Upstate Dispatch Gallery & Studio Update

The Sandy Finkenberg art exhibit was a success with over 70 people turning out to view Sandy’s work in the last month and five pieces were sold. This Saturday June 22nd, is the last chance that art lovers will have to view Sandy’s work, as the show will be taken down after that, but before that happens, we’ll be having a little party to celebrate. From 2pm – 4pm, Saturday June 22nd, come and sit in my air-conditioned studio, sip a glass of bubbly and take in Sandy’s exceptional work. Any excuse for a party really.

Meanwhile, on June 23rd 2024, I will be turning the gallery back into a studio in preparation for the AMR Open Studios Tour in July in which Upstate Dispatch Gallery & Studio will participate and co-sponsor. Artists all over the Catskills will open their studio for three consecutive days from Friday July 26th to Sunday 28th, 2024 11am – 5pm. In July, I will be working in oils again, practicing portraiture which I haven’t done since high school, and will be offering photography, sketches, watercolor, postcards and magazines. The photography will be limited edition large and small works, framed and unframed. It’s going to be a busy art-filled July.

Upstate Dispatch Gallery & Studio, 2nd Floor, Commons Building, 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY 12455. Open Saturdays and Sundays 1-4pm and by appointment by emailing [email protected].

Protecting our Water in the Catskills

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

Water is ubiquitous in the Catskills, flowing along side us everywhere we go: rivers, streams, and creeks provide nature’s musical summer backdrop as we drive the roads and hike the mountains. Country homeowners – outside village municipal water supplies – are delivered this precious resource via wells and springs. Residents and business owners of the Catskills are tasked with protecting the water and sending it down to New York City as cleanly as possible.

Things you may not know about the Catskills when you move here: constant work is needed to protect our groundwater. The Catskills Watershed Corporation hosts conferences, events, and organizations like the Water Discovery Center in which you can educate yourself and help to protect the water.

Coming on June 7th is Groundwater in the Catskills: Challenges and Solutions, a one-day conference presented by the Catskill Water Discovery Center with the Margaretville Rotary Club, and Rotary District 7170 from 10 am to 3 pm in the auditorium of the Catskill Watershed Corporation, 669 Hwy 38, Arkville, NY 12406. Tickets are $10 including lunch, and are available at: Eventbrite directly or access Eventbrite through the Water Discovery Center’s website.

According to the CWDC: “Globally, groundwater is an essential drinking water source that is at risk in many places. Locally, residents in the Catskills, including those in the NYC watershed, encounter variable drinking water conditions via private wells or municipal systems, seemingly illogical given that the NYC’s surface water reservoir system provides exceptional drinking water to nine million people.”

The conference will explore the problems Catskills municipalities, and residents, farms and other users of groundwater, encounter – problems such as arsenic, sulfur, iron, lead, copper, chlorides, coliform/E Coli, nitrates and gasses including methane, and carbon dioxide. Speakers will examine where contaminants come from and how they can be addressed.

Featured speakers include representatives from the State’s Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2), led by NYSDEC and NYS DOH in collaboration with other state agencies.

Residents living within the NYC watershed, may benefit from measures put in place for protection of the surface water. A representative from NYC DEP will speak to those protections.

The afternoon panel session will include the morning’s speakers plus municipal leaders from Andes and Middletown and representatives from the Catskill Watershed Corporation, Watershed Agricultural Council, and the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Gallery Show: Sandy Finkenberg’s Nudes. Opening Reception Saturday May 25th, 2024 2 – 6pm

Upstate Dispatch is thrilled to present a solo show of Sandy Finkenberg’s Nudes. Sandy is a long-time member of the arts community of the Catskills, and a member of the local figure drawing group. This is a new body of work and much anticipated. Sandy’s gorgeous, dreamy nudes rendered in oil on board, many done with a live nude model at the figure drawing group, are some of the Catskills’ most coveted art pieces.

