This weekend in the Catskills and surrounding area: a Mozart concert, art opening receptions, a comedy performance, and a centerpiece design workshop are among my top choices.
Hudson Valley Philharmonic
Hudson Valley Philharmonic will perform an all-Mozart program this Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County. The program, conducted by Leif Bjaland, includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, and Piano Concerto No. 23, among other masterpieces. The Bardavon Theater is located in a historic building designed in 1869, the oldest continuous theater in New York State. Mark Twain and other luminaries performed on its stage. In 1977 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been the home of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic since the 1970s. The Hudson Valley Philharmonic was founded in 1932, and performs numerous concerts throughout the area. For more information about this concert, go to http://www.bardavon.org/event_info.php?id=734&venue=bardavon.
Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, Delaware County, is hosting an opening reception Springing Forward, this Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m. Springing Forward is a group show featuring about two dozen artists affiliated with the gallery. Works in all media – oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media, collage, ceramics, and photography – will be on display. Participating artists include Margaret Leveson, Helene Manzo, Ann Lee Fuller, Ellen Wong, Elaine Mayes, and others. For more information, visit http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Spring-Forward–group-show.html?soid=1102247844716&aid=qVA4TgOMKA8.
The Open Eye Theater
Still in Margaretville, The Open Eye Theater is hosting a comedy performance Make ‘Em Laugh Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. Make ‘Em Laugh, a fundraiser for the theater, will put in the spotlight some of the best known local actors and friends like John Bernhardt and Jill Ribich. For more information about this performance, visit http://www.theopeneyetheater.org/current-season.html.
Albany Institute of History and Art
Albany Institute of History and Art is hosting an opening reception Walter Launt Palmer: Painting the Moment Saturday, March 28, an exhibit that will remain on view through August 16. Palmer was born in Albany in 1854. He was influenced by the Hudson River School of Painting, and at one point shared a studio with Frederic Church. The Albany Institute of History and Art holds one of the largest collections of Palmer’s oils and watercolors. The exhibit Painting the Moment is a broad overview of his work, and includes paintings from his travels to Europe, building interiors in Albany, and winter scenes. For more information about this exhibit, visit http://www.albanyinstitute.org/walter-launt-palmer-painting-the-moment.html.
Olana mansion in Hudson, Columbia County, is hosting a workshop Spring Tablescapes this Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Author and artist Marlene Marshall will walk with the participants on the estate’s grounds, and look for fungi, flora and other forest vegetation that could be used to design aesthetic table centerpieces. Pre-registration is recommended. Olana was the home of Frederic Edwin Church, a leading exponent of the Hudson River School of Painting. For more information, visit http://www.olana.org/calendar/spring-tablescapes/?doing_wp_cron=1427377069.9718999862670898437500.
The Publishing Panel at the Woodstock Writers Festival this year. Panelists included: Sara Carder, editorial director at Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint of Penguin Random House; Mary Cummings, vice president and editorial director of Diversion Books, a digitally focused publisher in New York City; Gail Godwin, bestselling author, three-time National Book Awards finalist; Ned Leavitt, literary agent; Jenny Milchman, novelist (Ballantine / Penguin Random House); and Nan Gatewood Satter, editor. Satter also moderated the panel, along with Martha Frankel, author and the executive director of the festival.
Fabulous weekend coming up in the Catskills and surrounding area: the Woodstock Writers Festival is celebrating its sixth anniversary, Corning Glass Museum is opening a new wing, the National Museum of Dance is hosting an evening of tango demonstrations, the Arts Upstairs gallery is having an art opening reception, and Spillian is hosting a radio panel. Plenty to choose from!
Woodstock Writers Festival
The Woodstock Writers Festival kicks off tonight, March 19, with a traditional Story Slam event. Tomorrow several concurrent workshops will be offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: fiction, memoir, social media, and publishing are among offerings this year. Also Friday at 6 p.m. there will be a cocktail party at Commune Saloon in Bearsville, followed at 8 p.m. by a conversation with Chris Stein and Will Hermes. Saturday is the panels’ day: spirituality, publishing, journalism and fiction are scheduled throughout the day at the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts on Tinker Street. A cocktail party begins at 6 p.m. at Joshua Café, followed at 8 p.m. by an exchange between Joe Donahue from WAMC and novelist Abigail Thomas, an event held at the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts. Sunday morning there will be a literary breakfast at Joshua Café with guest speaker James Howard Kunstler from NPR. The festival will conclude Sunday afternoon with two panels: one on biography, and the other one on memoir. Memoir A Go-Go panel will be moderated by author Martha Frankel, the executive director of the festival. For more information, visit http://www.woodstockwriters.com/.
