Thacher Park Centennial celebrated at Nature Art Exhibit

— SoulCollage card by Carol Coogan
An Introduction to SoulCollage will be given on Sunday, March 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Thacher Nature Center, for $25. “SoulCollage is a process for accessing your intuition and creating an incredible deck of cards with deep personal meaning that will help you with life’s questions and transitions,” explains the class’s instructor, Carol Coogan, who does the weekly editorial artwork for The Enterprise. “Select images that you are strongly drawn to from magazines and other sources. Using these images, you will design and make your own SoulCollage cards.” All card-making materials are included. Participants are welcome to bring their own images also. Call 872-1237 to register or for more information.

NEW SCOTLAND — For the past 100 years, John Boyd Thacher State Park has been a source of local pride. The land, donated to the state by Thacher’s widow, boasts splendid views, winding trails, and deep geological history.
This is the 11th year the park will host their Nature Art Exhibit, and this iteration features a large number of pieces about the park itself in honor of its centennial.

“There are well over 100 pieces we are displaying this year,” said Joy Scism, spokeswoman for Thacher Park. Last year’s show featured about 92 pieces.

The exhibit showcases various mediums: watercolor, photography, pottery, woodworking, and basketry, among others.

About 50 artists are participating this year, and Scism estimates that one third to one half of them are new to the exhibit, but many are returning artists.

“We’ve had people who have been with us since the beginning,” she said. 

Four years ago, as the state was debating closing the park, Tom Thacher, a descendent of John Boyd Thacher, told the New Scotland Town Board that to close the park “will make a mockery of the gift of my family to the state.”

Governor Martin Glynn announced to the New York State Legislature on March 4, 1914, “a voluntary gift to the people of the state.”

“This tract embraces the famous ‘Indian Ladder’ section in the Helderbergs a few miles west of Albany,” Governor Glynn stated.  “It has long been noted as one of the beauty spots of the state.  Naturalists have agreed that there is found some of the grandest scenery in the state.  We find numerous caves, great precipitous cliffs, waterfalls, and pine forests.  The region is rich historically and around it cluster many legends of the original owners of the soil.

“To its natural wonders is added the charm of romance… It is a veritable wonderland, and in my opinion this property will make the most picturesque park in the state of New York.”

The governor went on to describe the park’s donor — John Boyd Thacher was a businessman, author, and politician, serving as mayor of Albany for four years.  “From his entrance into public life he was closely identified with the political history of his country; was a public speaker of wide repute and an ardent advocate and supporter of all measures proposed for the benefit of workingmen and women,” Glynn wrote.

Family lore holds that Susan B. Anthony, a pioneering member of the women’s suffrage movement, came to speak in Albany while Thacher was the mayor.  He sat next to her the whole time with a pistol in his lap, Tom Thacher said, admitting that the story may be only a story.

He and Mrs. Emma Treadwell Thacher had a summer house in Altamont and amassed about 350 acres in the Helderbergs, which were kept open to the public, Tom Thacher said.

Five years after Thacher’s death, his wife gave their land to the people of New York for a park to bear his name.

“In many ways it’s a hidden treasure,” Park Manager Chris Fallon said this week.

“When people think about Thacher Park, one of the themes we have is ‘inspiring 100 years of memories’,” he said.



The Nature Art Exhibit, housed in the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center, begins this Saturday, March 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. and continues every day until March 28, excluding Mondays when the nature center is closed. Art classes at the center are regularly listed in the Enterprise’s Community Calendar.



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