Category Archives: The Arts

Shakespeare At The Round Barn in Halcottsville

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Last Saturday, The Halcotsville Shakespeare Company presented its inaugural performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Round Barn at Pakatakan Market. This Saturday, August 19th, at noon will be its second and final performance. The production is unique in that it is performed amongst the crowds of market goers. The event was organized by Tom Hughes an NYC educator and writer who has worked with kids in the theatre with Epic Theatre Ensemble for many years in the Bronx. This production brings young actors together from both the Catskills and New York City.

The intent “is to make the shoppers part of the performance, turn the farmer’s market into Verona,” says Hughes.

UPDATE: In some places, the event is being billed as beginning at NOON not 12.30pm as previously reported. Get there earlier to guarantee being able to experience the whole performance. Continue reading

Bovina Fashion Week

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Country life is a great leveler. There are American icons in our midst who are asked to sit on boards with people who forget their names and there are enigmatic art directors who hold fashion shows with clothing made entirely from recycled garbage on their 100-acre farm. Who knows what the sheep thought, but a good time was had by the humans in attendance and an essential statement was made about the environment.

Yes, the model pictured above is blurry, but the organizer, Steve Burnett, aka The Bovina Farmer, had a glittering career in New York City before he realized his dreams, so he got everyone drunk on Manhattans. In fact, refreshments for the audience were two whole watermelons and a copper bowl of Manhattans served to us by the illustrious Sir Julian of Richards, he of Tickler fame. The audience was ushered into the event through a dense thicket of balsam fir by the dulcet tones of the bagpipes played by a piper clad in full blue tartan. Once the bagpipes had retreated, musical accompaniment for the show was provided by a world class drummer beating some expert modeling marching orders on metal garbage pails.

There is seriously never a dull moment here in these beautifully eccentric Catskill Mountains.

Everyday Philosophy

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

I walked down a mountain today to the Gilding Bee at The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns, run by Laura Sue King.

If you don’t understand the arts, like contemporary art for example, or you can’t see a use for it, The Gilding Bee couldn’t be of more help to guide you and it runs for another week. The object of this project, funded by a grant administered by the Roxbury Arts Group, was to gild small, familiar items (that fit in the palm of your hand) to be included in an exhibition on July 30th in the gallery.

Coating every day objects in gold leaf elevates the ordinary but necessary into something exceptional, reaffirming the value of every day items, and why not? The whole project highlights the importance of art, friendship, community, and other things that seem trivial, or taken for granted, as we rush from place to place. It’s a small, symbolic way to celebrate the good in a world of bad. I bought dice, a bottle, pieces of old Prague pavement that had come loose, and a lipstick.

Lipstick: The lipstick effect is an economic theory holding that during difficult economic times women spend more money on goods like lipstick because it’s a cheap way of making yourself feel good. According to The Economist: “Believers in the lipstick theory trace the phenomenon back to the Depression, when cosmetic sales increased by 25%, despite the convulsing economy”. Something you might think is irrelevant, like lipstick, has had its own economic theory for almost 100 years.

Pieces of Prague Pavement: we went on vacation to Europe seven years ago and, as we wandered the streets of Prague, inebriated on Czech lager, we took a real, concrete souvenir: part of the city. Adding some gold to these two innocuous, square cobblestones took me back in time. I remembered the stews, the borscht, the bridge, and the stunning beauty of Prague. We’re told that material things are burdensome and we shouldn’t get attached to them, but as you get older, even small objects retain memories for you that the brain has long forgotten.

The gold dice represent people who think they got rich simply by working hard and being smart, when success takes a lot of luck, like being born into a wealthy family.

The Gilding Bee runs for another week: next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1pm to 5pm at The Painters Gallery, Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430. Suggested donation of $5.

© J.N. Urbanski

The Gilding Bee in Fleischmanns

Photo courtesy of Laura Sue King

This week at The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns starting Monday July 17th at 1pm for two weeks, a community goldleafing project begins, hosted by Laura Sue King called The Gilding Bee. No reservations are needed. You can turn up at The Painters on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 5pm for the next two weeks. The project will culminate in an exhibition on July 30th.

Laura will provide the gold leaf and found ceramic, glass and metal objects, but you are welcome to bring your own. Other materials that are gold leaf friendly are plastic, wood and paper. It’s preferable if the object fits in the palm of your hand as the gold is real and we want to make sure there’s enough for all. Participants will be able to take their object home with them.

This is a chance to make everyday items into something exceptional with members of the community: a symbol of the importance of friendship and the significance of art, to put on the mantle piece. It could be a rock, pebble, small pot, or bottle.

The Painters Gallery, 1109 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430. Suggested donation of $5 will be waived for those who cannot pay.

The Gilding Bee is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Grant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Roxbury Arts Group. Sponsored by the MARK Project.

