Category: Featured Destination

Featured Destination: Hobart, The Book Village of the Catskills

Hobart, the Book Village of the Catskills
Hobart, the Book Village of the Catskills. © Simona David

When Adams’ Antiquarian Books opened its doors in Hobart in 2002, who would have thought that this tiny Catskills village would become an international destination in such a short span of time? Featured in prestigious publications like The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Guardian in the UK, and just recently mentioned in a USA Today travel article, Hobart has increasingly become a brand name for travelers from all over the world. Earlier this year it was awarded the Tourism of the Year Award by The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

In 2005 pianist, furniture restorer, and entrepreneur Don Dales bought several buildings in town, and after acquiring entire book collections from bookstores that ran out of business, he opened two independent bookstores on Main Street. The Adams’ Antiquarian was already in business for about three years, and Dales thought that perhaps Hobart would one day become a “book village,” similar to Hay-on-Wye, the world’s first book town, established in Wales in 1961.

Entrepreneur Don Dales, founder of the Book Village
Entrepreneur Don Dales, founder of the Book Village. © Simona David

Owned by William Adams, a retired physician, and his wife, Diana, a retired lawyer, The Adams’ Antiquarian Books has an impressive collection ranging from ancient Greece and Rome, to the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Art, Architecture, Religion, Judaica, Poetry, Biography, and Fiction. Not all the Adams’ books are antiquarian, but most of them were either printed before 1850, or are about events that happened prior to 1850.

In August 2007, Elda Stifani, a retired diplomat who worked for the European Union in New York City, moved to Hobart and opened Hobart International Bookport, which specialized in foreign language books, and books by authors from all over the world, in English or in the original language as well as aviation books. In 2014 Hobart International Bookport, under new ownership, became Butternut Valley Books.

Across the street, Liberty Rock Books offers a wide range of rare books spanning three hundred years of history. The store, which also has an art gallery, hosts numerous events throughout the year, including lectures and jazz concerts.

Right next door, Barbara Balliet, a cultural historian, and her partner poet Cheryl Clarke, own and operate Blenheim Hill Bookstore since 2009. They carry history books, poetry, women’s studies, nature and gardening, cookbooks, children’s books, and other illustrated books.

Don Dales continues to operate Mysteries & More, and as its name states, the bookstore specializes in mystery and science fiction titles. Located in a classic Greek Revival building erected in the 1830s, and recently restored, the store transposes its visitors into another era: an original Loring & Blake Palace organ, made in the late 1800s, a reproduction of a harpsichord, and a typewriter from the 1950s add to the mystic. This house was once owned by A. Lindsey O’Connor.

Mysteries & More Bookstore
Mysteries & More Bookstore. © Simona David

On May 7 this year yet another bookstore opened its doors in Hobart: Creative Corner Books. Owned and operated by Kathy Duyer, a lawyer, and her husband, George, Creative Corner specializes in cookbooks, craft books, gardening, and do-it-yourself books. The store will also be hosting workshops and other community events. At Creative Corner you won’t just buy books – say on weaving, you’ll also learn how to weave from master artisans.

Creative Corner Books
Creative Corner Bookstore. Contributed Photo.
Creative Corner
At Creative Corner Books. Contributed Photo.

Memorial Day weekend is a busy weekend in Hobart. All five bookstores will be offering major discounts. Art shows will be hosted at MURAL Art Gallery and Liberty Rock. And a new restaurant just opened in town. In July an English pub is scheduled to open.

The View from Mysteries & More
The View from Mysteries & More. © Simona David

Things are happening in Hobart. Learn more at http://www.hobartbookvillage.com.

© 2016 artinthecatskills.com

Featured Destination: Cross Contemporary Art Gallery

Jen Dragon is the director of Cross Contemporary Art in Saugerties, a gallery dedicated to showing mid-career artists with a connection to New York City, the Catskills and Hudson Valley regions. Dragon has background in online marketing, but she’s also had an extensive career in the arts – over the years she has curated numerous exhibits for non-profit spaces, and organized various community-wide art projects. Dragon holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Purchase College.

Winter IV by Katherine Bowling. Contributed photo.
Winter IV by Katherine Bowling. Contributed photo.

Simona David: Please, talk a little bit about your background, your education, and interest in art.

Jen Dragon: I studied at Purchase College in the early 1980s. And there I was trained as a printmaker and painter. I also had a scholarship to study fine arts in Italy for a year. I was trained there as a restaurateur of antique maps and prints. Afterwards, like many artists, I was drawn to the Catskills. Together with my ex-husband I bought a tavern to use as a studio – we fixed it ourselves; this was near the Phoenicia area. I lived there until about a year and a half ago.

SD: Talk about your curatorial experience, and your vision when it comes to putting together a new art show.

JD: I got into curating with non-profit spaces like the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts in Woodstock, and under-utilized spaces like this place at the Emerson Resort that at the time was not being used. It was a challenge, because I was interested in showing large abstract art, and in the country, like where we live, it’s very difficult to find houses that have really big high-ceilings. I was always on the look-out for a loft, a good space to show big paintings. A year ago I had the opportunity to take over a lease on a gallery in Saugerties. It’s tiny – it’s only 650 sq ft, but it has high ceilings, and it has a lot of wall space. And I am now able to show the kind of art that I have always been passionate about. I much prefer to be in the gallery and act as a docent introducing people to art rather than trying to rally everybody behind a large community arts project.

Reverse Painting with Silver by Catherine Howe. Contributed photo.
Reverse Painting with Silver by Catherine Howe. Contributed photo.

