ArtsWestchester in White Plains this year will mount a contemporary visual arts exhibit that spotlights the shared history of the Hudson Valley’s brick industry and New York’s Erie Canal with the aid of a $75,000 grant recently awarded through the state’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.Opening this fall, the exhibit, “Brick by Brick: The Erie Canal and the Building Boom,” will be mounted in conjunction with the bicentennial of construction on the 19th century canal, which began in 1817 and was completed on its 363-mile course from Buffalo to Albany in 1825.
Arts Westchester officials said the state funds also will be used to commission artists to create work inspired by the once-significant Hudson Valley brick industry. They noted that some historians have compared the industry’s magnitude and economic impact in the region to IBM Corp. in modern times and today’s nascent biotech industry.
“ArtsWestchester’s exhibition is an exciting story about the economic development of New York state as it fueled industry from Buffalo to New York City along a super water highway, the Hudson River,” said ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam. “Brick was manufactured in towns along the river as new building codes demanded more fire-resistant materials.”
The exhibition by the state’s largest private nonprofit arts council was among 114 private-sector and public-sector projects in the seven-county mid-Hudson region that will receive a total of nearly $84.8 million in the seventh annual round of funding following a competitive application process among 10 regions statewide.