Bill Birns at The 2nd Annual Book Fair at the CIC

Image: Mountain Arts Media, courtesy of Bill Birns

On Saturday June 24th at 1.30pm the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper, Bill Birns will be speaking at the 2nd Annual Book Fair.

Bill will be reciting his epic poem Fleischmanns, a Poem (an Historical Imaginative Projection) that was published in three parts here on Upstate Dispatch. (Find Part 1 published here, Part 2: here and Part three: here.) Come and listen to Bill read his richly descriptive, poetic rendering of local history. Bill is a superb orator and listeners will be in for a treat.

Address: Maurice D Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, 5096 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.

The Final Part of Fleischmanns, by Bill Birns

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Parts 5, 6, 7 & 8 of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts

(Imaginative Historical Projection)

By Bill Birns

  1. Griffin Corners at Armstrong Park

Bit hard for me to make a hero

of him, Matthew Griffin, though

lots of folks do. It’s hard not to

admire his sheer American-ness.

That photo-of-the-founder look

on his weathered face as he sat

posing for that end-of-long-life

first-time photograph in

front of his office (or shop)

with the hand-lettered L-A-W-Y-E-R

over his head behind his chair. Maybe

he believed that founder stuff himself.

Armstrong Park must stay out of the public view,

a gentleman’s name need only appear

in print when he is married and when

he dies.

 

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Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts, By Bill Birns

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Parts 2, 3 and 4 of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts

(Imaginative Historical Projection)

By Bill Birns

Part 2: Historic Proclamation of 1913

Mr. Julius Fleischmann and Mr. Max Fleischmann,

heirs to Senator Fleischmann, have offered

their good wishes and

the six and a half acre parcel

known as the Fleischmann Mountain Athletic Grounds

to the people of the Village of Griffin Corners,

to be used by the people in perpetuity,

insofar as no admission can be charged

for any event within the park and

that the park be called Fleischmann Park, and

a sum of fifty thousand dollars be on deposit

in the village bank for the endowment of the park.

Mr. Fleischmann and Mr. Fleischmann sincerely acknowledge

the intention of the village to change its name to Fleischmanns. Continue reading

Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts By Bill Birns

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

This is Part One of Fleischmanns, A Poem in Eight Parts

(Imaginative Historical Projection)

By Bill Birns

Part One: On the Porch at Fleischmanns

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Prelude to a Kiss at STS Playhouse

Two years ago, I saw Proof at the STS Playhouse in Phoenicia and it was riveting and engaging. At the time, I called it “remarkable: deeply engrossing, funny with excellent performances from the cast. Proof explores the world of madness and mathematics”. It was a great production, starring Jennifer Paul, Farrell Reynolds, Stephen Powell and Kimberly Kay.

This year the Playhouse is putting on a production of Prelude to a Kiss, by Craig Lucas, directed by Michael Koegel, owner of Mama’s Boy Burgers. You may remember the movie with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan. Opening night is this weekend, May 5th, running until May 21st. Make a perfect night of it and get early dinner and drinks at nearby Peekamoose Restaurant– the play starts at 8pm.

STS Playhouse, 10 Church Street, Phoenicia, NY. Tickets $20 or $18 for seniors and students. Call 845-688-2279, or click here for more information.

On the Radio with Tickler Industries

© J.N. Urbanski 9.30am

This week, I interviewed Steve Burnett, the Bovina Farmer, on my radio show and tonight at 6pm, I’ll be a guest on his show The Tickler with his co-host Julian Richards, a fellow Brit.

The show is described thusly: “It’s like a culinary bungee. No sooner have we reached the apex of the bounce than we’re back at the chopping board with bloody fingers. Sunday 23rd, The Tickler welcomes writer, thinker and chronicler of all things Catskills – Jenny Urbanski – for a spot of dinner and a litre of wine (Delco Speedball). We’ll point at each other and laugh; and traffic in truth, the only currency.”

Prepare for utter absurdity, devout irreverence, and some senseless hilarity while we explore the meaning of life. Tune in.

TONIGHT 6pm, streaming live on www.wioxradio.org.

Life Drawing at Willow Drey Farm, Andes

© Sandy Finkenberg courtesy of William Duke

William Duke, owner of Willow Drey Farm is hosting a life drawing event on Thursdays from 4pm to 7pm in their beautiful barn overlooking the rolling mountains of Andes. The barn is an event space, the site of many a summer wedding and, for an artist, a gorgeous setting in which to work on figure drawing for three hours with a nude model. We’re lucky to find people willing to take their clothes off! Life drawing is a deeply meditative exercise and focussing intently for three hours really brings one’s sketching skills up to speed. If you’re interested in sitting for the group, or joining the group, please contact William Duke here.

