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.
A brilliant day with clouds like cobwebs, and the sunshine highlighting flashes of yellow maples that are still molting. Still some brown and copper patches in these hills too. This year’s fall has been spectacular. A high of 60F.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.