American artists today, in light of the globalization of art, have a hard time being American. Both Puryear and Hannock have managed to do what Stella said was so difficult, being seen as American artists. Church and the Hudson River School of which Thomas Cole is generally considered to be the founder, are quintessently American.
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the NY State office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation was on hand to receive an award made to Gov. Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative that provides capital funding for New York’s parks and historic properties of which Olana is one. Rose Harvey has been a loyal champion of Olana that joined the state portfolio under Gov. Rockefeller, thanks in large part to the efforts of Jim Hamilton and his firm, Millbank Tweed.