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Summer of Pollination to Unfold at Olana State Historic Site and Thomas Cole National Historic Site in the Hudson Valley

Written By Editor on 6/15/21 | 6/15/21

The Season-Long Celebration Offers Activities That Explore the Dynamic of Pollination and Expand on the Landmark Collaborative Exhibition “Cross Pollination” Opening on June 12


Catskill and Hudson, NY  June 3, 2021 – The Olana Partnership, Olana State Historic Site, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site announced today that an entire “Summer of Pollination” will unfold at the two historic sites, providing a season of activities to expand on the landmark collaborative exhibition “Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment,” which opens on June 12.


“Cross Pollination” was conceived in the Hudson Valley and

created by the two historic sites and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The exhibition stems from the artist Martin Johnson Heade’s 19th-century series of hummingbird paintings, The Gems of Brazil (1863-64), and their unique relationship to the epic landscapes of Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, as well as their continued significance to contemporary artists working today. The exhibition positions these 19th-century artists in a call and response with 21st-century American artists, whose works engage contemporary issues related to biodiversity, habitat protection, and environmental sustainability. The contemporary artists are Rachel Berwick, Nick Cave, Mark Dion, Richard Estes, Juan Fontanive, Jeffrey Gibson, Paula Hayes, Patrick Jacobs, Maya Lin, Flora C. Mace, Vik Muniz, Portia Munson, Lisa Sanditz, Emily Sartor, Sayler/Morris, Dana Sherwood, Jean Shin, Rachel Sussman, and Jeff Whetstone.


The “Summer of Pollination” will further activate the exhibition themes with the following related activities:


The Great Pollinator Ramble


  • The Great Pollinator Ramble, June 27 and August 28, Will Feature 20 Five-Foot-Tall Pollinator Puppets. The Ramble will take place on two occasions – Sunday, June 27, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm, parading from the historic downtown in the Village of Catskill to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and Saturday, August 28, from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at Olana State Historic Site in Hudson. Both events will feature 20 five-foot-tall pollinator puppets created by the Processional Arts Workshop, official pageant puppeteers for New York City’s famed Annual Village Halloween Parade. The Ramble is a procession that will feature the 20 large pollinator puppets (such as butterflies and hummingbirds), as they ramble surrounded by children and adults who have created their own hand-held flower puppets. The June 27 event will start on Main Street in Catskill and culminate at the Thomas Cole Site; the August 28 event will take place entirely on the 250-acre artist-designed landscape at Olana. At the completion of each event, the host historic site will convene an interactive “puppet-scape” for visitors interested in celebrating and learning more about native pollinators and their habitats. Support for the Ramble is provided by Art Bridges.
  • Volunteers Are Needed to Operate the Pollinator Puppets. Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, founders of the Processional Arts Workshop in Red Hook, NY, will orchestrate the design and construction of the large pollinator puppets and will team up with community volunteers to animate the 20 pollinator puppets during each Ramble. Volunteers are needed and should apply at
  • Art-Packets Are Available for Free to Make Local Pollinator Plants to Parade at the Rambles. The Art-Packets will be available starting June 12 for pickup throughout the summer at Olana and the Thomas Cole Site and at community pickup spots in Hudson and Catskill, while supplies last. The Art-Packets contain materials for use in creating hand puppets of pollinator plants to be carried during the Ramble.
  • Participants Will be Given a “Life List” Created by the Processional Arts Workshop to Accompany the Ramble. Both historic sites and community pickup spots in Catskill and Hudson will make available a printed “Life List” to help individuals identify the pollinators in the Ramble and enjoy the thrill of a landscape come to life with possibilities. Find more information at

A Self-Guided Pollinator Map Has Been Created by Two Artists on the Occasion of “Cross Pollination.” Lisa Sanditz and Emily Sartor collaborated to create The Thrilling Tales and Startling Adventures: An Unofficial Guide to Pollinators, which celebrates and identifies pollinators and pollen-makers that visitors can find on the grounds of Olana and the Thomas Cole Site, and within the environs along the Hudson River Skywalk, a scenic walkway that connects the two historic sites over the Hudson River via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. The Map will be available free to those with tickets to the exhibition.

A Series of Artist Talks Will Be Held This Summer and Fall. The first in the virtual series, featuring artists whose work is presented in “Cross Pollination,” will take place on June 8 with Portia Munson. Subsequent conversations will be held with Sayler/Morris and Rachel Sussman in July, Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood in August, and Lisa Sanditz and Paula Hayes in September. More information on the June 8 event can be found at


Additional Events Will be Unfolding Throughout the Summer and Fall. Updates will be provided at and


A Fully Illustrated 60-page Catalog of the Exhibition Has Been Published. A richly illustrated catalog – also titled “Cross Pollination” – features new original essays by the exhibition curators and over 30 full-page color plates. The catalog has been published by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and The Olana Partnership and is available at both historic sites’ gift shops and online.