The reception is May 25th, 2024 from 2pm – 6pm. Small bites and beverages will be served. Preview: Friday May 24th. The gallery will be open all Memorial Day weekend from Friday to Sunday with opening hours to be determined. Watch this space!

The show runs from May 24th, 2024 – June 22nd, 2024. Upstate Dispatch Studio, Upstairs at The Commons Building, 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY 12455. May 24th, 2024 – June 22nd, 2024.

About the Artist

Sandra Finkenberg, a resident of Bovina Center, received her training at the Carnegie Mellon School of Art in Pittsburgh and the Art Students League in New York. She has received a number of awards including second place at the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club (2007), Best of Show Cooperstown Regional (1997), and Best of Show and 2nd Place, UCCA (1993,1992 respectively). Her work in egg tempera was featured in the 2000 summer edition of American Artist Watercolor Magazine. One person shows include the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg, NY, and the Walt Meade Gallery in Roxbury, NY. Group shows include the Vivianna Hansen Gallery in Delhi, NY and the Windham Fine Arts in Windham, NY., The Catskill Center Erpf Gallery in Arkville NY, the CANO Gallery in Oneonta,NY, and the Salmagundi Invitational in NYC., The Smithy in Cooperstown, NY, and has shown in the Stagecoach Run at Blue Farm Antiques and at the Freck/Beal Studios.

Figure Drawing Group Art Show: Sketches. February 24th 2024, 3.30-6pm Upstairs at The Commons Building in Margaretville

Save the date! Delaware County has one figure drawing group that meets at the Andes Academy of Art in the summer months (hosted by William Duke), and at ArtUP in the winter months (hosted by Gary Mayer). Upstate Dispatch studio will be hosting a group show of the best sketches of our winter life drawing group. We artists were risking life and limb, driving in all weathers, white-knuckle style after dark, fish-tailing on icy roads, to make it to our Wednesday drawing group throughout winter.

Participating artists are Sandy Finkenberg, Jenny Neal, Gary Mayer, Steve Burnett, Sophia Teixido, Alex Wilcox, William Duke, Joe Wilson, Peter Mayer and more.

The work will be offered for sale, mostly unframed, at affordable prices, to give everyone access to beautiful original pieces. Wine and snacks will be served.

Saturday 24th February 2024. 3.30-6pm. Upstate Dispatch Studio, Upstairs @ The Commons Building, 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY.

Join us for this reception in the same building as artist Bea Ortiz, Honeybee Herbs, The Catskills Artisans’ Guild, The Longyear Gallery and Carolann’s restaurant. The studio will be open all afternoon.

We hope to see you there.

A New Upstate Dispatch: Studio, Gallery & A Memoir

Welcome to Upstate Dispatch 2024! I want to thank you, the reader and subscriber, for waiting. 2023 brought many changes, but the one constant was my attendance at a life drawing group in Andes and Margaretville. Artists gather weekly to sketch a live, nude model and the practice really helps artists hone their craft. The Andes group shut down for the winter, so Gary Mayer is hosting a Margaretville group out of the ArtUp Gallery in Binnekill Square, Margaretville every Wednesday from 4pm – 7pm. When we don’t have a model, we sketch each other, fully clothed. We’re not all throwing off our clothes in there!

In December 2023, Upstate Dispatch moved to a new HQ, an art studio and gallery, upstairs at the Commons Building on 785 Main Street, Margaretville, NY. Most Saturdays, I am there at my desk (above) painting or writing. Visitors are welcome on Saturdays from 1pm – 4pm. (Yes, the floor is slightly sloped in areas, which makes for an unsatisfyingly unsymmetrical picture).

In the studio, I will be hosting a group show of the best sketches of our winter figure drawing group. Participating artists are me (Jenny Neal), Gary Mayer, Steve Burnett, Sophia Teixido, Alex Wilson and more. The reception will take place February 24th, 2024 from 4pm – 6pm. Save the date! The work will be offered for sale at affordable prices. I would like to see more affordable art in the Catskills. I will be selling my 5-minute, 10-minute and 20-minute watercolors for less than $50. You’ll find a sketch wall of pencil and charcoal drawings for $10 and $20 each. Most work will be unframed.

