Category: books

Book Release: Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days by Nina Shengold

Shengold Book Cover

Author: Nina Shengold

Title: Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days

Publisher: Syracuse University Press

ISBN: 978-0-8156-3696-0 (hardcover)

978-0-8156-1124-0 (paperback)

978-0-8156-5507-7 (e-book)

Release Date: June 15, 2020

 

Art:

Cover Painting: Kate McGloughlin

Map and Line Drawings: Will Lytle

Hand-Colored Linocuts: Carol Zaloom

 

Catskills author Nina Shengold’s latest book Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days will be released by Syracuse University Press on June 15, 2020. Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days chronicles a year in Shengold’s life, from September 15, 2015 to September 15, 2016, when the author took daily walks along the Ashokan Reservoir, a place that she describes as “an ideal reflecting pool for the Catskill High Peaks.” As she was approaching sixty, the author embarked on a journey of self-discovery and re-connection with nature no further than her own backyard, where she finds the Ashokan Reservoir – throughout the book she fondly refers to the reservoir as “the res”.

In Shengold’s own words:“My reservoir year was a treasure, a gift that keeps giving. I didn’t know it at the time, but that sweet span of days from one September to the next was the only year I could have fulfilled the commitment I made to myself, a restorative pause between wearing the mantles of caregiving mother and caregiving daughter. The Ashokan landscape is a part of me now, a deep well of peace I return to in times of stress and hold in reserve for the times I’ll go back there to grieve; a reservoir in every sense of the word.”

Partly meditation and partly nature diary, the book highlights the importance of being outdoors and re-connecting with self. The author took her daily walks regardless of weather and mood, holidays, birthdays, and celebrations. Sometimes she was accompanied by family or friends, but most of the time she was alone. From time to time she encountered other strollers which she meticulously describes in her book. Shengold’s daily recollections depict nature, people, moods, thoughts, and errands and activities that are on Shengold’s timetable at the time, as she goes about her daily life; the experience is juxtaposed with intermissions to take trips to New York City or attend other social functions, all between taking care of aging parents and spending time with a loving daughter. Adventures and unexpected turns intercede, as it often happens in life.

The book is structured as a chronicle of 367 days – fall, winter, spring, and summer. “The Ashokan is a different kind of gorgeous in every season, in every kind of weather and light,” Shengold recollects. Without taking any pictures or notes, the author immersed herself in this daily experience, only to write about it later. In her diary, some days are full of observations, whereas others are reduced to one single line.

The Ashokan Reservoir was built in the early 1900s when twelve local communities were displaced to make room for this wondrous construction needed to bring mountain water to New York City. The Ashokan is one of several such reservoirs built in the Catskills. The name “Ashokan” comes from Algonkian and can be translated as a “place of many fish.”

Shengold’s observations from Day 9, on September 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm include: “Sun already behind the ridge, air cool and breeze up. I notice the curves of the mountains, even the distant ones, are saw-toothed with individual treetops. But the star attraction tonight is the eastern sky, in soft rainbow stripes—indigo, lavender, pink, amber, gold—and floating above all that color, a startlingly bright moon, already past half.”

Another day reads like this:

“Day 11. September 25, 7:25 pm I drive to the res straight from teaching. Two roller-derby girls in full combat gear—sleek black catsuits, sculpted helmets, red knee pads—sail off the path and circle the empty parking lot, using the wide space to practice. They skate backward, drop into low crouches, do lunges and tango-like dance steps. Both of them laughing, enjoying their badass moves. Then they step out of their skates and remove their protective gear, loading it into the backseat one piece at a time as they chat about haircuts, blow dryers, and Rite Aid reward cards. They get smaller and blander as each piece of armor comes off. Come back, roller ninjas!”

On Day 14, September 28, 6:20 pm, Shengold explains her method: “I don’t have many ground rules for this, but I don’t carry paper and pad when I’m walking. I notice whatever I notice, and memorize a few keywords to help me remember. Here are today’s: heron cloak veil stillness alchemy. Which is either a very short poem or dialogue you might hear from a tarot reader at a Woodstock bar.”

