Sunny and warm with a high of 62F. Leaves hanging on.
Artist Lisbeth Firmin will be busy during the holiday season finishing large and small works for sale. Currently in her studio in Margaretville working on two new oils and starting a third, she welcomes studio visits, and takes commissions. “I love painting people’s pets, too” she says. “I just did a commission for a friend in NC, a portrait of him and his dog in his beloved Mustang”.
Her signature style is rich, stout brush strokes that create a lush dreamscape, a ruminative environment where subjects are often caught deep in thought, or on their way somewhere – and often both! – with the ambient lighting, like sparkling daylight or a sunset, beautifully captured.
For small works, Lisbeth does small gouaches (9″ x 12″) for $300 and has the tractor prints available this Christmas, at $50 each. She’s also in Small Works Show in Roxbury through the Holidays, with three small gouache studies @ $150 each (6″ x 6″) and have a nice gouache of a house in Franklin in the MURAL Holiday show in Hobart ($195). Here’s a list of all the latest exhibitions in which Lisbeth is showing.
For the art lovers in your life, consider buying local art for the holidays.
Correction: A previous version of this post mentioned a January 2018 class entitled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain in Hobart NY. The class was actually a summer class that took place this past summer 2017. Apologies!
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.
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.
A Call For Entry at the Center for Photography in Woodstock: CPW’s WOODSTOCK AIR is a residency program for US-based artists and critics/scholars/curators of color, working in photography. Deadline is Monday January 16th.
A Writer’s Evening at the Stamford Library, 117 Main Street, Stamford, NY on Monday January 16th at 7pm. Sign up to present your latest work.
Governor Cuomo announced plans to develop a hiking trail across New York State by 2020. The plan include “filling in” gaps between already existing trails in NYS. This amazing trail, once laid, will be the longest in the nation and connect Lake Erie in Buffalo to the Capital Region and New York City to Canada (connecting with the Capital Region).
If you’re interested in hiking the Catskills 35, join the Catskills 3500 Club. Sign up for scheduled hikes. Next week Saturday January 21st, there is a schedule bushwhack (no marked or maintained trail) to North Dome and Sherrill Mountains. Peaks that have no trail are easiest to navigate in winter when there is no foliage blocking your view.
Buy or sell your produce through Lucky Dog Farm Hub.
The first of two workshops on Lambing and Kidding at Heather Ridge Farm, 989 Broome Center Road, Preston Hollow, NY on Saturday January 21st at 11am.
Young at Art at the Roxbury Arts Group: an art exhibit for children. Opening reception at 11am on Saturday January 21st.
The Phoenicia Library hosts Invasive Plants and How To Deal With Them next week Saturday January 21st at 10.30am – a must if your land is being taken over by invasive species.
A Beginning Farmers and Ranchers training program in Oneonta, NY beginning next month.
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.”
What brought you to the Catskills?
We (Brian and his partner, Brian Clyne) had an apartment in the city and I had the studio for 20-odd years in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We both grew up on Long Island, so we grew up close to the water but for whatever reason, we both had an affinity for the mountains. One summer – I think it was about the year 2000 – we had enough friends up here that we could spend two or three weeks up here as vagabonds, throughout the Catskills. We went to different regions, but this region in Delaware County was very appealing to us. There was something about the topography, the landscape and the history of all this that suited us very well.
Local 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.
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.
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.
It’s been another spectacular fall with vivid, fiery reds and yellows transforming to their final phase: brilliantly rusted shades of amber, bronze, tan, copper and gold. Tourism is the Catskills’ most lucrative business and it’s a given that many friends and neighbors fall out of touch over the summer, engaged in the reception and entertainment of visitors from all over the world. For those not in that business, summer was a time to fix up the homestead: new boiler, woodstove, siding and perhaps a window or two. Summer is our busiest time, and quiet moments snatched in between interminable chores and work in the glorious warmth of the lush summer season, are few and far between.
But, winter is coming… Winter is coming and it’s a chance to gather with everyone and entertain each other. It might get so cold that it freezes the balls off a brass statue, but our entertainment is just warming up. Join us for some Catskills culture as we kick off November with a week of art, literary and eclectic musical events.