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The Halcottsville Shakespeare Company

Tom Hughes has founded the fledgling Halcottsville Shakespeare Company and is looking to put on an immersive performance of Romeo & Juliet for shoppers at the Round Barn over the Summer. Hughes, a Bronx High School English teacher, has a vacation home in the village and had the idea when he was passing the Round Barn market last year. The market with its dirt floor and circular wooden barn, which although red, does remind certain patrons of what the original Globe Theatre in London would have looked like back in its medieval heyday. Shoppers will be part of the performance and will be able to catch scenes as they shop. There will be a meeting from 6-8pm at the Halcottsville Grange on Friday April 14th for all who are interested. There will be three or four players from the Bronx to join the cast of this incredibly creative idea forming in the heart of the Catskills. Wishing Tom the very utmost success.

Upstate Dispatch in NYC

We’re proud to announce that a framed Daily Catskills print will be offered in a Silent Auction and Art Exhibition at The Emerson in Brooklyn this Saturday organized by Melissa Irwin. It’s a privilege to be able to use this medium to raise money for charity. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Planned Parenthood, a 100-year-old institution that provides reproductive health services and cancer screening for millions of people every year. It was “founded on the revolutionary idea that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams”.

Literary Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

“York state’s richest men wagered their principles
while her poorest hacked life from a hillside farm.”

I had lunch with Bill Birns, literally and literally: last week in person and today with a selection of his written works. A Catskill Catalog, borrowed from my local library, is an anthology of literary history, giving details of the stories behind local roads and place names, many of which are named after families and individuals who have lived in the area over the last two or three hundred years, or still do. For example, I didn’t know that the man after whom a nearby road was named, Basil Todd, was a short-form memoirist.

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Arts Update: Ted Sheridan

© J.N. Urbanski

Ted Sheridan is more architect that artist, having designed the cozy studio attached to the house that he and Amy Masters share. He went into architecture because of his love of drawing which he has done since he was young: technical drawing and line drawing in pencil. “Even though computers have taken over the traditional drawing and drafting, I still hand draw a lot of my projects,” he says. As far as his artwork is concerned: “architecture is so controlled and precise, I was looking for ways to work in a medium that would work against that and be unpredictable, not be in control all the time.”

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Arts Update: Lisbeth Firmin

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Lisbeth Firmin is a studio artist and the bitter Catskills winters present a chance to hole up and focus after a summer spent mostly teaching in upstate New York and New England. Although most of her subjects are in transit, either walking deeply in thought or musing by the window of a moving train, they are rendered indoors. “It’s cozy in the studio and there’s less demand on your time in the winter” she says, not to mention her steep driveway that becomes dangerous when it ices over, prohibiting visitors.

Being in the studio full-time is “like being in a monastery. It’s very ascetic: depriving yourself like a hermit, wearing same clothes every day and painting every day,” she says. “I think it was Milton Avery who said, in his work as an artist, if you just approach it like a job, even only just two or three hours a day every day, you’ll be surprised what you can get done”.

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Arts Update: Amy Masters

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Amy Masters and Ted Sheridan share an elegant and softly lit studio in Arvkille, which they had built as an addition onto their Catskills home three years ago. This winter will be the third winter they’ve worked in it. Warmly inviting, the studio is decorated in muted tones, covered in art and filled with books and trinkets collected over the years. Winter is a time for thought and meditation, especially when there’s a foot or two of snow accumulated outside and your studio is the warmest part of the house, like Masters’ is.

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December Events at the Catskill Center

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Saturday December 3rd 2pm

Function or Form: Utilitarian Art Exhibit, Erpf Gallery, Arkville, NY
The exhibit, Function or Form: Utilitarian Art, will be on display in the Erpf Gallery December 3rd, 2016 through January 21st, 2017. It features beautiful functional items by 17 local artists. An Artist’s Reception will be held on Saturday, December 3rd, from 2pm-4pm, at the Erpf Center in Arkville.

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Art Opening: The Tail Wags The Dog by Steve Burnett

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On Saturday October 8th from 6pm to 8pm, Rachel’s Framing and Fine Art will show a selection of striking metal sculptures and watercolors by Steve Burnett. 68 Main Street, Delhi, NY 13757. The exhibition will be up from October 8th to October 29th.

The Catskills Pinhole Camera Project Cont’d…/

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Catskills Pinhole Camera Project was launched three years ago and Upstate Dispatch participated last November, writing about it here. My pinhole camera was attached to a tree facing west through our forest for about a month and the above image is the processed result: a month of vivid, winter sunsets through bare trees.

The Painters Gallery’s Wanda Siedlecka started the project with her friend Przemek Zajfert and the entire community was invited to join. Everyone who asked for it received the beautifully packaged camera with instructions.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Their exposures were processed for free by Zajfert, a photographer from Stuttgart, who has mastered photographic and cinematic techniques from the time of their invention and early stages of development. Last Spring, the first one hundred exposures were exhibited at The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns and future exhibitions are planned.

