Another Good Eating Place in Tannersville

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There is a surprising variety of worthwhile restaurants and cafes along Route 23A between Hunter and Haines Falls. (I say “surprising” because one wouldn’t necessarily expect a rural region of the Catskills to have better eating places than a certain area of Bergen County, NJ with which I’m familiar, and yet such is definitely the case.)  A number of them are in colorful Tannersville, which prides itself on its restaurants and has taken to touting them quite enthusiastically.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATannersville. If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I’m a fan of the Last Chance. But here’s a recommendation for something totally different: Maggie’s Krooked Cafe. It looks quite unprepossessing both outside and in, but on my visit to the Mountain Top last week I decided to try it out and got attentive and friendly service from Violet and the best beef burger I’ve had probably in my entire life. Coming from someone who hasn’t been a fan of beef burgers for many a year, that’s saying something.

Maggie prides herself on using fresh, local ingredients and all food is cooked to order. The extensive breakfast menu features a variety of pancakes — including potato pancakes — along with other dishes. (I’m going to have to try the pancakes some time, although I did warn Violet that my standards for pancakes are very high.)

If you’re traveling through Tannersville, you might want to give the Krooked Cafe a try. It’s on the north side of Route 23A. Oh, and it was written up in Hudson Valley magazine’s restaurants issue in January 2014. So if you hesitate to take my word for it, believe the experts!

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The beautiful sunflower field just outside New Paltz didn’t disappoint this year! Click on the above photo to get to my website, where you can enjoy more recent sunflower photos, which are also available for purchase.

Chester — A Jewel of a Village in Orange County

I used the "Pop Art" setting on a new camera to accentuate the bright colors in Chester's Main Street.

I used the “Pop Art” setting on a new camera to accentuate the bright colors in Chester’s Main Street.

It’s genteelly picturesque, steeped in history, has a nice outdoor market during the warm months along with a vintage railway station that now serves as home of the local Historical Society and as one of the principal starting points for the renowned Heritage Trail. As villages go, Chester is one of the tops in Orange County — in my opinion, perhaps THE top.

Here is a small collection of pictures I’ve taken in Chester on recent visits.

The weekly Farm Market operates on Sundays near the entrance to the Heritage Trail.

The weekly Farm Market operates on Sundays near the entrance to the Heritage Trail.

Assemblyman James Skoufis maintains a strong presence in the village.

Assemblyman James Skoufis maintains a strong presence in the village.

Two local restaurants: A blackboard displays the beer offerings at Touch Base ...

Two local restaurants: A blackboard displays the beer offerings at Touch Base …

...and a cautionary sign at  Clayton Delaney's Dining Saloon

…and a cautionary sign at Clayton Delaney’s Dining Saloon

If you’re in the area, don’t forget to drop in to my photo exhibit reception at The Cottage Place Gallery in nearby Ridgewood, NJ:

Sunday September 14, 2014, 2 to 5 pm 113 Cottage Place Ridgewood NJ

Sunday September 14, 2014, 2 to 5 pm
113 Cottage Place
Ridgewood NJ

“Light Sensitive” – An Edgy Photography Exhibit Opens in Hunter

To the left, one of Vincent Bilotta's images on a window of the gallery; to the right, some of Dan Burkholder's scenic images

To the left, one of Vincent Bilotta’s images on a window of the gallery; to the right, some of Dan Burkholder’s scenic images

If you like art that’s daring, original, visionary, really pushes the envelope, you shouldn’t miss the new photography exhibit, Light Sensitive, that opened last weekend at the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery in Hunter. Carolyn Bennett has brought together three amazing artists, all of whom know one another, live within a few miles of one another (two in Palenville and one in Catskill), and are as different in their approach to their art as you can possibly imagine. What’s more remarkable is that all three are photographers — this exhibit pushes the limits of what photography can do beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

Dan Burkholder describes his working methods to some gallery visitors. One of his images is on the wall.

Dan Burkholder describes his working methods to some gallery visitors. One of his images is on the wall.

Dan Burkholder is at home in both the traditional and the digital darkrooms and uses his skills to create hauntingly exquisite scenes of the surrounding Catskills area as well as further afield (images from Italy were particularly compelling). His style is distinctive and consistent. I knew Dan originally through the West Coast photographer William Neill, who is unarguably one of the greatest living photographers of the scenic world. You can’t get a better recommendation than that.

Vincent Bilotta with more of his images in the background

Vincent Bilotta with more of his images in the background

Vincent Bilotta’s work is colorful and striking. Some of his images in this show are actuallymounted on the windows of the gallery. If that strikes you as something akin to stained glass, you’re on the right track: his current art project is a “Catskills Chapel” devoted to the “great [scientific discoveries” of the last 500 years.”

Dawn Potash poses with two of her creations

Dawn Potash poses with two of her creations

Fawn Potash is the most experimental artist of the three, combining medical imagery, satellite photography, and botanical studies to produce a series called Bodies of Water Close to Home. She explained to me how she saw resemblances between leaves, for example, and the systems in the human body, and how she  created artworks to bring this out. I couldn’t help thinking of the writings of the medieval naturalist and theologian Hildegard of Bingen.