Some forthcoming cultural events in the Upstate Dispatch sphere next week are as follows:
The Spillian Scribblers:
It’s National Novel Writing Month in November and Upstate Dispatch is chronicling the life of the writer with guests on WIOX on alternate Mondays in November (2nd, 16th & 30th) at 9am. Furthermore, the Scribblers, a writers’ group that started last month after a myth-writing workshop run by Leigh Melander, will meet on Tuesday, November 3rd at Spillian in Fleischmanns. Convening In the majestic splendor of a historical Catskills landmark by a cozy fire, we read each other’s works aloud and offer comments over cake and booze. Spillian has a cash bar. If you are a writer and wish to join in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
70F by 9am, with misty mountains evaporating into the hazy sunshine. Update: another 80F+ scorcher, with the haze never really evaporating.
67F at 8.30am.Clouds taking center stage again, chugging through, obscuring the sun at regular intervals. Update: more rain, rising to about 80F by 3pm.
Fleischmanns, 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.
Lisbeth Firmin works out of her warmly inviting art studio in Margaretville, in upstate New York. She was part of the Catskills Open Studio Art Tour last weekend in which she showed many strikingly gorgeous cityscapes in oil.
JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?
LF: I moved from New York City in 2000, but I kept my apartment down there, so I went back and forth for a while.
What were you doing in the city?
I was a painter and I had a two-bedroomed apartment on Sullivan Street and I painted in one of the bedrooms. My career was just taking off and I needed a bigger space, so I bought a storefront in Franklin, upstate New York.
That sounds very Williamsburg. I remember, back in the day, artists used to buy storefronts and paint out of them. Those were the days.
Oh man, those days, Williamsburg. You can’t even go anywhere near the city these days. I’ve heard Newark is happening.
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.
It was worth making the trip just to peruse Oneida’s sketch pad and her Mexican travelogue.
And, of course, there was an array of public art that’s on show year round:
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.
A 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.
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”.
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz found on the notice board in a local yoga studio. Words to live by…
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.
Good news for Farm-to-Table in New York City. Lucky Dog in Hamden receives $40,000 in grant funding for its efforts. The link details some of the NYC restaurants that receive local produce. View the news release from the Delaware County Economic Development, a video by VeccVideography.
Farmers Almanac explains all those seed copters that are flying around this week.
Ever come to the country, been woken up by birdsong and wondered who was singing to you? Browse for birds by name and listen to their call from The Cornell Lab for Ornithology.
Travel the Milky Way on June 21st when Catskills Creameries open up their gates to the public.
The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown is due a visit.
Outdoor cinema in the Catskills looking for funding.
I’m eight months into my Daily Catskills project, in which I take one image a day and publish it on the day. There’s such an incredible abundance of life to record here though, that sometimes I spend all day deciding on one image. I take anywhere from one to 100 images a day on the days that I haven’t hired another photographer to do the job. A couple of weeks ago, I took 95 images of the same cherry tree stand at different angles and I didn’t like a single one of those images I took. I reluctantly published the image that I thought was the best, but changed my mind – and it – several times and eventually gave up and moved on. The whole process took four hours. Needless to say, I have thousands of unpublished images and there are plenty of vantage points in these mountains from which I’ve taken a picture many times, capturing snow, rain, mist and sun from the same location.
A gloomy and dismally overcast morning with light winds, still on 44F at 9am. Gusty and raining by noon. Update: still overcast by 3pm with briefest glimpses of sunshine.
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.
Jenny: How long have you lived in the Catskills?
Heather: I moved to the Catskills in 2007, so I’ve been here going on eight years.
Where did were you living before?
I was living in Dutchess County in Dover Plains and I had been there 17 years. I grew up in Nyack. I’ve actually never lived anywhere more urban than Nyack. It’s been a slow and steady march northward.
What started that slow march?
When I was in High School. I had a buddy who – and this is a crazy story – we both turned sixteen, got our driver’s licenses. She quit high school and moved all by herself as a sixteen year old to Woodstock.
Marvelous signage by Tom of Shamro’s Tire and Auto.
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.
Becca, of The Three Muses, will be reading at the Joma Cafe on Saturday night.
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
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,
held the sweet promise of meeting you.
©2014 Becca #43
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 email@example.com by April 17”.
