Inspired by Isabella Stuart Gardner, a Boston philanthropist who traveled the world amassing a remarkable art collection and then built a palazzo on the Fenway to display it, Louis and Charlotte Hyde collected art for over fifty years and built a Italianate home in Glens Falls, New York, to house it. Known as “The Hyde Collection,” their museum has grown since Mrs. Hyde’s death in the 1950s, and now hosts exhibitions by contemporary artists. This summer, Director Erin Coe invited Victoria Palermo to create a site-specific installation on the grounds of the museum.
[Image at top: Victoria Palermo, Camp Iris, 2016, wood and Plexiglass at The Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, New York. The way Palermo arranged the forms recalls a house of cards.]
Riffing on Adirondack camp architecture, Camp Iris comprises three eight-foot-tall A-frame shapes using wood framing from the local lumber mill (owned by Mrs. Hyde’s family and visible from the museum). Walls, made of vividly colored acrylic plastic, create new colors where panes overlap, produce tinted reflections, and cast colorful shadows. Palermo wanted Camp Iris to be interactive, so she added durable carpeting inside to make the structures, located prominently in front of the museum, welcoming places to sit. Visitors can comfortably contemplate the shifting light and color as the sun moves through the sky.
The playful structures unmistakably assimilate the geographic locale–the Adirondacks are fifteen minutes north–but Palermo also wanted to forge a clear connection to the work in The Hyde Collection. “The title refers to the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris,” Palermo told me. “I want the piece to conjure some of the mythological themes that are present in so much of the work the Hydes collected.”
Palermo has created a public sculpture that draws on local interests and appeals to members of the non-art community, while also contributing to a more informed art world conversation about minimalist form, seriality, and the nature-culture dialectic. It’s not an easy balance to strike, but Palermo gracefully succeeds.
“Victoria Palermo: Camp Iris,” Temporary Outdoor Installation at The Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY. Through September 5, 2016. NOTE: Palermo will present a lecture on Thursday, August 4, at 7:00 pm entitled “Shelter from the Storm: Interactions with Contemporary Sculpture.” The lecture will be held in the Helen Froehlich Auditorium at The Hyde Collection.
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