Category: documentaries

A Century Under the Stars

Filmmaker Dwight Grimm, owner of Greenville Drive-In Outdoor Cinema, released a short documentary called A Century Under the Stars that brings back into the spotlight how Schoharie, a small Catskills village, became the host of the very first open-air motion picture presentation, entirely free to the public between 1917 – 1942. To learn more about this fascinating story, visit

© Simona David
© Simona David
© Simona David

The Centennial Anniversary of the Schoharie Free Street Movies initiative will take place on June 8 & 10 in Schoharie; the event is hosted by the Schoharie County Historical Association. To learn more, visit


Featured Destination: The Corning Museum of Glass

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, Steuben County, has on display some of the world’s most exquisite glass collections, spanning over thousands of years of history. Glass objects and glassmaking techniques from various parts of the world are showcased in several different galleries. A gallery dedicated to Glass in America includes early and rare artistic and decorative pieces. Glassmaking is considered to be the country’s first industry: it started with a glass workshop in Virginia in 1608.

A new wing, dedicated to Contemporary Art and Design, opened at the Corning Museum in 2015 in a newly designed 26,000 square foot modern building shaped like a large white box. A GlassApp, including videos, photographs, and artists’ bios, also launched in 2015 to enhance visitor experience. Demonstrations and workshops as well as lectures and other events are offered from time to time.

Two new exhibitions are on view at the museum this summer: Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, which will remain on view through January 8, 2017, and Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope, on view through March 19, 2017.

Earlier this summer I spoke with Dr. Marvin Bolt, Curator of Science and Technology at the Corning Museum of Glass. Dr. Bolt’s job is to enhance the museum’s science and technology-based collections and exhibits, and to interpret the information for diverse audiences, from schoolchildren to working scientists. Dr. Bolt holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science, and is a specialist in telescopes.

Click to hear my interview with Dr. Bolt.
To learn more about the Corning Museum of Glass, visit

© 2016 Simona David

Weekend in the Catskills – 6/10/2016

This weekend:

  • Livingston Manor is celebrating its 13th Annual Trout Parade;
  • The Center for Photography at Woodstock is hosting The Art of Prepress for Photobooks, a workshop taught by John Mannion;
  • And Upstate Films in Woodstock is screening Life, Animated directed by Academy award-winning director Roger Ross Williams.


Photo by Kate Hyden
Photo Credit: Kate Hyden

Weekend in the Catskills – 2/26/2016

This weekend:

  • Howard Greenberg at the Samuel Dorsky Museum in New Paltz;
  • Afternoon of a Faun, a documentary about New York City Ballet dancer Tanaquil Le Clercq, at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs;
  • And, ceramics workshops at the Hudson Valley Pottery School and Studio in Rhinebeck.

Find more at

Weekend in the Catskills – 2/5/2016

This weekend:

  • Several art shows at the WAAM in Woodstock;
  • A traditional Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith;
  • And the City of Cooperstown’s annual Winter Carnival.

Find more at

Weekend in the Catskills – 11/06/2015

This weekend in the Catskills:

  • Gospel music with the Fairfield Four at the West Kortright Centre in East Meredith;
  • Contemporary Catskill Watercolors by Michael Mendel at the Erpf Center in Arkville;
  • “Rails to the Catskills” documentary film screening at the D & H Canal Museum in High Falls;
  • And, the third annual Glimmerglass Film Days Festival in Cooperstown.

Plenty to do this weekend.

