A fabulous weekend in the Catskills: Headwaters History Days celebrating the history of the Central Catskills are taking place in Roxbury, Andes, Pine Hill, Phoenicia and other places. Award-winning author Jenny Milchman is teaching a memoir workshop at the Phoenicia Library. Friends of Historic Kingston gallery is hosting a James McEntee exhibit – McEntee was a landscape painter of the 19th century affiliated with the Hudson River School, and a good friend of Frederic Church. A ballet performance with music by Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein is taking place at the Bardavon Theater. And the Woodstock Playhouse is presenting the musical Oliver! based on Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name.
Art in the Catskills, published earlier this year, is an inventory of cultural assets in the Catskills, and it essentially serves as a travel guide for art and history lovers.
I wrote this book, because this is the kind of book I wish I was handed when I moved to the Catskills ten years ago. And, although some of the cultural projects that I discuss in this book were developed later – like for instance The Woodstock Writers Festival, which launched in 2010, and The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which also launched in 2010, most are well-established, well-known historical landmarks. For instance, Thomas Cole’s Old Studio at Cedar Grove Mansion in Catskill was built in 1839; the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild was founded in 1902; the Maverick Concert Hall, the oldest chamber music hall in the country still in existence, opened in 1916; the Woodstock Playhouse opened in 1938; all these are national artistic and cultural landmarks.
People are used to come to the Catskills for its tremendous outdoor recreational opportunities, but what I’m saying with this book is that the Catskills is also an amazing cultural destination – look for instance at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in Cooperstown – the festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year (it opened in 1975). Or Bard Music Festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. And, right here close to us, there is Belleayre Music Festival that brought Ray Charles and Wynton Marsalis to the Catskills.
And there is art in all forms and styles. Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown displays works by famed landscape painters like Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. The Emporium in High Falls houses documents about Cubist painter Marc Chagall, who lived in New York City in the 1940s, and maintained a studio in High Falls – Chagall painted in the Catskills from 1946 to 1948. So, there is a lot of art in the Catskills.
I knew quite a bit about the Catskills prior to writing this book, but during the research phase, I learned many new things:
The National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, founded in 1986 by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and his wife Marylou, is the only dance museum in the country, and one of the very few in the world. Its collections are extensive;
Thomas Cole’s New Studio, which was built in 1846, and was demolished in the 1970s, is currently being re-built based on the original design model.
There is a lot going on in the Catskills, and I talk about all these in my book. A second edition is coming out early next year.
This weekend many museums and art galleries in the Catskills are switching to their winter hours, so be sure to check them out. But art is here to stay. And, despite cool temperatures this weekend, there is plenty to do for art lovers in the Catskills.
Friday, October 31 we celebrate Halloween or “All Hallows” tradition originating in the ancient Celtic festival of the dead. November 1 was the beginning of a new year in the Celtic Festival. Later on, Christians began celebrating the Feast of All Saints on November 1. And, All Saints Day continued the Celtic tradition of celebrating the dead; what is more, pretty much all the customs associated with Halloween today can be traced back to the Celts: treat or trick, wearing costumes, and carving vegetables are some of those cherished traditions.
Woodstock Playhouse – Halloween Ghoulish Entertainment
Many Halloween parties this weekend in the Catskills: Woodstock Playhouse presents Halloween Ghoulish Entertainment Friday, October 31 at 6 pm. In existence since 1938, the Woodstock Playhouse is a rural extension of Broadway. This Friday at 6 pm the Playhouse celebrates All Hallows tradition with treats, and other venerated customs. For more information, go to http://woodstockplayhouse.org/.
Night at the Museum at the Fenimore Art Museum
Saturday, November 1 Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown presents a Night at the Museum event for all ages, including a tour of the collections, as well as craft activities, storytelling, and live music. Fenimore Art Museum is located in a monumental neo-Georgian mansion built in the 1930s on the shores of the Otsego Lake in Cooperstown. It was built on the site of James Fenimore Cooper’s 19th century farmhouse. The town itself was founded by Cooper’s father, Judge William Cooper. Cooper is best known for his novel The Last of the Mohicans published in 1826. For more information, go to http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org.