Entrepreneur Keith Carollo closed his NYC business and moved to the Catskills full-time with his husband Chris. They are both pursuing careers in the arts, with Chris directing the local school play.
How long have you lived in the Catskills?
We’ve lived here full-time for about a year now and we had our home four years before we moved here full-time. It was just a weekend home.
What made you move here?
It was for financial reasons really. We had a business that we closed and at the same time, they were increasing our rent in the city, so it just seemed like it made sense to come here where our expenses would be lower. And that became the next adventure for us.
Up the hill behind the train tracks of the DURR opposite The Emerson, a new inn is being fitted out with ten rooms, restaurant, bar and lounge named The Foxfire Mountain House. Most of the furnishings are second-hand items found in the Catskills, with the decorative Moroccan tiling found in a warehouse in Brooklyn. There are still chairs to be sanded, beds to be built and raspberry banquets to be fitted, but proprietor Tim Trojan hopes to be open by June. An adjacent cottage has been ready for a while and has been rented for weekends on AirBNB. Tim owns the inn with his wife Eliza Clark a television producer and Eliza’s daughter Arden Wray, a photographer. He’s been directing the renovation for the past year, but the style has come from his wife Eliza who produced renovation television shows.
“I don’t ever think any more in terms of weekdays and weekends… I don’t ever feel the need to book a vacation any more because to me it’s all here.”
Esther De Jong, model, real estate agent and fine artist lives full-time in the Catskills after relocating from her native Holland via a life and career based in New York City.
How long have you lived in the Catskills?
Margaret D. Helthaler is a graphic designer and fine art photographer living in the Catskills. She is taking the Daily Catskills images for Upstate Dispatch for the next three days.
How long have you lived in the Catskills?
Poignant relics of Catskills’ history like this antique tractor are to be found all over the Catskills, as much part of the landscape as the forest. Over the next few weeks, as spring begins, we’ll be photographing these enigmatic idols as they sit silently conveying their story like stoic immortal pioneers. May they always be around to remind us of the work involved in settling these mountains. Along Route 28 and other routes, you will find pieces of farm equipment and other machinery arranged into statues. We’ll be documenting those too.
I 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.
Scrolling through back issues of Brain Pickings this week, I stumbled upon the post entitled “How To Avoid Work” and read it with interest. My eye lingered on one quotation in the article: “Your life is too short and too valuable to fritter away in work”. The artist in me agrees with this sentiment but my other half is too pragmatic not to find it irksome. Frequently paired with this idea is the notion of only “doing what you love” and the pursuit of this idyll. Because Upstate Dispatch is devoted to the city folk who are making the country their home and their business, I decided to ask the question: what is work?
A friend in NYC asked me last year “don’t you get bored up there?” There’s this mis-conception that we’re a bit dull up here in the mountains, not edgy enough or uncultured. Not so, my friends, for right on my doorstep, literally a hop, skip and jump is the Spills and Sunday night, March 15th, there’ll be live jazz featuring Eric Rosen, Nina Sheldon and Rich Syracuse. What better way to round off the week than lounging around in the Spillian bar listening to live jazz? Spillian, a place to revel, is a unique location in that it’s a boutique hotel that’s wild at heart and a-fire with desire to make you dream, play and “imagine past what you think is possible”. The only goal of proprietors Leigh Melander and Mark Somerfield is that you revel. Last time I meandered with Melander at the Spills, I started to read aloud from a Charles Bukowski novel and instead of being politely shushed and shuffled into a corner, I was given a piano accompaniment (until a dog started howling). For the second year in a row, Spillian has been hosting Soup Sundays and Soup Salons with Voices From the Catskills co-produced by Chris Hensley, a music industry veteran. The Catskills is the place where artists and producers come to produce the entertainment they love and despite our sleepy reputation most of us are crushing it.
Next Sunday at Spillian:
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when one has enormous financial commitments. Moreover, if you have cabin fever, it will be compounding any feelings of stagnation as this fresh snowstorm moves in. Many of us are afraid to take a vacation or even lunch breaks. Some of us feel we can’t leave our jobs because of hefty student debt. It’s tempting to approach a certain age or milestone and resign with a sigh, thinking “this is it”.
It doesn’t have to be, however. Even the slightest actions or chance meetings can trigger profound alterations in your life.
In February, for the sheer love of the Catskills, Upstate Dispatch is opening its Daily Catskills project to freelance photographers, and stylish amateurs with a superb eye for color and composition. The Daily Catskills Project was started on September 11th last year on Upstate Dispatch, which publishes one or more images taken on the day at 1pm in the Catskills. Please see today’s post for today’s image which was taken this afternoon.
For the two weeks around Valentine’s Day, UD is inviting photographers to submit their best picture of the Catskills on the day for I ♥ Catskills month. We will pick the best image we receive on the day and publish it and pay a fee to the photographer.
There are only two requirements:
1. The image must be taken on the day that it is published. We’re trusting you.
2. Photographers must give Upstate Dispatch permission to use the image in perpetuity on this website and allow the image to be a part of the UD historical archive for the project. We will not use the work anywhere else without your permission.
There’s more! An exhibition is planned for the Autumn after one year and all photographers published on Upstate Dispatch will have a chance to be part of this exhibition by submitting their own edition of their image(s), getting a chance to offer their work for sale to the public. There is also a proposed book in the works. You will also be invited to be part of that (or not) when the time comes (your choice).
This is a chance to be part of a collaborative project by a young website with a promising future! We are gaining more and more followers every month nationally and internationally. Please feel free to look around the website and see if it looks like an environment in which your work would fit.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Please submit images to this email address as a high resolution image for our archive and your exhibition print. We will make a copy and publish at a smaller resolution (roughly 17 x 11 and 72 dpi).
To open the new year, I wanted to post a piece I’ve been itching to publish for some time. Last year, Britain’s Guardian newspaper asked the question: What is a Hipster? This question remains inadequately answered just about everywhere I read it. So here’s my tuppence for the record.
The hipster, borne of necessity, like most American inventions, was quietly humming along by its introverted self until it was “discovered” like the next top model, propelled to stardom and repackaged. No longer the studious, dedicated urban outlier it once was, it has been devoured by contemporary culture: replicated, refined and turned into another brand like Pandora or Urban Outfitters. I’m keenly familiar with its recent history.
New York City has been a cultural icon for most of its life, but it’s a city that is almost unrecognizable from that which I visited for the first time almost 20 years ago. By 1998, I had moved permanently from an empty, crumbling mid-nineties Shoreditch in London to New York City’s Williamsburg and found something similar to what I had left.
Go to Blue Barn Antiques, in Shandaken/Phoenicia for some excellent bargains on high-quality antiques like this Rockwell-painted plate (above) for $15. There is still a pile left with different Rockwell paintings. Other utterly gorgeous vintage and antique dresses are still there alongside modern artisanal products like Pillowtique’s pillows and handmade crafts.
The artistic and entrepreneurial spirit is thriving indomitably in the Catskills where you’ll increasingly find more accomplished artists, tastemakers and downright fascinating people bringing their urban pursuits to the country. Furthermore, most businesses worth spotlighting here in the Catskills seem to be owned by women. Faye Storms has owned Blue Barn Antiques on Route 28 in Shandaken since 1979, having moved to the Catskills from NYC. “My husband brought me up here to recover from a sports injury and I fell in love with the place,” she says. “Then he put a bid on the store after we got married”. Storms learned the antiques trade after she bought the property, went to auctions, studied books, talked to people and set up the store. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband got into reproduction furniture which made them hugely popular. “There was nothing like it in the area at the time. We had cars lining up down the street.” The property has an interesting history having been a farm, a store and a luncheonette with a dancehall stage at the back that is still intact.
A graduate of FIT in New York City, Storms is also an accomplished artist – something that antique store owners seem to have in common in the area – a town council member and a real estate broker. She has firsthand knowledge that game changers and influencers, artists willing “to take a gamble or leap of faith” are pouring into the area and buying up property with the intent to start enterprises and encourage growth in the area.
Blue Barn’s prices are also reasonable, making it the place for an exciting bargain. A red, antique, ankle-length dress made in Shanghai, pictured below was $36. The store is also frequented by stylists for motion pictures, dinner theatres and fashion shoots.
There are two buildings on the Blue Barn property: a one-storey building (pictured top) and a two-storey building next to it, which Storms is slowly turning into a dealer center with all different dealers of various wares in addition to antiques like clothing, arts and crafts. You’ll find Theadora Anema’s Pillowthique, which featured early on Upstate Dispatch.
From 12pm to 5pm this coming Saturday December 6th, there will be an open house at the Blue Barn.
Blue Barn Antiques, 7053 State Route 28, Shandaken, (3 miles west of Phoenicia), New York. Open winter hours: Saturday and Sundays, 11-5pm.
Catskills’ artist Alix Travis has released a coloring book based on her own drawings for ages 7 and upwards. The book, priced at $15.50, will be available at the Commons Gallery, Margaretville, when it opens for the new show December 2nd to 31st, “Abstracts by Christopher Engel; Sculpture by Anthony Margiotta; Figures by Alix Hallman Travis”, the reception being December 6 from 3pm to 5pm.
Every dollar that you spend locally is 5 to 7 times the value of that expenditure to your community. When you shop at a big box store you’re diverting your capital directly out of your community to places like Asia, where most American products are made and wherever the owners of the big box store live. Furthermore, big box stores notoriously pay low wages to their workers, so by regularly shopping in those stores you’re contributing to the large-scale expansion of a low-wage job sector, such is the power of your wallet. Moreover, it’s no secret that government is bought and paid for by large corporations through lobbying and campaign fund contributions, the Supreme Court now having ruled that those contributions may be unlimited. Even if every American decided to vote in the next election, this fact would remain unchanged. This means we are remarkably more powerful when we are spending our money than when we are voting. All the power is in our purse and how we spend our hard-earned money, quite an extraordinary fact. Think about what would happen if we all stopped shopping for a few days, or stopped buying brand-new products, or only purchased food from our local farmer.
One way to buy local and recycle is to choose vintage stores for your Christmas shopping, thereby saving your economy and your environment in one fell swoop. One such place here in the Catskills is Mystery Spot Antiques in Phoenicia owned by Laura Levine, an artist who has shown work at the MOMA and has work in the permanent collection in the National Portrait Gallery. Laura has a superbly discerning eye and has filled her “odditorium” with magnificent, beautifully unique gifts like a snakeskin purse, a shearling coat, Liberty of London ties, gorgeously dainty Czech glass goblets and a bucket of polaroid cameras.
“I have always collected weird things my entire life,” she says. “I’m from the city. I grew up in the city, but my parents had a little cabin upstate when I was a kid and we used to go to yard sales and in the city I always used to go to flea markets.” Her antique store used to be in a little multi-dealer store in Phoenicia Plaza, near where the Phoenicia Diner is now. She had a 10 x 10 booth and stocked it with antiques until the placed closed down. “I had 30 days to move my things out and I was either going to sell it all or take the next step and open my own shop. I wasn’t going to do that, but I found a little space on the boardwalk in Phoenicia for $200 a month, so I took it. I opened over the summer for 20 days a year and the store grew from there.” That was over 13 years ago and five years ago the shop moved to its current, much larger and more prominent location on Main Street.
The store has just invested in two pick-up truck loads from an estate sale that she is still picking her way though, but her favorite thing of the moment is a steel shoe mold from a shoe factory, in a men’s size eight. “The thrill of the hunt is really the fun part,” says Laura who still lives in New York City and has an employee run the store for most of the time. “When I am at the store, I love meeting my customers. I’ve made some really great friends. I feel like it attracts kindred spirits and I always end up having something in common with the customers, like our paths crossed in the music business or the art world or something.”
For this weekend’s Small Business Saturday, the store is displaying a table of gift suggestions which range in price from 25 cents (for vintage greeting cards) to about $200, but the average price at the table is $20-$30. Gift certificates are also available: perfect for Christmas and especially if you’d like your in-laws to visit more! Entice them back to claim their gift.
If you’re wondering why Davy Crockett is outside, he’s a loaner from the neighboring Sportsman’s Cantina, moved there after Hurricane Irene, that Laura was thrilled to receive. It’s Davy’s birthday on August 17th and last year they had a Davy Crockett day during which customers dressed up as Crockett and local businesses donated prizes.
Go and have a dig around yourself in Mystery Spot Antiques, 72 Main Street, Phoenicia, New York: (845) 688-7868. Open weekends only for the winter, Saturday 11am to 6pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. Find them on Facebook and Instagram. THIS WEEKEND ONLY: for Small Business Saturday on November 29th, get 20% off everything, except Mystery Spot Antiques’ tote bags and t-shirts.
Plastic has gradually displaced wood over the last forty years in all products ranging from toys to furniture, to siding for houses and everything in between. Plastic is disposable though and most of it ends its life floating in the South Pacific. In the Catskills, wood is carved and carved upon, built with, juiced, chopped, stacked and burned. We have associations and organizations that manage and conserve our forests. You’ll possess a finely crafted wood product for life and pass it down like art in your family as a treasured heirloom. Supporting local carpenters and craftsmen keeps that craft alive and keeps one more piece of plastic out of the ocean. It doesn’t take much to buy a carving board from local New York State wood like maple (pictured above from Knap Knoll) or wooden toys for children that will last many lifetimes. If you’re looking for a larger handmade heirloom for your family, visit Gary Mead’s Fruitful Furnishings in the Catskills for some of the finest craftsmanship in the Catskill Park region. And, as a side note, to protect our forests from invasive species, like Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorn Beetle, please do not transport firewood.
There’s something very simple, quiet and comforting about being in a group of artists. Eating your bagged lunch in comfy chairs, the morning’s art distributed on the floor for a gentle critique. Sharing a highly windy mountain top for a few hours of Plein Air, during which your easel violently flies at you intermittantly, bringing splashes of paint with it while your painting hat flaps into your face. There’s always a ten minute walk to the nearest toilet with new friends while imparting a brief life story or creeping self-consciously into a stranger’s house to use the facilities. There’s a rhapsody in hue where nothing is explained, but all is understood.
Alix Travis presents “Catskill Mountain Life, a celebration of community”, a series of paintings depicting the landscape and life in our small towns and hamlets. Ten paintings of the series will be on exhibition from October 24th to November 17th at the Longyear Gallery, upstairs in the Commons, Margaretville, New York. The opening reception will be on Saturday, October 25th from 3pm to 6pm.
Upstate Dispatch is waking up with the brilliant Berry Breakfast this overcast, surprisingly warm and humid morning (61F at 7.30am), in order to join the Halcottvsille Plein Air Group on top of a mountain in Roxbury for a watercolor session. Then it’s back to oils for the winter. We can’t get enough of this surperbly, delicately crafted tea.
Theodora Anema has been a designer for her entire career after having attended an art academy in Amsterdam, the Rietveld Academy. She bought her house in the Catskills in 2000, quitting her job in 2012. On her website Pillowtique, you can find her home accessories: appliqued pillows and ottomans made with leather, suede and ultrasuede.
When her daughter was born, she wanted to design some fun accessories for her bedroom, “some things to spruce up her room. Around that time those abbreviations were widely in use, like LOL, LMAO, etc. So I started doing that and made a whole series of them”.
There’s something homely and comforting about pillows and blankets in tactile soft suede, especially as we go into winter. Beautifully-made soft furnishings like this also make excellent gifts. Continue reading
Coming soon to Margaretville… Alix Travis is opening the Commons Gallery in Margaretville, “a gallery for artists”, meaning an actual gallery run by and for the artist. The gallery will exhibit Travis’ work when not in use by other area artists who wish to curate a show or showcase their own work. Travis says:
“The idea grew out of frustration of my having a series of paintings that were community inspired and not having a venue where they could be shown in entirety and easily accessible to my community. The series had been exhibited beyond our area, but I wanted it here.”
The Commons Gallery is not a cooperative and will only charge reasonable rent, not commissions, allowing artists the freedom to have solo or group shows whenever they want and based on whatever subject matter they feel like exhibiting.
“Galleries frequently have a particular focus which is limiting,” says Travis. “I felt the absence in our area of an attractive space with Main Street exposure at a reasonable expenditure for local artists who wanted to show their own work, or curate a show of other’s work: that is a creative activity in itself”.
Travis states that the other real plus is that the Commons building now has several artist’s studios and is becoming a real community of artists and artist creations: a destination.