AUGUST 19, 2018
Roxbury, an international destination in recent years given its wildly popular attractions The Roxbury Motel and Plattekill Mountain, is now home to a Writers’ Residency, newly opened by writer Annie DeWitt and photographer Jerome Jakubiec. The three-day residency program includes accommodations, meals, workshops and manuscript review by DeWitt, who teaches writing at Columbia University and is the author of White Nights in Split Town City, greatly reviewed by The New York Times.
The residency, which opened on July 11, hosted an inaugural Editors’ Panel on July 13, featuring Jonny Diamond, editor in chief of LitHub, and Tracy O’Neill, author of the acclaimed novel The Hopeful and editor of the literary journal Epiphany. Diamond and O’Neill talked about the submission process to literary journals.
Asked about her aspirations with the residency, DeWitt said: “We couldn’t be more delighted with the outcome of this summer’s inaugural residency. It has fueled our creative energies to put so much of ourselves into a project and community that we love. We see Roxbury Writers’ Residency as an ambitious project with a dual focus: providing writers at all stages of their careers with a supportive vibrant atmosphere within which to create, think and question as well as to provide Delaware County with a wellspring into New York City’s creative excellence by offering free programming such as our Editors’ Panel to all Delaware County residents which furthers artistic dialogue. We want to help put Delaware County on the map as the thriving artistic community and rural paradise that it is.”
Roxbury, the birthplace of financier Jay Gould, has long had a literary tradition going back to the days of naturalist writer John Burroughs, Gould’s contemporary, and Walter R. Brooks, who wrote Freddy the Pig series in Roxbury. Writers in the Mountains, a literary non-profit organization serving the Catskills and Hudson Valley area for over a quarter-century, is also headquartered in Roxbury. Writers in the Mountains offers creative writing workshops year-round and hosts a series of literary events throughout the region.
Roxbury Writers’ Residency program, founded by DeWitt and Jakubiec, gives participants the opportunity to work in a secluded location on a 27-acre farm, and receive feedback from top-notch professionals. Writers can enroll in the three-day standard program, or book a room and design their own schedule. Jakubiec, who is the author of I Actually Wore This: Clothes We Can’t Believe We Bought published by Rizzoli, offers author portrait sessions on sight, thus immortalizing the experience.
“Our hopes for the future are many,” explains DeWitt. “Short term, we are looking into funding through the MARK Project to be able to build additional artist cabins as well as provide scholarship assistance to residents. Long term, we have our eye on building a barn and studio space. Fashioning it from the existing blue prints for the original dairy barn which was torn down and filling it with artist studios ~ a metal workshop, a digital photography room, a dark room, and a performance space with the hope of expanding the residency to attract artists across various media and disciplines. We’re also horse enthusiasts and we would like to eventually bring that unique angle to our residents,” she adds.
Roxbury’s charming appeal and bucolic scenery have in fact attracted a wide range of creatives for years – artists, writers, an Oscar winning filmmaker, fashion and theater professionals, and other creatives have made Roxbury their home. How Art Is Made: In the Catskills by this author features some of these creatives, including sculptor Brian Tolle, and painters Adam Cohen and Ellen Wong, whose studios are located in Roxbury. This burgeoning artistic community can only benefit from the newly opened writers’ retreat with the potential expansion into a full arts colony similar perhaps to Byrdcliffe in Woodstock or Sugar Maples in Maplecrest. In recent years Mount Tremper Arts opened to offer performing artists a space to rehearse and explore new ideas.
To learn more about Roxbury Writers’ Residency, visit https://www.roxburywritersresidency.com/.
Novelist Annie DeWitt and photographer Jerome Jakubiec spoke about their widely praised books “White Nights in Split Town City” and “I Actually Wore This: Clothes We Can’t Believe We Bought” at Roxbury General on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25 this year.
The Los Angeles Review of Books depicts “White Nights in Split Town City” as “the story of what it means to feel desired and plugged into what surrounds us, and how this informs our identities from a very young age.” The book was released by Tyrant Books in August 2016.
The New Yorker describes “I Actually Wore This” as “Funny and surprisingly touching, revealing much about our moments of bold, optimistic self-assertion and their aftermath.” The book was released by Rizzoli in March 2017.
Both books are available at Roxbury General along with a vast array of merchandise from clothing and ceramics to sweets and holiday decorations.
DeWitt and Jakubiec live and work in Roxbury.
Learn more about Roxbury at visitroxbury.com.
