By Glenda Haas, Art Selection Committee Chair
The newly renovated Trail Conference headquarters opened with many bare walls at the ribbon-cutting ceremony this past April. An Art Selection Committee has since been formed, led by volunteer Glenda Haas, and composed of fellow volunteer Diane Stripe and a staff liaison, with the goal of utilizing the arts to connect to environmental appreciation. Additionally, the stories of both the Trail Conference and Darlington Schoolhouse come to life through photographs and artwork in the historic foyer’s double staircase. To attain the Committee’s mission of partnering the Trail Conference with the local community and artists to promote public trails, the building’s main conference and training room will display a rotating art exhibit, chiefly composed of local artists. An art display system has been installed and the Trail Conference is now hosting its inaugural art exhibition.
Our first guest artist is Richard Kirk Mills. His work comes to the Trail Conference as a satellite exhibition of “Ode to Earth,” a larger exhibition sponsored by the Blue Hill Art and Cultural Center at the Blue Hill Plaza office complex in Pearl River, N.Y. Barbara J. Sussman and Joanna Dickey, the curator and art administer of the Blue Hill Plaza Cultural Center, guided the Trail Conference Art Selection Committee in making our first exhibit happen. Their recommendation of Mills is serendipitous, as it was soon discovered that the artist’s studio in Bovina, N.Y., was designed by Walter Aurell, the architect for the Darlington Schoolhouse renovation. Mills has also long been involved in environmental artwork and restoration, primarily at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy and Hackensack River Stories Project. Mills’ background includes working as a master printmaker and as an art professor at Long Island University/Post.
Four of Mills’ interpretive graphics will be on display in the former schoolroom, along with nine of his lyrical landscape paintings of Catskill locations.
The Richard Kirk Mills exhibition will be open to our members and the public until April 14, 2016, during regular Trail Conference office hours: 9 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The paintings are offered for sale with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Trail Conference.