Author Archives: JNUrbanski

Andes Academy of Art

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

The first piece of art I bought was in a basement underneath one of the pylons of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1998. The interior of this labyrinthian basement had been painted white and divided into booths by artists who couldn’t find representation. I bought an oil painting by Lisa Creagh for $900 and paid for it in installments over three months. Brooklyn artists would inhabit empty shopfronts in the desolate parts of Brooklyn, like Greenpoint and Williamsburg near the waterfront back in the nineteen-nineties. That memory returned to me when I went to hang my work in the basement at The Andes Academy of Art in Andes.

The Academy had its first exhibit of small works beginning with an opening reception on October 29th, 2022. I was honored to be included, and excited to be part of this talented group, offering one of my bird illustrations in watercolor. Also included is work by William Duke, Gary Mayer, and the inestimable Sandy Finkenberg, among others. Life drawing alongside Sandy and hearing her greatest tips has been a highlight of my year. The extraordinary artist Peter Mayer, who as a life drawer has a unique talent for capturing a subject’s stance and posture (“if you’re having problems getting it, start with the feet”, he told me), draws small figures on massive pieces of paper that have been papered to the walls in the bathroom at the Academy.

Thanks to William Duke for bringing us together; the camaraderie is real, as artists almost never get together in large groups like we have been. The life drawing class has been a bit of a lifeline this year and we’ve reached our fifth year of sketching, having started out in 2017 at Willow Drey Farm.

A broadsheet is published monthly, called State Of The Art beginning November 2022 which details art news in the Catskills.

Andes Academy of Art, 506 Main Street, Andes, NY 12444. Open Saturdays 2-4pm until December 10th, 2022.

Daily Catskills: 10/27/22

A cloudy morning, clearing up to a sunny afternoon with a high of 57F. Fall is over at higher elevations, but there are still hardwoods hanging on to their leaves downhill.

© J.N. Urbanski 6.15pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/26/22

Misty and humid with blustery afternoon rain and a high of 71F. Fall is on the wane, but the oaks, beech and ironwood are still hanging on.

© J.N. Urbanski 3.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/24/22

Mostly overcast with a low blanket of mist, and humid with the occasional peep of sun, a sprinkle of rain carried over from last night and a high of 65F. 2022 is having a spectacular, drawn out fall and now we are deep into the earth tones of the giant oaks: copper, gold and brassy brown.

© J.N. Urbanski 10.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/23/22

Overcast with the odd glimmer of sun and still balmy for the season with a high of 61F. The fall colors are now the golden, brassy, maroon and copper tones of the oaks and ironwood, and some of these trees are still green.

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/21/22

Another crisp day under a bowl of clear blue, warming up to a high of 60F. The flaming red oak tree holds its ground with its yellow and green neighbors amidst the brush of a waning fall landscape.

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Catskills Weekend: 48 Hours in Fleischmanns

© J.N. Urbanski 6.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

For many years, the only nightlife on Fleischmanns’ Main Street was La Cabana Restaurant, which had village’s only bar until it was joined by Goatie White’s on Depot Street a few years ago, but over the summer the village got a taste of what residents would support. On a Sunday night over Memorial Day weekend, a backyard party hosting a variety show and music at the Arts Inn drew over a hundred people. The Inn’s summer party in August was similarly attended. The large, grassed area and back porch was packed with revelers, young and old.

The Arts Inn is owned and run by Randy Leer and Heidi Stonier, who purchased the property on Main Street just as the pandemic hit and began to redecorate. The inn is the newest addition to Main Street and its presence has enlivened the village.

In the last decade, especially the last five years, Main Street in this “four seasons village” – meaning that it welcomes visitors year-round, including skiers – has experienced steady growth, offering more food and culture options. Opening times are limited, but the customers are ready. Main Street now has a thriving new art gallery with some truly remarkable shows that run roughly monthly in addition to musical evenings and poetry readings, a farm store selling locally grown produce, two new restaurants in the last year and the aforementioned arts center and inn. Over the summer, the East Branch of the Delaware River Plein Air Painters took over the old bank shopfront on Main Street and hosted a gallery of the groups’ works. Soon, Main Street will have a wine bar in the old offices of the historic Purple Mountain Press called The Print Room. Residents are thrilled. Come visit!

STAY

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Arts Inn, 923 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430 (pictured above). An inn, with three rooms, that hosts musical events and gatherings. Guests have access to the first floor amenities including game room, music room, library, dining room and outdoor spaces. Yoga classes and homemade dinners available for purchase.

Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 10/18/22

A frosty morning with dew steaming out of the valleys, a fresh dome of azure sky, chilly but humid, rising to a high of 55F with giant clouds moving in mid-afternoon. Fall is falling.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.45am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/15/22

A frosty morning, warming up to a high of 65F. Clear and sunny with leaves fluttering like confetti in a light breeze. Coral-colored sugar maples line Andes’ Main Street.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/13/22

A gloomy, chilly morning warming up to a humid, rainy day with a high of 62F. Falling leaves tossed around by gusty winds. Torrential rain into the evening.

© J.N. Urbanski 3.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/10/22

An overcast morning giving way to an afternoon of big, dramatic clouds, the barest sprinkle of misty rain and a high of 59F. Two farm dogs declared cancer-free and loving the view from their mountain.

© J.N. Urbanski 4.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/05/22

A rainy morning walk through misty mountains. Another overcast day, with thick foggy cloud and a high of 61F. The sun making a brief appearance mid to late afternoon, brightening the gorgeous fall colors. A lovely half-moon rise though streaky cloud.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/03/22

Cloud stretched taut over the sun like thick gauze, chilly with a high of 52F. Chronic overcast conditions are dulling these fall colors that are best experienced up close: oak on the right, maple on the left. The oak will be the last man standing.

© J.N. Urbanski 4.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/28/22

More gloom. Overcast, with a slight chill taking the edge off the humidity and a high of 65F. Misty clouds sail through the valley towing their falling rain.

© J.N. Urbanski 6pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/22/22 Autumnal Equinox

Loud overnight thunderstorms begin in the early hours of the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall. Intermittent rain, some afternoon sun, and a high of 69F. Humid with a chilly breeze.

© J.N. Urbanski 9am – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 09/20/22

A bright, crisp morning, but overcast. A high of 67F, and pockets of sunshine despite stormy cloud cover and afternoon sprinkles. A slight yellowing of the foliage and a few splashes of red.

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm – Usage prohibited without consent

The Farm Stand

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

I developed a curry sauce made from scratch during the pandemic. Curry is part of Ayurvedic diet in which you eat foods that protect your health, so this year I tried to grow some of the ingredients. There are plenty of foods in this diet that don’t grow well in this climate, but we do have some good replacements. For example, spice bush, native to the Catskills and Northeast America, is a good stand-in for spices because you can eat the leaves, twigs and berries. I’ve never found spice bush when foraging here, but I did buy a few seedlings from Barkaboom Native Plants based here in the Catskills.

Some of what I planted at Lazy Crazy Acres farm did not do well, or even grow at all, but what did grow really well were arugula, red bliss potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, and hot peppers. We have shishito, jalapeno, cayenne, anaheim and exactly one dark green poblano. We got at least 30 shishito peppers from one plant alone, although we had to get it under cover because the deer started to eat the plant. I also planted mint and lavender as companion plants. The mint has kept the tomatoes pest-free except for one lonely, recent hornworm. All these are on the farm stand, except the hornworm who was invited to move across the street. Considering that we’re on dead-end road, this little fledgling farm stand is not doing too badly. Visitors to Tree Juice Maple Syrup are the biggest customers, which is where the farm stand is, and some of the garlic will be going into the syrup.

Whatever does not get sold will get dried or preserved. We grew 300 heads of garlic and the cloves from the biggest bulbs will get planted in October.

The farm stand is open when it’s not raining. We’ve yet to add a roof, but we all have to start somewhere.

Farm Life in the Catskills

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

I’ve recently been receiving a lot of kind feedback on the writing I do here, and some inquiries into what I’ve been up to since I last posted back in June. It’s the feedback – along with the helpful donations – that keeps me going, so here’s an update. Daily Catskills will resume in the next few days, from the September equinox until Winter solstice and all the snowbirds will shortly be seeing our Fall in all its glory from afar. Stay tuned!

Continue reading

Aegean Flavor in Fleischmanns, New York

The Falafel Sandwich © Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

The Catskills’ Village of Fleischmanns, has another new restaurant, offering a wide range of delicious and authentic Greek takeout food: Aegean Flavor.

The advantage of opening in Fleischmanns is that there is still a dearth of variety in the Catskills and residents are excited to have novel options. The restaurant opened last week, was immediately successful and busy without any advertising, and the food is exceptional, and reasonably priced. They do the staple lamb and beef gyro in pita bread ($8.95) that is tender, not too oily and not too dry, just perfect. The pita in which most sandwiches come is plump and fresh. Spanakopita, a spinach and cheese turnover in filo pastry, ($4.50 pictured below) is light and tasty, not too salty. For vegetarians, the falafel sandwich ($8.95 pictured above) is superb, stuffed into the pita with crisp cucumber and healthy tomato, all dressed in a lightly spicy sauce. There is also a cheese turnover called tiropita for $4.50.