Light Sensitive is open through approximately the end of September. Be sure to stop in at the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery and have a look.

Lots to Celebrate on the Mountain Top

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Counting up money for the 50/50 at MTHS

Counting up money for the 50/50 at MTHS

Sunday saw two anniversary celebrations among the arts community on the Mountain Top. In Haines Falls, the Mountain Top Historical Society threw a party for its fortieth anniversary.  Ice cream, cake, lemonade, and ice tea were offered for our enjoyment, and top-notch music from the fifties performed by the Rhythm and Blues Band ensured that it was great fun to “twist gain, like we did last summer” — or perhaps more summers ago than I care to count…. Earlier in the day, Larry Tompkins gave a presentation on historic Windham. Alas, other commitments meant I had to miss this, but MTHS President Cyndi LaPierre assured me that it was well attended.

The Rhythm and Blues Band does their thing

The Rhythm and Blues Band does their thing

The MTHS has the friendliest, most dedicated, and most knowledgeable people you can imagine. Stop into their colorful headquarters the next time you’re driving along Route 23A — you can find details on their website — and while you’re there, check out my photography exhibition “Natural and Historic Landscapes,” open through Labor Day weekend!

Enjoying the festivities at the TAAC

Enjoying the festivities at the TAAC

The other celebration was taking place in Tannersville, where the Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center was celebrating the first anniversary of being in business. The place was alive with well-wishers, and I also met some of the regulars whose work is for sale there, including photographer Francis Driscoll and local historian/author John Ham. Rick Thomas has done a superb job of bringing together gifted regional artists and collectors to a bright, friendly venue where you’re sure to find something you’ll want to buy, for yourself or for a gift.

In Hunter I stopped into the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery for a preview of a truly

A glimpse of the new show in Hunter

A glimpse of the new show in Hunter

eye-opening photography show that’s opening this weekend. Carolyn Bennett is always on the lookout for interesting artists to showcase, and this time she has managed to find three photographers whose work really pushes the envelope as to what can be done in the medium. Palenville’s Dan Burkholder I’ve been familiar with from Facebook and his website and was glad for this opportunity to see some of his fine work “in person.” While I was there I met Vincent Bilotta, also from Palenville, who was busy hanging his portion of the exhibit. The third photographer is Fawn Potash from Catskill and I look forward to being able to study her work more closely.

The opening reception for “Light Sensitive” is this Saturday August 16, 2 to 4 pm at the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery, Route 23A in Hunter. Hope to see you there!

Happy Birthday Mountain Top Historical Society

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First, something about the Mountain Top Historical Society in their own words: “The Mountain Top Historical Society is dedicated to discovering , preserving, interpreting and sharing the unique and rich history of the Mountain Top region in Greene County, NY. The Society is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1974 and engages in activities and programs that enrich understanding and foster appreciation of the Catskill High peaks.  We encourage the study and preservation of the Mountain Top’s art, literature, history, culture, folklore, legends in a variety of ways.”

Local historian and author John M. Ham poses with his latest book. The quality of the B&W photos in this one is amazing.

Local historian and author John M. Ham poses with one of his books.

Now, the great news is that they’ve been doing this since 1974! This year the MTHS celebrates forty years of serving the northern Catskills. They’ve supported the work of historians such as John Ham, whose books are an invaluable and indispensable resource for the region’s history; sponsored the premiers of such filmmakers as Tobe Carey, whose visual documentaries are historical tours de force on such topics as the Ashokan Reservoir and the Catskill railroads; invited lecturers to share their knowledge of the history and culture of the region; provided entertainment steeped in the Catskills’ popular culture; and currently, for which I’m very grateful, are hosting my photography exhibition

"Ashokan Dreams"

“Ashokan Dreams”

“Natural and Historical Landscapes.”  This is the first time the MTHS has ever hosted a photo exhibition and I’m privileged that they’ve decided to “take a chance” on me and am especially thankful to current MTHS President Cyndi LaPierre for her faith in my work.

On Sunday August 10 the MTHS invites us all to their official celebration of their fortieth birthday.  Come and join in the fun if you can! On Route 23a in Haines Falls — you can’t miss the sign and the colorful headquarters. At 1 pm Larry Tompkins will present a lecture about beautiful, historic Windham.  From 3 pm to 4.30 pm the Rhythm and Blues Band will entertain, and there will be free ice cream and cake for everyone. And while you’re at it, please stop into the Visitor Center to enjoy my photographs–you might find a print or some fine-art cards you’ll want to take home.

 

Cultural Happenings in Prattsville and Hunter

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It’s been nearly three years since Hurricane Irene devastated Prattsville. Driving through there on Sunday I noticed some all too obvious signs of the destruction in the form of homes that were so ruined, their owners are likely to have abandoned them never to return. The Zadock Pratt Museum, cultural gem of Prattsville, is slowly recovering from the damage it sustained, thanks to the indomitable spirit of  group of dedicated people.

