Peter Nadin's Cornwallville-Grown Art

  |  July 2, 2011
Peter Nadin, Cornwallville resident

The second I saw artist Peter Nadin’s photo in today’s New York Times Magazine, I guessed that lush background had to be the Catskills. I can’t quite say why—there’s a lot of places that look basically the same—but there was something about that particular shade of green that just seemed right and familiar, like home.

Randy Kennedy profiles Nadin, a celebrated painter and former Soho art world insider who left it all twenty years ago to farm in Upstate New York (Cornwallville again!).  Nadin continued to make art, though, and he now uses materials directly from his land—cured ham, beeswax, honey. His work is currently on display in a very big way at Gavin Brown.

Nadin seeks to collapse the distinction between the experience of his art, its materials, and the very specific place it comes from, saying, “If you eat ham from one of my pigs or honey from my bees, then you’re ingesting the landscape here itself–it’s not an objectification of it.” Such interest in lived experience and messy biology are big trends in the art world, but Nadin comes across as sincere, with his stripes well-earned. Not incidentally, the profile is beautifully written. Here’s a favorite line:

“Watching a small, diverse farm over a couple of months beginning in early spring is like watching the machinations of a Chekhov play. The cast included 160 mostly wooded acres; a few dozen chickens and handful of ducks with the run of the farmyard; six Kashmir goats, plus an extra goat named Ham who preferred to commune with the humans …”

Read On, Reader...