SD: Talk about the curatorial process: where do you start, what is your vision, and how do you get where you want to be with a project?   

JD: It’s interesting, because I get to live with an art show for about a month – each show is four week long. And I really get immersed in the artist’s work. At the end of each show I can probably write a dissertation on it. A lot of my choices are governed by the location of my gallery. Given the fact that I’m in Saugerties, which has extraordinary landscapes, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to show urban art. The artists I tend to choose have an obsession with nature, and I also look for human drama. In sum, the criteria for choosing art have to do with where I am, but I also consider myself as some sort of an educator. It’s more about creating a beautiful show than being a salesman. I encourage the artists to really own the space, and create an installation.

SD: How do you look for artists, or is it the artists who approach you?

JD: I’m always looking at art. It’s important for artists to have their art seen. Because of my limitations, I can only show as many artists. But I keep a file, and I also refer artists to other places. A lot of time artists that I show are referred to me by other artists. The artists that I have been generally showing are in museum collections, or have shown in museums, and to show with me is a certain investment on their part. And they take very seriously who they want to be seen with. And they also refer people to me that they think that I would like. Sometimes I come up with something that I discover on my own. I have shown over eighteen artists so far. I’ve only done one group show.

SD: I like what you said before, that artists like to be seen in the company of other artists, and that’s why art communities are so important. We often judge people by their associations or affiliations, or by the company they keep. Are there any commonalities of themes or styles amongst the artists that you’ve shown? You did mention before that you looked at art centered on nature or human drama.

JD: Yes. I also have a sweet spot for printmaking. I was trained as a printmaker when I was in college in the 1980s, and what was trending back then were these Neo-Impressionist like prints. There were these intense, dynamic painters like Julien Schnabel, Gregory Amenoff, Richard Bosman – these guys were powerhouses. In retaliation to the abstract art, they were going back to figurative painting. And just like the German expressionists, they were also into printmaking. What I learned from artists like these is that the power of the wood cut supports the power of the painting. I knew I was doing something right with my gallery when I approached Gregory Amenoff and Richard Bosman, who were like my rock stars when I was a student, and they agreed to show their work with me.

Labrador Sea by Gregory Amenoff. Contributed photo.
Labrador Sea by Gregory Amenoff. Contributed photo.

SD: And I should add that when people think nature, they shouldn’t necessarily think representational art or landscape painting. It could be non-objective art as well. Take for instance Heather Hutchison, who you’ve shown in your gallery.      

JD: Yes. What’s fascinating about Heather Hutchison is that her subject matter is light, so she is probably more of a landscape painter than anyone else that I’ve shown. Even though it doesn’t look like landscape, and it looks like a box that is constantly changing colors because of the way the light is coming through it, Heather’s literal subject matter is the changing light itself.

Sleepy Golden by Heather Hutchinson. Contributed photo.
Sleepy Golden by Heather Hutchison. Contributed photo.
More Like the Weather by Heather Hutchinson. Contributed photo.
More Like the Weather by Heather Hutchison. Contributed photo.

SD: Her work has been shown in many prestigious locations like The Smithsonian in Washington D.C., and she’s also received numerous awards including The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award.

JD: Yes. She’s also very active locally. She’s in the James / Kleinert Center for the Arts in Woodstock. Her husband Mark Kanter teaches at Columbia University. All the artists that I show are actually very active in the community. In addition to being educators and making art in their studios, these artists are also great art communicators.

SD: What kind of experience do you want your visitors to have when they visit your gallery?

JD: What’s really interesting about showing all these artists is that they work so well together – I can easily have a group show with any of them. Even though they have different styles, they all seem to have the same sort of fascination, the same sort of obsession with art. The common denominator is that they all create amazing spatial environments that the viewer can occupy. That’s my criterion for what I consider art. The mark making is also terribly important. A gestural mark is a brush work with intention, and a certain kind of velocity to it, and these kinds of creations need to form a space that you can inhabit. If art doesn’t have gesture, and it doesn’t have space, it becomes illustration, which is a fine thing, but it’s not deep enough for me. What I look for in art is the space, the intent, and the passion. What I find beautiful is the thing that changes me by looking at it, and changes my relationship to where I am.

SD: You hosted recently a show by Iain Machell. Let’s talk about that.    

JD: Iain Machell is the head of the Visual Arts Department at SUNY Ulster. Last summer he got a grant to study at Platte Clove arts residency near Saugerties. And created all these drawings, and paintings, and even some photographs enameled in metal, that were inspired by Platte Clove – he did it in a very short period of time as well. The show at Cross Contemporary Art Gallery included close to thirty pieces of art that Iain created at Platte Clove this past summer. It was an installation – some sort of meditation of ground and water and rocks and crevasses.

Platte Clove Lens Installation by Iain Machell. Contributed photo.
Platte Clove Lens Installation by Iain Machell. Contributed photo.

SD: I do want to mention that Platte Clove played such an important role in the formation of the Hudson River School of Painting in the 1820s. What is your next show?

JD: My December show is Shira Toren, an Israeli-American artist, who works in New York City, but also has a place in Great Barrington, MA. She does abstract paintings, and also makes prints. Her show is called “Eternal Return.” It opened December 5, and will remain on view through December 27.

Nebula 2 by Shira Toren. Contributed photo.
Nebula 2 by Shira Toren. Contributed photo.

SD: What are your plans for the holiday season?

JD: I have been invited to participate in The Decorator’s Holiday Show at the Senate House in Kingston. The Senate House Museum owns a large Victorian house that is being made available to interior designers to decorate it for the holidays. I am the only gallery that was invited to participate. The grand opening was December 4 as part of The Snowflake Festival. I am featuring artists that I have shown over the past year.