A single line describes the day of October 3, 2015: “Day 19. October 3, 9:55 am Ghost mountains, gray on gray. Cold, wet, and blustery.”

Day 173, March 5, 2015 at 6 pm includes a visit to John Burroughs’s log cabin at Slabsides, a National Historic Landmark:

“Born in Roxbury, high in the Great Western Catskills, the young Burroughs taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the relocated village of Olivebridge, less than a mile from the Ashokan dam. He went on to write hundreds of essays on nature and literature, publishing twenty-three books between 1861 and his death in 1921. It occurs to me for the first time how he saw these valleys change, as one reservoir after another was built on the fast-moving streams he had paddled and fished.”

The motto of Shengold’s book is in fact a quote from John Burroughs’s Signs and Seasons: “The place to observe nature is where you are; the walk to take today is the walk you took yesterday. You will not find just the same things: both the observed and the observer have changed.”

Burroughs, the founder of nature writing in America, is best known for his collections of nature essays Wake Robin (1871), and Signs and Seasons (1886). He is also known for his friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt, industrialist Henry Ford, inventor Thomas Edison, and poet Walt Whitman. Burroughs is buried at Boyhood Rock, next to the Woodchuck Lodge, which served as his summer residence in Roxbury from 1910 until his death in 1921.

In the Afterword, Shengold reminisces about how the reservoir had changed her over the course of one magical year of daily walks: “I’m calmer. I found an oasis, a daily routine. In the same way I once used to walk my dog, I walk myself. I’ve learned that the days I resist going out are exactly the days when I need it the most. I lost some, not all, of the “pregnancy weight” I’d carried for twenty years. My eyes opened wider; I pay more attention to details. I can find more constellations in the night sky. I recognize more plants and birdcalls, the flight silhouettes of different raptors. I’m better at guessing how soon it will rain, what kinds of clouds will yield what kind of sunset. I’ve learned that dawn, sunset, and twilight unfold over time. The practice of learning to notice goes on and on. It’s connected me to this particular place, to the cycle of seasons, and to the earth we all share.”

Shengold’s previous books include the novel Clearcut (Anchor Books), River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers (SUNY Press, with photographer Jennifer May), and fourteen theatre anthologies for Vintage Books and Viking Penguin, many coedited with Eric Lane. She won the Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love and the ABC Playwright Award for Homesteaders. Her plays are published by Playscripts, Broadway Play Publishing, and Samuel French; War at Home: Students Respond to 9/11, written with Nicole Quinn and the Rondout Valley High School Drama Club, has been produced around the world. Shengold has profiled more than 150 writers for Chronogram, Poets & Writers, and Vassar Quarterly. She’s a founding member of the theatre company Actors & Writers, author series Word Café, and Hudson Valley Writers Resist. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Shengold has taught at Manhattanville College and the University of Maine, and currently teaches creative writing at Vassar College. She was born in Brooklyn, grew up in New Jersey, escaped to Alaska, and now lives and works in the foothills of New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days expounds the transformative power of making a commitment and sticking to it. There is reward in that, as the author herself discovers throughout her journey. The book is an invitation to find our own “Ashokan Reservoir,” a place of magic that will engage our senses and awaken our spirit.

To purchase the book, visit Syracuse University Press.

The Quarry Fox: And Other Critters of the Wild Catskills Audiobook to Be Released in June

First published by The Overlook Press in 2017, The Quarry Fox earned rave reviews. From the New York Times: “A poignant and modern reminder of untamed creatures so close to home.”

Audio Book Cover

From Library Journal: “This engaging portrait of the Catskill wilderness will appeal to nature enthusiasts of all stripes.”

Silver Hollow Audio will be releasing the audiobook edition of The Quarry Fox narrated by the author herself in June this year.