Artist Martin Johnson Heade has long been associated with the Hudson River School of landscape painting, which is characterized by the epic landscapes of the artists Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and Frederic Church (1826-1900). Heade, though, with his series The Gems of Brazil, was making a different kind of “landscape” that magnified the intricate operations within nature itself. Heade traveled to Brazil in 1863, so that he could study the hummingbirds in their natural habitat. Heade’s focus in The Gems and his related writing, which decries the overhunting of bird species, aligns with the proto-environmentalism of Thomas Cole, who wrote against deforestation in his own time. Heade’s own Brazilian journey was inspired by Frederic Church’s travels in Latin America. The environmental awareness and advocacy of these 19th-century artists connect thought and conversations taking place today, as concern for preservation and protection of the environment reaches critical urgency.


“Cross Pollination” will be presented simultaneously as one exhibition at both Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, NY, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY, from June 12 to October 31, 2021. The two historic sites are connected by the Hudson River Skywalk – with sweeping views of the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains – that opened in June 2019. The exhibition will subsequently be presented at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas from November 20, 2021 to March 23, 2022. More information on the exhibition is available at


Olana and the Thomas Cole Site interpret and open their landscapes to the community for free as public parks and follow all pandemic protocols laid out by New York State. All guided tour and program participants are required to wear masks covering the mouth and nose and maintain social distancing (six feet at all times). More details on events, programming, and tours are available at the historic sites’ websites (below). Space is limited, and mid-week visits are typically less crowded.


Support for the exhibition and its national tour is provided by Art Bridges. Additional major support is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.


Made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition is supported in New York in part by The National Endowment for the Arts; Market New York through I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism as part of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and the New York State Legislature; the Robert Lehman Foundation; The Bank of Greene County Charitable Foundation; Greene County Legislature through the County Initiative Program of the Greene County Council on the Arts; The Olana Partnership’s Novak-Ferber Exhibitions Fund, the Kindred Spirits Society of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Charina Foundation, The Stainman Family Foundation, Anne Miller & Stuart Breslow, Kristin Gamble, and Deedee & Barrie Wigmore. Support for the catalogue is provided by Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.


OLANA STATE HISTORIC SITE AND THE OLANA PARTNERSHIP: Olana is the greatest masterpiece of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), a preeminent American artist of the mid-19th century and the most important artist’s home, studio, and designed landscape in the United States. Church designed Olana as a holistic environment integrating his advanced ideas about art, architecture, landscape design, and environmental conservation. Olana’s 250-acre artist-designed landscape with five miles of carriage roads and a Persian-inspired house embraces unrivaled panoramic views of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains and welcomes more than 170,000 visitors annually. Olana State Historic Site, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, is a designated National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited historic sites in the state. The Olana Partnership, a private not-for-profit education corporation, works cooperatively with New York State Parks to support the restoration, conservation, and interpretation of Olana to make it accessible to all.


THE THOMAS COLE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE is an international destination presenting the original home and studios of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the nation’s first major art movement. Located on 6 acres in the Hudson Valley, the site includes the 1815 Main House; Cole’s 1839 Old Studio; the reconstructed historic New Studio building; and panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains. It is a National Historic Landmark and an affiliated area of the National Park System. The Thomas Cole Site’s activities include guided tours, special exhibitions of both 19th-century and contemporary art, printed publications, extensive online programs, activities for school groups, free community events, lectures, and innovative public programs such as the Hudson River School Art Trail—a map and website that enable visitors to visit the places that Cole painted. The goal of all programs at the Thomas Cole Site is to enable visitors to find meaning and inspiration in Thomas Cole’s life and work. The themes that Cole explored in his art and writings—such as landscape preservation, our conception of nature as a restorative power and the need for public art museums—are historic and timely, providing the opportunity to connect to audiences with insights that are highly relevant to their own lives. The Thomas Cole Site’s programming and operations are continually evolving under its initiatives for Greening, and Diversity, Equity and Access.


HUDSON RIVER SKYWALK REGION: The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY and Olana – across the Hudson River in Hudson, NY – joined forces with New York State to launch a new initiative to recognize the region as an epicenter of American art where the nation’s first major art movement began. The project – titled the Hudson River Skywalk Region – weaves together the home and studios of Thomas Cole at the Thomas Cole Site and those of his legendary student Frederic Church at Olana with the landscape that inspired it all to create one seamless experience. With support from New York State, a continuous pedestrian scenic walkway – the Hudson River Skywalk – connects the historic sites across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge over the Hudson River. The Region also includes the City of Hudson and the Town of Catskill. For more information, visit


Olana VISITOR INFORMATION:  The landscape is free and open to all every day from 8:30 am to sunset. For a current list of tours of the Main House and artist-designed landscape, visit Keep in touch on social media @OlanaSHS.


Thomas Cole VISITOR INFORMATION:  Admission to the gardens and grounds is free every day from dawn until dusk. The hours for Thomas Cole’s home, studios and special exhibitions vary by season. For details, see Keep in touch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @thomascolesite.


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