Schoharie Crossing puts out a call for artists

Local painter Deborah Angilletta plein air painting at Empire Lock as Schoharie Crossing in July of 2016. (Photo courtesy of Halldor Sigurdsson)

FORT HUNTER  — On any given day throughout the year, artists are drawn to Schoharie Crossing for the beauty and easy access.

“We get a fair amount of artists,” said Janice Fontanella, the site manager. “It is surrounded by the two bodies of water — The Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek — and has all the canal features — wild flowers, water, wildlife. It is a truly beautiful place.”

To celebrate the renovation of the Visitor’s Center at Schoharie Crossing, the Friends of Schoharie Crossing are inviting artists residing in New York state to showcase their work in a competitive juried exhibition. The theme of the exhibition is Views and Vistas: The Natural and Built Environment of Schoharie Crossing.

“Schoharie Crossing provides magnificent views of nature as well as human engineering,” said Education Director David Brooks in a news release. “Historic Erie Canal structures are juxtaposed among the natural world of plants and animals along the Schoharie Creek and Mohawk River. The trails along the old towpaths of the canal provide a journey back in time. Flora and fauna thrive within the tranquility of the waterways, wetlands and open spaces of Schoharie Crossing, providing an inspiration for any artist.”

Schoharie Crossing became a state park in 1966, and in 1987, the visitor center opened.

Within the site boundaries, more than 250 acres, there are several structures from the three eras of the canal’s development.

The Visitor’s Center is built on the location of 18th century Fort Hunter and the Lower Castle Mohawk village. The 2011 flooding from Hurricane Irene washed away the banks of the Schoharie Creek where it makes a sharp bend just past the aqueduct, unearthing a corner block house foundation and side walls.

The flood also revealed artifacts, including metal buckles, smoking pipes and Native American stone tools.

A short drive away, there is the boat launch area that is located on the opposite site of the Schoharie Creek, across from the Visitor’s Center, and where limited viewing of the aqueduct is possible.

Towpaths and hiking trails meander through flower-covered fields, alongside historic houses and through woods nestled next to the canal. The towpaths connect the various areas of Schoharie Crossing and lead to Yankee Hill, about two miles east of the Visitor’s Center.

“People can bike on it, hike, we even have people ride their horses on the trail,” said Brooks. “They can see all kinds of birds, the occasional fox, all sorts of small wildlife. There is really so much here.”

Fontanella said this is the first year the competition is being held.

“We have the special opportunity with the renovation of the [Visitor’s Center] to have this exhibit,” said Fontanella.

She said the exhibit of the artwork will stay up until the middle of August when a new exhibit highlighting the Erie Canal will go up.

“That will highlight Lock 30 and the Schoharie Crossing,” said Fontanella.

The deadline for submissions is

May 1. Jury selections will be made by June 1 and the show will be on display in July and August.

The opening celebration will take place as part of the Schoharie Crossing Canal Days festivities July 8 and 9.

Specific details about how to enter are available on the Schoharie Crossing page of the New York State Parks website,, by calling Schoharie Crossing at (518) 829-7516 or emailing the site at [email protected]

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call (518) 474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

By Chad Fleck

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