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Catskills Weekend: 27th & 28th August

© J.N. Urbanski 11am

© J.N. Urbanski 11am

Saturday August 27th starting at 10am: Great Catskill Mountain BBQ Fest in Fleischmanns

A day-long Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned BBQ competition and festival for professional and amateur pitmasters. It promises to be an “exciting day of competition, fun, food, music, vendors galore and all things barbecue in Fleischmanns Park in Fleischmanns, NY”. Proceeds will benefit the Fleischmanns Community Pool Project. More details here.

Saturday August 27th 1.30pm to 4.30pm: Bees, Honey & You in Margaretville

Will “The Bee Man” will discuss the inside & outside workings of honey bee hives. Participants will gain a better understanding of the crucial relationship between human beings, nature and our environment. Learn why bees are vital beyond the production of honey. The program will end with a Q&A period and a jar of honey. Blue Deer Center, 1153 County Highway 6, Margaretville, NY 12455. More details here.

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Plein Air Painting in Denver, Upstate New York

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Expansive, dark clouds loomed over the area all day for the Plein Air Painters’ gathering this week, but we got lucky with a dry day. Not only was it dry, but inexplicably sunny despite those dark clouds that threatened continually. We were invited to paint on an exquisitely gorgeous property in the Denver with a stately house, multiple barns, old fences, plants, crops, illustrious stands of old trees and animals, all in plentiful supply. So plentiful in fact that it took some of us about an hour to choose a spot. The antique gas pump that most old farms still have made a stylish, historical accent. The chicken run had a remarkably glorious view overlooking the mountains – a better view than most living rooms. Quite possibly the best location on which we’ve painted so far this year and we had a decent turn-out despite the weather forecast having been rain. The owner kindly hosted our afternoon lunch on the veranda.

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Exhibition: Linda Lariar at the Longyear Gallery

© Linda Lariar

© Linda Lariar

The LongYear Gallery has been showing the works of Linda Lariar, Catskills artist, since July 16th. Linda is part of the East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group. Her opening reception will be July 23rd, 3pm to 6pm.

LongYear Gallery
First Floor Rear, 785 Main Street, Margaretville NY 12455
Gallery Hours: Sat 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun-Mon 11am-4pm
845-576-3270

Plein Air Painting at Lazy Crazy Acres

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Lazy Crazy Acres Farm is one of the most inspiring and eclectic places to paint. Signage of all kinds competes with farm equipment, animals, barns, outhouses, thick vegetation, stunning views and a babbling brook running through it. Plein Air painting is a practice that requires speed and focus because your light source is literally moving overhead. If you’re in it to capture shadows and light, time is of the essence.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Catskills Behind The Scenes: Artists’ Studios Tour, July 30th & 31st

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On the weekend of July 30th and 31st, 16 upstate artists will throw open their doors to the public, so that you can take a peek behind the scenes at what goes on in an artist’s studio. 20 artists are taking part in the tour, but four of us are without a studio. We’ll be showing in the Grange Hub in Halcotsville opposite the old Lake Wawaka Hose #1, a few steps downhill from the Holy Innocents’ Church. Artists are en route throughout the countryside between the villages of Arkville, Margaretville and Roxbury.

The project is the brainchild of local Catskills artist Alix Travis, who was inspired to start the tour after having done similar tours herself in other communities. Studio tours are a glimpse behind the scenes to explore methods and process, swap notes and absorb the creative atmosphere. What’s special about art is that identical processes can result in wildly differing effects when they’re employed by different artists and that’s fun to watch for everyone. What’s a good process for one artist isn’t necessarily good for other artists, but it’s fun to push the envelope and experiment.

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Alix Travis at The Commons Gallery

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis in watercolor on handmade paper (top) and again, in block print (underneath) both at the Commons Gallery for the next couple of days.

Rhapsody in Hue

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Dotted around the Catskills through the warmer months this year, in leafy nooks and floral crannies, on (disused) train tracks and atop mountains, you’ll find Plein Air painters at their easels from dawn to dusk. The East Branch of the Delaware River Plein Air Group meet every Tuesday and yesterday they were painting on the curated grounds of The Blackbird Inn in Halcotsville, possible the most picturesque hamlet in the Catskills. There were patches of vivid red poppies; fresh mullein glistening with essential oils, getting ready to start their journey upwards like cornstalks from a double set of train tracks; kayaks laid out on the shore of Lake Wawaka were waiting for visitors from far and wide to Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm.

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Artist’s Reception in Hunter, Alix Hallman Travis

Travis, A.H., Winter Apples with Turkeys, o/c, 30x30 in.

Travis, A.H., Winter Apples with Turkeys, o/c, 30×30 in.

An artist’s reception this weekend for “Catskill Mountain Life; a celebration of community”, paintings by Alix Hallman Travis at THE CATSKILL MOUNTAIN FOUNDATION’S KAATERSKILL FINE ARTS & CRAFTS GALLERY, Hunter Village Square, Hunter, New York, from 1pm to 3pm.

Exhibition hours: Friday & Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sunday 10am to 3pm or by appointment.