Leslie T. Sharpe is an author, editor, and educator. She began her editing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and is currently an editorial consultant specializing in literary nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press, 1994), which is regarded as a “modern editing classic” and “On Writing Smart: Tips and Tidbits,” featured in The Business of Writing (Allworth, 2012).  Leslie has been a regular contributor to Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column, and her essays and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Global City Review, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and Village Voice; The Villager; The Writer; and Psychology Today. She recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves, and her new book, The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills, a lyric narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains, will be published by The Overlook Press in the spring of 2017. Her poems for children have appeared in Ladybug Magazine. Leslie has taught writing and editing at Columbia University, New York University and the City College of New York.

To learn more, read our interview conducted with Sharpe in 2016, included in our book How Art Is Made: In The Catskills, published in 2017:

https://artinthecatskills.com/2016/11/30/featured-artist-leslie-t-sharpe/

Book Release: Where Space Bends by Anique Sara Taylor

Anique Taylor

Where Space Bends by Anique Sara Taylor will be released in May by Finishing Line Press.

To pre-order, go to https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/where-space-bends-by-anique-sara-taylor/

Taylor’s work has appeared in Rattle, Common Ground Review, Adanna, Stillwater Review, Earth’s Daughters among others. She’s co-authored works for HBO, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and a three-act play that was performed by Playwrights Horizons and Williamstown Playhouse. In 2014 her chapbook version of Where Space Bends was chosen Finalist by both Minerva Rising and Blue Light Press’ Chapbook Competitions. In 2015 her book Under the Ice Moon was chosen Finalist by Blue Light Press’ Chapbook Competition. She holds a Poetry MFA (Drew University), Literature Diplome (The Sorbonne, Paris), a Painting BFA (Highest Honors/Pratt) and Drawing MFA (Pratt Institute) and studied Literature at Antioch College. She studied Poetry at St. Mark’s Poetry Project with Alice Notley and Bernadette Mayer. She teaches/taught Creative Writing for Benedictine Hospital’s Oncology Support Program, the Phoenicia Poetry Workshop, Bard LLI and Writers in the Mountains.

To learn more about Taylor’s work, read our interview conducted in 2016: https://artinthecatskills.com/2016/12/03/featured-artist-anique-taylor/

Follow Taylor at https://aniquesarataylor.com/

“How Art Is Made” Reviewed in A Time and A Place Magazine

“David creates a seamless rapport with each artist, drawing out their individual personalities with meticulously researched questions. Her interviewing style is so natural and unobtrusive that the reader feels like “a fly on the wall” privy to the authentic, unrehearsed lives of the artists. They divulge their thought processes, creative developments, media, materials and muses, but David evokes them into sharing a glimpse of their souls.”

A Time and A Place Dec. 2019

CLICK TO READ THE MAGAZINE ONLINE

Catskill Tri-County Historical Views

Look for Catskill Tri-County Historical Views’ latest issue (June 2019) to read about Art in the Catskills and other cultural projects as well as the history of the region.

Learn about “How Art Is Made: In The Catskills,” reviewed by Leslie T. Sharpe, “Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art,” reviewed by Elizabeth B. Jacks, “Mohonk and the Smileys: A National Historic Landmark and the Family That Created It,” reviewed by Chris Pryslopski, and other topics of interest.

You may find the magazine at Roxbury General Store, Delaware County Historical Association, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and other places.

AMR Spring Art Show at the Commons

The Commons Building has become an important art hub for the communities in and around Middletown in Delaware County. Founded in 2007 as an artist-run cooperative, Longyear Gallery has hosted numerous solo and group shows in a 1,275 sq ft space located on the second floor. In the summer of 2016, the gallery took over a larger and better illuminated 1,425 sq ft space located on the first floor, divided into two separate rooms. Close to a hundred pieces by eighty artists were recently shown in a multi-media art exhibition titled “Artists Choose Artists,” which included works by landscape painters Ellen Wong and Kevin David Palfreyman, both influenced by the Hudson River School of Painting, poet and abstract painter Andrew Tully, ceramicist Peter Yamaoka, and photographers Frank Manzo and Helene Levine-Keating.