SD: What are the gallery’s hours?

JD: The gallery is open from Thursday to Monday from 12 noon to 5 pm. And also by appointment.   

For more information about Cross Contemporary Art Gallery, visit

http://www.crosscontemporaryart.com

81 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY 12477

(845) 399-9751

 

© 2015 Simona David

Featured Destination: AMR Open Studios Tour 2015

Saturday and Sunday, July 25 – 26, 11 am to 5 pm, over twenty artists in Roxbury, Halcottsville, Margaretville, Arkville, and Pine Hill area will open their studios to the public, and show their working spaces. During the tour, artists working in all media will talk about their styles and techniques, and the process of making art. AMR (ArtTour Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Studios Tour, which launched in 2012, has been a great success, attracting a wide range of visitors summer after summer. Similar tours take place all over the country, as open studio tours have become quite popular among art lovers.

Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen

Artists Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen met in a Boston airport in the early 1980s as they were both traveling to and from Provincetown. They married three years later. Peter studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, while Gerda received a degree in art from the University of Utrecht in her native Netherlands. In college both Peter and Gerda studied painting. Later in their artistic careers, they specialized in printmaking: Peter chose lithographs, while Gerda directed her attention to etchings. Since moving to the Catskills in the early 1990s both artists switched to ceramics: Peter prefers voluminous mythology-inspired vases, while Gerda makes small porcelains inspired by animal life. In Tribeca Peter and Gerda operated a printmaking shop. In the Catskills, they opened a fully equipped ceramics studio, where they both work and teach classes. Gerda is also the executive director of the Longyear Gallery in Margaretville. Both artists have exhibited extensively in New York City and throughout the Catskills.

Artist Peter Yamaoka in his studio
Artist Peter Yamaoka in his studio. © Simona David

Peter’s vases are inspired by ancient Chinese motifs, Greek mythology, Mexican folklore, and the Catskills scenery. All his vases are both functional and decorative at the same time: “they’re sculptures,” Peter tells me. They withhold on top whimsical cities or mythological figures, an invitation to imagining and exploring. He also makes dioramas, fully employing the narrative feature of this form of art. All his vases and bowls are hand-made out of clay, then fired on an electrical kiln, and glazed in expressive, telling ways.

Yamaoka showing a vase inspired by Greek mythology
Yamaoka showing a vase inspired by Greek mythology. © Simona David

Gerda makes small porcelains inspired by animal life – primarily dogs and coyotes that we ordinarily see in the Catskills. Her anthropomorphic approach often leads to scenes of dancing dogs in a very human-like posture – portrayals that remind me of Matisse’s Dance. Victorian era practice of combining human heads and animal bodies or vice versa to awing effect in art also pops into my head. Gerda makes monotype prints on rice paper and canvas, similarly inspired by highly anthropomorphic pursuits. A large printing press occupies the central space of one of the studios.

Van Leeuwen showing animal inspired porcelains
Van Leeuwen showing animal inspired porcelains. © Simona David

On occasion Gerda makes woodblock prints. She currently works on a large scale wall piece using water based ink on paper and wood panel. A metal template is used to create a specific pattern that recurs throughout the composition. This particular work is done primarily in blue and gold hues. It will soon hang in a New York City apartment.

Woodblock prints by Van Leeuwen
Woodblock prints by Van Leeuwen. © Simona David

Both Peter and Gerda are proud of their garden: the artists craft copious outdoor pieces that blend organically with the landscape. The tree of life reappears sporadically throughout the garden. Peter and Gerda have participated in the AMR Open Studios Tour ever since the tour first launched in 2012. Every summer they open both their studios and the garden, and demonstrate ceramics and printmaking techniques.

Garden ceramics at Yamaoka and Van Leeuwen's studios
Garden ceramics at Yamaoka and Van Leeuwen’s studios. © Simona David

Peter and Gerda’s studio is located at 777 Carroll Hinkley Road in Roxbury.

Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes

Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes is a professional weaver residing in Delaware County. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and the Center for Tapestry Arts in New York City. She 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. For instance, in a lot of the Native American pottery from the South-Western U.S. and Central and South America you will see that twisted fibers have been pressed up against the clay to create a pattern on that clay. It’s been made as an impression on the clay to make it look as it was woven. In reality, it is a three-dimensional structure that was never plated or twisted in itself,” explains Tabitha.

Tabitha says she loves the fact that weaving isn’t a forgotten art. She particularly enjoys the mathematical structure of setting up the loom, and is excited about what it takes to create fabric. Her favorite part is mixing the colors, and the texture of the yarns together. “To me that’s magical – how I get a piece of fabric: something out of nothing.”

Tabitha’s studio is located at 424 Carr George Road in Denver.

To learn more about Tabitha, read our extensive interview with her at https://artinthecatskills.com/2015/01/31/featured-artist-tabitha-gilmore-barnes/.

Ellen Wong

The recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Ellen Wong is an accomplished painter and educator whose works have been exhibited both in New York City and the Catskills, going back to the 1970s. Ellen studied in the Art Department at Brooklyn College with Philip Pearlstein, known for reviving realist figurative painting in the 1960s. Pearlstein’s departure from Abstract Expressionism back then made him a renegade in the art world. It’s that kind of artistic sensibility and daring attitude that Ellen learned from Pearlstein.

Landscape by Wong
Catskills Landscape by Ellen Wong. Contributed photo.