Renaissance Prints and Drawings at Vassar College
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie presents Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475-1540, the first U.S. exhibition to explore the German city’s artistic and cultural achievements in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The exhibit, organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, includes close to one hundred items, focusing on prints, drawings, and illustrated books. The exhibition also includes some medals and one etched set of armor. Most of the works presented are from the National Gallery’s own collection, and loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington; and private collectors Andrea Woodner and Andrew Robison. The exhibit will be on view at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College through December 14, 2014. For more information, go to http://fllac.vassar.edu/about/news/announcements/2014-2015/140919-augsburg.html#sthash.aA2gcvoS.dpuf
“Master, Mentor, Master” at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site
Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, Greene County is closing its exhibit “Master, Mentor, Master: Thomas Cole & Frederic Church,” exploring the relationship between Cole and Church this Sunday, November 2. The exhibit includes 20 works by Cole and Church, displayed side by side – three paintings by Cole, and 17 works by Church, including drawings, studies, and finished paintings. Church worked closely with Cole between 1846 and 1848. The exhibit “Master, Mentor, Master: Thomas Cole & Frederic Church,” which received raved reviews from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, includes works completed by Church between 1844 and 1850. The show was curated by John Wilmerding, former Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and professor emeritus of American Art at Princeton University, assisted by Kate Menconeri, curator at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Kate Menconeri was a guest on “Accent on Monday” radio program on WIOX this past Monday, October 27. For more information about “Master, Mentor, Master: Thomas Cole & Frederic Church,” go to http://www.thomascole.org/.
Magic Surrealism at Bright Hill Literary Center
Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell is having an opening reception this Sunday, November 2 from 3 to 5 pm Magic Surrealism Paintings, featuring artist Terry Fox. From Bright Hill Press: “Terry Fox is a self-taught artist born in New Jersey, who moved to Upstate New York in 1973, and has also resided in San Francisco and Vermont. His interest in art started at an early age and has progressed and evolved over the years from early black and white line drawings through to large oil and acrylic expressionistic works on canvas. He has shown his work and received many awards at such venues as the Cooperstown Art Association, CANO, Oneonta; Roxbury Arts Group; Noir Show, Charles Bremer Studio, Otego; Smith Pioneer Gallery, Cooperstown; Viviana Hansen Galleries in Delhi and Franklin; the Treadwell Museum of Fine Arts; The Gallery in Stamford; and during 12 seasons of the Stagecoach Run Art Festival in Treadwell and 10 exhibits at the Autumn Café in Oneonta, NY. His paintings are in many collections, both nationally and abroad. The British critic Ben Watson called his work: “magical surrealism in the post-realist playpen.” Fox’s exhibit at Bright Hill is the last of the Word & Image Gallery 2014 season.” For more information, go to http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Bright-Hill-s-Word—Image-Gallery-Opens–Magic-Surrealism-Paintings–by-Oneonta-Artist-Terry-Fox-Sunday–November-2–3–5-pm.html?soid=1102771140741&aid=lAUJS2HlTJM.
Yet another grand weekend for the arts in the Catskills! My recommendations this weekend include: an open studio tour in Roxbury, Margaretville and Andes, opera at Belleayre Mountain, theater in Woodstock and Franklin, and dance in Tannersville.
AMR (Andes, Margaretville, Roxbury) Open Studios Tour
This weekend twenty artists in Andes, Margaretville and Roxbury open their studios to the public, and show their working spaces. During the tour, artists in all media will be talking about their styles and techniques, and the process of making art. This year, which marks the tour’s third anniversary, the studios are open Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27 from 11 am to 5 pm. For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org.
Belleayre Music Festival
The Belleayre Conservatory, founded in 1992, presents Belleayre Music Festival in Highmount, Ulster County, every year in July and August. This Saturday, July 26 it presents opera Lucia di Lammermoor written in 1835 by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti; the story is loosely based on a novel by Scottish writer Walter Scott. For tickets and more information visit http://www.belleayremusic.org.
The Woodstock Playhouse
In existence since 1938, the Woodstock Playhouse is a rural extension of the Broadway theatrical and musical performances. This weekend the playhouse presents The Three Musketeers based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas written in 1844, and adapted by Peter Raby. The Three Musketeers opened last night July 24, an event that coincided with Alexandre Dumas’ birthday – Dumas was born on July 24, 1802. The play can be seen again tonight, July 25 and tomorrow, July 26. For tickets and more information visit http://woodstockplayhouse.org.
Franklin Stage Company
Founded in 1996, Franklin Stage Company produces both classical and contemporary plays, and prides itself in having a free admission policy. Over the years, the theater has presented plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ionesco, and others. This summer it will present Tartuffe by Molière, in a translation by Richard Wilbur, from July 25 through August 10. Tartuffe is a comedy in five acts about Parisian foibles in the 17th century. For tickets and more information visit http://www.franklinstagecompany.org.