Interpreting the Cold Spring Hotel

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From grand resort to beloved ruin — that, in essence, is the story of the Cold Spring Resort Hotel in Tannersville, once one of the many popular vacation spots that dotted the Mountain Top and now — well, those of us who, like me, have been following its gradual deterioration over the past few years, wonder each time we drive down that road, is it still there? or has it finally fallen victim to a combination of meteorological and human (as in wrecking ball) conditions? It was slated for demolition already in February 2015 and yet what’s left of it still stands.

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I’ve been using my cameras to document its decline for about four years now, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with this building, I’m posting a couple of my pictures. But even more remarkable is a group of artists who have been making paintings of the Cold Spring Hotel during this period. Beyond the significance of their art as such is the question of whether something beautiful can be made of something that in its essence is not beautiful — in this case decay, ruin. Personally I have no patience with those who maintain a literalist view that to create beauty you must start with a beautiful subject. If anything, Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photographs documenting environmental degradation in the Hudson Valley offer an eloquent denial of that fallacy.

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And if you want a further, creative denial of that fallacy, a little exhibit at the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s gallery in Hunter will convince you that beauty can be found in decay, in ruin. Treat yourself to a visit with paintings by Karen F. Rhodes and Sheila Trautman. As a sample I’m posting photos I took — not the most ideal likenesses because it was unavoidable to keep the lights in the room from reflecting into the frames. But they will give you an idea of what’s in store for you.

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