Catskill Weekend: Maple on Main Art Exhibition

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The Roxbury Arts Group is partnering with Fleischmanns First on this year’s Fleischmanns First Maple Festival 2016. They have curated an exhibit, Maple on Main, which will be located at 1053 Main Street in Fleischmanns. The Opening Reception for this exhibit is this Saturday, April 2nd from 4-6pm. The exhibit will be open throughout this two-day festival, April 2nd and 3rd.

This multi-media exhibit, celebrating everything Maple, includes work by Sharon Suess, Alix Travis, Jenny Neal, Dan Williams, Nancy McShane, Emilie Rigby, Solveig Comer, Laura Sue King, Miguel Martinez-Riddle, John Virga, Michelle Sidrane, Joseph Muehl, Dora Chambers, Robin  White, and Andes Central School students Emily Andersen, Katie Edelson, Rylee Burton, Hunter Collins, Destiny Weaver, Stephanie Gaydos, Christian Bauer, Rachel Masterson, and Lila Green.

The exhibition will be a short stroll from The Painters Gallery on Main Street, featuring Project Topoi, “an experiment in using images rather than words to discuss ideas” that includes a 26 minute video from contributors. The Gallery will be open from 12pm to 4pm.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Catskills Weekend: Friday’s Events at the Winter Hoot

winterhoot-1

A few days ago, I wrote about this weekend’s festivities at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge called The Hoot. It’s the 4th Annual Winter Hoot this weekend from January 29 to January 31, 2016. The Hoot “welcomes the community, one and all, for a spirit-raising good time in mid-winter” being three festive days of music, dancing, food, film, art and nature activities for all ages. Here’s tonight’s schedule of events:

EVENT SCHEDULE

Friday


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Catskills Weekend: The Hoot in Olivebridge

© Tom Eberhardt-Smith

© Tom Eberhardt-Smith

It’s about time for the 4th Annual Winter Hoot at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge this weekend from January 29 to January 31, 2016. The Hoot “welcomes the community, one and all, for a spirit-raising good time in mid-winter” being three festive days of music, dancing, food, film, art and nature activities for all ages,

The Winter Hoot is always a “pay what you can” event. The suggested donation is $30 to $60 per adult for the weekend. The Winter Hoot is an indoor event and space is limited. Advance tickets offer guaranteed admission and may be purchased online or at the Woodstock Music Shop.

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Catskills Art At The Commons Gallery

5833f6f2-db36-4521-b679-381721ded33eLocal Catskills’ artist Alix Travis invites everyone to pop into her new winter studio in Margaretville for a cup of tea and to watch her work. In the gallery you can view her latest exhibition entitled “Family Friends Celebration and Holiday Colors”, which consists of gorgeous works of oil on canvas, watercolor and collage on the subject of relationships, warmth, brilliant color and the shared values of the holiday season and all year round

the Commons Gallery, the Commons, 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY; December 3, 2015 through March 31, 2016. Open Saturdays from noon – 4pm, and any day when you see the lights on.

For the Love of Dog: Fred Levy’s Black Dog Project

© Fred Levy

© Fred Levy

I will have the privilege of interviewing photographer Fred Levy on my radio show on December 14th at 9am on WIOX because there is such a thing as Black Dog Syndrome. Fred’s new book The Black Dog Project (pictured above), published by Race Point Publishing, is a photographic tribute to black dogs who, it’s reported, are the last to get petted by strangers or adopted from shelters. On the radio show, we’ll discuss the mythology surrounding black dogs and Fred’s gorgeous photography. Plus, Fred’s coffee table book is a superb stocking stuffer for dog lovers. Buy it from the publisher here, or visit your local bookshop and order it. And, just because, here’s picture of my own black dog Alfie, who I have written about here.

© J.N. Urbanski 2pm

© J.N. Urbanski

The Catskills Pinhole Camera Project

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Back in August, during the Fleischmanns Art Fair, I was given a pinhole camera by Wanda at The Painter’s Gallery in Fleischmanns. Like so many other exciting projects I intend to start, it went on the back burner, but the results have been published in their website and that has given me the impetus to use the camera. It’s new home will be on a tree in the forest for the next two weeks.

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Art Now at Willow Drey Farm

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

William Duke and Madonna Badger, owners of the gorgeous Willow Drey Farm in Andes, New York, are keen to make use of their beautiful barn between weddings and events. The idea is to create a space for artists to gather, collaborate, cogitate, create and exhibit in an inspirational environment. From 1pm to 4pm tomorrow, Saturday November 14th, for their first group show Wide Open Art Exhibit, the public is invited to come and view watercolors, oils, wooden sculptures and tiny scenes of glass forest sprites inside acorns (pictured below by Michael Pereira. The above chandelier was made in one night by William Duke and artist Peter Mayer (who painted the colorful, smiling Avatar below) and they’re calling it “post-apocalyptic modernism”. There’ll be watercolorist on site painting small works outside if it’s not too cold (your humble writer). Join us.