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

In 2023, I started writing the book, Upstate Dispatch, a memoir of my life and experiences as a writer in the Catskills, which is being serialized on Substack, a medium for writers where they can get paid for their work. This is paid content, $5 per month, with NO advertising. If you’ve been enjoying Upstate Dispatch ad-free for years, please consider supporting me there. I’m about halfway through, depending on how long the book will be. It’s arranged chronologically in chapters with the first chapter being the oldest (first) post. The actual book will be published this year, fingers crossed.

Finally, this year is the tenth anniversary of Upstate Dispatch. I’m celebrating by joining the AMR Open Studios Art Tour this summer, where for one weekend at the end of July, artists in the Catskills open their studios to visitors. Watch this space for more details.

Thanks for sticking around!

Jenny Neal, February 1st, 2024

Daily Catskills

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

I’ve paused Daily Catskills because I no longer get any feedback, and this website takes hundreds of hours to shoot and write. Do you enjoy the posts? Let me know and if enough people comment, I’ll pick it up this winter. I decided to enjoy this glorious fall in the Catskills instead of feeling pressure to get the best shot.

Additionally, I have a very long story to tell and I have started my memoir on Substack, the place where writers can get paid for their work. For a monthly subscription of $5, you can be entertained by all the stories behind the best pictures that have been offered free for the last decade. Do you want to read the – sometimes hilarious – stories behind these images? Hiking mishaps, radio daze, farming, food, booze, conversations and the dog’s life, in eight long-form posts a month: that’s 62 cents for an essay of 1000-2000 words.

If you’ve been enjoying Upstate Dispatch free for eight years, please consider subscribing so I can turn my story into a book. If you love what you see, please consider sharing on social media, so I can raise my subscriber level to make it worthwhile.

Thanks!

Daily Catskills: 10/04/23

Another scorcher: a high of 86F with a virtually cloudless sky, save for the odd scattering of cotton balls in the distance. Fall and Summer collide to make a gorgeous day.

© Jenny Neal 3pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/21/23

A chilly sunrise with overnight frost whitening the flora, and steaming mist rising into a crystal clear sky. A crisp day, with a high of 69F and the landscape looking like it’s slowly being sanded down. This is the penultimate day of summer.

© Jenny Neal 7.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/19/23

An overcast and gloomy morning clearing up mid-afternoon to late evening and a clear blue sunset. Chilly with some sprinkles and a high of 64F. Lows in the fifties.

© Jenny Neal 11am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/17/23

A chill in the air, and warm in the sun but mostly overcast with a flat swathes of menacing cloud. Late afternoon rain and a high of 67F.

© Jenny Neal 1pm- Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/13/23

Gloomy and rainy, with intermittent showers leaving a trail of thick mist in their wake. A high of 71F and humid. The goldenrod is enjoying this late summer.

© Jenny Neal 3.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/10/23

Muggy, still and overcast with low cloud and a high of 77F. Late afternoon drizzle gave way to some patches of blue. A barely discernible reddening of the landscape. The greens aren’t giving up yet.

© Jenny Neal 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Happy Birthday Upstate Dispatch!

© Jenny Neal 8am – Usage prohibited without consent

Yes, I’m still here! I know some of you can’t believe it. It is, however, the 9th birthday of Upstate Dispatch and this is the 2,355th post. Yes, I persist. The Daily Catskills section began again this year on September 1st for the fall season, but it’s just too much work to maintain it year-round. (BTW, there are a few splotches of red in the foliage here and there, and in small pockets, mostly shady areas, we have piles of fallen leaves, but because of the heat, it still feels like summer. Try telling that to the tomatoes, though.)

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I have mostly been focusing on art, and writing. I’m working on a memoir, not because I’m special, but because there’s a story here that I need to tell. Part of this story was published in Farmerish and it was well-received. You can read it here.