Corning Museum of Glass
Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, Steuben County, is inaugurating a new wing this weekend – a 100,000 square foot Contemporary Art + Design space designed by architect Thomas Phifer. The New York Times wrote about it here. The new wing, which includes a large contemporary glass art gallery, and a renovated historic glass factory ventilator building, will open to the public this Friday, March 20 at 9 a.m. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Also, hot glass demonstrations will be offered throughout the weekend. For more information, visit http://www.cmog.org/event/grand-opening-weekend-events.
National Museum of Dance
National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs is hosting 125 Years of Tango – A Walk through the History of the Dance, this Saturday, March 21 at 7 p.m. The evening will feature music, dance, and demonstrations. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. For more information, visit http://www.dancemuseum.org/.
Arts Upstairs gallery in Phoenicia, Ulster County is hosting an opening reception this Saturday, March 21 at 6 p.m. featuring a group show titled Spring on My Mind, and also a solo exhibit featuring artist Astrid Nordness. Nordness paints and works in clay. She incorporates various elements of nature in her work, and uses a wide color palette. For more information, visit http://www.artsupstairs.com/.
Spillian mansion in Fleischmanns, Ulster County is hosting Stealing All Transmissions, an event co-produced in partnership with WIOX Radio Station in Roxbury, Saturday, March 21 at 6 p.m. The event includes a book launch – Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret Historyof the Clash by Randal Doane, Assistant Dean of Studies at Oberlin College; Doane will be delivering the keynote address. Also, a radio panel will tackle the role of radio in the digital age. Panelists include Meg Griffin from SiriusXM, Ida Hakkila from WDST Woodstock, Sonny Rock from WRIP Windham, Jezz Harkin from WIOX, and Brian Sickora, CEO of WSKG Media, among others. Joe Piasek, executive producer at WIOX, will be moderating. For more information, visit http://wioxradio.org/.
With temperatures in the mid 40s this weekend, be sure to enjoy the first real signs of spring here in the Catskills. But here’s what is going on in the area.
The Hyde Collection Art Museum
The Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls, Warren County, is hosting the final weekend of The Stone Palette: Lithographs in 19thCentury France, an exhibit showcasing black and white, and color prints in a variety of styles and techniques. The exhibit explores lithography as an artistic medium booming throughout the 1800s. Lithography was invented in 1796 in Germany by playwright Alois Senefelder. Towards the end of the 19th century lithographs, particularly those in color, revolutionized the advertising and publishing industries. For more information about The Stone Palette, go to http://www.hydecollection.org/exhibitions/The_Stone_Palette_Lithographs_in_19th-Century_France_501.htm.
Clermont Estate presents a corset history lecture Building Fashion from Inside Out, this Saturday, March 14 at 2:30 p.m. Costume historian Kjirsten Gustavson will be talking about two hundred years of corset history and styles. Live models will demonstrate some of the garments and their effect on clothing’s appearance. The event will take place at the Hudson Opera House in Hudson, Columbia County. For more information about this event, visit http://www.friendsofclermont.org/.
Dia:Beacon in Beacon, Dutchess County, is hosting a Gallery Talk this Saturday, March 14 at 2 p.m. Andrianna Campbell, a doctoral student at CUNY, will discuss the work of Robert Smithson, a mid-20th century artist who belonged to the so-called land art movement. For more information about this talk, visit http://www.diaart.org/events/main/649.
Spillian mansion, located in Fleishmanns, Ulster County will be hosting its now well-established Voices from the Catskills event this Sunday, March 15 at 4 p.m. The program includes a jazz recital with saxophonist Eric Rosen, singer and pianist Nina Sheldon, and bassist Rich Syracuse. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. The menu this Sunday includes Guinness beef stew, vegan root vegetable stew, green salad, and Irish soda bread in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. For more information about this event, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/562493780520738/.
Pine Hill Community Center
Pine Hill Community Center in Pine Hill, Ulster County, is hosting Catskill Cabaradio, a quarterly variety program broadcast live on WIOX Roxbury, Saturday, March 14 at 7 p.m. The program includes storytelling with Mary Savage, music with Elly Wininger and the Pine Hill Playboys, and much more. There will be a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://pinehillcommunitycenter.org/events/.
For visual art lovers in the Catskills, this is going to be a full weekend – opening receptions at the Roxbury Arts Center, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, and Mural Art Gallery in Hobart. Also, a basket weaving workshop at the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi is among many choices this Saturday.
Roxbury Arts Center
Roxbury Arts Center is hosting an opening reception this Saturday, March 7 at 3 p.m. featuring large works by close to twenty local artists working in all media. Painters Helene Manzo, Nat Thomas and Adam Cohen, ceramicists Gerda van Leeuwen and Peter Yamaoka, furniture designer Gary Mead, and weaver Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes are among those represented in this show. The exhibit will run through April 18. For more information, visit http://roxburyartsgroup.org/2014/10/20/march-7-april-12-large-works-2/.
Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild
The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is hosting Influence, a show exploring influences and influencers in creating new works of art. The opening reception will take place this Saturday, March 7 at 4 p.m. Curated by photographer Oliver Wasow, the exhibit includes works by Tim Davis, Miranda Lichtenstein, Alexander Ross, Peter Rostovsky, Alix Lambert, and other artists affiliated with the guild. On view at the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts, the show will run through April 19. For more information, visit http://www.woodstockguild.org/ai1ec_event/influence-curators-talk-opening-reception/?instance_id=544.
Woodstock Artists Association and Museum
Woodstock Artists Association and Museum is also hosting an opening reception Something Wild this Saturday, March 7, focusing on colors, wild dreams, landscapes, animals, and brush strokes. Over thirty artists are represented in this exhibit, which runs through April 5. Joan Barker, Amy Rosen, Anthony Margiotta, and Carol Davis are among participating artists. For more information, visit http://www.woodstockart.org/main-gallery/.
MURAL on Main
MURAL is short for Mount Utsayantha Regional Arts League, an organization founded in 1983 to support artistic projects in Stamford – Hobart area of Delaware County. Once a year, MURAL gallery hosts a juried Student Art Show, featuring young artists from all the neighboring schools. The Student Art Show opening reception will take place this Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.muralartgallery.org/.
Delaware County Historical Association
Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi is hosting a Traditional French Wall Basket workshop this Saturday, March 7 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Participants will learn how to work with classic rattan and weave functional wall baskets fit to hold keys, gloves, mail, and other small objects. Martha Bremer, an experienced basket weaver, will be teaching this class. Adults and teens are welcome. For more information, visit http://www.dcha-ny.org/news.html.
I interviewed Juliet Harrison, an artist and owner of Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook, Dutchess County. Juliet grew up on Long Island, and worked for some time in New York City in various custom photo labs. She has a degree in Psychology, and an MFA in Photography. She was exposed to equine art when she was five, and equine art became a lifelong interest and passion. Nowadays Juliet photographs horses, and runs Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook, Dutchess County, a space entirely dedicated to equestrian art.
Simona David: Juliet, please tell us a bit more about your background, and your interest in both art and horses.
Juliet Harrison: Horses first, I guess. I was one of those little girls who were totally horse-obsessed from a very early age. When I was five I was given a wonderful little book of photographs of horses. It fascinated me. And, I rode horses as a child, and then later, after I turned forty, I began riding again. The art interest has always been there as well. I grew up on Long Island, but my parents and I spent a lot of time in museums in New York City and Europe.
SD: You say that art is a craft that moves one in ways one had not thought possible – I’m paraphrasing. Would you like to elaborate?
JH: I think of fine art as more than a little description of something, but something that has more depth and can convey a story, an emotion, an interpretation beyond the literal representation.
SD: You do refer to the fact that art is something that moves us in a certain way. Traditionally speaking, beauty had been central to art, but in the 20th century we rather shifted towards expression as central to art. But whether be beauty or expression, art is still something that moves us in a certain way.
JH: Absolutely. An artist creates a piece of art for their own needs, and to convey a message that they need to get out into the world in a visual form, or if it’s music, in an auditory form, or in a literary form when it comes to writers, but the artist interprets the work through his or her own experiences, and rather creates a dialogue between the artist, the artwork and the viewer.
SD: About photography you say that it’s “the process of distillation and elimination.” “My photography is more poetry than prose.” Please, explain.
JH: This goes a long with what I said before. But also with my own photography – I choose to work in black and white. By eliminating color, I reduce the elements that I have to work with, and each choice I make becomes more powerful. That way each photograph is reduced to its most salient pieces, and everything in that image has to speak to what is it that I want to say. I don’t take pretty pictures of pretty horses; my photography evokes something more, and goes beyond the literal representation of the subject; that is difficult to do. How I shoot a scene and what I choose to show to the viewer becomes more important than how I print the image.
SD: Cinematographer Gordon Willis was talking about black and white movies, and was saying that, in film at least, color can be distracting – it could distract the viewer from the message. It looks like you feel the same way about photography.
JH: Yes. When photographing horses – and I don’t control the location where I take photographs – most photographers would recognize that the color red is something that would immediately catch the eye. For instance, the orange traffic cones that are sometimes used on the grounds would be the first thing a viewer sees if I were to choose photographing those.
SD: What is the primary drive when you build your composition?
JH: I’m not very controlling about it. I really trust my eyes. I have done series of close-ups focusing on the body of the horse, the muscles, and the way the light falls, but I do not follow the traditional rigor of horse photography – traditional photography has very precise rules. What I do is more modern, and aims to convey the personality of each horse, and my visual relation to it.
