Kudos for upstate New York’s Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) which has conserved 133 farms and over 22,300 acres of farmland over the past 29 years in Washington and Rensselaer Counties in the scenic and agriculturally rich Upper Hudson River Valley. This praiseworthy non-profit land trust has worked diligently to accomplish its ever important mission: protecting the farms and rich soils of this region of upstate New York for future generations with farmland forever easements.
Earlier this year, we spotlighted Zach and Annie Metzger’s Laughing Earth Farm in Cropseyville (Rensselaer County) which was protected by a farmland forever easement with the help of ASA.
How to sustain this region’s farmland as a source of healthy food, while countering the seductive quick dollar from paving over an agricultural paradise (to paraphrase the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi) is a serious challenge. Nate Simms, a photographer and film maker, told a sad, riveting story in his documentary Brunswick of an aging farmer whose land in the eastern edge of Rensselaer County became too valuable to developers to remain farmland in the suburbanizing town of Brunswick in Rensselaer County. A $2,000,000 offer was too good to be refused by the buyers, who had assured Sam Bonesteel, the aging farmer, that they would keep farming the 210 acres when he sold them the land.
For the last 17 years, a significant source of funding for ASA’s mission has come from Landscapes for Landsake Art Sale and Exhibition, a celebration of the land by the community of local artists. Landscapes for Landsake is the region’s largest art buying event of the season and ASA’s largest fundraiser of the year. Participating artists generously donate 50% of their proceeds to support ASA’s farmland conservation work. Teri Ptacek, ASA’s executive director, explains “This event celebrates the connection between the art and the landscapes we are working to protect. It’s what makes Landscapes for Landsake so special. The success of this event has had a tremendous impact on ASA’s ability to protect local farms.”
The show opens on Saturday, October 12th from 12 to 5 p.m with a wine and cheese reception. Admission is $10 per person. The gallery is also open from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday and Monday free of charge.
This year’s exhibition features the work of over 60 artists. Eighteen will be participating for the first time. Many of the artists will be on hand to discuss their work throughout the weekend.
The sale takes place in the historic barn at Maple Ridge, 172 State Route 372 in the hamlet of Coila, just west of the Village of Cambridge.
This year’s featured painting, Jini’s Barn, was painted by Virginia “Jini” McNeice. The oil painting is inspired by a building on her farm and is characteristic of her vibrant color palette. Jini was a prolific painter with artwork in collections across the country. Sadly, Jini passed in early March. As one of three artists who have participated in the show since the very beginning, Jini McNeice was also the featured artist 16 years ago in 2003. Influenced by the area’s local agricultural landscapes, she loved the strong traditional shapes of the farm buildings and vibrant colors of the changing seasons. She was one of the founding members of the Valley Artisans Market in Cambridge (Washington County).
The 2019 exhibit is curated by Leah McCloskey, a resident of Salem (Washington County) and an active supporter of local farmers. As the Administrative Coordinator for the Artists Fellowship and former director of Exhibition Outreach at the Art Students League of New York, Leah McCloskey’s creativity and eye for beauty seem certain to make ASA’s exhibition a tremendous success again this year.
McCloskey’s excitement for this year’s fundraiser is contagious and understandable:
“There really is no other venue in the region that has all of these incredibly talented artists in one place at one time. It’s an art event not to be missed. This year along with our most prominent artists there are some new and exciting additions including Zack Lobdell, an abstract artist whose paintings have been described as hypnotic and Mary Pat Wager who creates contemporary sculptures with found objects and fabricated metal components,” she says.
This year’s artists include: Deborah Bayly, Susan Beadle, Gigi Begin, John Begin, Virginia Bryant, Jill Burks, Seth Butler, Marilyn Cavallari, James Coe, Eden Compton, Susan Coon, Joan Duff Bohrer, Judith Ellers, Yucel Erdogan, Ann Fitzgibbons, Jerry Freedner, Tracy Helgeson, Ali Herrmann, Margaret Horn, Mary Iselin, Thomas Kerr, Lynne Kerr, Clarence King, Randi Kish, Rose Klebes, Palma Kolansky, Karen Koziol, James Howard Kuntsler, Matthew Lerman, Zack Lobdell, Nina Lockwood, Dona Ann McAdams, Virginia McNeice, Naomi Meyer, Robert Moylan, Lynne Oddo, Clifford Oliver, Harry Orlyk, Leslie Parke, Terry Peca, Leslie Peck, Mark Pohl, Neil Roberts, Tom Ryan, Elisa Sheehan, Fumiko Shido, Laura Shore, Pam Short, Robert Skinner, Trudy Smith, Rebecca A. Sparks, Seline Skoug, Anne Sutherland (who painted last year’s featured piece, In the Stillness), Marguerite Takvorian Holmes, Scott Taylor, Terry Teitelbaum, Janine Thomas, Shira Toren, Mark Tougias, George Van Hook, Gyula Varosy, Hannie Eisma Varosy, Laura Van Rosk, Frank Vurraro, Mary Pat Wager, Catherine Wagner Minnery, Takeyce Walter, Susan Bayard Whiting, Regina Wickham and George Wilson.
For a preview of the works for sale, visit ASA on Facebook, Instagram or on the ASA website at www.agstewardship.org
(Frank W. Barrie, 10/9/19)