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Writing Myth at Spillian on Saturday

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

There could be some fiction on these pages and there’s a smattering of poetry but none by me. I’m one of those writers with a pile of fiction on hold: a play, a book and a head full of ideas that I call my fictional endeavors, but not for long! I’m attending Writing Myth: A Spillian Writing Imaginarium at Spillian in Fleischmanns, a writing workshop culminating in dinner and some spoken word, in that we will drink, dine and read aloud the works we have written that day. The dinner and reading are open to the public, even if you are not participating in the workshop. The last time I read my fiction to an audience I bombed with aplomb. In fact, it must have been fun to watch me crash and burn like a professional because I was invited to read my works on the radio. So please join us. Give a group of Catskills writers an audience and enjoy a lovely meal in a beautiful setting. Scroll down for pictures of Spillian.

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Fleischmanns Art Fair: August 15th

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.57.55 PMFleischmanns, in upstate New York is having an art fair on Saturday August 15th. There have been two galleries in the village for years, The Painters and Zoom, but this is the first annual art fair where you’ll find art on the street: a street art fair. Please come and support Catskills artists, especially the one in the yellow sombrero, from 11am to 3pm.

Catskill Open Studios Art Tour: Day 2 Halcottsville

The second and final day of the Arkville Roxbury Margaretville Art Tour wherein more than 20 artists showed their work and/or opened their studio to the public. Today’s highlights were Oneida Hammond, fine artist, who showed at the Halcott Grange on Main Street in Halcotsville and Alix Travis who has a studio in the hamlet.

Barn Door by Oneida Hammond

Barn Door by Oneida Hammond, Watercolor

It was worth making the trip just to peruse Oneida’s sketch pad and her Mexican travelogue.

Oneida Hammond's Travel Sketchbook

Oneida Hammond’s Travel Sketchbooks

And, of course, there was an array of public art that’s on show year round:

Mark Pilato's 911 Memorial in Halcotsville

Mark Pilato’s 911 Memorial in Halcotsville

Rust in Peace on Route 38 between Route 30 and Arkville, Lynn Johnson

Rust in Peace on Route 38 between Route 30 and Arkville, Lynn Johnson

Catskills Art Studio Tour: The Commons, Margaretville

Lisbeth Firmin

Lisbeth Firmin

Highlights in the Margaretville area: the EBDR Plein Air Painters’ group exhibition at the Commons Gallery, Lisbeth Firmin and Robert Axelrod. Robert’s stunning landscapes are on show at the Longyear Gallery. Lisbeth has opened her studio upstairs in the Commons Building to visitors today and will continue tomorrow. Her New York City scenes are lushly gorgeous and her studio is also reminiscent of a New York City painter’s studio with its warmly inviting office nook. It’s somewhere you’ll want to park yourself for a while, with a frosty beverage, and just soak up the atmosphere.

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Lisbeth Firmin’s Studio

Robert Axelrod

Robert Axelrod

Catskills Open Studio Tour: July 25th & 26th

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Upstate Dispatch goes on the road! Catch us if you can…

This weekend, July 25th & 26th join Upstate Dispatch for the Art Tour Margaretville Roxbury Open Studios 2015. There are so many talented artists here in the Catskills and they are throwing open the doors to their studios and welcoming visitors.

Take a gander around the website here, print out the map, and then take the tour in your car. Zoom around the countryside and eat at the following places on your tour:

Roxbury Public Lounge, opposite WIOX radio station in Roxbury

The Cheese Barrel (in Margaretville when you visit The Commons Gallery and our fine watercolours, all for sale)

The Flour Patch (best vegetable sandwich, dressing to die for), across the street opposite Freshtown

Goatie White’s in Fleischmanns

Arkville Bread Breakfast

Finish up at Peekamoose or The Phoenicia Diner for post-tour refreshment.

Plein Air Painters’ Exhibition in August

Watercolor by Oneida Hammond

Watercolor by Oneida Hammond

The next artists to show at The Commons Gallery are Oneida Hammond (watercolor) and Dale Amato (oil and acrylics) in their joint show: Two Women, Two Visions starting on August 1st 2015. The two painters couldn’t be more different yet complement each other perfectly. Hammond is precise and fine; Amato is emotive and vibrant. Well worth a visit for such a gorgeous juxtaposition. Revel in Amato’s invigorating forests; be calmed by Hammond’s captivating farm scenes and precise close-ups.

The Commons Gallery
785 Main Street
Margaretville, NY 12455

Gallery hours: 11am to 5pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Reception: Saturday August 8th 2pm to 5pm.

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The Urge Unchecked at The Commons

IMG_6783A new pop-up show, The Urge Unchecked at the Commons in Margaretville had its reception last night and there are some beautiful pieces in there ranging widely in both size and price. The art is installed in the small gallery in the right window of the Commons building and in the back in the former Home Goods Store.

