Albany International Airport

Airports offer fresh art for travelers

If you enjoy spending your leisure time visiting art galleries, but instead end up wasting time in airports, you’re in luck. This season, many airports around the country are hosting intriguing temporary exhibitions and unveiling new permanent public artwork that can turn a long layover into a cultural adventure. Or at least keep you from getting bored.

Here are a few highlights of fresh airport art from my current “At the Airport” column on

Included in the story is the  “Environmental Steward-ess” outfit Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway made out of old leather seat covers from Delta Air Lines.


There’s also a new exhibit at New York’s Albany International Airport. In Keeping Time, seven artists explore nostalgia with “an eye for its intimate, humorous and often bittersweet nature,” says Sharon Bates, director of the airport’s art and culture program. Included in the show are paintings, several large site-specific installations and collages made from old paint-by-number paintings.

It's in the Book - by Ken Ragsdale


And, at Florida’s Jacksonsville International Airport, there’s a fun exhibition titled Kites and Flights with work by Melanie Walker and George Peters.



Book art at Albany International Airport (ALB)

In New York, the Albany International Airport (ALB) Art and Culture Program has just kicked off “The Imaged Word,” an exhibition featuring works by a variety of artists all on the theme of books and the words inside them.  Most of the work is in the airport’s (pre-security) third floor gallery, the same floor as the Observation Gallery, but at least one piece makes impressive use of the stairwell leading to the gallery.

Here are a few samples of what you’ll see.

Imaged Word at Albany Airport - Building Bridges

Detail from Aaron Stephan's "Building Bridges"

Aaron Stephan’s Building Bridges installation is made up of eight foot high arched columns of books arranged so that they seem to recede into the distance of a darkened room.

In See No Evil, an altered book by Robert The, a scarab (talisman for warding off evil) seems to be escaping from a book filled with photographs of New York State politicians and influential people.

Robert The's "See No Evil"

Robert The's "See No Evil" - altered book

And in Hanging Index #20:Last Lines, by Scott McCarney, pages of a book have been cut, line by line, so that they cascade out of the book into a cloud of text that hovers over the stairwell leading to the gallery.

Work by Scott McCarney

Scott McCarney's "Hanging Index #20: Last Lines"

The Imaged Word will be at New York’s Albany International Airport through January 9, 2011.

13 million cranberries, Dusseldorf Airport’s Ski jump, and Amelia Earhart

This weekend would be a good time to have as my superpower the ability to travel anywhere in the world and be in several places at once.

If I could, I’d stop first in Richmond, British Columbia, a short SkyTrain ride away from the Vancouver International Airport to watch 13 million (!!) locally-grown cranberries get dumped into the Fraser River in front of the Richmond Olympic Oval to form a  giant floating version of the maple leaf, rings and flame that make up the Canadian Olympic Committee logo.

Then I’d head over to the Dusseldorf International Airport to see if they finished trucking in enough snow (and turned the temperature down low enough) to make the world’s first indoor ski jump in an airport.   When they sent this photo, they were just waiting for the snow to arrive.

It would be fun, too, to stop at New York’s Albany International Airport (ALB), where the newest art show, Material Witness, is now underway.

And it might be interesting to touch down in Wichita, Kansas.  The Wichita Art Museum is one of the 100 or so museums around the country where Bank of America account holders can get free admission this weekend as part of the Museums on Us program.  And look what the Wichita Art Museum is using to promote an exhibition of works of paper.

(Robert Cottingham, Wichita (1985)

But, alas, the ability to be everywhere at once is not my super power.

So instead, I’ll stick close to home this weekend and pay a visit to the Museum of Flight, just up the road from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where there’s an exhibit titled  In Search of Amelia Earhart.

This exhibit includes many of Earhart’s personal artifacts,  including a suede jacket she wore on her 1932 solo transatlantic flight, two flight suits, a helmet,  a scarf,  newsreel footage and photos.

Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed L-10E Electra NR 16020 c. 1937. | The Museum of Flight

Found, discarded and recycled materials: art at Albany International Airport

New York’s Albany International Airport (ALB) may be unique among airports in having a gallery space open to the public and an on-site curator who is also an artist.  So it’s always a treat when a new exhibition kicks off.

The newest one, Material Witness, is no exception.

(Model City, 2009, Assorted study models, cardboard, paper, plastic, metal, glue, tape)

Produced in cooperation with the nearby Rensselaer Schools of Architecture, and Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, the exhibit includes drawings, photographs, study models and site-specific constructions, including floor-to-ceiling “trash walls” that reflect the possibilities found in discarded or recycled materials.

(Trash Walls, (detail), 2009, found material constructions)

Material Witness is in the Albany International Airport Gallery, pre-security on the third floor of the terminal through June 20, 2010.

Airport Observation Decks: Have a favorite?

Vancouver Airport - New Observation DeckIn my At the Airport column on this month, I offer a run-down of airport observation decks around the country.  I wanted to write about this because, while a lot of the amenities getting rolled out at airports these days are designed to make travelers forget they’re in an airport terminal, observation decks are all about airports, airplanes, and the magic of flight.

Unfortunately, a lot of airports that used to have official observation decks have shut them down. But here’s a round-up of some that still exist:

Minneapolis - Observation deck - wide

Minneapolis International Airport (MSP) MSP has an observation deck post-security on Concourse D, in Terminal 1. Built decades ago, the enclosed observation deck is only accessible via a set of stairs, but those who find their way up there are rewarded with great views in all directions.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

BWI - Observation rocking chairsYears ago, when BWI was known as Friendship International Airport, there was an outdoor observation deck.  Today there’s an enclosed Observation Gallery on the upper level of the airport, in the pre-security area between Concourses B and C. In addition to great views of airfield activities, there are rocking chairs, a children’s play area, and several exhibits related to aviation, including the nose cone, cockpit, landing gear and other sections of a Boeing 737-200 aircraft.

Albany International Airport (ALB) A pre-security observation area on the 3rd level of the terminal offers a panoramic view of both airport runways, all three wings of the terminal and, on a clear day, the southern Adirondack Mountains. A live feed of the chatter from the air traffic control tower is piped in and the airport’s art gallery is adjacent.

Albany - looking out from deck

Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) At the Albuquerque airport, the observation deck is located post-security, between the two concourses.  Equipped with bench seating, leather couches and chairs, this area offers travelers great airfield views as well as views of the Manzano Mountains and the Rio Grande.


Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) At Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, MI., there’s an enclosed observation deck, pre-security, that overlooks the airport runways.

Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI) in Tennessee has an open-air deck, located pre-security, on the mezzanine level of the airport. The deck looks out over the airfield, Boone Lake, and off to the Appalachian Mountains.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) opened a new observation area in July 2009 with floor-to-ceiling windows, complimentary telescopes, interactive kiosks, and several other amenities.  At the end of September, the observation deck on top of Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport will reopen. Like a lot of observation decks around the country, LAX had closed this area after 9/11.

View Of Downtown Los Angeles  (2004)

Do you have a favorite airport observation deck or place to go outside the airport to watach plane?  If so, please tell us about it.