I will be publishing an introduction, some excerpts, and companion pieces to this memoir on Substack: a “new economic engine for culture”, which is a paid newsletter that gives writers a chance to earn a living. For those of you who are interested in paying a very small subscription for my content. Here’s a chance to find out more about who I am. I hope to see you there!

Finally, I often go out for lunch, breakfast or dinner in the Catskills and hear about how Upstate Dispatch has helped local businesses. I really appreciate the feedback and thank everyone for their support.

Jenny Neal 9/9/23

Daily Catskills: 09/07/23

A steamy day. Hot and humid, with plump, fluffy cloud and a high of 89F. Mid-afternoon thunder and rain that took a pause for sunset and then continued with epic house-rattling thunder and lightning after dark. Some epic weather.

© Jenny Neal 6pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/04/23

Early morning sprinkles, but otherwise sunny despite big, chunky clouds like a rumpled duvet, and humid with a high of 83F. The last of the downed hay needs to be dried out before its baled because of the overnight rain.

© Jenny Neal 3pm – Usage prohibited without consent

The Last Days of Summer

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

A very rainy summer is coming to a dry, sunny end – well, fingers crossed, as summer’s not officially over until September 22nd this year. I have mostly been focused on my fine art studies at Andes Academy of Art. Every Wednesday, there is a figure drawing session with a live nude model, from 4pm-7pm at Streamside Yoga, 509 Main Street Andes that only stops during the darkest depths of a Catskills winter (and word is that we’re in for a bad winter). Local artists Lisbeth Firmin, Steven Burnett, Gary Mayer, Peter Mayer, William Duke, Sandy Finkenberg attend this class, and it’s been a thrill to be influenced by the best artists in the Catskills, and although my sketching is getting so much better, my watercolor is what sells.

This year I launched a print version of Upstate Dispatch – a magazine – that was well-received, but did not sell well. I’ve caught up with the retailers of the magazine who said that customers did not want to pay $20 for the magazine. I’ve mulled this over with booksellers and local artists, and we’ve come up with the theory that people see magazines as disposable and don’t want to pay for them. I collect some magazines, and all my artist colleagues – about 30 friends – all bought a copy of Upstate Dispatch because they see it as art.

This theory is proven by the fact that our sketch sale to benefit The Heart of the Catskills animal shelter at the Andes Academy of Art this week was mobbed by customers who were happy to pay $20 for a rough sketch or watercolor that took less than 20 minutes to draw in our figure drawing classes. The whole show of about a hundred works that were tacked up on the wall unframed, was almost sold out.

It really opened my eyes to what sells and what is valued. Art is, after all, a commodity. Periodicals, not so much.

This brings me to books. A local bookseller told me last night that nobody wants to buy books either! Journalists’ salaries have been in significant decline for decades, but do people really want all words to be free? How’s a writer supposed to live? Despite this, Upstate Dispatch celebrates its 9th birthday this year. Thank you to all who read regularly and, an extra thank you to a handful of you who contribute (through the donation page). Plans are in the works for an art studio and gallery. I hope you’ll come and visit.

Daily Catskills: 09/02/23

Day 3 of haying in the Dry Brook Valley, mostly clear and sunny, a high of 72F, with late afternoon cotton wool cloud and some post-sunset sprinkles. Jewel weed is thriving down by the river.

© Jenny Neal 9.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Annus Hay-ribilis

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent – July 4th, 2023 1.30pm

The year 1992 was dubbed by The Queen of England to be her Annus Horribilis – a common Latin term for horrible year – after parts of Windsor castle burned down along with some of its priceless historical artifacts.

This year is farmer Jake Fairbairn’s Annus Hay-ribilis, an extraordinarily bad hay season, the worst in his entire decades-long career on the farm, due to this summer’s incessant rain. Nobody’s going to get that reference, Jake told me, but I just couldn’t think of another hay pun.