Ellen herself was initially trained as an abstract painter, but in time she discovered that what she really wanted to do in life was landscape painting: “I noticed that every time I went somewhere I always brought with me my watercolors, and I always sketched where I was; somehow that’s how I got to understand, absorb or take in a new environment – I felt very sensitive to place,” she says. “And it was a good way for me to get to know a place. And I discovered that I had this desire to work outside, to work from life, and to work in watercolors, and that became in a way my primary medium,” she added.

Ellen’s studio is located at 121 Shephard Lane in Roxbury.

To learn more about Ellen, read our extensive interview with her at https://artinthecatskills.com/2014/10/18/featured-artist-ellen-wong/.

Other participating artists include: Lisbeth Firmin, Hedi Kyle, Ken Hiratsuka, Midori Kato, Patrice Lorenz, Frank and Helene Manzo, Anthony Margiotta, Amy Masters, Gary Mead, John Sanders, Ted Sheridan, Alix Travis, and Rosamond Welchman.

Poppies by Alix Hallman Travis
Poppies by Alix Travis. Contributed photo.

The AMR Open Studios Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 25 – 26, from 11 am to 5 pm both days.

Halcottsville Grange will be a HUB for several artists who will demonstrate their craft to the public:  Alix Travis – coloring books, Rosamond Welchman – clay, Catskill Mountain Quilters Guild members – quilting, Katherine Somelofski – stained glass, Kathleen Green – painting and portraiture, and Oneida Hammond – painting.  The Grange HUB will be open 11 am to 5 pm on both days, and Margaretville High School Art Students Katlynn Shamro and Sage Finkle will serve as interns.

For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org/.

The AMR Open Studio Tour 2015 is made possible with funds from the O’Connor Foundation and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and is administered in Delaware County by The Roxbury Arts Group.

© 2015 Simona David

SPONSORED STORY

Featured Destination: Maverick Concert Hall

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

Maverick Concert Hall, founded in 1916, is the oldest continuous chamber music festival in the country. The festival, running from June to early September, presents an eclectic program of the Catskills folk songs, jazz as well as classical music. On June 28 this year the original 1916 concert, which featured music by Joseph Haydn, Max Bruch, and Robert Schumann, will be reproduced to mark the beginning of the Maverick’s centennial program. In 2016 the festival will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

I spoke with conductor Alexander Platt, the music director of the Maverick Concerts.

A research scholar for the National Endowment for the Humanities before he entered college, Alexander Platt was educated at Yale College, King’s College Cambridge (where he was a British Marshall Scholar), and as a conducting fellow at both Aspen and Tanglewood. At Cambridge he was the first American to hold the coveted post of Assistant Conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and as conductor of the Cambridge University Opera Society he led revivals of both Berlioz’s BEATRICE AND BENEDICT and Britten’s OWEN WINGRAVE, to high praise in the London press. During this time he also made his professional conducting debut at the Aldeburgh Festival, his London debut at the Wigmore Hall, and reconstructed the lost chamber version of the Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which has gone on to become a classic of the repertoire. In addition to recording for Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, the South-West German Radio and the BBC, his recording of the Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with violinist Rachel Barton Pine is still heard frequently on radio stations across America. 

Simona David: Alexander, you are the musical director for several symphony orchestras: the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, the Marion Indiana Philharmonic, and the Wisconsin Philharmonic. You have conducted other orchestras as well. Talk a little bit about your work: what does it take and what does it mean for you to conduct orchestras?   

Alexander Platt: It’s important to gain valuable experience over years and decades. Conducting an orchestra whether you have twenty-five people in front of you or a hundred and twenty-five it’s like being in the middle of Grand Central Station at rush hour. You’re hearing all these disperse sounds, and your job is to sort out all those sounds and mold them together. Ultimately it’s a very mysterious process like telepathy, when without saying a word you, as a conductor, blend the sounds together by your physical movements and your inner vision of the music. Some of the greatest rehearsals in the history of orchestras happened without the conductor saying a word.

SD: Your repertoire is so extensive: the level of familiarity you have with hundreds of works – all major composers from the Baroque era, Classical era, modern composers, and you’re also engaged with other musical genres such as folk and jazz – it’s impressive. Let’s talk a bit about your repertoire and what you like most.    

AP: What I like most as a conductor is the central line of mid-19th century great composers, starting in the late 18th century with Haydn and Mozart, and then going through Schubert and Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, Elgar and Sibelius. I’m actually very old-fashioned in that regard. I do have a special love for the music Mahler because my graduate thesis at Cambridge was to reconstruct a lost Chamber version from Vienna in the 1920s of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. I think the works of Dvorak, the great Czech composer, are vastly underplayed. We literally hear two or three pieces by Dvorak, we hear the great New World Symphony, which is great work that brought joy to millions and millions of people, but the man did write eight other symphonies. Each of them is a gem. I’m probably the only American conductor of my generation who has all nine of the Dvorak’s symphonies in his active repertoire. I very much live in the 19th century as a conductor.

Contributed Photo. Credit: Dion Ogust.
Contributed Photo. Credit: Dion Ogust.

SD: You conduct both symphony orchestras and operas. How are they different, and how do you approach them?