Launched in 2012, AMR Open Studios Tour has grown into a major art destination, forging new and unexpected connections between artists, and their patrons from near and far. Given its success in previous years, in 2017 AMR – Artists Making aRt ™ – Open Studios Tours 2017 expanded to include some 40 artists from Margaretville, Roxbury, Stamford, Delhi, and surrounding areas. The tours took place on two different weekends in July: Saturday and Sunday, July 8 – 9 in Stamford-Delhi art community, and Saturday and Sunday, July 29-30 in Margaretville-Roxbury art community. Both weekends attracted a myriad of visitors, many artists as well as collectors from the Catskills, New York City, and abroad.
On the first weekend, watercolorist June Lanigan who, at 91, continues to paint and make collages, showed recent works and discussed what moves her these days. Although Lanigan works in other media as well (i.e., oil, and acrylic), she is most fond of watercolors; and everywhere she goes she brings along a sketchbook to take in the environment. The portrait of a flapper draws my attention in Lanigan’s immense home that she shares with her family while painting in the Catskills. Lanigan is the founder of MURAL Gallery in Hobart, and has had a long connection with the area.
Both Lanigan’s daughters Tracy Jacknow and Toni Layden-Rodgers as well as her grandson Jess Zimmerman are painters; each has a distinctive style, and is attracted to different subject matters. Jacknow, for instance, paints abstract and impressionistic like landscapes, while Layden-Rodgers is interested in domestic scenes, still lifes, and portraits, whereas Zimmerman paints bold, urban scenes.
Jacknow is married to stained glass artist Barry Jacknow, whose work is inspired by the Art Deco movement, and the work of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. Stained glass has had a long tradition in New York going back to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Art Nouveau lamps and decorative objects that became synonym with sophistication. Jacknow sources his stained glass locally in Stamford, and works meticulously to create patterns and contrast colors for most effect.
My next stop was at Robert Schneider and Susan Goetz’s mansion in Stamford. Husband and wife, Schneider and Goetz had studied at the Art Students League of New York, and also privately with accomplished painters. While Schneider specializes in landscape, Goetz dedicates most of her time to still life and portrait. Her studio is filled with family portraits and domestic scenes signifying opulence and good taste. Goetz was commissioned by West Point’s class of 1931 to paint a series of portraits which included Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Goetz comes from a family of artists – her father Richard Goetz, who passed away in 1991, was an accomplished painter as well. A portrait of her mother by famous painter Nelson Shanks illuminates the hallway.
Both Goetz and her husband Schneider were featured in American Artist in November 2007.
Schneider, who is very much fascinated by the Hudson River School of Painting, captures through his plein airs spectacular views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley as well as the Leatherstocking region where the family has spent a lot of time. Schneider was featured at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown in 2016 in a one man show called “A New York View.”
My last stop that weekend was at Solveig Comer’s ceramics studio in South Kortright. Located in the basement of a former church, the studio has three electric kilns, and lots of fine porcelain for many bowls and cups to come. The artist patiently explains the difference between using an electric kiln versus a gas one, and the differences in output each creates. It is a laborious process, but Comer doesn’t seem to mind.
The second weekend was a marathon of exhibits, demonstrations, conversations, and parties centered around Roxbury which had a stellar participation this year with the likes of Adam Cohen and Brian Tolle opening their studios as part of the AMR Tour for the first time.
Brian Tolle showed several of his works at Roxbury Abbey including three Levittown style houses made of platinum silicone rubber. Also, visible in his studio was a head sculpture of Benjamin Franklin, as seen by Brian Tolle. In 2016 Tolle exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia as part of “Commander in Chief” art show dedicated to American presidents.
In addition to works by Tolle, Roxbury Abbey also hosted that weekend a group show curated by Ace Ehrlich who brought several artists from the city just for the event, including German artist Thorsten Brinkmann.
The youngest participant in the tour was Sophia Maduri, who showed her work at the Grange in Halcottsville, and sold her first drawing right there – the beginning of a career. My book “How Art Is Made: In the Catskills” was also for sale at the Grange, and provided more context for some of the artworks shown during the tour, a symbiotic relationship.
Also in Roxbury painters Esther De Jong and Michael Guilmet opened their studio for the first time. De Jong showed some of her oil paintings and pencil drawings, while Guilmet displayed two dozen oil paintings in various styles, and depicting various subject matters – winter landscapes, abstract compositions, and lots of portraits, many of those on commission. Recently De Jong and Guilmet curated an exhibition at Orphic Gallery in Roxbury that included some of the best artworks produced in the region from painters like Adam Cohen, Ann Lee Fuller, and Christopher Durham.
Lisbeth Firmin was one of several artists participating in Margaretville area – her studio is located in the Commons Building. This year Firmin showed some of her urban landscape paintings as well as monotypes produced while studying at Scuola Internationale di Grafica in Venice this past spring. Later this month Firmin will lead a one-week drawing workshop at MURAL Gallery in Hobart, designed as an intensive combination of lectures, demonstrations, and studio exercises.
