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Harvesting rural life

Photographer’s exhibition includes local images

November 13, 2011
By RODNEY MINOR , The Leader Herald

Images from Stone Arabia, including a historic Dutch barn, are among those in a photographer's solo exhibition at the community gallery in the Arkell Museum and Canajoharie Library.

Brandt Bolding, a New York City based-photographer and filmmaker, over the course of several years, has taken many photos of rural life in the Northeastern U.S.

As his artist's statement explains, preserving farms, the agricultural landscape and the material culture of farming communities is more important than ever.

Article Photos

This photo shows the Kilts Barn in Stone Arabia.
Photo by Brandt Bolding

"Through extensive travels across the farms of Northeastern America, I am attempting to bring home through photographic document a small part of just what is at stake," his statement said.

In the exhibition, there are a variety of colorful photos showing everything from a rusted Farmall tractor to a man carrying a bale of hay down a road. Among the photos is one showing the Kilts Barn in Stone Arabia.

It was an appropriate picture to include because a visit to that barn marked the beginning of Bolding's quest to document agricultural life.

In 1994, Bolding moved from Nashville to New York City. For his architectural and interior design work, he had to photograph the details of historic architecture. Through his work, he also developed an interest in historic preservation.

Bolding's attention started to turn to historic agricultural structures and farms about six or seven years ago, when he was reading a book about Dutch Colonial homes. Inside, he noticed a photo of the Kilts Barn in Stone Arabia. The unique look of the structure - with its tall roofline and unique structural components made of massive timbers - caught his eye.

The Kilts Barn - which is part of the Kilts Farmstead that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places - is an example of a classic Dutch barn.

According to information from the National Parks Service - - the first great barns in the country were built by Dutch settlers who came to reside, among other places, in the areas near the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek.

There are relatively few Dutch barns that have survived to this day, the website said. "Yet the remaining examples of this barn type still impress with the functional simplicity of their design and the evident pride the builders took in their work."

After a few months had passed, Bolding and his wife decided to head upstate to visit the Kilts Barn.

After making the trip in the morning, they spent the rest of the day talking to the owner of the property on Kilts Road in Stone Arabia, Willis "Skip" Barshied.

Bolding said Barshied - who has been an important local historian, collector and preservationist for many years?- talked with the couple about the history of the farmstead and the local area.

"It marked the beginning of my interest in photographing rural America in the Northeast," Bolding said Wednesday. "And Skip is one of my favorite people."

Barshied could not be reached for comment.

Bolding's travels have taken him from New York to Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. However, his meeting with Barshied prompted a series of photographic trips to the local region.

Bolding said the sort-of alluvial plains around the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek make it "remarkably beautiful farmland."

Stone Arabia in particular caught his eye, seeming to be on a gentle plateau that almost sets it apart from everything else.

The area as a whole is "almost like a time capsule," he noted. For all the changes over the years, he said, the natural beauty and wide expanses of land have remained the same.

"There are not many other places like [Stone Arabia] in New York, to my knowledge," Bolding said.

In addition to the Kilts Barn, Bolding's exhibition includes an image of the Gremps-Fredericks Dutch Barn. Bolding said the barn was originally in?Stone Arabia, but has been relocated.

The exhibition also includes a photo of an?Amish dairyman taken on Route 10 in?Stone Arabia.

Bolding said he received best-of-show honors during the Arkell Museum's 2010 juried regional art show. As a result, he earned a solo exhibition in one of the three galleries in the museum dedicated to exhibiting regional artists' works.

According to the website for the Canajoharie Library - - Bolding's private show will run through Nov. 25.

For more information about Bolding and his work, visit



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