Museum exhibit inspires environmental discussion |

Museum exhibit inspires environmental discussion

Last July, the Park City Museum opened "Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting" in its Tozer Gallery.

The exhibit, which will close on Oct. 20, has been the inspiration for an array of museum programs including a September presentation about Cedar Mesa by Park City-based photographer Richard Pick, a two-hour art-instruction event at the Paint Mixer on Sunday and a film screening of the documentary, "Fierce Green Fire: The Fight for Living Planet," which is a collaboration with the Park City Film Series. (See story titled "Museum collaborates with Film Series for ‘A Fierce Green Fire.’")

The exhibit, which examines the ideals of landscape artist Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, also inspired a panel discussion titled "Wild Land and Open Space: Conservation in Park City," which will be about environmentalism, at the McPolin Barn on Tuesday, Oct. 14, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., according to Jenette Purdy, education director for the Park City Museum.

"The exhibit is all about Thomas Cole, who was an artist in New York in the 1800s," Purdy told The Park Record. "It shows the way he painted landscape was a new way to look at wilderness, because he looked at the land and not what people were doing in the land. He created wild images that were more realistic."

Cole’s views inspired the United States conservation movement.

"That’s one of the aspects of the exhibit we pulled out to focus our public programs on," Purdy said. "We’re the Park City Museum and we focus on history, but when I think about land conservation in this area, I think of the Summit Land Conservancy that is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of open space and open lands. So we spoke with them about this idea of working together on hosting a panel discussion."

Robyn Geist, outreach and development director for the Summit Land Conservancy, said the panel will focus on the history of conservation in Park City and how the open landscapes, spaces and view sheds inspire artists and writers.

Panelists include local essayist and The Park Record columnist Tom Clyde and local artist Allison Willingham, who is also one of the board members for the Summit Land Conservancy, according to Geist.

"Former Mayor Dana Williams will talk about the history of the land as will public speaker Myles Rademan," Geist said. "The panel will also feature Cheryl Fox, one of the founders of the Summit Land Conservancy."

Holding the discussion at McPolin Barn is significant for the Summit Land Conservancy because the Conservancy helped preserve the property.

"The city owns the property and we hold the conservation easement, meaning we act as a third-party steward to protect the property and land surrounding the buildings," Geist explained. "We make sure nothing goes on at the property that goes against the original values for which it is being protected. The Friends of the McPolin Farm, who are also co-sponsoring the event, actually work to protect and preserve the building."

There are approximately 115 acres that comprise the McPolin Farm, according to Geist.

"It is an incredible and important view shed for people who are coming into Park City," she said. "It’s one of the most iconic areas in Park City. Everyone paints pictures or takes photos of it."

After the discussion, the event will close with a presentation that will address the future of conservation in the Park City area.

"It will feature representatives from the Park City Day School who worked with us during the 2013/2014 school year to explore the importance of local open space," Geist said. "The eighth graders worked on a project that resulted in a book called ‘The Beauty Outside’ and they took a big look at open space and how it’s not always protected forever, and how much work it takes to protect it."

The presentation will include a video the students produced.

"It shows how their attitudes towards open space have changed," Geist said. "Some of the students and the school’s middle school director Lindsay Wellman will also be on hand to answer questions."

The Park City Library and Summit Land Conservancy will host a panel discussion, "Wild Land and Open Space: Conservation in Park City" on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at McPolin Barn from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are suggested. RSVPs can be made by emailing . Parking is limited. So carpooling, riding the bus or riding bikes are encouraged. For more information, visit or

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