Old Main Gets A New Look

The above painting by James Scott is now on the walls of Old Main Building.
The above painting by James Scott is now on the walls of Old Main Building.

Old Main, the oldest building on campus, rises over the quad with an air of historical and regional significance. The building is known for its light brown, crème and red brick façade. After being recently renovated, some thought Old Main’s interior seemed to lack the charm of its exterior.

Once devoid of color, the long, white hallways are now home to 13 custom reproductions of paintings from The Dorsky’s permanent collection.

John McEnrue, director of facilities, design and construction, said Old Main is arguably the most beautiful building on campus. He said during the recent renovations they provided the latest educational technology, but also attempted to restore most of the building’s “original finishes.”

“It seems only fitting that we install period prints of local art to enhance student, faculty and staff experiences in Old Main,” McEnrue said.

Kemp Anderson, project manager of facilities, design and construction, said he was asked by McEnrue to choose pieces from the Dorsky collection he felt would be appropriate for Old Main.

“We were looking for art that was produced during the period around when Old Main was constructed, incorporated local themes or landscape and was produced by local artists,” he said. “Not every piece met all these criteria, but they all fit into those general guidelines.”

Kemp said after the pieces were chosen, he filed an application with the Campus’s Arts and Aesthetics Committee who approved of the paintings.

“The paintings are primarily local, Mid-Hudson Valley, realist work,” McEnrue said.

The paintings vary in size and subject. Some are depictions of famous places on Historic Huguenot Street including the Jean Hasbrouck House and Bevier Elting House. Other pieces show landscape paintings of the Adirondacks, the New Paltz’s Cedar Woods and images of snow falling over the Hudson Valley.

McEnrue said they hired VanBuren Media Lab, a local printing firm, to make professional copies of the paintings. He said they are a very talented group who came “highly recommended from The Dorsky.”

The pieces, despite being called “custom reproductions,” have not been significantly altered from their original state, Kemp said.

“The Dorsky staff felt that they should be reproduced as they exist,” he said. “If the color [yellowing] was reproducing in a more pronounced way than in the original, it may have been toned down, but not eliminated.”

Sara Pasti, director of the Dorsky, said the museum is thrilled to have work from their permanent collection represented in Old Main.

“Like most museums, many of our works have to remain in storage because there is not enough space,” Pasti said. “This gives us a chance to showcase our work.”