The Erpf Center
The Erpf Center, Arkville, NY. © Simona David

Weekend in the Catskills – 2/27/15

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs is hosting its traditional Winter Ball this Saturday, February 28 at 8 p.m. The theme this year is Black & White Vintage Hollywood – what can beat that?  Hollywood inspired food, music by the New York Players, a Classic Hollywood Costume Contest are among the evening’s highlights. We hear that the event is sold out, but keep in mind for next year. More information about SPAC at

Arkell Museum

Arkell Museum in Canajoharie re-opens for the season this Sunday, March 1 with an exhibition called “The Artist Revealed: Artist Portraits and Self-Portraits.” Works by Norman Rockwell, Milton Avery, Leonard Baskin, and others are included in this show. The exhibit explores both the artistic approach and the sitter’s characteristics in making these works of art memorable. For more information, visit

Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild

The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is hosting an exhibition dedicated to works produced between 1903 and 1918, on view this weekend from Friday to Sunday at the Kleinart / James Center for the Arts on Tinker Street. The exhibit also includes artifacts and publications from the early 1900s. Saturday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. Hélène Lesterlin will perform Overlook, a solo performance dedicated to the history of Woodstock. Friday at 7:30 p.m. there will be a screening of the “Art of House,” a documentary by Don Freeman exploring houses designed by twelve artists from all over the country. For more information about these events, visit

The Center for Photography at Woodstock

Still in Woodstock, the Center for Photography is hosting a workshop led by Greg Miller this Saturday, February 28. “Winter Wonders Photo Safari” is a one day excursion through the Catskill Mountains, exploring scenic areas around the Ashokan Reservoir, and other locations around Woodstock. Participants will learn how to make the most of their cameras and lenses. The workshop will end in the digital lab where images taken throughout the day will be reviewed. Miller is the author of “The Hudson River: A Great American Treasure” published by Rizzoli in 2008. For more information about this workshop, visit

© Simona David

Bard College

Bard College Conservatory Orchestra is performing this Sunday, March 1 at 3 p.m. a concert that includes Samuel Barber’s First Essay for Orchestra, Op. 12 written in 1937, as well as two premieres by Bard students. The program is conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, an accomplished musician and conductor living in New York City. Milarsky teaches at Columbia University. For more information about the program, visit

Enjoy an artful Catskills weekend!

Featured Destination: Hanford Mills Museum

The Hanford family purchased the mill in East Meredith, Delaware County, in the 1860s, and developed the site into a vast rural complex. The mill, in existence since 1846, is one of the very few remaining 19th century original mills, and it’s listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The museum, open from mid-May to mid-October and on special occasions, can be visited with tour guides, willing to demonstrate some of the machinery on display, such as waterwheels, sawmills, and woodworking tools. There are sixteen buildings on the site, and around 50,000 objects and exhibits hosted in twelve buildings. Exhibits include domestic tools and artifacts, historic photographs, and library and archival papers that document the history of the site.

In addition to themed workshops and lectures, the museum also hosts several festivals a year, including the Ice Harvest Festival, which takes place the first Saturday in February. During the Ice Harvest Festival visitors, who ride in horse-drawn sleighs, can help with the removal of big blocks of ice from a frozen mill pond. Ice cleats are being lent to those willing to walk on the frozen pond. Skilled ice carvers using antique tools remove the ice that is then being kept in an ice house similar to those used before refrigeration. The ice is used to make ice cream on the Independence Day in July. This year the Ice Harvest Festival takes place Saturday, February 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contributed photo.
Contributed photo.

I interviewed Liz Callahan, the museum’s executive director.

Simona David: Liz, talk a little bit about Hanford Mills Museum – its history, mission, and programs.

Liz Callahan: The museum is located in East Meredith, Delaware County, between Oneonta and Stamford along County Route 10. East Meredith grew as a rural, agricultural community, in and around the mill. The mill business was very important to the community in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Hanford Mills operated as a business from the 1840s to the 1960s. It became a museum in 1973 chartered by the New York State. The community has not changed a great deal since. We preserve and interpret this vast rural complex, which extends over seventy acres.

SD: What historic buildings and objects do you have on site?

