Barney Bellinger’s “Welcome to My Studio” – one of several innovative features of “Artists & Inspiration in the Wild,” Adirondack Experience’s newly reinstalled art collection – opens July 1.
According to Adirondack Experience, “Welcome to My Studio” is “a window into Adirondack artist Barney Bellinger’s studio space and invites visitors to enter the ADKX Art Lab, where visitors can make their own artwork inspired by the Adirondacks.”
The exhibition is a reconstruction – or recreation – of one of his studios in the southern Adirondacks, Bellinger said in a recent interview.
“The director of Adirondack Experience, who was visiting, looking at work, happened to say, “wouldn’t it be nice to have this studio in our museum,” said Bellinger. “After some brain storming, we realized we could move a lot of the items to Blue Mountain Lake and create a maker’s space.”
“Welcome to My Studio” includes roughly 950 pieces from Bellinger’s various workspaces and buildings.
Something like “Welcome to My Studio” has never been far from the front of the self-schooled artist’s mind.
Several years ago, during a studio visit we made with some friends from Bolton Landing, Bellinger told us, “I’ve always thought an artist could make a show just of the stuff in his studio.”
Extending his arms to embrace a barn full of found, half-finished and several fully resolved pieces, Bellinger said, “this is my world, right here.”
There is another aspect of Bellinger’s world that has also been transported to Blue Mountain Lake – teaching.
When we visited the studio near Sacandaga Lake, Bellinger was working with young people with intellectual disabilities to elicit their innate creativity.
“I give them free range to pick out metal. We start with one piece and go from there. And a light bulb goes off in their heads. They’re creating,” he said at the time.
At Adirondack Experience, “if you want to come and create a piece of art, you can do that. It’s an environment designed to spark creativity, to allow you to be inspired by my surroundings, by my workshop and art studio,” Bellinger said.
Bellinger and his work have long been familiar to the Lake George region.
He was among the first rustic artists represented by Ralph Kylloe at his gallery on Route 9L and to be exhibited at Henry Caldwell’s Black Bass Antiques in Bolton Landing.
He was also among the four Adirondack artists who created pop-up galleries in Silver Bay and Bolton Landing in the years before COVID.
By then, Bellinger had expanded his range to include welded metal sculpture, some of which were included in the 2019 exhibition at the Bolton Museum, “Landscapes Lost and Found” and installed on the grounds of the Wild Center in Tupper Lake in 2021.
(In recent years, Bellinger’s sculptures have travelled far beyond the Blue Line to museums, galleries and buildings around the world, including, most recently, to the tallest residential building in the world – the Steinway Tower in New York City, where a piece has been installed on the top floor.)
This past spring, Bellinger worked with Greg Matty of the Baltimore-based museum designers Gallagher and Associates to select objects from his studios and install them in Blue Mountain Lake.
“I put together lists of items – found objects, vintage paint cans, assemblages, repurposed machinery – that I thought would be conducive to the creation of the environment I had in mind and the museum designers said, ’this is great; let’s go with it,’” Bellinger said.
“Artists and Inspiration in the Wild” to be Unveiled at ADKX
According to Adirondack Experience, the new installation of its renowned collection of Adirondack art – started by the museum’s founder, Harold Hochshild – was “over five years in the making.”
“The installation, ‘Artists & Inspiration in the Wild,’ showcases an inclusive and wide-reaching interpretation of Adirondack art across centuries – from the renowned artists such as Thomas Cole, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Seneca Ray Stoddard and Rockwell Kent to the groundbreaking, such as Edna West Teall, Glenn Hill, Takeyce Walter and Niio Perkins,” the museum stated in a press release.
“The new permanent exhibit features more than 250 works across four main galleries that illustrate how the natural features of the Adirondacks – light, forests, water, and mountains – have sparked the creative visions of diverse painters, sculptors and expert artisans. To further enhance the visitor experience, ‘Artists & Inspiration in the Wild’ features innovative social interactives throughout the exhibit to offer visitors the opportunity to engage with the collection in new ways,” the press release continued.
“The art really speaks to how nature in the Adirondacks is such a powerful force in human creativity,” said the museum’s Chief Curator, Laura Rice. “So many artists making work with different materials, in different time periods, from different perspectives, yet they all share this deep sense of connection to the Adirondack landscape. The results are stunning, especially when we bring these pieces together in one space.”
The completed ‘Artists & Inspiration in the Wild’ installation opens to the public on July 1.
Adirondack Experience, formerly the Adirondack Museum, is open seven days a week through October 9.
Located at 9097 State Route 30 in Blue Mountain Lake, the museum’s hours are 10 am to 5 pm. Call 518-352-7311 for information.