31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY
"Brick by Brick: The Erie Canal & the Building Boom"
Opening Sunday, Sept. 30, from 4-6pm
Staying on view through Jan. 19, 2019
“Brick by Brick: The Erie Canal & the Building Boom” is a contemporary art exhibition inspired by the shared story of the Erie Canal, the Hudson Valley brickyards and the families who built them. The Erie Canal’s enduring influence on NY State is seen in cities and towns all along its corridor: in the now converted warehouses of Red Hook and Rochester, in the townhouses of Manhattan and waterfront buildings of Peekskill, and in historic landmarks like the Oneida Community Mansion House, the Empire State Building and ArtsWestchester’s own headquarters (The People’s Bank & Trust Building.) Brick is ubiquitous in NY, yet the interconnected story of the Erie Canal and the state’s brick industry is little known. This significant infrastructure project brought economic prosperity to every stop along its route, from Buffalo to the Canal’s terminus in Brooklyn, igniting a statewide building boom and a significant brick industry that touched hamlets throughout the state. Bricks moved along the waterways in all directions.
With its beginnings in the 1700s and New York’s early Dutch settlers, the story of brick-making in the Hudson Valley is a truly American story, rich with complex and challenging intersections of immigration, industry and innovation; of family enterprise, environmental impact and economic development. While the state’s brick industry faded after World War II, its byproducts are still present today in the cultural and physical composition of our towns and cities. Sidewalks, canal stations, municipal buildings, homes of all sizes, public works, factories and storehouses were built with Canal corridor brick.
With NYSCA support, ArtsWestchester will commission NY artists to produce new work inspired by the Canal corridor brick industry. The artwork will be exhibited at ArtsWestchester alongside historic brick collections, recorded oral histories of brickyard families, and tools representing brick-related occupational arts (i.e., making, building and conservation.)