AP: That’s a wonderful question. Conducting opera and conducting orchestras are two occupations that are completely different. On the more mundane level they’re completely different in regard to scheduling – one of the reasons why now I’m mostly working with orchestras. If you work with an orchestra to prepare a concert it’s one week of rehearsal, it’s three – four rehearsals over a week, and then one or two concert performances. When you prepare an opera, that is a six week project minimum, often a couple of months with many weeks of rehearsals, and at least two weeks of shows. Also, more importantly, on a musical level, it’s a totally different mode of rehearsing. When you’re a symphony orchestra conductor, you basically run the show. Even in the most egalitarian structure, somebody has to be the boss. It’s just not enough time to open up every question of interpretation. In opera rehearsal it’s inherently much more complicated. The conductor is just one of many planks of leadership, if you will. The conductor is in constant collaboration with the stage director, and the principal singers. So there are two vastly different experiences.

SD: You’ve been the musical director of Maverick Concerts since 2002. The festival will celebrate its centennial this summer. Let’s talk a bit about the beginnings of the festival.

AP: In the midst of WWI a bunch of free thinking artists in the hills around Woodstock decided to mount a festival of classical music for the relief of Belgian war refugees, which was a very noble cause at that time. It was Hervey White who founded the festival. Hervey and his buddies found a book of drawings of French cathedrals and without any engineering or architectural experience they built the concert hall in the fall of 1915 – spring of 1916. The concert hall still stands today. In 1916 began the first series of what we call the Maverick Concerts. The festival has literally been going ever since. It’s a very simple, very pure experience which I think is part of the festival’s charm: the festival has not been over publicized or over engineered. It’s a festival that is really all about the music.

Contributed Photo. Credit Dion Ogust.
Contributed Photo. Credit: Dion Ogust.

SD: On Sunday, June 28 you will recreate the first concert performed in 1916.

AP: Yes, on June 28 at 4 o’clock we’ll have the Shanghai Quartet with pianist Ran Dank recreating the very first program at the Maverick Concert Hall – one of the great later String Quartet by Joseph Haydn, Max Bruch’s lament for cello and piano Kol Nidrei, and after the intermission the evergreen Piano Quintet by Robert Schumann. A great program that will take us back to the very first summer at Maverick.

SD: The festival includes folk and jazz in addition to classical music performances, and there are also poetry and acting moments as well.

AP: Yes, this will be a glorious season. On Friday, July 3 the great pianist Simone Dinnerstein will be playing the complete Goldberg Variations by Bach, a work that she has literally performed all over the world. Saturday night, the 4th of July, we have a brilliant young pianist Adam Tendler who will play the complete Sonatas and Interludes for Solo Piano by John Cage to celebrate Maverick’s historic connection with John Cage: as you know, Cage premiered his landmark work 4’33” of silence at Maverick in 1952. It will be a great season.

Contributed Photo. Credit: Alan Carey
Contributed Photo. Credit: Alan Carey

120 Maverick Road, Woodstock, NY 12498

(845) 679-8217

For more information, visit

http://www.maverickconcerts.org

© 2015 Simona David

Featured Destination: The Center for Photography at Woodstock

photographyThe Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) was founded in 1977 to exhibit and support photographic art. It was only in the 1970s that the photographic imagery was accepted in the mainstream media as conceptual art, and was included in museum and gallery exhibitions. Since the 1970s, CPW has been presenting exhibitions, and offering workshops and residencies to artists interested in photography. The center organizes a monthly salon for photographers held on the second Tuesday of the month. Since 1980 CPW has maintained an extensive print collection, currently on loan to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz.

I spoke with Ariel Shanberg, the executive director of CPW.

Simona David: Please, tell us a little bit about your job at the center.

Ariel Shanberg: I am the executive director, and help oversee the CPW’s kaleidoscopic mix of programs, and services that are provided through this artist’s center not-for-profit.

SD: For how many years have you been holding this position?

AS: I’ve been director since 2003, so just about 12 years. I’ve been at CPW since 1999, when I started as an intern.

SD: The center was founded in 1977 by Howard Greenberg and Michael Feinberg. Let’s talk a little bit about the founders, and what motivated them to open this center in the late 1970s.

AS: CPW was then established as the Catskill Center for Photography, located in Woodstock, a community well-known for its legacy of art making, dating back to the early days of the 20th century, when the Byrdcliffe art colony was founded. A group of photographers led by the likes of Howard Greenberg and Michael Feinberg and others felt that there wasn’t a place for photographers to be given this sort of respect, and have their needs met as creative practitioners. Photography at that time was still seen as a utilitarian form, as a technical practice, and not necessarily as an art practice. Their response was to create a space – an artistic home for photographers. This is something that was really happening across the country in major cities like San Francisco, Houston, Charlotte, North Carolina, throughout the 1970s in line with the Civil Rights and the women’s rights movement; you had artist-run spaces emerging – this kind of we’ll do it for ourselves, and can do attitude.

SD: How has this space grown over the years? I know you have a traditional black and white dark room, but also a digital photo lab, a library, as well as the exhibition space.

AS: CPW has definitely grown over its nearly four decades. I’m happy to say that the black and white dark room that was one of the first services we provided is still very much used today. We have someone traveling from the Albany area to work in our dark room for a few hours this afternoon. Our programs have grown to meet the needs of those who aren’t served. In 2009 CPW established a Photographers’ Fellowship Fund, which is a regional grant that supports photographers and artists working in photography who live in upstate New York. To date it has given over 76,000 dollars to over 85 photographers. It’s a 2,500 dollars fellowship award which the recipient can use to pursue their creative practice however he or she may deem fit. It can be used to buy new equipment, to travel to a place where they want to take photographs, to pay for building expenses, etc.

SD: Let’s talk a little bit about the submission process.

AS: The deadline is in mid-September every year. We will be announcing the guidelines and who the juror is this July. Every year we invite one juror to look at the submissions. This is the only CPW opportunity when we welcome photographers to submit original artworks. Normally our submission policy is to present digital submissions on a thumb drive, DVD or a CD. But for this opportunity we really want to encourage applicants to submit original works.