I didn’t think the reference was that well-known until along came The Crown on Netflix, which I stopped watching after Season 2. Being a Londoner, I had watched the real thing play out in British newspapers growing up and that was enough for me. No Brit who was old enough in 1992 can forget the images of the sour-faced Queen picking through the castle wreckage in her Welly boots and headscarf, tutting over charred objects that had been once admired by the likes of Henry VIII.

Continue reading

Art Show in Andes, July 15th, 2023

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

The very first post on Upstate Dispatch on September 9th, 2014, which you can find here, was a post on my first watercolor completed under the tutelage of Alix Travis. After ten years, this watercolor is up for sale at the Andes Academy of Art on 506 Main Street, Andes, NY 13731.

The opening of the show is on July 15th, 2023 from 2pm to 6pm and curated by Peter Mayer.

Hope to see you there!

Lazy Crazy Acres Farm

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

It’s been a while since I wrote with any regularity here, and I need to get back to my roots as a writer, so I started a new project: documenting the history and workings of this 93-year-old working farm to which I moved exactly two years ago: Lazy Crazy Acres Farm and its resident farmer Jake Fairbairn who makes hay and maple syrup on 100 acres. It’s a collaboration between Lazy Crazy Acres Farm and Upstate Dispatch. The farm is in need of some serious TLC. The house needs renovating and the farm equipment needs constant repair. Will we be able to fix up the house in time for the farm’s centenary? Who knows? But we have started by fixing the back porch, which was falling down.

You can follow along on the Instagram.

Farming is a hugely risky endeavor. The weather is boss and this has been an extraordinary year in that this is the first year that Jake has not been able to make hay in June. In May 2023 we had a month of drought conditions: browned grass and hay growth that was only about 60% of last year’s mass. In June we have had near-constant rain. At time of writing, July 4th, Jake is fixing the steering wheel on one of the farm’s 50-year-old tractors, because it is still raining.

Furthermore, it’s not only good practice for me as a writer, but I also feel the need to publish my own authentic story. To this end, my next post will be a piece of my memoir that was published two years ago in Farmerish.net, which I am publishing for the first time here on Upstate Dispatch.

Thank you for reading!

Jenny Neal

Travels Like Wildfire

© Bob Gray 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

No sooner did I stop posting Daily Catskills on 5/31/23, than along came a swirling dark cloud of wildfire smoke that choked the Catskills, and much of the North East of the US, in a thick, dirty shroud unlike we’ve seen before in this area in living memory.

Historically, June has always been a bit boring for pictures, but not this year. Ordinarily, by the month of June, the Catskills has filled in with its multifarious greens, and daily shots during the summer all seem the same, so I suspend the Daily Catskills genre until autumn when the real colors start to pop. But this year in June, one hundred burning wildfires in Canada traveled on prevailing winds – looking much like a tornado from satellite images – blowing a layer of orange, sooty, ashy smoke for two days from Monday night (June 5th) until Thursday morning (June 8th). The sky became shades of orange, blue and grey – and blazing red around our bloodshot eyes. Everybody looked like they’d been up all night partying, coughing like they’d just smoked 20 cigarettes.

Moreover, it all got a little unnervingly chilly under that massive cloud of wildfire like we were in a Cormac McCarthy novel, I wondered, should we get the cart and starting walking??

But it all blew over.

The moral of the story is that we are all connected. It’s never been more obvious that the struggles of our neighbors are also our concern. Huge fires that burn thousands of miles away send smoke signals around the world, heralding the alert of climate change.

© Bob Gray 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

To compound the issue, we have had an unseasonably dry spring here in the Catskills and still have the big beige patches of crunchy brown grass to prove it. Hay season will bring roughly 60% of the yields of previous years in the Dry Brook Valley. The Catskills used to be a veritable rain forest, but not this spring. Our rivers are running low and the infamous Kaatskills waters are evaporating. Locally, we’ve received reports that springs are drying up, and that the water levels are at 50%.

We’ve had some rain in June thus far, but it’s been a mediocre mist at best. The first half of June has thus far been a drought.