TheUrgecan_6770A favorite is Elizabeth Firmin’s “Old Man Sleeping” (below). Well worth a visit, the show is up for a month.

THeUrgecan_6776The Urge Unchecked at The Commons
785 Main Street
Margaretville, NY 12455

Catskills Art Event: Doodle with Ohiso

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This Saturday Ohiso is curating a public art event called Doodle. It’s no secret that the arts are employed as therapy and the specific benefits of doodling have also been examined in media outlets like PBS, Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post . Doodling is therapeutic. I once worked with the executive assistant of a prominent British CEO who continually worked on an intricate doodle on a large piece of cardboard whenever she had to be on the phone and her masterpiece grew to enormous proportions. It was her lifeline in a very stressful environment and it was something I’ll never forget.

I asked Ellie Ohiso what inspired her to found a doodle event. She says “we took to the doodling notion because sometimes as you do more art-focused events, you realize that some who are not in the traditional art world see it to the exclusion of themselves. Art becomes this kind of intimidating notion. Doodling is for everyone. It’s universal, non-judgmental, free. You don’t need to know anything about art, or art history, or even to be good at it for it to be classified as a doodle”.

Plein Air Painters’ Exhibition in July

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The tireless Alix Travis, our fearless leader, organizer of the East Branch of the Delaware River Plein Air Painters’ group has organized a group exhibition for us in July at the Commons Gallery in Margaretville, upstate New York. The reception is Friday 3rd July from 3pm to 5pm. Come and see a selection of our work, which was hung this morning.

The Commons Gallery
785 Main Street
Margaretville, NY 12455

Reception: July 3rd, 2015 3pm to 5pm

Jazz in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

I don’t know much about jazz, but I know where to find it. Tonight, Thursday June 18th, at Arts Upstairs in Phoenicia at 7.30pm, The John Esposito Jazz Piano Trio will be playing. Cover is $6.

Arts Upstairs, 60 Main Street, Phoenicia, New York 12464.

En Plein Air: Scene-Stealing Goats

When I lived in the city, I regret that I hardly ever took a lunch hour. I simply wanted blaze on through and get everything done. Now I realise that a two-hour break to focus on something completely different is as essential for the mind as water is for the body. Painting with watercolour is just difficult enough for me to get thoroughly absorbed in two hours and even if I don’t get it right, which is hardly ever, the accomplishment of having practiced is exhilarating in itself. I have one or maybe two watercolours that I’m exhibiting in our show this year. Plus, the weekly En Plein Air group takes me to various places and allows me to photograph some wildly gorgeous landscape. And goats. The anxious demands of work will always be there waiting for you until, in fact, you retire. Take a break.

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 12.39

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 12.39

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 11am

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 11am

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En Plein Air

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/07/15

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/07/15

The summer comes alive for artists when the En Plein Air group reconvenes for the season. Gracious homeowners kindly let our group gather every week in some of the most picturesque spots across the mountains and it’s difficult not to be stunned by the extraordinary beauty of the countryside. This year, May 7th was the group’s earliest meeting on record because of the extraordinary high temperatures for the day, but the landscape was still bare and it seemed like we were able to watch the leaves pop before our eyes. The sun had become so strong by noon on May 7th, however, that whomever didn’t have an umbrella had to move to the shade. Taking part of the day out to paint really clears the mind. To focus closely and solely on the landscape for a few hours is much-needed therapy after the long, arduous winter. All worries dissipate into the air with the drying watercolour and if the homeowner is home, we make a new friend. Today, we had a gorgeous view of the mountains.

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/19/15

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/19/15

Proof at the STS Playhouse, Phoenicia

ProofFlyerThere’s still time to catch Proof written by David Auburn at the STS Playhouse on Church Street in Phoenicia this weekend, starring Jennifer Paul, Farrell Reynolds, Stephen Powell and Kimberly Kay. Last night’s show was remarkable: deeply engrossing, funny with excellent performances from the cast. Proof explores the world of madness and mathematics.

From the director, Wallace Norman:

“When rehearsals began it was asked, ‘What the hell IS a proof?’ A mathematical proof is an argument, which convinces other people (usually mathematicians) that something is true – incontrovertibly. There is a precise vocabulary and grammar that underlies all mathematical proofs. The vocabulary includes logical words such as or, if and Q.E.D.”

Further shows tonight April 18th at 8pm and tomorrow afternoon, April 19th at 2pm.

The Three Muses: Esther De Jong

© MGP&D

© MGP&D

And another muse makes three: Esther De Jong will be reading on Saturday night, in an evening of poetry and music at the Joma Cafe in Shokan.

