ALBANY — The latest exhibition to open at the Albany Institute of History and Art is a journey of more than 50 prints.
“Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty- Three Stations of the Tokaido Road,” which was curated by the Reading Public Museum, finds its way to the Institute on March 14. Each of the prints in the exhibition was created by Utagawa Hiroshige, a Japanese artist who worked to capture the landscapes and life found on the Tokaido Road, which stretched over 300 miles and connected what is now Tokyo and Kyoto.
“They’re beautiful technical masterpieces, [and] you get a representation of Japan. Not only of the great temples but of the everyday scenes,” said chief curator Douglas McCombs.
“Along the Eastern Road” is an unusual exhibition for the Institute.
“We are a museum that focuses mainly on art and history of the upper Hudson Valley,” McCombs said. However, the exhibition fits in well with a small piece of the Institute’s collection, thanks to one donor.
Robert Pruyn, an Albany native, was appointed the minister to Japan by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 and served in the position for several years before coming back to the Capital Region. He brought back with him many artifacts from his time there, including several hundred Netsukes and a manuscript, which the family donated to the Institute. Pruyn’s son went on to build a camp in the Adirondacks, called Camp Santanoni, which was heavily influenced by Japanese-style architecture. The camp still exists today, with around 13,000 acres of trails.
Needless to say, the Pruyn family brought their experiences in Japan to the Capital Region and those influences are still felt today.
Steven Englehart, the director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, will discuss both the Pruyn family and the historic camp’s architecture during a lecture he’ll present at Albany Institue, this Sunday, March 11, at 2 p.m.
“We thought it would be nice to compliment our collection because when Pruyn was there in the 1860s, Japan was going through a major transformation,” McCombs said. Most of the Hiroshige’s prints reflect the life and the landscapes that Pruyn would have seen in his years as minister to Japan.
Hiroshige, known as a ukiyo-e (or “floating world”) artist, was one of the first to develop landscape woodblock prints. He was inspired to create the prints when he took the Tokaido Road as a part of an official delegation transporting horses as a gift from the Shogun to present to the Emperor in 1832.
At each station or stop along the road, he sketched the beautiful landscape, including the imposing Mount Fuji and the sea. But he also managed to capture the daily life of Japanese people, from all classes, including beggars, those from the upper echelons, and those somewhere in between.
In some prints, Hiroshige depicted various inns and various lodgings on the road, from the cozy-looking sub-inns (or waki-honjin) or the grander honjin (or inn).
Hiroshige is known as a master of ukiyo-e and it shows through the intricacies of his work and the virtuosity of the process, said McCombs.
“He would draw his designs and send his drawings to a wood block carver and then a master printer,” McCombs said.
“Along the Eastern Road,” opens on March 14 and will be at the Institute until June 10. For more information, visit albanyinstitute.org.
2 p.m., Sunday
Steven Englehart, the director of the Adirondack Architectural Heritage, will give a lecture about Camp Santanoni, a historic camp in Newcomb. Englehart will discuss the Japanese-inspired architecture, the history of the camp and the family who started it all. For more information visit albanyinstitute.org.
More Mucha at The Hyde
The “Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau,” exhibition gets a bit more crowded this weekend.
On Saturday, the Hyde and 2440 Design Studio will come together for an event called “RE-IMAGINED.” Live models, wearing Mucha-inspired dress and makeup, will be strategically placed around the exhibition and make a “tableau vivant” that reflects Mucha’s style.
“We are working with full styling teams to create unique looks inspired by the artist and contextualizing them in the historic Hyde House, which is from a period that resonates well with his work.” said Corey Aldrich, producer at 2440 Design Studio “The goal is to re-envision the house in a new way while creating an authentic fashion/art experience.”
The looks have all been created by local fashion designers, including Kim Vanyo of Khymanyo Studio, Tara Holmes of Taine Novati and Yvonne McEachron of Layered Design. Holmes and McEachron will be styling two complete looks and Vanyo will present four looks from a new line of custom bridal wear. Each look is based on the designer’s interpretation of Mucha’s work.
“At The Hyde, we recognize the importance of collaboration among arts institutions and we are thrilled to be working with Electric City Couture and 2440 Design Studio,” said Hyde Interim Director Anne Saile. “RE-IMAGINED highlights the talent of regional artists and demonstrates how art created nearly a century ago has a lasting influence.”
There will also be an exhibit called “Exploring Mucha,” which gives a behind-the-scenes view of how all the designs came together.
A VIP reception in the Hyde’s Rotunda Gallery will give a preview of the exhibit and will feature live music from the “Musicians of Ma’alwyck.” They will be presenting music from a recently commissioned opera, “ALEDA – The Flight of the Stuff Bird Woman.” There will also be a cash bar with beer and wine.
The VIP reception starts at 6:30 and runs until 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $100.
“RE-IMAGINED” officially kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information visit hydecollection.org.