The big news for the visual arts was in the Berkshires this year.
In July, the Clark Art Institute unveiled the $145 million expansion project on its 140-acre rural campus in Williamstown, Mass.
At the new Clark Center, visitors will find galleries, a cafe, gift shop and a reflecting pool with mountain views. The original museum building, which is now attached to The Clark Center, also reopened after a two-year remodeling of the interior, including the Renoir Room.
Six miles away, in North Adams, MASS MoCA announced plans to double its exhibition space. The $55 million project, which is scheduled to be unveiled in May 2017, will make it the largest contemporary art museum in the country.
During the summer, the city of Albany delighted residents and visitors with “Play Me, I’m Yours,” old pianos that were turned into colorful artworks by regional artists and installed around downtown. In 2014, Albany was the only city in America to participate in the international exhibit.
Albany Barn formally opened in April in the city’s Arbor Hill neighborhood. The former St. Joseph’s Academy has been turned into low-cost apartments and studio spaces for artists.
In Troy, the Arts Center of the Capital Region handed out awards to an emerging and an established artist for a second year. The Arts Center also announced that it was launching a residency program for artists. That program begins in January, with puppeteer Morgan Kelly of Schoharie County as the first participant.
In Schenectady, more paintings and sculpture showed up downtown but Art Night Schenectady, which was last held in September 2013, failed to return in 2014.
This fall, the Oakroom Artists decided to hold their annual group at Experience and Creative Design on Union Street.
Early this month, Jbis Contemporary Modern Art Gallery opened in the 200 State Street building. The debut exhibit features paintings by gallery owner Jeffrey Bisaillon and metal sculptures by Tony Murray.
Both the Clark and the Hyde raised admission prices.
In the summer and early fall, the Clark is charging $20, a $5 increase. Free admission will continue from late fall through the spring.
Starting Jan. 1, admission to The Hyde will jump from $8 to $15. Seniors will pay $13, up from $6. Children ages 12 and under will still be free.
In the people category, two institutions are looking for new curators.
Erin B. Coe left her job as the Hyde’s chief curator to complete a doctorate in art history.
Emily Zimmerman, associate curator at EMPAC, has taken a new job at a gallery in Seattle.
Finally, on a sad note, the Capital Region Arts scene lost one of its bright lights on July 13, with the death of Jim Richard Wilson, founding director of the Opalka Gallery of Sage Colleges.
u Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute: Our favorite French Impressionist paintings return from a three-year world tour. New exhibits include “Cast for Eternity: Ancient Ritual Bronzes from the Shanghai Museum,” “Make It New: Abstract Painting from the National Gallery of Art” and in “Raw Color: The Circles of David Smith.”
u “Meander, Because You Can’t See Much While Marching” at the Opalka Gallery: Outstanding survey of the wide-ranging career of award-winning artist Mike Glier. (Exhibit runs through Feb. 8)
u 2014 Exhibition of Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region at the Albany Institute of History & Art:
Jurored by Stephen Westfall, an exhibit rich in artwork made with fiber and patterns.
-- “My Land/Patti Smith and Other Things: Photographs by Judy Linn” at the Esther Massry Gallery, The College of Saint Rose: Back to the 1960s with intimate images of the godmother of punk rock by one of her friends.
-- “Larry Kagan: Lying Shadows” at The Hyde Collection: Visitors can’t believe their eyes as they try to figure out Kagan’s steel-and-shadow wall sculptures.
-- 36th Annual Photography Regional at the Albany Center Gallery: Co-jurors Susan Myers and Mark McCarty select a nice range of work, from traditional to abstract and avant-garde.
-- “Abecedarius” at the Arts Center of the Capital Region: Art meets science in a brain-teasing show by Michael Oatman and Colin Boyd.
-- “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith” at the Mandeville Gallery, Union College: Bold drawings and paintings that challenge myths and stereotypes about Native Americans.
-- “Sacred Scraps: Works by Rabbi Linda Motzkin” at the Spring Street Gallery, Saratoga Springs: Strange paper-like forms made of deerskin parchment.
-- “Slate as Muse National Exhibition” at the Slate Valley Museum, Granville: Artwork made of and inspired by slate.
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or [email protected]