TICONDEROGA-Fort Ticonderoga has some of the world's best art. Beginning this week it will have Ticonderoga's best, too.
The fort will host a student art show from Ticonderoga High School in conjunction with its newly-opened special exhibition, "The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experienced through the Eyes of America's Great Artists."
Ti High art students will host an opening reception in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center on Wednesday, June 1, 5 to 7 p.m. The reception is open to the public.
"The Ti High students have worked hard, and are eager to showcase their wonderful works of art," said Britney McCarthy, Ticonderoga High School art teacher.
The student show will be on display during June. The fort exhibit will be on display through Oct. 20. Both are located in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center.
"This is a great collaboration between the local school and Fort Ticonderoga," noted Rich Strum, director of education at the fort. "I'm excited to have the Mars Education Center utilized as a venue for student works of art, giving the community an opportunity to see the creativity of the students in our schools at a place that has inspired artists for centuries."
"The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experienced through the Eyes of America's Great Artists" is taking the fort in a new direction, Chris Fox, curator of collections, said. While it helps tell the history of the fort, it's designed to attract art lovers, he said.
"We were tossing around ideas for a new exhibit when we realized we have a tremendous collection of art," Fox said. "We decided this is a good time to share that art with the public. I think this exhibit appeals to a much different audience than past exhibits."
Historians shouldn't worry, though. The exhibit remains true to the fort's educational mission.
"We have three centuries of (art) work connected to Fort Ticonderoga's history," said Beth Hill, Fort Ti executive director. "Now our visitors will have an opportunity to learn about our amazing history through this beautiful art."
Fox said the fort has thousands of pieces of art, which made selecting about 50 for the exhibit a difficult task.
Fort Ticonderoga helped give birth to the Hudson River school of American Art. Thomas Cole's 1826 work, "Gelyna," or a "View Near Ticonderoga," the museum's most important 19th-century masterpiece, is featured in the exhibit, Fox said.
The Art of War exhibit includes paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and several three-dimensional artifacts selected for their historical significance and artistic appeal.
Artists whose works are featured include Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Charles Wilson Peale and Daniel Huntington among many others.
"As reflected in the exhibit, 19th-century visitors to Fort Ticonderoga included some of the greatest artists of the period who found inspiration in Fort Ticonderoga's epic history and exquisite landscape," Hill said.
Regional photographic artists such as Seneca Ray Stoddard recorded Ticonderoga's ruins and landscapes over the course of 20 years. Many of his photographs were published in area travel guides and histories during the last quarter of the 19th century, keeping alive Ticonderoga's place in American history while documenting early heritage tourism.
"The Art of War uses the artworks to present the story of the fort's remarkable history and show how its history inspired American artists to capture its image and keep Ticonderoga's history alive," Hill said. "The exhibit will graphically tell the history of the site from its development by the French army in 1755 through the beginning of its reconstruction as a museum and restored historic site in the early 20th century."
Exhibit-related education programs and a gallery-focused family activity are part of the exhibit.
Just outside the gallery visitors will have an opportunity to draw their own pictures of the fort and surrounding area. The artwork will be placed on the wall and at the conclusion of the Art of War exhibit three pieces will be selected to be included in the fort's permanent collection.
"We're very excited and are looking forward to sharing this wonderful art," Hill said. "We believe this will appeal to a new audience and attract more visitors. We're looking forward to a great season."
The exhibition and related programs are made possible by support of the Felicia Fund, Champlain National Bank, Stewart's Shops, International Paper Foundation and individual supporters.