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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Emerge Gallery a Successful Addition to Saugerties Art Scene

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Many towns along the Hudson River are in varying stages of experiencing a revival, and a large part of that process is due to the influx of artists who want to create their works here, and the galleries that support them by exhibiting their works.  Saugerties is no exception. A fairly recent newcomer to the Saugerties art scene and one of the most outstanding art venues in the village is the Emerge Gallery & Art Space on Main Street (close to the intersection with Partition Street).

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Emerge Gallery focuses on emerging artists from the Hudson Valley region and beyond by hosting monthly group exhibitions and other events. Proprietor and curator Robert P. Langdon strives to identify and exhibit the best emerging artists from the Hudson Valley region and beyond. Each month he mounts a new exhibition, and frequently each show includes work of various mediums and styles. The exhibition Equine: A Group Exhibition of Art Celebrating the Horse pays tribute to Saugerties’ tradition of horse shows. With a stunning variety of work by over forty artists, everyone who visits is guaranteed to see something reflecting their particular taste and interests.  The photos I’m including here give some idea of what Equine offers.

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This wonderful show closes on October 2 and will be followed by Change: A Group Exhibition of Art by Members of the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA). Running from October 7 to October 30, Change has its opening reception on Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 5-8 PM, with an advance preview on October 6 as part of Saugerties’ First Friday.

Before he opened Emerge Gallery, Robert Langdon was Director at Gallery U in Red Bank and Westfield, NJ, where he played an instrumental role in furthering the art scene in both communities. Then as now, his strength lay in community building and supporting and promoting emerging artists.

IMG_1308 sRobert has previously been Director of Sales and Marketing at a nonprofit children’s picture book publisher in San Francisco, where he began working one-on-one with fine artists; still-life photographer in Manhattan where he photographed still life for Macy’s and A&S catalogs among others; and teacher in suburban New Jersey. Born and raised in New Jersey, he lived in San Francisco for thirteen years and now calls the beautiful Hudson Valley home.

Emerge Gallery is an open and welcoming environment that is also available to rent for solo and privately curated exhibitions.  Artwork from current and previous exhibitions, along with online exclusives, are available through the gallery’s website at





Discovering Coxsackie

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One of the buildings at the Bronck Museum.

I first “met” Coxsackie seven years ago when photographing for my book Historic Hudson Valley, and my visit back then was limited to the famous Bronck Museum. Pieter Bronck — despite his Dutch-sounding name, he was of Swedish origin — bought property on that site from Mohican Indians in 1662 and, with his Dutch wife Hilletje Jans, built a house there the following year. Over the next several decades many more buildings, including barns and other farm structures, were added.

The settlement of Coxsackie itself predates Bronck’s arrival by some ten years, and although he didn’t give his name to the town — that honor belongs to the Coxsackievirus, which was first isolated here — his name is enshrined farther south in New York State, in the Bronx.

During a recent Open House in which several of Coxsackie’s churches opened their doors to welcome visitors I had the chance to see a bit more of this town. Below are a few of the photos I took that day, along with two from the Bronck Museum taken a few weeks later.

As part of this year’s celebration of Pieter Bronck’s 400th birthday, there will be a guided tour of Coxsackie’s Historic District on Friday September 8 and Saturday September 9 (rain dates the following week). This little jewel in the northern part of Greene County is well worth getting to know. You can find more information by clicking here.

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The famous Good Shepherd Window in the Second Reformed Church.


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The First United Methodist Church.

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The Gospel Community Church, a friendly and musical Pentecostal church.

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Impressive organ pipes at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

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An “extract” of a barn building at the Bronck Museum.

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.


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.