BIDDINGTON'S ART GALLERY--Contemporary Paintings, Sculpture & Prints. BIDDINGTON'S Content INDEX.

The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road
Istvan Sandorfi painting at Arnot Art Museum

New York State's Finger Lakes Region
Touring Art Museums & Tasting Wines

July 2002--Sometimes the Bentley yearns for the open road. Having cleared the isle of Manhattan, the Bentley cruises smoothly up the scenic Palisades Parkway to the "Quickway", (the wonderfully 1950's name for Rte.17), to Binghamton, NY where it heads northwest on smaller roads towards Ithaca at the south end of Lake Cayuga. The route passes through the upland mountainous topography of the Appalachian chain--a hardscrabble region whose winding roads are fun to drive but visually tedious. In central New York state, the weight of ancient glacial lakes interrupted the prevailing terrain and left behind a large area of long, deep lakes, gentle hills and microclimates moderate enough for fruit growing. Accounts by early settlers describe this region of eleven lakes as an Eden compared to the rock-ridden soil and miserable winters of New England.

Istvan Sandorfi Painting
Arnot Art Museum  Elmira, NY

Today these interlaken areas are strewn with wineries nearly all of which are prepared to welcome visitors for tastings. The traditional varietals grown in this region are the grapes of northern Europe: riesling and gewurztraminer. In recent years, Finger Lakes winemakers have been branching out to produce chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir and even cabernet franc. Wine trail maps give an idea of the extent of viticulture in the region. Touring the tasting rooms is a low-key, pleasant activity--especially if your palate runs toward off-dry or sweet wines. For those accustomed to the throngs at California or Long Island wineries, the endeavor will demand surprisingly little effort. In addition to alcohol-absorbent biscuits, some wineries serve substantial food: Standing Stone on Lake Seneca offers an appetizing picnic lunch while Knapp on Lake Cayuga has a restaurant with patio serving sit-down lunch & dinners.

The scale and configuration of the Finger Lakes is reminiscent of the Italian lake region. With compelling views comes large houses: The fine vista across Lake Seneca provoked construction of Belhurst Castle, a stone Neo-Romanesque Victorian mansion (1885-1889) and its neighbor Geneva-on-the-Lake (Nester House), a copy of an Italian Renaissance villa and its gardens. Both are included in the National Register of Historic Places; both now house amusing, upmarket hotels. Otherwise, the area's standard lodging is low-end motel, so weekend visitors usually opt for a room at one of the charming B&B's that dot the region.

In a Biddington, the culture-vulture gene always dominates. After a short time, wine-tasting gives way to museum-going. Like the wineries, the museums in the region are blissfully under-populated making viewing art a special pleasure.

Richard Heinrich sculpture at Cornell Museum Housed in an I.M. Pei jewel on the Cornell University campus, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum possesses permanent collections of Asian, European and American art displayed in accessible bite-size groupings with accompanying commentary and brochures as substantive as might be expected from a first-rate academic institution. The museum has an especially fine--and well-displayed--collection of bas-relief bronze medals. The outdoor sculpture terrace includes works by Harry Bertoia, Leonard Baskin and Richard Heinrich.

A Visiting Collector with
Richard Heinrich Sculpture
Herbert F. Johnson Museum  Cornell University
Southwest from Ithaca on Rte. 13 in Elmira, the Arnot Art Museum is known as a hotbed of contemporary representational art. Its biennial exhibition "Re-presenting Representation" shows intriguing new works from the US and Europe. The Arnot also houses a core collection of 17th-19th century paintings acquired in the late 19th century by its benefactor Matthias Arnot. A local banker of considerable imagination, Matthias Arnot also financed early experiments in flight. His original collection, most of which would be considered contemporary to the time, shows evidence of a clear-eyed admirer of quality narrative painting. Matthias Arnot's acquisitions still hang cheek-to-jowl in the 1880's picture gallery he installed within his father's Greek Revival mansion.

Continuing a few miles west to Corning on the Chemung County museum trail, Rockwell Museum of Western Art houses a collection of painting and sculpture. Works by Thomas Hill, William Robinson Leigh and Charles Schreyvogel illustrate the Cowboy Myth so effectively that visitors leave humming the soundtrack of a John Ford western.

Clifford Rainey sculpture in Corning Glass Museum With its art-related exhibitions and permanent collection as well as glassmaking demonstrations, the Corning Museum of Glass remains a personal favorite--a destination museum. Whether in Murano (Italy) or in Corning (NY), the process of making glass always seems like magic. (I keep praying the guy doesn't inhale.) Now, for a fee, visitors can try it themselves.
Clifford Rainey Sculpture
Corning Museum of Glass  Corning, NY
At day's end, the downtown Ithaca scene revolves around its pedestrian center of shops, bars and eateries. Much of the food is pub grub aimed at the student crowd, but not at Dano's Vienna. With his inventive modernizing of traditional Viennese favorites and his devotion to fresh local meats and produce, chef Dano Hutnik produces fabulous meals. While the wine list makes a nod to regional wines, its focus is the fine European and American wines that Dano's sophisticated cooking deserves. The special wine offering was a flight of four rieslings: Austrian, Alsacian, Finger Lakes and German--a sampler designed to be instructive in both style and quality variations. In addition to selecting the wines, pastry chef Karen Gilman bakes a peach variation on a tarte tatin which--by itself--merits the trip.

In October, when the region will be enjoying all its autumn glory, Greater Ithaca Art Trail has scheduled two weekends for independent touring of open artists studios. And game will surely be on the menu at Dano's...

More Art & Antiques Destinations with Jake Biddington:
Art Tourism New York City 2005: Christo's Gates
Art Museums, Neighborhoods & Dining in Buenos Aires
Art and Touring along Italy's Amalfi Coast
Art Museums & Restaurants in Amsterdam
Cultural Touring along Spain's Costa del Sol
Art Touring in Lisbon
Art Touring in Milan
Art Touring in Antwerp
Art Touring in Barcelona
I-80 Park City to New York City Art & Antiques
Art Tourism New York City 2003 (Archive)
Art Tourism New York City 2002 (Archive)
Art & Antiques in Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Art & Restaurants in Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey

Jake Biddington's 2005 Art Collecting Series:
Art Appraisals and Valautions
Investment Grade Contemporary Art

Jake Biddington Art Investing (Archives):
PPP Test: Judging Quality in Contemporary Art
Art, Time and Technology
American vs. European Paintings
Jake Biddington's Art as Entertainment
Jake Biddington's Vetted Antiques & Art Shows
Jake Biddington's Patent Numbers as a Dating Tool
Jake Biddington's Hard Assets as Portfolio Diversification
Jake Biddington's Buying Fine Jewelry at Auction
Jake Biddington's Long Term Investing
Jake Biddington's Short-Term Investing
Jake Biddington's The Craft of Art


Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art & antiques online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums all over the world.

In this article, Jake Biddington offers suggestions and descriptions of interesting art tourism destinations. Some of these venues are always in open; others revolve around special or seasonal events. These are art travel excursions we at BIDDINGTON'S--upmarket, online art & antiques auctions and Contemporary Art Gallery--have enjoyed making. We hope you'll like them, too.

Contact Jake Biddington about His Travels

COPYRIGHT: Images and information within are Copyright Biddington's, Inc. 1997-2005--except where superceded by individual copyrights of the artists.
Downloading or printing for online or print reproduction of any materials without specific written permission from Biddington's, Inc. is prohibited.

PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--art words & terms defined. CREATIVE PROCESS--artists' studio visits.
JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--financial advice on art & antiques collecting. MY ART--art for kids.