SD: Is this fellowship open to established photographers only?

AS: You don’t have to be a professional photographer. One of the unique things about CPW is that we’re really dedicated to nurturing and supporting emerging photographers. We want to be there at the beginning of people’s career. For many recipients this is the first public recognition of their work.

SD: CPW also has an internship program. Let’s talk about it.

AS: Our internship program is something very near and dear to my heart. I first joined CPW, as I said, as an intern in the arts administration program. We have interns in high school age, college age, graduate school age, and adult learners who continue to grow their passion. Our interns work with us three days a week for a period of a few months, and they get to have an incredible hands-on experience with our classes and lectures, exhibitions, collection management, and digital lab. We have an extensive print collection partially stored and kept at the Dorsky Museum in New Paltz.

SD: This is a great opportunity for future gallerists and curators, I imagine.

AS: Absolutely. And artists too. There is definitely a professional component to being an artist today: meeting deadlines, being organized, seeing the behind the scene operations at such a venue, is a very empowering experience.

SD: You also have a residency program. How does that work?

AS: Since 1999 CPW has been providing residency opportunities to artists of color who work in photography and related media. We specifically work to support African-Americans, Caribbean Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Americans of Middle Eastern descent to make sure that there is a diversity, and the living legacy of art practice that exists in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley is continuously enriched with the diversity of perspective. We’ve worked with over 104 artists through this program. They come for a period of three to six weeks, and are provided with 24/7 access to the facility, and critical and technical support. They receive an honorarium, and food and travel stipends. And they have the ability to use the equipment and produce new work. We host eight residencies per year.

SD: What are the requirements for becoming a resident artist?

AS: We announce a call for submissions every year in December. The deadline is the last day in February. A selection panel of three professionals, who often include a former artist in residence or two, is formed to help select the incoming artists.

SD: Let’s talk about some of the workshops CPW will be offering this summer.

AS: This is our 30th year of hosting workshops, and we bring in some of the best known names in the field, including Mary Ellen Mark, Brian Ulrich, and Bobbi Lane. We tap into the tremendous resources of artists, photographers, and educators who live in our area, including the likes of Joan Barker, Jill Skupin Burkholder, Dan Burkholder, Carlos Loret de Mola, Craig Barber, Tom Delooza, and others. We have classes for beginners such as Intro to DSLR Photography, and Introductory Photoshop, as well as classes on hands-on processes like Encaustics in Photography, Palladium Printing, and Introductory Wet Plate Printing, among others. We really cover the gamut of photography history from the mid-1800s straight up to how to create GIFs animation files – the very latest and cutting-edge.

SD: You also offer workshops on food styling.

AS: We do. Photography is such an exciting medium, and it has so many different facets: the fine art side, the visual storytelling side, the documentary news making side, as well as abstraction, and beauty. Food photography is probably one of the fastest growing areas, and we’re very fortunate to have Phil Mansfield, who is the staff photographer at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, lead this one day workshop in late September.

SD: We’re talking about photographers who may be working on books, or for magazines, or just making high quality prints.

AS: Absolutely. Our programs cover everything. Another part that is important and makes our workshops unique is the tremendous landscape and environment we’re in. The Catskill region and the Hudson Valley play an important role. We have a number of workshops that take advantage of the landscape and the outdoors, and the historical visual tradition of art making in our area.

SD: CPW is also offering teen camp opportunities every summer. Let’s talk about that.

AS: We have two great opportunities for teens this summer. In July Jeanette Rodriguez-Pineda is leading a class called Teen Camp: DIY, Old School. The teens will learn about cyanotypes, and old prints, and learn how to print on fabric, photosensitized alternative surfaces, like bags and shirts, and skateboards. In August Elizabeth Unterman will lead a workshop on contemporary digital photography. We provide students with Canon DSLR cameras which they use for the week, and then the four-day camp is tapped off with a slide show presentation and a small exhibition by the participants. The programs are designed for teens between 13 and 17.

SD: Let’s talk about CPW’s exhibition space, and what is currently on view.

AS: Our exhibitions focus on emerging artists. We have two galleries. Our main gallery is traditionally used for group exhibitions curated by our staff, or other creatives we invite from across the country. We do an annual juried show called Photography Now. This year’s installment was juried by David Bram, founder and editor of the online publication Fraction Magazine. We received 500 submissions, and ten artists were selected. Each year we bring a different juror, and it’s always fascinating to see their take on photography.

In our smaller gallery we traditionally show solo exhibitions. Photographer Rachel Papo, who is an American-born Israeli photographer currently living in Berlin, spent about two and a half years living in Woodstock, from 2011 to mid-2013. During that time she became enmeshed with and intrigued by the home-schooling community in our area. As a photographer Rachel has always been interested in transformative stages during youth. She’s photographed boy bands, young Russian ballerinas in school in St. Petersburg, and women in the Israeli army, an experience she had herself. Her project Homeschooled focuses on the perspective and the experiences of the young boys and girls who are being educated at home. Everything from their private rooms to the way the kitchen or the garden could become the classroom, and their relationship to the environment and the surroundings provide in-depth views into a world that is both private and highly contested, debated, but not clearly understood. It’s a beautiful series of images. There are eighteen photographs in this show; they’ll remain on view through June 14.

SD: Ariel, May is considered National Photography Month. What are some of the trends that you see in photography today?

