A Visit to Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole's HouseVisiting historical places feels like stepping back in time. You might need to use your imagination to see the artist working or the writer writing, but often times the place you’re visiting has a personality all its own.

Recently, I visited Thomas Cole’s house. Thomas Cole was an artist, best known for his paintings, and credited with the founding of the Hudson River School. His paintings transform the landscape and captivates anyone who looks at them (at least in my opinion).

The house is simple – pale yellow with dark green shutters and an elevated porch. It used to sit on a large plot of land, orchards, but now there’s a road that goes through it and a Mountain Viewfew houses on the other side. In no way does this take away from the gorgeous view when standing on the porch. Beyond the bit of present-day construction lays the woods with its tall trees and mountains that appear to touch the sky. It’s a view that I believe must me seen to fully appreciate its beauty.

Of all the rooms in the house, I think the studio was my favorite. It’s one thing to step into the foyer of an old house, to see the different rooms, to imagine the use of each room and admire the authenticity of it all, but it’s another things entirely to enter a room that still feels as if it’s being used.

His studio is separate from the house, part of an old barn. Upon entering there’s a smell that matches that of an old barn, mixed with paint and age. Two easels site in the middle A Painter's Toolsof the room, one with a canvas balanced on it, the other empty and waiting for art to be created. A long desk is pushed against the wall and holds books, papers and some small paints. A separate, smaller desk, is positioned between the two easels where bottles of pigment (which would be transformed into his paints) sat. It was as if Thomas Cole had walked out of his studio and everything was left waiting for his return.

It’s possible the old studio sparked my imagination as the room still seemed to be alive. It felt special. And maybe that’s why these historical places feel like stepping back in time – each one is special in it’s own way.

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Aftershows Are Special

They don’t happen all the time, but it’s not their spontaneity that fully makes them special. It’s not having a rehearsed set. It’s not having all the flashy lights or disco balls or bubbles. It’s not having an electric guitar that sings through the amps and speakers into the crowd. It’s not having a bass or drums vibrate through your body and match the beating of your heart.

Don’t get me wrong, those things are all great, but when a song is played with a simple acoustic guitar it’s like stripping the song down to it’s soul.

Over the last week I’ve had the privilege of seeing two aftershows. The first was in New Hampshire. There was a group of us down on the beach – toes in the cool sand, the sound of the ocean behind us – as the melody of each song floated through the starry night.

The second one was in Boston. This time there was a group of us crowded around a pair of trashcans, a makeshift stage, as the sounds of the city echoed around us and blended with each song.

That’s the thing about aftershows. You never know where you’re going to end up or what’s going to happen. It could be anywhere from a back alley by the bus to the sidewalk to the beach. It’s spontaneous with none of the glamor of a rehearsed show.

There’s something to be said for a song played with nothing but a guitar. It may be simple, but it’s also beautiful.