In the space left vacant by Longyear Gallery on the second floor, another gallery opened in recent months simply called Upstairs at the Commons. The space is available for rent to individual artists and groups in search of new possibilities to show their works. The space is currently rented by AMR Artists, an artist coalition affiliated with the AMR (Andes-Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Art Studio Tour, which takes place every year the last weekend in July. The group uses as its motto a quote by Albert Einstein: “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.”

The Spring Show hosted by the AMR Artists, which opens on April 19 and remains on view through May 13, will include works by twenty participants working in different disciplines: painting, monotypes, photography, tapestry, installation, and even jewelry.

Lisbeth Firmin's Studio. Photo © 2017 Simona David
Lisbeth Firmin’s Studio. Photo © 2017 Simona David

Urban realist painter and printmaker Lisbeth Firmin, an artist whose studio is in fact located in the Commons Building, will be showing new monotypes produced under the influence of Scuola Internationale di Grafica in Venice where Firmin was a resident in 2017. For over four decades Firmin’s work has been in hundreds of solo and group shows across the country and internationally, and finds itself in numerous private art collections. “My urban landscapes follow in the tradition of earlier realists such as John Sloan and Edward Hopper, depicting today’s modern life in the streets, while reflecting modern themes of isolation and disconnection,” she explains. Firmin, who was the cover artist for the 2008 spring issue of Epoch, Cornell University’s literary magazine, and was the featured artist in the 2008 summer issue of the Gettysburg Review, often shows her work throughout New York State and North Carolina, as well as at Rice Polak Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Hedi Kyle is a book conservator and educator, and co-founder of the Book Preservation Center at the New York Botanical Garden. She is also co-author of Library Materials Preservation Manual, one of the first books on library preservation techniques. As head conservator at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and as an adjunct professor in the Graduate Program for Book Arts and Printmaking at the University of the Arts, Kyle had trained and mentored a generation of conservators and book artists. Since moving to the Catskill Mountains, she continued to experiment with materials and seek beauty in the form of book installations. “My work is usually based on paper which I transform by folding it into book structures and three-dimensional objects. Since my retirement as a book conservator and teacher my move to the Catskills has overwhelmed me with new impressions and motivated me to experiment with other materials such as clay and fabrics,” she says. During the AMR Spring Show, Kyle will be showing a ceramic piece called Fragilo I, as part of a series that she is working on under the guidance of Michael Boyer at the Pine Hill Community Center. She continues to work on drawings and prints as well – these will be exhibited during the monthly member shows at Longyear Gallery.

Rock Bridge on Lower Meeker
Rock Bridge on Lower Meeker by Deborah Ruggerio (oil on canvas, 18” x 24”, 2018). Contributed Photo.

Deborah Ruggerio, a new artist affiliated with the group, has been in the area for about three years. In 2018 she built her studio in Roxbury’s Historic District, and opened it to the public for the first time as part of the AMR Open Art Studio Tour last summer. Ruggerio, who also serves on the Planning Committee for the tour and had taught art in New Jersey for decades, has painted all her life, but has been particularly moved by the Catskill Mountains’ scenery and the ephemerality of all things in nature ever since she moved to the area. As a landscape painter, she often sketches in nature, but finishes the work in the studio. “Color creates emotions,” Ruggerio says, as she always tries to select a color palette that she believes captures the essence of the environment in the moment, whether be a fall or a winter scenery. In the Spring Show, Ruggerio will exhibit two recent pieces: “Rock Bridge on Lower Meeker” (oil on canvas, 18” x 24”, 2018), and “View from the Johansson’s Bridge” (watercolor, 9” x 12”, 2018); the second one was part of the Greene County Council on the Arts Holiday Show this past winter.

Another new artist affiliated with the group, Charlene McLaughlin, has moved to the area full-time four years ago, after being a second homeowner for decades. McLaughlin is an accomplished still life and nature photographer and designer who has exhibited in numerous group shows and has done event photography. Her favorite subject matter are tulips, which she says are extremely evocative. She likes to capture them either in nature or in compositions re-created in the studio.

curtain call copy
Curtain Call (12” x 18”) by Charlene McLaughlin. © 2016 Charlene McLaughlin. Contributed Photo.