AMR Open Studio Tour 2018 will include even more artists and activities to showcase the abundance of artistic endeavors our region is known for.
© 2017 Simona David
Launched in 2012, AMR Open Studios Tour has grown into a major art destination, forging new and unexpected connections between artists, and their patrons from near and far. Given its success in previous years, in 2017 AMR – Artists Making aRt ™ – Open Studios Tours is expanding to include some 41 artists on a map that spreads from Margaretville and Roxbury to Stamford and Delhi. The tours take place on two different weekends: Saturday and Sunday, July 8 – 9 in Stamford-Delhi art community, and Saturday and Sunday, July 29-30 in Margaretville-Roxbury art community.
This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, July 8–9, from 11 am to 5 pm 18 artists in Stamford, Hobart, South Kortright, and Delhi will open their studios to the public, and show their working spaces, as well as demonstrate some of their techniques. Located in a bucolic scenery, all these studios provide a unique experience for visitors to witness the creation of new works of art, and ask questions that only an intimate space like an artist studio would allow for.
Participating artists include ceramicist Solveig Comer, painters Susan Goetz, Robert Schneider, and Tracy Jacknow, stained glass artist Barry Jacknow, woodwork artist John Virga, as well as Tim Touhey, owner of The Gallery on Main Street in Stamford.
Ceramicist Solveig Comer took art as a minor in college while majoring in mathematics. Her first pieces were more cerebral, and experimental objects rather than functional, but that changed over time. Asked about how mathematics might have influenced her work as a ceramicist, Solveig explained that mathematics does help her think things through and solve visual problems, and also figure out proportions when mixing glaze, and making choices on new decorative pieces. But overall mathematics plays a role more on the business rather than the creative side of her profession. Although Solveig has made all sorts of ceramics throughout her career, in recent years she has chosen to gravitate towards mugs, hence utilitarian art, which sells well. Every year the artist introduces new patterns, and explores new color palettes that enrich her collection.
Solveig’s studio is located at 10986 County Route 18 in South Kortright. This weekend she will be showing side by side earlier, less functional pieces, some of which have never been seen before, and more recent pieces which illustrate the transition towards utilitarian art. It will be interesting to see the artist’s evolution over time, and how her style and interests as a ceramicist have changed. Also at Solveig’s studio visitors will be seeing works by multi-media artist John Virga; John works in woodwork and graphic design, and in his own words “provides classic form and functional goods for the 21st century.” To learn more about Solveig’s studio, visit https://www.mostpreciouspottery.com.
Painter Tracy Jacknow was born in Brooklyn, and raised in Long Island in an artistic family. Growing up in a community of artists, actors, and retired vaudeville performers, she took art at an early age: “It was a childhood of inspiration and creativity,” she remembers. “My early experiences gave me exposure to a world of creative minds and alternative lifestyles.” In college Tracy spent some time in Siena, Italy, and later in life she and her husband Barry Jacknow, who is a stained glass artist, lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Their time in Mexico left a strong mark on both their artistic careers. Tracy works in various media: watercolor, oil, acrylic, and collage. But in all of them nature is a constant presence – her travels around the world with her family, the colors of the Catskill Mountains, and her own moods have all influenced her work. Although Tracy is in essence an abstract painter, her brushstroke and the use of light are reminiscent of Impressionism. Her website is http://www.tracy-art.com/.
Painter June Lanigan, Tracy’s mother, founded MURAL Gallery in Stamford in the 1980s; the family has had a long connection with the area – June went to school in Stamford, and later on moved to Long Island. Primarily a landscape painter, June continues to produce works at the age of 91. This weekend she will be showing alongside her daughter Tracy.
Barry Jacknow, Tracy’s husband, has been working in stained glass since the 1960s. His inspiration comes from the Art Deco movement, and the works of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, this year marks the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth – events are scheduled throughout the year to honor Wright’s legacy. Barry learned the stained glass art technique in New York City, but refined his style while living in Mexico. He has come to master the technique, but sometimes struggles with his design choices; that’s when his wife Tracy gets involved and helps with the process. Barry will be demonstrating some of his techniques this weekend during the open studios tour. He sums up humorously “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” as the saying goes.
Tracy and Barry’s studios are located at 138 Layden Lane in Stamford.
For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org or www.facebook.com/amropenstudios/. As you drive around this weekend, look for the “OPEN STUDIO” signs and brochures with maps available for pick up at various business sponsors and community supporters.
The AMR – Artists Making aRt ™ – Open Studios Tour 2017, sponsored by MURAL Gallery in Stamford and participating artists, is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Decentralization Grant Program, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, administered in Delaware County by the Roxbury Arts Group (RAG), and additional funding from The A. Lindsay & Olive B. O’Connor Foundation.
© 2017 Simona David