AS: One of the interesting things that happened with the digital revolution for about a decade is not just photography shifting from a film based medium to a digital based one, but also an increased awareness and knowledge of traditional photographic processes. We’re at an interesting juncture where photography and all its pursuits, and all its facets, and all its purposes are more present at the same time as they’ve ever been. We all carry cameras, and smart phones, with more photo apps than any other apps, everybody’s making photographs in a way that hasn’t been done since the Brownie was around, and photography was the number one hobby in the United States. Because of the web, images are more important than they ever were. What we noticed here at CPW is a greater attention to the construction of the image, a greater awareness about image manipulation, and the subjectivity of the image, and that makes for an exciting time in photography.

CPW’s gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

59 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY 12498

(845) 679-9957

For more information about CPW, visit

http://www.cpw.org

© 2015 Simona David

Featured Destinations: Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Olana State Historic Site

I interviewed Betsy Jacks, Director of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, Greene County. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in partnership with Olana State Historic Site are co-hosting River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, an exhibition that will open this Sunday, May 3, and run through November this year. The exhibition, featuring twenty-eight contemporary artists inspired by the works of Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church, is the first major collaboration between the two institutions, and the first event since the 19th century when contemporary artists are invited to present works in these settings.

Simona David: Before we talk specifically about River Crossings, let’s briefly talk about the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and the Olana State Historic Site, the homes of 19th century landscape painters Thomas Cole, and Frederic Edwin Church respectively.

Betsy Jacks: The two homes are just two miles apart, so they make a great one day or a weekend trip to both of them. They’ve been connecting for centuries with history and with each other. Because the Thomas Cole National Historic Site is of course the place where Thomas Cole lived and worked, but perhaps people don’t realize, it’s also the place where Frederic Church first came to this area to live and work as a student of Cole’s. Frederic Church was just a teenager when he came to live and learn from Cole. Later in life Church built Olana across the river within viewing distance from the Thomas Cole’s site. So they had a history together from the beginning.

Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Contributed Photo.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Contributed Photo.

SD: You are currently in the process of re-building Thomas Cole’s New Studio, originally erected in 1846, and demolished in 1973. What is the status of this project?

BJ: It’s under construction. We raised the funds for it except for the last bit; we’re still looking for some contributions to finish the capital campaign. We’re almost there. We have 90 percent of the funds. And the building I would say is 90 percent complete as well. It can be visited from the outside at the moment. You can see the construction – the windows just went in last week; and that was an exciting moment. We anticipate announcing the ribbon cutting soon.

SD: Thomas Cole had two studios: the Old Studio, built in 1839, and the New Studio, built in 1846, currently under construction. But the Old Studio is still in its authentic condition, and can be visited from May to October, right? 

BJ: Yes, it’s a beautiful barn like structure built in 1839 that Thomas Cole painted in for seven years of his life. And he did many of his statement works in that modest building. He did The Voyage of Life series of paintings there, which he called “my great series” – he considered it one of his greatest accomplishments. And finally he built the New Studio, which is a much more elegant building – Thomas Cole designed it himself. It was designed in the Italianate style, with beautiful moldings; it’s a really beautiful place to work in. Cole got to work in that building until the last year of his life.

SD: Cole’s paintings are in museums all over the country. How many of his paintings do you still have at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site?

BJ: We have about 16 or 17 of his paintings on view at any given time. His paintings can be seen now in museums all over the world.

SD: Let’s talk about River Crossings. Whose idea was to organize this event, and how did you go about putting it together?

BJ: It was all conceived by an artist by the name of Stephen Hannock. Hannock is a landscape painter who lives and works in Berkshires, Massachusetts. The former head of Olana, who just retired, Sarah Griffin, and I went out to visit his studio on Halloween in 2013, and he said “I would really like to do something to help your sites.” Stephen Hanncok has long been inspired by Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, and has been supporting our sites in a variety of ways. We are a big fan of his as well. He wanted to come up with a way to help us – in a bigger way, and he proposed this exhibition. He’s brought in a co-curator – Jason Rosenfeld, who is a professor of art history and curator. And then Stephen went about calling all the artists that he knew and loved – a really incredible collection of artists that are highly sought after and celebrated today. They all said “yes” to Stephen. Then Jason reached out to some additional artists, so it became a collaborative effort from then on.

SD: The show is co-curated by art historian Jason Rosenfeld and painter Stephen Hannock. Rosenfeld curated major shows at Tate Britain in London, and the National Gallery in Washington DC just recently. Hannock is a painter whose works are actually included in this exhibition.

BJ: Yes. Stephen has two paintings that are currently hanging in Thomas Cole’s parlor.

SD: He must be very excited about that.

BJ: It’s a visually stunning exhibition. We knew it was going to be very special because these artworks are very special anywhere. But putting them in this historic context has just had so many repercussions we didn’t anticipate. The artworks and the surroundings magnify each other beautifully.

SD: I’m interested in the curation process, and the kind of experience that the curators had in mind for visitors. It’s important to say it’s a multi-media exhibition – it includes a wide range of works in a variety of styles and media by very diverse artists.     

BJ: Correct. It’s a very mixed-media exhibition. It feels like you don’t know what to expect when you go around the corner. It’s full of surprises. It’s really fun that way, to walk around and just discover what’s been installed.

SD: There are a total of thirty artists included in this exhibition, among them painter Chuck Close, sculptor Martin Puryear, photographer Lynn Davis, Cindy Sherman  – who is a photographer and stylist, and Kiki Smith, a multi-media artist. Some of these artworks are on display at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and others at Olana estate across the river. Would you like to talk about these artists and their artworks?   

