Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Olana and Frederic Church
Yesterday we had perfect weather. Sunny and not too hot. We drove up a very large nearby hill to tour Olana. Olana was the home of Frederic Church, a well-known Hudson River School painter. He became famous early on and designed this home after a world tour with his family. Many of the influences of the first sections of the home were Persian--and very Victorian-era. There are stencils, an Arabic room arrangement, and many artifacts from their travels. Incredible paintings are everywhere, not only by Mr. Church but also by his teacher, Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School (as in style, not an actual school--Mr. Church was his only student).
Other sections of the house have a more Mexican influence, again from more travels. Some of the changes are subtle, and the house flows together quite nicely. Mr. Church had a large studio with windows overlooking the river. Every room was full of artifacts and souvenirs from their travel, and the walls were covered with paintings.
Above is the view of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the porch of the house. The house was designed with "views" from every window or porch. Mr. Church designed the landscaping, formerly farm fields, and planted hundreds of trees in arrangements to frame the best views.
It's a little different now (the bridge wasn't there when the house was built) and the trees have grown up quite a bit. But it's still incredible.
There are also views of the house from different points. I took the photo of the house from one such point.
The grounds are open to visitors for free and there were people strolling and painting. I heard it's often used for picnics.
I really liked the detailing of the stencils, colors used in painting (no dull beiges here!) and the brick and stone work. The colors are rich and deep.
The Foundation was able to obtain the home intact from the family so that the furnishings and paintings are as they were during the artist's life. It was like stepping into history (on the visitor carpet only, please!).
After our strolls around the grounds and our tour of the home, we took a drive to nearby Rhinebeck. It's lovely, hilly country perfect for driving (and biking, from the number of bicyclists we saw).
Then we came back to Hudson and dinner at Wasabi. We chowed down on Japanese appetisers and sushi. It was really good. Here's a photo of their bottle covered ceiling.
Following dinner, we had dessert at DaBa--nouvelle molecular cuisine. I had a medley of four chocolate desserts, things like chocolate gel and white chocolate foam. I've never had anything like it and the flavors were amazing.
We were also given a spoonful of absolutely the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had.
We rolled back to the motel thoroughly sated!