LC: On ten acres we have about fifteen buildings that have always been part of this site. In addition to the mill buildings, we have several other buildings including the building where the tools were stored, the building where the lumber was stored, a horse barn, a hardware store, and one of the two original dairy barns. We also have the Hanford House, in its original condition. The Hanford House was built in 1910. Hanford Mills Museum is significant because it represents the mill complex in its interaction with commerce, the local economy, and the rural social life. This interaction existed in all rural communities around us.

SD: Let’s talk a little bit about the Hanford House. Is it open to the public?

LC: The Hanford House is open to the public. It was re-created as it would have appeared in the 1910s with many pieces that belonged to the Hanford family. The house has wallpaper that reflects the wallpaper of that period. The kitchen was restored, and brought back to its original condition. From the parlor to the dining-room to the kitchen and the bedrooms we have lots of authentic aspects of the Hanford family life, and also great diary entries and journal information about the activities of the residents. We use the Hanford House to talk about the social life and leisure time pursuits, as well as the food ways pertaining to that period of time. We actually use the kitchen to make treats following the Hanford family’s recipes that we have in our archives.

Contributed photo.
Contributed photo.

SD: The museum is ordinarily open from May to October. What activities do take place at the museum during the summer?

LC: The machines are powered by the water. We have a water wheel operating since 1926. We also have a water turbine, and a massive steamed power plant, re-created based on the original drawings. We talk about the power of water in all forms – liquid, through the water wheel and turbine, gas through the steamed power plant, and solid through the ice harvesting activities. We power the machines with water, and demonstrate all these activities. We generate power for over twenty machines at the mill.

SD: Every year the first Saturday in February you host an Ice Harvest Festival which is becoming increasingly popular – just recently the Wall Street Journal listed the festival among top five winter festivals to attend in 2015, along with major events like Carnaval de Québec in Canada, and the Rondy in Alaska. When did this tradition start, and what triggered it?

LC: We started the Ice Harvest Festival in 1989. We’re doing it in a traditional way – just as it was done in the late 1800s, early 1900s. We recreate this historic activity using historic tools and gear, and invite visitors to participate. We harvest 8 to 10 tons of ice from a frozen mill pond. Each block of ice weighs 50 to 60 pounds. We have many volunteers and staff on site to help. We’ve been doing this consistently for the past twenty-five years the first Saturday in February. There were a few years when we didn’t have enough ice – we called it “ice famine.” This year we anticipate the ice will be 18 inches thick. It’s an abundant year.

Contributed photo.
Contributed photo.

SD: Let’s talk about the tradition of ice harvesting, and the significance of the ice house in communities prior to the invention of refrigeration in the early 1900s.

LC: Ice harvesting was very important to farmers – the ice kept in the ice house could last up to six months, and help preserve farm and dairy products. Ice was harvested for personal consumption, but was also sold to the market.

SD: Let’s talk specifically about the Ice Harvest Festival this Saturday, February 7. What activities will occur that day?

LC: Today ice harvesting is a great learning experience. But we’re also trying to make it playful. Visitors are given a pair of ice cleats to walk on the frozen mill pond. They are shown how to use the historic ice harvesting tools, and cut blocks of ice. We have large horse-drawn sleighs to carry the ice to the ice house. The staff will load the ice into the ice house, and pile it to the top. The ice house is traditionally designed, and has proper ventilation, insulation and drainage to maintain the ice for at least six months. In addition to ice harvesting, we also added other activities that relate to ice and winter sports, such as ice fishing and ice sculpture.

Contributed photo.
Contributed photo.

SD: What other activities will take place at the museum this Saturday?

LC: Other activities include traditional parlor games, ice harvesting movies, blacksmith demonstrations, and a hot soup buffet.

SD: Do you plan anything new for this summer when the museum re-opens?

LC: This summer we’re planning an event that celebrates local community, ingenuity and innovation. The event will take place on May 30, when we re-open. More details will be revealed soon. Also, Independence Day is a big event. That’s when we make ice cream with ice harvested during the Ice Harvest Festival in February.

SD: Is there anything else you would like to share?  

