Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits at Fenimore Art Museum

The 2019 season was highlighted by Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits. Known for his elegant and minimalist work and his mastery of photographing in natural light, Herb Ritts had a gift for creating iconic photographs. When he died of complications from AIDS at the age of 50, he left behind an extraordinary body of work that, when seen as a whole, demonstrates his undeniable impact on contemporary culture. The exhibit that was on view at Fenimore Art Museum was the first curated collection of his photos of some of music’s most celebrated artists. Visitors to the gallery were able to see how he captured the likes of David Bowie, Cher, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, and more, with a stunning simplicity. In the process he helped define their iconic status for generations of fans. Stage costumes and guitars from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were also on view.  

Fenimore Art Museum featured a wide variety of programming related to the exhibition, as well: Food for Thought, Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits; Rock n’ Reel Film Series; Documenting Woodstock: Festival Photographs from the Bethel Woods Archives talk; Rock Music & Memory – An Exploration with author Libby Cudmore; Live Music performance of Upstate; Food for Thought, The Art of the Guitar – An Evening with designer and luthier, Thomas Lieber; Food for Thought Evening Cocktail Party, Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits; Fenimore Rocks! Herb Ritts and the Image of Rock Music – Panel Discussion and Cocktail Party; Film: Madonna: Truth or Dare with live commentary; Live music performance of Wurliday 

This exhibition is what inspired our Rock N’ Roll Gala theme, our annual fundraiser for both of the museums, as well as our Annual Members’ Lecture 

Rock N’ Roll Gala & Gala Donors


On July 12th, Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum held their annual summer gala. The event was held at the Iroquois Stable and Greenhouses, which allowed guests to tour the museums’ art collections in the storage facility on site. The theme of the event was inspired by the Herb Ritts exhibition at the Fenimore. As always, the evening included a delicious meal and the excitement of live and silent auctions, as well as a live band. The guests pledged just under $16,000 of support for school trip scholarships.


2019 Gala Sponsors 

Miss Jane Forbes Clark
Robert & Nellie Gipson
Robert & Doris Fischer Malesardi
Tom Morgan & Erna Morgan McReynolds
Mr. & Mrs. Byron F. Thomas, Jr. 

Francesca Zambello & Faith Gay
Mr. & Mrs. Robert S. Hanft

Strategic Financial Services
(Alan Leist, Jr., CFP – Chief Executive Officer, Bob Hanft – Senior Strategic Advisor) 

Dr. Jacqueline M. Atkins & Dr. Edward G. Atkins
Dr. Paul S. & Anna T. D’Ambrosio
Mr. & Mrs. Steven D. Glazer
Mr. & Mrs. Stephen M. Gotwald
Mr. Charles T. Hage & Mrs. Ursula Hage
Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Holbrook
The Honorable & Mrs. M. Langhorne Keith
Mr. & Mrs. Jason McCoy
Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Older
Dr. Jeffrey Pressman & Dr. Nancy Kollisch
Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Schuermann
Ms. Karen Shafer
Mr. & Mrs. Edward W. Stack
Bank of Cooperstown (Scott White – Chief Executive Officer)
Cooperstown Natural Foods (Ellen & David Poulette)
Paperkite (Susan Strandberg Green & William C. Green) 

Mr. & Mrs. Andrew M. Blum
Mr. & Mrs. Gates Helms Hawn
Dr. Michael Hodgman & Ms. Meg Kiernan
Mr. Tim Lord & Mrs. Alison Lord
Mr. & Mrs. George P. Mahoney, Jr.
Joseph and Martha Membrino
Mr. Robert Nelson & Mr. Van B. Ramsey
Mr. & Mrs. John Ryland
Mr. & Mrs. Alexander J. Shields 


Education & Programming Highlights


The Food for Thought programs at Fenimore Art Museum take many forms and develop further each year. In 2019 there was a focus on number of programs and variety of topics, variety of times offered (time of day and day of week), and formats for the programs. Last year the evening cocktail party format was added, which featured a cocktail hour after the program. This year the weekend picnic format was introduced to encourage more families to attend. Examples of Food for Thought programs from 2019 include The Art of the Guitar – A talk and performance with designer and luthier, Thomas Lieber which included cocktails and a buffet on a Saturday evening; Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies with Doug Ambrose, Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at Hamilton College which was a lunchtime program; and Elephant & Piggie in WE ARE ART! – A family tour and hands-on experience with Kevin Gray, Manager of Arts Education which took place on a Saturday morning.    


New in 2019 were the Art in the Dark tours where visitors could experience the galleries in a whole new light – by lantern! Visitors joined museum guides as they were led through the American Folk Art exhibition by lantern light, stopping along the way to share some of the mysterious, melancholy, and untold stories within the artworks. Also seen, the hidden secrets within the paintings with a special ultraviolet light! The 45-minute tours were offered twice per night and were limited to fifteen guests each.  


Live Theater on Glimmerglass Lake, produced by Fenimore Art Museum’s Glimmer Globe Theatre and performed at the Fenimore’s Lucy B. Hamilton amphitheater, was of significant cultural importance and artistic value to the people of Otsego County in 2019.  