SD: Let’s talk a little bit about equine art. I believe this goes back to pre-historic times: humans have always drawn or painted horses. Horse portraits and equestrian sculpture were actually very popular in the 18th century. In the 19th century equine art spread widely to include thoroughbred racing, jockey clubs, so forth and so on. Can you tell us what exactly makes this form of art so fascinating?
JH: I think part of that is just the human connection to the horse. We as human beings would not have been able to advance our society, our culture, our world the way it is without the horse. Without the horse we would not have had agriculture the way we’ve had it, we would not have had transportation and human mobility in the way we’ve had it, we would certainly not have had war in the way it had been fought. If you look at the art of the horse, it is really a representation of the way we’ve moved through the world, and created our world through our relationship to the horse. One of the things that fascinate me is that horses are prey animals, but they allow us humans on their back, and right near their neck where predators would jump on them; it’s a pretty amazing relationship that we’ve developed with these animals, and that they trust us human beings in that way. For instance, monumental sculptures like Napoleon on a horse back, were done in a way that showed power. I think that the depiction of horse in art is a depiction of human history.
SD: Let’s briefly go over various equestrian art styles: some Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci used to do studies, Baroque painters like Rubens used to paint royal scenes involving horses, Romantics like Géricault would paint war scenes, Impressionist artist Edgar Degas loved races, other artists preferred rural scenes. American painter Frederic Remington loved painting the American West. What can you tell us about the styles you’re fond of?
JH: I’m really fascinated by contemporary artists. But I do certainly love the da Vinci’s horse studies – he spent hours and hours depicting the horse anatomy and attitude. I also love the work of modernist painter Franz Marc, who reduced horse painting to simple lines, but still conveyed the horse anatomy. I love contemporary artists that go beyond traditional equine art style; it’s important to be able to convey the correct anatomy and to have knowledge of the horse – an artist has to know how a horse moves, how the muscles and the bones move, and convey that on a painting. But I really do love art that goes beyond the literal representation, and conveys more either about the emotion of the artist, or the connection to the horse, the landscape, or something even more that goes beyond what is possible to define. There is a tradition of horse portraiture or sporting events like polo, depicting horses either individually or at events, but I really do like art that goes beyond just the horse.
SD: The American Academy of Equine Art was founded in 1980 in Kentucky to promote equestrian art – I believe the Academy organizes one big exhibition each year bringing together leading artists in this field. Are you affiliated with this organization?
JH: I am, and many of the artists I have worked with have been members of this Academy. Early on when I applied for membership they didn’t take photographers. Their mission is to exhibit art that is focused on the correct anatomy, and for the most part in the traditional representation of the horse. It’s an amazing organization; they also offer workshops that cover various aspects of equine art.
SD: Let’s talk specifically about Equis Art Gallery. Where is located? When was it founded? What artists are represented in the gallery?
JH: I opened the gallery just a year ago. It was a dream of mine to do so. Being an artist myself, I had a clear understanding of what an art gallery should be and should do; I also have thirty years of retail experience, so I understand that end of the business as well. I am part of a community arts organization that I helped found several years ago. We have a rented space here in Red Hook. I had an eight by ten feet space that I used for my photography, and I opened Equis Art Gallery in that space. I asked a number of my friends who are amazing equine artists to submit works. I received works from all over the world, and pretty quickly – about a month and a half later – I ran out of space, and rented an additional room. Now I represent twenty-seven equine artists from all over the world. I have paintings – oil, acrylics, graphite, sculpture, photography from countries like Germany, Italy, South Africa, Canada, and all over the United States.
SD: You also carry some vintage art. How do you collect those pieces?
JH: Primarily the vintage art is what I’ve personally collected over the years. I rotate these at home, but there are also pieces that I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to hold onto anymore.
SD: How do you go about running your business: finding artists, attracting collectors, educating the public?
JH: Like I said, I started out with artists that were personal friends, and artists I met through the Equine Art Guild, an online forum. I was the only photographer in that group, because the work I do is more fine art than commercial photography. After that, I started asking people whose work intrigues me. I have a rather non-traditional taste. Now I have artists – about five or six a week – that contact me, and ask me to represent them. I’m very limited by space, but I do have a nice waiting list.
SD: When is the gallery open?
JH: The gallery is open Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m., and also by appointment.
SD: You mentioned the word “space.” You are currently located at 7516 North Broadway, but I know you plan to move to a bigger location soon. Let’s talk about that.
JH: Yes, I’d like to be able to represent more artists; the space I have now is very crowded. Also, I don’t have room for larger pieces that I’d like to carry. I am currently looking for a store front that would also give me more visibility. I hope to be at the new location by May.
SD: Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to talk about?
JH: Yes. I have one artist Diana Jensen – she is from Vancouver. She will be at the gallery for a reception of her work and demo on May 23. I also have another artist Karen McLain – a painter of mostly wild horses out West. Karen will be coming in November to do a demo. From May to December I will most likely have one artist reception per month. There will be information posted on the website.