LC: Yes. The museum also has a YouTube Channel where visitors can go and see ice harvesting demonstrations and other activities that we have at the museum.

Hanford Mills Museum is located at 51 County Highway 12 in East Meredith, Delaware County, New York. For more information, visit or call (607) 278-5744.

Contributed photo.
Contributed photo.

© 2015 Simona David

The Second Edition Is Now Available as Paperback and E-Book


BookCoverPreview - Copy

Art in the Catskills, The Definitive Guide to the Catskills’ Rich Cultural Life is a compendium of one hundred and twenty-three arts organizations, events and other attractions in the Catskills and surrounding area, some in the neighboring Hudson Valley, and others elsewhere upstate New York. The guide includes anything from museums and memorial sites to summer festivals, art galleries and residencies, as well as theater and literary retreats. It walks the reader through a wide geographic area, from Woodstock to Livingston Manor, and Saratoga Springs to Cooperstown. Easy to digest, Art in the Catskills is a great resource for art enthusiasts travelling through the region.

Weekend in the Catskills – 9/12/14

Banner - Copy A September weekend filled with art in the Catskills: an art book reception at Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, a multi-media opening reception at the Opera House in Hudson, an art show at the Angeloch Gallery in Woodstock, and a screening of “To Be Forever Wild” in the Wulff Gallery at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center in Livingston Manor. Also, the “Woodstock Nights” event takes place Friday evening, as it always does on the second Friday of the month. Once again, plenty to do for art lovers this weekend in the Catskills!

Longyear Gallery

Longyear Gallery in Margaretville celebrates its seventh anniversary this Saturday, September 13 from 3 to 6 pm with a “Seven Year Itch” party, and a book signing reception. Artist Ann Lee Fuller will be signing her newly released photo book “Storytellers,” based on her paintings currently on display at Longyear. For more information about this event, go to     

Hudson Opera House

Artist Zach Gross is having an opening reception at the Opera House in Hudson this Saturday, September 13 from 5 to 7 pm. The show includes photographs, paintings, photograms and a video by Gross, who is internationally known for his portrait, fashion and landscape photography. For more information, go to To find more about Gross, go to

Angeloch Gallery

Also, this Saturday, September 13, from 3 to 5 pm The Woodstock School of Art and The Historical Society of Woodstock present “SELDOM SEEN” at the Angeloch Gallery in Woodstock. “SELDOM SEEN” is an exhibit of 63 paintings from the collection of The Historical Society of Woodstock selected by Susana Torruella Leva. The show also includes drawings and prints by artists associated with the Woodstock colony, works that span throughout most of the 20th century. The show can be previewed here. For more information, go to–Art-from-the-Historical-Society-of-Woodstock.html?soid=1103011793515&aid=Jdqw_lAhbXo.

Catskill Fly Fishing Center  

Catskill Fly Fishing Museum in Livingston Manor is hosting the screening of “To Be Forever Wild,” a documentary about the Catskill Mountains, this Saturday, September 13 at 7 pm in the Wulff Gallery. If you visit the Fly Fishing Museum this weekend, also look for its permanent exhibitions documenting the history of fly fishing in the Catskills. More information at

Woodstock Nights

The second Friday of the month it’s the “Woodstock Nights,” an event meant to get people to stroll and shop in Woodstock, while enjoying music performances and artists shows on the street, in shops and in restaurants. Classical pianist Peter Cody and jazz performers Robert Darnell and Elena Batt will be performing this evening at the Kleinart / James Center on Tinker Street from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. For more information, go to

Also, Dia:Beacon gallery in Beacon is having an Artist Talk this Saturday, September 13 at 2 pm, The Beacon Indie Film Festival opens tonight at the University Settlement Camp theatre, and Pine Hill Community Center is hosting its quarterly Cabaradio program this Saturday, September 13 at 6 pm.

Have a fabulous weekend in the Catskills!