The mission of the Fenimore’s Glimmer Globe Theatre is to present high-caliber, affordable, theatrical experiences in an unforgettable and unique atmosphere. We provide new ways for the public to engage with works of classic dramatic literature and provide ample opportunities for local performers, artists, and playwrights to engage and practice their craft. This season, in addition to our regularly scheduled performances, we successfully launched our first Shakespeare Performance Workshop, Taming Shakespeare. This free program invited people of all ages and experience levels to explore the craft of acting in a safe and encouraging environment. Those who attended were extremely pleased with the program, and enthusiastic about auditioning for our productions in the future.  

Glimmer Globe Theatre provides performers of all experience levels with a means of having a professional-caliber performance experience. We are proud to be the only community theater in the region able to compensate each of our actors with a sizable stipend in return for the many hours they  

dedicate to the program. It is because of this passionate base of support that we are able to provide the distinctive theatrical experiences that have become our hallmark. We hope to build on this success with each and every production and continue to set our ambitions high for coming seasons in the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater. Mainstage Productions at Fenimore Art Museum are made possible by The Clark Foundation, NYCM Insurance, Otsego County Government, Allstadt Hardin Foundation, Cooperstown Country Club, and Dr. Richard Sternberg. 

Library Highlights

While genealogy and local history materials remain our most popular collections, reference is just one of the Library’s many facets. Below is a short summary of ways we’ve shared information and broadened our audiences with Library collections throughout 2019. 

Our Hamilton-Burr collection continues to draw much attention from the public. In March, Library staff led a presentation on Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr to the Oneonta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Later in November, we were invited to provide the keynote for the Long Island Library Resources Council’s Annual Archives Conference. The theme broadly covered marketing special collections in the 21st century, and the keynote speech focused on the Museum’s use of the Hamilton-Burr letters in our most recent publication Your Obedient Servant, as well as educational and marketing content developed in tandem with the book.  

Additionally, we continue to see great strides in newspaper digitization. With grant funding received from the South Central Regional Library Council, and in close partnership with the Northern New York Library Network, the Museum & Library has digitized and indexed hundreds of thousands of newspaper pages from 19th– and early 20th-century titles published in Otsego and its surrounding counties. All material is freely accessible online via the database New York State Historic Newspapers (www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org).  

For more information about the collection, please email or call: library@fenimoreart.org or (607) 547-1470. We hope to see you at the Library soon! 

2019 Library Donations:

The Tianaderrah Foundation

Bentley Holden Fund
South Central Regional Library Council

Gifts up to $100
Mr. John R. Alexander
Mr. Noel H. Dries
Ms. Susan Kuennen
Ms. Susan Morse
Robert and Vesna Moynihan 
Ms. Mary Ann Oliver 
Mr. and Mrs. David Plank 
Mr. and Mrs. David Thurber
Ms. Joanne Tobey and Mr. Steve Zerby
Dr. Jeanne Westcott

2019 Collections Highlights & Acquisitions

Quilt. A large, thin white appliqué quilt with a repeating pattern of large feathered stars, 1800-1825. Gift of Beverly T. Bowen.  

Basket. Pima (Akimal O’odham) basketry tray, ca. 1900, made on a cattail leaf splint foundation with willow splints and strips of devil’s claw. Gift of Gilbert and Ildiko Butler. 

Painting. Victor Salvatore, by Cecil Clark Davis, 1914-1919, oil on canvas. Gift of Victor Salvatore Jr. and Martha McGowan. 

Painting. Winter Landscape, Susan Weil, 1970s, watercolor on paper. Gift of Kim Butwell. 

Sculpture. Horse, Donald Gialanella, 2004, steel sculpture. Gift of Joan Leventhal.  

Necklaces. (2) Silver necklaces, Navajo/Diné (Arizona), early to mid-20th century. Gift of William Huff. 

Quill baskets. (2) Two quill baskets with lids, Anishinaabe/Odawa (Michigan), 1980s. Gift of William Huff.   

Miniature woven baskets. (5) Five miniature woven baskets of dark and light willow and bracken fern root, Pomo (California), 1980s. Gift of William Huff. 

Sculpture. Bone sculpture representing birds perched on a craggy rock, Inuit (Alaska), 1960s. Gift of William Huff. 

Banner. Painted banner from the Millerite sect representing the Book of Revelations, 1850-1870. Gift of Pat and Enid Cancilla. 

Food warmer. Chip-carved food warmer, likely Dutch, 1710-1720. Gift of Marilynn Karp. 

Artist’s box. Painted wooden (likely pine) artist’s brush box with “Wm. E. McMaster / Portrait Painter” painted in red on the lid, 1845-1880. Museum purchase. 

Hooked rug. Figural hooked rug depicting an ice skating scene, attributed to Mercedes and James Hutchinson, 1920-1940. Museum purchase.  

Weathervane. Weathervane that stood on the roof of the Pflug & Ackley bottle department and sales rooms in Hempstead, Long Island, ca. 1880. Museum purchase. 

Drawing. An illustration for James Fenimore Cooper’s The Red Rover, depicting the death of Scipio Africanus, 1855-1859. Museum purchase.  

Painting. Dorloo Barn in Snow, Susan Weil, n.d., watercolor on paper. Museum purchase. 

Print. Joe D. Horse Capture, Will Wilson, 2012, archival pigment print. Museum purchase.