Esther De Jong has been writing poetry for five years, with last two and a half intensively. She has always read poetry because it’s a great inspiration for painting. “I started reading more and more and one day felt the urge to write it myself. Right now I’m studying the official form, the educational part of it, but before that I was writing whatever came to mind.” De Jong’s poetry career developed because it was more accessible than painting. With painting comes physical baggage to be carried like boxes, easels and brushes. “A notebook fits in the purse.”

CANDLES by Esther De Jong

Two stumps sit on the windowsill

Lost romantics, almost burned out

Their melted wax dripped onto the floor

Still virgin white, just no longer saintly.

 

The Three Muses: Becca Andre

Becca, of The Three Muses, will be reading at the Joma Cafe on Saturday night.

AMTRAK

Sometimes-
I wish I had stayed in St. Paul,
holding on, one night longer, to that stolen kiss
with my crystal flute playing friend.

But then, I would have missed my only night in New Orleans:
arriving late to a B&B,
hanging on the porch dripping of sweat and the blues.

Ahh, there was no resisting
that first barista-made coffee
and the art laden sidewalks of Portland.

Then, there was Dallas.
I never got his name, but that two-steppin cowboy
floated me across the Red River dance floor
making me forget all about my broken heart…
for three minutes, maybe four.

And El Paso, make me smile.
staring across the Rio Grande for a while,
so close to romance with the conductor of a train…
but no, I had to hop a bus to Tucson,
weave my rented Chevy through Sedona,
to stand glorious and triumphant
on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

All this, after my night spent on the wooden bench
of a depot in San Antonio,
listening to the thunder roll from the storm that left me,
delayed and betrayed.
BUT, I was in Texas, so I almost stayed…

And never, never will I forget that ride along the rails
of the Pacific coast.  Landing in Sacramento,
with only my camera and clothes,
standing at the Hard Rock Cafe,
staring at the giant spinning guitar,
(that sidewalk singer,
I swore he called out my name).

Until this day,
I wonder if I should’ve stayed
in Sacramento,
Just stopped right there, started life anew.
This I wonder often…
Yet it is “no” that I conclude,
for none of these places, these cities, these towns would ever do.
Because none of them,
not one,
held the sweet promise of meeting you.

©2014 Becca #43

The Three Muses: Melissa Zeligman

Zeligman_RumiMelissa Zeligman has been writing poetry all her life, but seriously since 2007, prompted by a love affair that unleashed a torrent of creative energy. “I met a muse,” she says. “I had always been a creative person in general, but after that, I started writing poetry, painting and photography.”

After a bout of writer’s block a few years ago, she was inspired by a friend to start publishing three lines of poetry a day for extended periods, which she did on her Facebook page Girl&Muse. The above poem is her “fantasy that Rumi and Mirabai should have gotten together”.

She will be reading on Saturday at the Joma Cafe.

 

 

Poetry in the Catskills

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Urging

A rupture

Unraveling

Steers the bloom…

 

April is Poetry Month and next week there are a couple of noteworthy events to celebrate the season: The Three Muses at the Joma Cafe in Shokan and Poetry in Your Pocket hosted by the Roxbury Arts Group.

For Poetry In Your Pocket day, RAG is celebrating by placing poems in the pockets of community members and encouraging them to read them aloud throughout the day.

RAG “would love the opportunity to highlight the work of our local and regional poets! To be included, send your poem to doug@roxburyartsgroup.org by April 17”.

 

Stealing All Transmissions: Punk in the Catskills

StealingAllTransmissionsI host a live radio show on WIOX in Roxbury, New York on alternate Monday mornings at 9am and every other week I attempt to quantify a different subject with or without a guest. I’ve interviewed some erudite, intriguing people. One of these characters was Randal Doane, who called into my show on Monday, which was about the state of radio and featured guests Chris Hensley and Joe Piasek. He has written a recent history of FM radio and The Clash called Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of the Clash, published by PM Press.

Radio is a tricky subject because most young people tell me they don’t listen to it anymore unless they’re in a car. Most people I meet get their music from Spotify or Pandora and forgo any talk radio. Of course, now “new media” is now the thing: podcasts and video.

WIOX FM Radio is a little enclave of eccentricity in a world awash with polarised talk-radio and MOR rock and to promote our little slice of country eclecticism we are having a benefit and panel discussion in which Randal Doane will be keynote speaker. So, it’s a punk-addled night that’s being hosted at Spillian, our favourite Catskills Victorian mansion with some of the weirdest, most opinionated characters the mountains have to offer. It’ll be like any other night down the pub on any London high street in the seventies. Just leave the crystal chandeliers alone, alright?  Join us for an evening of “friendship, provocative conversation, music and no small amount of partying…”.

Stealing All Transmissions:
An Evening of Local Celebrity, Subversive Commentary,
Community Radio and Fancy Cuisine

Saturday March 21, 6:00pm at Spillian
50 Fleischmanns Heights Road, Fleischmanns, NY 12430
A benefit for WIOX Community Radio
$50 donation. Limited seating.
Reservations: 607-326-3900

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