McLaughlin bought her first camera, a Nikon EM, when she was 18-year-old, and never stopped photographing. She first learned to work on film, mastering the exposure and the demands of high-quality printing. Later on, she transitioned to digital, which she says offers instant gratification but can also lead to overshooting, conducive to spending more time to discern what is worth keeping. Although for the most part she is self-taught, McLaughlin did take classes at the International Center of Photography in New York City. Her favorite photographers are Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson; Adams is known for his spectacular nature photographs, particularly taken at the Yosemite National Park, while Cartier-Bresson is known for pioneering street photography, and has been labeled a humanist photographer.

road to windham
Road to Windham (13” x 19”) by Charlene McLaughlin. © 2016 Charlene McLaughlin. Contributed Photo.

In the Spring Show, McLaughlin will be showing two landscape photographs: “Road to Windham” and “Spring Snow”, both 13” x 19”, taken with a Nikon D700 camera.

Textile artist and artisan Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes is a founding member of the AMR Art Tour, and has served as a tour coordinator until recently. Trained at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and the Center for Tapestry Arts in New York City, Gilmore-Barnes designs both functional and aesthetic products using traditional American patterns. Her work can be seen in museums and gallery exhibits, and at various arts and crafts fairs throughout the region. “Weaving is one of the oldest forms of a blend of art and function. The techniques of twisting fibers to make them stronger and durable started out probably in the earliest times of mankind history. From those twisted fibers men and women learned to do basketry, learned to create fabric, and also to use it for decoration.” In the Spring Show, she will exhibit four pieces which include “Maple Tree & Stone Wall” (a/k/a The Catskills), a woodblock print done at SUNY New Platz’s Printmaking Design Class, and “Snow Scene,” a tapestry that won the Fence Art Show Award from the Brooklyn Museum in 1980.

SnowScene (C)1980 Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes
Snow Scene (tapestry) by Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes. © 1980 Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes. Contributed Photo. 

An opening reception will be hosted on April 27 from 3 to 6 pm. The Commons Building is located at 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY.

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© Simona David

Chagall in High Falls – The Virginia Project

The Virginia Project

Famed Surrealist painter Marc Chagall, known for works such as I and the Village (1911), Paris through the Window (1913), and Green Violinist (1923), lived and worked in High Falls between 1946 and 1948, producing a significant number of works. At that time, Chagall was accompanied by his lover Virginia Haggard, an artist in her own right, her young daughter from a previous marriage, Jean McNeil, as well as their newly born son David.

Chagall spent six years in New York between 1942 and 1948, a productive time when he painted, but also designed costumes for the American Ballet Theatre and The Metropolitan Opera, murals for the Lincoln Center, and stained-glass windows for the United Nations headquarters.

In 1946 he moved to High Falls where he spent the next two years. Local author Tina Barry created a collaborative called The Virginia Project, pairing poems with visual works by 14 women artists to shed light and reignite interest in that time in Chagall’s life in the United States. Of particular interest to her were Virginia and her daughter Jean.

The show opens today, October 27 at 5 pm at Wired Gallery in High Falls, and will remain on view through November 25.

Read full article in Chronogram.

ART CONVERSATION AND WRITING WORKSHOP AT THE ZADOCK PRATT MUSEUM

IMG_3686 Simona David

ART CONVERSATION AND WRITING WORKSHOP WITH AUTHOR SIMONA DAVID

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2018, 1 – 2:30 PM

THE ZADOCK PRATT MUSEUM, 14540 MAIN STREET / RTE 23, PRATTSVILLE, NY 

As guest of the Zadock Pratt Museum, Simona David, author of “How Art Is Made: In the Catskills” (2017), will talk about her experience interviewing artists, and discuss what moves and inspires the creative mind, how a new artistic project is born, how materials are used and different stylistic choices are made, how setbacks are dealt with, and how success is celebrated.

Ms. David will then teach a workshop on art writing, and discuss various research and writing techniques.

To register, call Pratt Museum at (518) 937-6120.

This event is funded in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.