BJ: There are thirty artists if you include Thomas Cole and Frederic Church – so there are twenty-eight contemporary artists. It’s such a wide variety of things that you see here. At Olana for example there is this incredible piece by Maya Lin, which is called Silver River – Hudson. She has taken a topographical study of the Hudson River and cast the shape of the river in solid silver – recycled silver. At the Thomas Cole site there is an artist Jerry Gretzinger who has been for the last forty years of his life creating a map that is now up to over 3,000 pieces, and each piece is the size of eight by ten inch. He installed this map so that it wraps along the whole stair hall – so, when you come up the stairs, you suddenly catch sight of this map that surrounds you on all sides in the most vivid colors imaginable, like a kaleidoscope. When you walk up, you’re in the middle of it, and enter this colorful world. On your way up you’ll pass a sculpture by Kiki Smith called Wolf with Birds, which is made out of bronze with gold leaf, and is such a beautiful piece which brings the wilderness inside this domestic space. Which is what Thomas Cole was doing as well – painting the wilderness – paintings that he would then bring inside. There are so many connections between the past and the present in each artwork. The process of walking around this exhibit is a process of discovery.

Olana Estate. Contributed Photo.
Olana Estate. Contributed Photo.

SD: And it’s interesting, because when people think of Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, they think of representational art, landscape painting, and I’m looking at Maya Lin’s silver piece, the style is so modern – I wouldn’t make a connection between Thomas Cole and Maya Lin’s work. It’s interesting to see what kind of conversations will emerge when people see these contemporary artists’ works side by side with Thomas Cole and Frederic Church. Now let’s talk a bit more about Stephen Hannock, who is a luminist painter – he is a co-curator of this exhibition as well.

BJ: Stephen has two paintings in the Thomas Cole’s main parlor. One of them is called The Oxbow, which refers to a bend in the Connecticut River in Massachusetts that Thomas Cole painted quite famously in 1836. And that painting is now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most beloved paintings by Thomas Cole. If people know any paintings by Cole, they may know that one, it’s a very famous work. So Stephen has painted the same bend in the river: it’s very recognizable. He painted it many, many times now. Its simplicity is deceptive: when you look at it first it just looks like this incredibly luminous landscape painting, but the closer you get, the more you realize that a lot is going on in this painting. What looks like rose of crops in a field, are actually scribbles of writing, lines of written script. In another place, what you may think it’s a grove of trees, when you get closer you see the photograph of Stephen Hanncok and some people who were important to him. Stephen inscribed his life into this landscape, literally and figuratively. It’s a stunning work. It explains a lot about the rest of the exhibition, if you see this artwork first.

Across the way there is another Hannock painting called River Keeper, which has been featured on the postcard. It’s a view of the Hudson River.

SD: It’s good to know, there is a website http://www.rivercrossings.org/ where people can go and see all the participating artists. There is also a companion book published by The Artist Book Foundation which includes commentary by historian Ken Burns, and also by Maurice Berger, Marvin Heiferman and Adam Gopnik. Where will this book be available?

BJ: We would have loved to have it for the opening, but we had to make a difficult decision. We wanted to have installation shots. Just to put the artwork in the book without any context, it really wouldn’t be in the spirit of the show. Part of what makes this show so special is the context – that you put this artwork in a different room where it would be normally seen in. Today we’re used to seeing artwork on a white wall in a gallery or a museum; but the traditional way to display art in the 19th century was in a home. So we wanted to hold the book until we can get installation photography. We anticipate that we will have the book by the end of June. It will be available on the website as well.

SD: Let’s talk about the opening reception on May 3, and the hours of visitation throughout the summer.

BJ: The official opening day is May 3. Both Olana and the Thomas Cole site will be open regular hours that day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For the first time this year, visitors will have the opportunity to visit the interiors of both homes without a tour guide Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Olana will provide this “explore at your own pace” opportunity on Saturdays. The other option for seeing the show is to take one of our guided tours, which is a great option, because then you’ll have a person with you who can answer questions. Guided tours are offered during our regular hours Tuesday through Sunday, at all times, except when “explore at your own pace” is going on.

Thomas Cole (1801 – 1848) is the founder of the Hudson River School of Painting, the first authentic American art movement. Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900) was Cole’s most famous student. Church is best known for paintings such as Heart of the Andes (1859), Twilight in the Wilderness (1860), and Aurora Borealis (1865). Cole’s paintings include: The Titan’s Goblet (1833), The Course of Empire series (1834 – 1836), The Oxbow (1836), and The Voyage of Life (1842). For more information about Cole, visit http://www.explorethomascole.org.

For more information about Thomas Cole National Historic Site, visit thomascole.org.

For more information about Olana, visit olana.org

© 2015 Simona David

Featured Destination: Equis Art Gallery

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.

(c) Juliet Harrison. Contributed Photo.
© Juliet Harrison. Contributed Photo.

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.

(c) Juliet Harrison. Contributed Photo.
© Juliet Harrison. Contributed Photo.

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.

(c) Kathi Peters. Contributed Photo.
© Kathi Peters. Contributed Photo.

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.

(c) Alecia Barry Underhill. Contributed Photo.
© Alecia Barry Underhill. Contributed Photo.

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.

(c) Lesley Humphrey. Contributed Pohoto.
© Lesley Humphrey. Contributed Photo.

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.

You can see Juliet’s photography at http://julietrharrisonphotography.com

For more information about Equis Art Gallery, and current hours of operation, visit

http://www.equisart.com

15 W Market Street, Red Hook, NY 12571

(845) 758-9432

© 2015 Simona David