Continue reading

Wild Saturdays at John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge: Saturday July 2nd, 2022 at 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski


This week’s Wild Saturday speaker is HEATHER BRUEGL, a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a first line descendant of the Stockbridge Munsee. Her remarks focus on generating awareness of ongoing racism, the fight for clean water, and other issues of the Native community.

Heather is a public historian, activist, and de-colonial education consultant who works with institutions and organizations for Indigenous sovereignty and collective liberation. She is the Director of Education at Forge Project, which supports indigenous artists and leaders through fellowships.

This presentation takes place on the lawn at 1pm at 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474. Bring blankets or a lawn chair.
 

Garlic

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Most of the scapes on the garlic have been removed and I have about 70 or 80 to use or sell. The scape is the developing garlic flower – the fully-blooming flower is pictured bottom right – and it’s removed in order to allow the plant to direct its energy to the bulb.

Pictured bottom left is the scape growing on the garlic stalk viewed from above. See our Instagram story for a video that gives you a much clearer picture.

Scapes have a much more delicate, subtle sweetness than bulb garlic. They are delicious chopped and added to omelettes, scrambled eggs and stir-fry dishes like you would spring onions or shallots. They’re a lovely addition to creamy, roasted potatoes.

They also make a superb pesto. Eaten raw, garlic provides those infamous, extraordinary health benefits in addition to flaming hot breath.

Garlic Scape Pesto

10-12 large garlic scapes
1/4 cup of grated or shredded parmesan
1/4 cup of pine nuts or sunflower seeds
1/4 a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients except for the oil in a blender. Mix in the oil when the other ingredients are blended well. If your pesto is too thick, add a drizzle of extra oil. Serve on bruschetta, toast points, crackers. Or add a dollop to soups, pasta and cheese plates. Delicious!

Spring Haying at Lazy Crazy Acres: Day 3

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

The rake (above) drags the freshly fluffed hay into windrows and then the baling machine is driven down those rows and presses the hay into a tight bale, while the clouds overhead look like they’re forming their own rows ready to rain on the hay. At least the rain waited until 3am, when all the hay had been baled, before it unleashed a clamoring thunderstorm, breaking the humidity and marking an end to a stressful three days.

Spring Haying at Lazy Crazy Acres: Day 2

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

On Day 2 of haying, farmers fluff up the hay with a machine known as a “tedder”. Nobody knows why it’s called this. The tedder looks a little like a mower, but it has sets of long prongs mounted on revolving circular heads that twist the hay around and toss it like a giant salad. This helps it dry in the sun. Tedding takes place once in the morning and again, at least once, in the afternoon because the ground and the unmowed part of the hay is still damp.

Only ten acres were mowed because after the risk assessment of the weather, comes the hedging: if it rains, then only ten acres were lost.

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

Spring Haying At Lazy Crazy Acres: Day 1

© Jenny Neal – Usage prohibited without consent

To be a farmer is to engage in continual risk assessment. To live on a farm is to accept a high level of risk, to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, watching the weather forecast like a skittish doe with her new fawn in Spring. Small-scale farming is dependent on something more unpredictable than the economy and that’s the weather. It’s the boss here and it’s flighty, but the farmer needs at least three days of sunshine to make hay and here on June 13th, was our first window of opportunity. After a rainy Sunday and a colder June than 2021, the forecast predicted a low chance of rain, and on Monday Jake mowed under ominous clouds, some of them as dark as slate and I held my breath as they sailed overhead.

On Day 1 of haying at Lazy Crazy Acres, ten acres of lush, bushy, thickly fertile grasses were mowed.

Plein Air Painting Show in Fleischmanns

In addition to a gallery, new arts center, and two cafes, Fleischmanns has a pop-up plein air painters group that has temporarily moved into the empty shopfront that used to be the old bank on Main Street (with its magnificent safe still in place), evoking memories of Brooklyn in the nineties when artists would occupy abandoned commercial buildings. Tomorrow, Saturday June 4th 2022, they will host an artists reception from 2 – 4pm.

EBDRPAP: 1084 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430.

Catskills Breakfast: Picnic’s Pot of Gold

If you’re going hiking any time soon eat this first. Arguably one of the most hearty and delicious breakfasts in the Catskills: one large runny egg over easy, smothered in Hollandaise sauce, over slices of pastrami, all on top of a large hash brown. A sensational Catskills breakfast.

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent