Athens CC Hosts Special Paintings of Special Places

I’ll open by quoting the first sentence of the Greene Land Trust‘s Mission Statement: “The mission of the Greene Land Trust is to preserve and protect significant natural and cultural resource in and around Greene County, New York.” And I’ll add that they do superb work in this regard. The GLT owns or manages eight properties in Greene County that are of outstanding natural and ecological importance and scenic beauty. A significant part of their work consists in partnering with other local organizations to the mutual benefit of both for the sake of furthering their mission.

In the history of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, the contribution of landscape artists in showcasing the beauty of this area has been invaluable in raising the consciousness of the importance of caring for and preserving this land. From the time of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of the Hudson River School, until the present, painters and, more recently, photographers have worked tirelessly to share the beauty of our mountains, forests, rivers, and valleys with an appreciative and discerning public. This would scarcely have been possible without the venues — the galleries and other outlets — that have made their spaces available to display these artistic creations.

Now, right here in Athens, the Athens Cultural Center is hosted the third Seasons of Greene exhibition, showcasing the work of the region’s finest painters, who have contributed their paintings of the GLT-owned or -managed properties, offering them for sale to benefit the Greene Land Trust. The success of the first Seasons of Greene in 2017 (the brainchild of James Coe, GLT’s Secretary and a gifted artist) led to Seasons of Green II in 2021 and now Seasons of Green III, featuring paintings by thirteen artists, some of whom are new this year. Space doesn’t allow me to discuss or show a painting by each artist, but I’ll present a few whose paintings could be photographed without the interference of reflections and paintings of which I remembered to get the title and the artist’s name (when you’re trying to do this at a deservedly crowded opening reception, it’s not as easy as it sounds!). Thus, nothing to do with favoritism, just, really, chance.

You don’t have to be an art critic for the New York Times to realize that these photos don’t do justice to the paintings or their creators. The exhibition runs until October 23 and gallery hours are Fridays 4-7 pm, Saturdays 12-6 pm, and Sundays 11-2pm at the Athens Cultural Center on Second Street, a block from Athens’ lovely Riverfront Park. Don’t miss it.

Ken Wilson, who is new to Seasons of Greene, does some really exciting work with textures. A photograph is an insufficient attempt to convey this aspect of his work, but if you’re able to attend the show in person, you’ll see and appreciate what I mean. Ken may be new to the GLT shows, but the list of places where he has exhibited is impressive and hopefully he’ll continue to exhibit in Seasons of Greene.
This intriguing painting is a striking departure from what I consider the usual trajectory of Scott Balfe’s always magnificent work (he virtually channels Thomas Cole, if I may say that without suggesting that he is imitative). It’s small in scale — 5 x 7 — and his usually subdued, meditative colors have given way here to a fiery look. Kudos to whoever hung the show, this painting by Scott was imaginatively displayed.
Marlene Wiedenbaum is no stranger to Seasons of Greene, and this spacious, pastoral scene makes me grateful for that. Marlene is a highly noted pastel artist whose works have been shown all over the country; she has been featured in several prestigious art journals, and she teaches at the Woodstock School of Art. If you can get to the show in person, be sure to look for her magnificent Flegel Barn. Trust me, you can’t miss it!
Jay Brooks is another of the new artists to be welcomed to GLT. A native of Genesee County who grew up on farmland, a love of landscape and a keen sense of the bucolic come naturally to him. His Seasons of Greene debut was auspicious — one of his paintings was the first one sold at the show!

Windham Exhibit Showcases “The Beauty of the Catskills”

Autumn is always a busy and interesting time in the Catskills. Craft fairs, art shows, and other good things abound to provide us with lots of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy before winter comes and makes our living rooms look inviting.

In this photograph and the one that heads the article, Fran Driscoll captures some of the stunning scenery of the Catskills.

Windham is one of my favorite places, and I’m proud to belong to and participate in the Windham Arts Alliance (WAA) art shows, which are held at the Main Street Community Center, 5494 State Route 23, Windham. The autumn show is aptly titled “The Beauty of the Catskills,” and it opened on September 10 with a magnificent slide show and talk by noted Catskills photographer Fran Driscoll. Fran is familiar with every inch of the Catskills, and his knowledge and enthusiasm inspired us all. Speaking as a photographer, I came away with ideas for my photography as such as well as for new places to check out.

“View of Sunset Rock” demonstrates why Windham artist Sheila Trautman is one of my great inspirations.

The WAA shows are open to painters and photographers, and given the theme, this year’s autumn show is, well, beautiful! If you’re in the area, please come and enjoy. It’s open until November 11. The Windham Autumn Affair will take place October 8 and 9 from 10 am to 5 pm, so if you can, come and take in both events on the same day.

Here is my photograph of the Windham Path, a popular walking and biking destination.

If you visit the MSCC’s website you’ll see a gallery of selected artworks from the show. Here I’m posting for you one of my own works, a painting by Sheila Trautman who has long been one of my artistic inspirations, and some photographs by Fran Driscoll, who, I believe, will have a booth at the Autumn Affair.

And one final stunning image by Fran Driscoll.

A Hidden Gem: The Maverick Concert Hall

Concerts take place on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

How is the historic Maverick Concert Hall a hidden gem? In two ways, I think. First, it’s physically hidden–in the woods just outside Woodstock. It’s easy to find, but you can’t see it from a main road–only after you turn into the well-signposted forest road does it come into view, a rustic architectural wonder with the most astounding acoustics. But it’s also hidden in the sense that it’s rather under the radar compared with, say, Tanglewood or the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (and the tickets are very affordable compared to these). Nevertheless, the Maverick, as the oldest continual summer chamber music series in the country, does have its regular local devotees as well as audience members who come from afar. Some of the most prominent chamber music ensembles in the world, especially string quartets, perform here, and pianist Simone Dinnerstein is a regular! She performed a magnificent concert over the July 4 weekend, which turned out to be the first of four Maverick Concerts I attended in July. Here are some photos I took during the month.

The freshly tuned piano is waiting for Simone Dinnerstein to enter and treat us to her magnificent performance. The concert program she played is actually on her recent CD, Undersong. Except for the intermission, she played each half of the concert without any pauses between the pieces of music–and it worked, the way each piece drifted naturally into the next. One of the compositions was “Mad Rush” by Philip Glass, one of my favorite pieces of music, and hearing her play it was a transcendent experience; I admit to using it occasionally as a meditation piece. You’d think that someone with her reputation and fame might be a bit stuck up or self-important, but I met her briefly after the concert (to thank her for playing the Glass) and she’s the most unassuming person imaginable.

Maverick Concerts director Alexander Platt, an accomplished musician in his own right, does a virtuoso job of coming on stage just before the second half of a performance and talking up some of the upcoming concerts in such a way that, even if you hadn’t considered attending those concerts before, you’re ready to make a beeline for the Box Office and buy a ticket. Such was the case with pianist Daniel Gortler, who performed 15 short Lyric Pieces by Edvard Grieg and then devoted the second half to Schubert’s magisterial Sonata in B-flat Major. Gortler thinks carefully about each note he plays. If someone were to suggest awarding the title “the mindful pianist,” he would be way up there on the list of nominees. After the concert I left wondering how it could have happened that I had never heard of Daniel Gortler before. He’s worth keeping track of.

Besides classical music I also enjoy country, folk, and bluegrass, so when Happy Traum and his friends are around, I want to be at that concert. The program included the numbers from Happy’s newest album, There’s a Bright Side Somewhere. The way these musicians concentrate intently on one another is amazing and is necessary for them to be able to pass seamlessly from one musician’s (semi-)improvisation to the next. Among his friends at this concert were veteran guitarist and harmonica player John Sebastian and the incredible Cindy Cashdollar (her real name) who played a variety of guitar-like instruments that even I couldn’t begin to identify. Here’s a picture of some of them:

All these guitar-like instruments, from the lone one at left to the multicolored ensemble to the right of it, were played by Cindy Cashdollar. Judging by a board full of lights that sits on the floor in front of the one guitar, I’d say you have to be a NASA scientist as well as a musician to play some of these things.

My final July concert was another I hadn’t originally thought to attend, but between Mr. Platt’s customary persuasiveness and Classical WMHT announcer Rob Brown’s pointed weather forecasts featuring beautiful weather that weekend (as well as the fact that a Philip Glass String Quartet was on the program), I ended up going to hear the magnificent Miro Quartet. The photo below was a grab shot I took with a long lens during their rehearsal; there’s a camaraderie among them and a joy at their work that’s obvious even from that distance and that spills over into the audience. The second violinist (program didn’t list the musicians’ names!) kept reminding me of the late great cellist Lynn Harrell, whose sheer joy at what he was doing was a hallmark of his performances.

The Miro Quartet rehearsing.

If you’ve not been to a concert at the Maverick, it’s definitely an experience worth having. This summer’s season ends on September 11 with a solo pianist concert to which I have yet to buy a ticket, but I have a feeling someone will persuade me … And their website is in case you want to think about the Maverick’s 2023 season.

At the Emerge Gallery, Something New is Nothing New

Something out of the ordinary is guaranteed to meet you when you step into the Emerge Gallery in Saugerties to view an exhibition. Owner Robert Langdon encourages artists to challenge themselves in their creativity, to push beyond the boundaries of their comfort zones, and he’s not averse to doing the same as a gallerist when it comes to devising themes for shows or deciding what art to accept for them. It could be one piece of art or it could be the exhibit as a whole—the novel, the extraordinary, will be there to meet and greet you.

Artwork by Jay Youngdahl. Image courtesy of Emerge Gallery

In the case of Golden Desire, the exhibition currently in the gallery through October 10, 2021, it’s the entire show that provides a unique experience. Two artists—Lesley Bodzy and Jay Youngdahl, both recent graduates of the MFA Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago—have collaborated to explore “the role of desire in our existential lives and the relation of gold to our personal and economic relationships,” Langdon states. “Conceived as an aid to consider our crucial universalities, the artists proceed with an understanding that we live in a common state of fragility, in our planet and in our bodies and minds.”

Painter and sculptor Lesley Bodzy explains: “This series of works attempts to visualize and process the invisible pressures many girls of my generation endured while conforming with the golden standard of stereotypical femininity,” she explains. “The gold drapery reflects the shiny veneer we each present to the world. Taught to play roles to please our parents and society, our challenge is to seek our true selves.”

Jay Youngdahl, a lawyer for and activist with workers in the American South, is a photographer, collage artist, and writer. “Finding abstraction in landscape and travel photography that connects to our human condition, his work in the show pulls several threads from the multitude of historic references to gold.” For me Youngdahl’s most striking work in the show derives directly from his work as labor advocate: a large golden poster displaying the lyrics of a song sung by twentieth-century textile workers. You have to see it to appreciate it in itself and in the context of this exhibition.

“Golden Desire” is at the Emerge Gallery, Main Street, Saugerties, open Fridays through Sundays. If you can’t make it in person, artwork from this and all Emerge Gallery’s shows can be viewed and purchased online through

You Must See “Seasons of Greene II”

If you’re in or near the Catskill-Athens area and want to see a really super exhibit of outstanding paintings of our region by some of the gifted artists who live and work here, then don’t miss “Seasons of Greene II” at the Athens Cultural Center. Eleven of these artists—Scott Thomas Balfe, Bruce Bundock, James Coe, Kevin Cook, James Cramer, Keith Gunderson, Ann Larsen, Lynn Palumbo, Leigh Ann Smith, Susan M. Story, and Marlene Wiedenbaum—have captured, each in their own unique style, the beauty and sublimity to be found in the various special places protected by the Greene Land Trust. These include the Coxsackie Creek Grassland Preserve, Brandow Point, the Octaparagon Wildlife Refuge, the Coxsackie/Climax Creek Wetland, the Mawignack Preserve, the Willows, Pine Lane, and Flegel Farm. Each of these places has its own character, its own kind of terrain, so when eleven superb artists are let loose in them to meditate on and capture the characteristics that specially touch them, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a very engrossing show.

As the show’s title implies, it was preceded by the original “Seasons of Greene” which was held in 2017. Plans are afoot, I believe, to make this a regular event every other year. I hope so. I went there on the opening day so I could get a flavor of it to share with you, but I’m planning to return and spend the time that these magnificent artworks deserve.

The paintings are for sale, and a portion of the proceeds from the sales goes to support the work of Greene Land Trust to protect these special Greene County places.

“Seasons of Greene II” is open until October 10, 2021. The hours are Fridays 4–7 pm; Saturdays 1–6 pm; Sundays 11–2 pm. Parking is easy to find. Athens is well worth a visit in itself, both to stroll the streets and to enjoy the waterfront (from which you can catch a view of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse). Don’t miss this opportunity!

“Dragons Rising and Tigers Leaping” at Saugerties Pro Musica

Saugerties Pro Musica works tirelessly to bring a variety of top-level performers in all fields of music each month to their venue, the United Methodist Church in Saugerties. In October, pianist Olga Gurevich dazzled with an energetic and technically demanding program of Russian music. In November we enjoyed “Dragons Rising and Tigers Leaping,” a program of traditional and modern Chinese music presented by students from the Bard College Conservatory of Music. Here are some pictures I took, along with explanations. But first let me add that these talented young ladies will be around giving performances in other venues in the region. Be sure to watch out for them! They are a real treat.

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L to R: Beitong Liu and Chang Liu (playing the erhu), Meilin Wei (percussion), Sibei (Betty) Wang and Yxin Wang (playing the guzheng).

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Yixin Wang, accompanied by pianist Ivy Wu, plays a contemporary piece for guzheng. This was the most fascinating instrument of all, capable of an amazingly wide variety of sounds. This was a technically challenging piece; the musician wears special picks to keep fingertips from being shredded!

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In contrast to the drama of the guzheng, the erhu, played here by Chang Liu, is a lyric instrument that very closely resembles the human voice. The piece was by an early 20th-century composer.


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Pianist Helen Wu played selections from the composer most likely to be familiar to Westerners: Tan Dun, whose opera “The Last Emperor” was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 2008 with Placido Domingo in the title role.




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Guzheng musician Betty Wang played  traditional music arranged by a contemporary composer.

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The program closed with a traditional Chinese song.






Spirit Houses? See Them in Saugerties!

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You have to give credit to Emerge Gallery owner Robert Langdon for ingenuity in devising exhibits — not only the shows that hang for a month or so but also the “pop-up” ones that last for a day or two or three. On Sunday I popped in for what was supposed to be a one-day exhibit of Spirit Houses, but he has decided to keep it up through the Thanksgiving weekend.

Lorrie and Michael Wardell’s pottery work is familiar to customers at various restaurants around Saugerties, including the Dutch Ale House, Miss Lucy’s, even Lox of Bagels and Bluestone Coffee Roasters. The Emerge Gallery is featuring a selection of their unique spirit houses. What is a spirit house? I’ll let Lorrie and Michael speak for themselves:

“There is a tradition in many cultures, from medieval England and Europe to modern Indonesia and Thailand, to provide a place for spirits to dwell near our homes or in special and sacred places.  The ancient Greeks built their incredible temples as an enticement for the gods to come and stay so they would be attentive to the prayers offered at the temple.  Pre-Christian Europeans provided niches carved in stone or wood for the gods in a sacred grove or those protecting the crossroads to dwell in.  No home or building in modern Thailand is without a spirit house, the placement of which is decided even before construction of the building begins.  All of these traditions seek to acknowledge the place that spirits and spirituality have in enriching our lives.  By providing a home for the spirits, we provide a tangible acknowledgment of the more ethereal aspects of our lives.”

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I was intrigued to learn of this artistic application of the idea of sacred space, and to see the differences between the medieval European spirit houses and those from Indonesia and Thailand, and I purchased one of the “medieval” ones for myself. They are amazingly affordable, and if you’re looking for a very different kind of gift to give this Christmas season (or even for yourself), I highly recommend that you stop in and have a look.



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Some works from the “Petit” show.

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To the right is my piece in this show, a scene in the Berkshires.

Meanwhile, the theme for the current monthly show is “Petit” and features works of smaller sized art. Again, a nice gift idea–or for your own wall. Visit the Gallery’s website for further details. You can even purchase online!

Cedar Grove Celebrates a Cole Milestone

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In 1818 a 17-year-old youth arrived in the USA with his parents and sisters from Bolton, Lancashire, England. The Industrial Revolution hadn’t been kind to the father of the family, and so they decided to try their fortune in the fledgling country across The Pond.

That youth, whose name was Thomas Cole, would eventually achieve renown as a master landscape artist and the founder of the Hudson River School of painting. After a few years spent in Ohio and Pennsylvania as an itinerant portrait painter, young Cole eventually arrived in New York and, eager to explore, took a fateful trip up the Hudson River to the Catskills. Love at first sight. He painted three scenes from the Catskills and exhibited them in New York City, where they caught the attention of men prominent in the art world. One was Asher B. Durand, who became a lifelong friend of Cole. His career was launched.

In 1836 Cole married Maria Bartow of Catskill, and from then until his untimely death at the age of forty-seven he made Cedar Grove in Catskill his home (after his death, Maria and their children continued to live there). Cedar Grove stayed in the Cole family until 1979. The Greene County Historical Society bought the property in 1998, and in 1999 it was declared a National Historic Site. After extensive restoration work Cedar Grove was opened to the public in 2001, for Thomas Cole’s 200th birthday, . It is now the venue for important exhibitions and lectures related to the Hudson River School artists.

DSC0013 BuzSim o Sandstone sIn 2018 the Thomas Cole National Historic Site celebrates the 200th anniversary of Cole’s arrival in the USA with an exhibition titled Picturesque and Sublime: Thomas Cole’s Trans-Atlantic Inheritance. The first lecture of the season featured Tim Barringer, co-curator of the exhibition and professor of Art History at Yale, introducing this major show. It’s tempting to think of someone who is dubbed a “founder” or a “first” as someone who has made all things new, but in fact, a close study of history tells us that this isn’t so. Dr. Barringer’s lecture as well as the exhibition and the gorgeous catalogue produced for it are immensely enlightening about Cole’s artistic roots and inspirations.

To learn more about the Thomas Cole Historic Site and its events and programs, visit its website at

To purchase prints or other products related to my two images in this post, click on each image to be directed to my website.

About Poughkeepsie

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Funny what interesting information you can unearth quite by accident. Do you know what Main Mall Row is in Poughkeepsie? I discovered this while looking up some general information on the history of the “Queen City on the Hudson” and found it intriguing because I’ve photographed this area many times before. Wikipedia describes Main Mall Row as “an adjoining group of nine commercial buildings along the northeast corner of the intersection of Main and Garden streets in downtown Poughkeepsie.”


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These Victorian Renaissance buildings arose from the ashes of a fire that destroyed the earlier buildings on this site in 1870. The name Main Mall Row originated during the 1970s, when the city attempted to establish a pedestrian mall in the two blocks of Main between Market and Academy Streets. The idea was to offer an alternative to the shopping malls to which downtown businesses were losing customers. As is too often the case, the malls won out in the end, but Poughkeepsie still boasts these architecturally significant buildings, which are still in use and were added to the National Register of Historic  Places in 1982.

IMG_1698 sHere are pictures from my recent visit, when I went to attend the superb concert of Handel’s Messiah at the Bardavon with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. The HVP continues to offer topnotch musical events in the mid Hudson Valley, and now with the renovations of Kingston’s UPAC completed, some of these concerts will be held there once again.

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To purchase the above pictures, click on the picture you’re interested in and you’ll be taken to my web page for that picture.

A reminder! If you’re in the Saugerties area and haven’t yet visited the current exhibition at the Emerge Gallery on Main Street, now is the time to do so. The “Primar(il)y Red” show closes on January 8. My popular photograph of the historic red Adirondack barn (now, alas, demolished) is in the show.

A Gallery Show of “Petit” Works

The Emerge Gallery in Main Street, Saugerties, will have the opening for its Petit show this Saturday (with preview on Friday). I have two framed images in the show, which runs through most of November. The Emerge Gallery, I’ve discovered, is a great place to find a gift for that hard-to-please person! Here are the details.

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