The Museum was originally the Homestead of Zadock Pratt, who founded the town named after him in the 19th century. Pratt led quite an adventuresome life: New York State militiaman, soldier in the War of 1812, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, founder of what was the largest tannery of the world in its time.  He built the town of Prattsville to accommodate the huge labor force needed to operate his tannery.

The Pratt Museum was dedicated to preserving Zadock Pratt’s papers and belongings and a wealth of other material that told the story of life in this part of the Northern Catskills in the 19th century.  Then came Hurricane Irene. The Museum was inundated with flood waters, and just about everything in it went floating down the Schoharie Creek. Thanks to the diligence of Carolyn Bennett (director of the Catskill Mountain Foundation) and many other dedicated people, most of the material was recovered. But it was, of course, soaking wet, and is now in a deep freeze awaiting a day when they can afford to thaw and restore them. During my visit on Sunday, Suzie Walsh, who now manages the Museum and is incredibly knowledgeable about everything to do with Zadock Pratt, the Museum, and the history of the town, showed me the marks where the water had reached in the house. It’s a wonder there is anything left.

But they don’t give up. They are still using the premises for cultural events. This year there is an exhibit titled “The Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings of D.F. Hasbrouck, American Impressionist (1849-1979).”  What an amazing feat of organization went into amassing this exhibit of works by Dubois Fenelon Hasbrouck–they came from all over–and how beautiful and varied they are. Pay your $5 admission fee and Suzie Walsh will give you the tour and share all she knows about this undeservedly rather obscure artist.

After leaving Prattsville I headed to the Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter, where, under the auspices of the Mountain Top Historical Society, a new film about the Catskills was being premiered. Titled To Be Forever Wild, the film is the brainchild of David Becker, a gifted young filmmaker from Saugerties. This was another astounding feat of organization, recruiting and managing the cast and other workers and dealing with an intimidating mass of administrative work. To Be Forever Wild is available for sale on DVD and will also be broadcast on PBS beginning in August or September. Kudos to the Mountain Top Historical Society, and especially to Drs. Bob and Johanna Titus, for sponsoring the premiere of David Becker’s fine work.

Now about my upcoming events:

Ed IMG_2513 sSaturday July 26 at 2 pm in the Golden Notebook, Tinker Street, Woodstock: I’ll be giving a talk about the making of my book The Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour. Come hear my talk, see the exhibit of my photography (it’s for sale, and books will also be for sale, which I’ll be glad to sign for you), and support this wonderful independent bookstore right here in the Catskills.

Sunday August 3 from 2 to 4 pm at the Mountain Top Historical Society, DSC0003 ed blogRoute 23a, Haines Falls: This is the opening reception for my photography exhibit, Natural and Historical Landscapes. Come and join us! All artwork, and some extras, will be for sale throughout the show, which lasts until after Labor Day. The Visitor    Center is open weekends 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons 1-4 p.m.

I hope to see you soon!

Windham Art Fest Brings Sparkle to July 4 Weekend

Travel up Routes 214, or 296, or 42, or any of the other scenic roads that take you from Ulster to Greene County and beyond, and you’ll be treating yourself to the most gorgeous rural scenery you can imagine. Yet it’s not only a series of pretty pictures; it’s also an area packed with history—the history of farmers, innkeepers, and other intrepid folks who settled here and created Tannersville, Hunter, Windham, Prattsville, and the other places that dot this rolling, bucolic landscape.

Most surprisingly, perhaps, is that this Catskill region called the Mountain Top is bursting with cultural life. Music, drama, the visual arts – you name it, there is no reason to miss New York City when it comes to culture; the Mountain Top has it all.

This past Saturday I was privileged to participate in the annual Art Fest organized by the Windham Arts Alliance. A wide variety of artists representing every medium from painters to pottery makers to photographers and wood crafters gathered under a huge tent on the lawn of Christman’s Windham House to exhibit and sell their wares: Iris Kaplan, Peter Liman, Robert Cepale, Bill Deane , Ray Shearer, and many other wonderful people—and then there was I. Here are a couple of booth photos.

An overview of some of the booths

An overview of some of the booths

My booth

My booth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christman’s Windham House is a treat in itself. This historic property began life in 1805 as a drover’s tavern on the Catskill Turnpike (note to self: find out to what extent present-day Route 23 coincides with the Catskill Turnpike). A major factor in its enduring success for over 200 years has been its ability to adapt to changing needs and changing fashions in the use of leisure time. Today, along with the overnight accommodations, Christman’s offers such service as the premier golf course in the Northern Catskills and the possibility of booking wedding receptions.

The following day I hung my show at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock! I’m looking forward to giving my talk there on July 26 and hope you can make it, or can visit my show (it’s on the second floor) this month. More about that later.

Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center: Don’t Miss It!

Manager Rick Thomas welcomes you to the Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center.

Manager Rick Thomas welcomes you to the Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center.

On a recent visit I ran into photographer Fran Driscoll and his friends.

On a recent visit I ran into photographer Fran Driscoll and his friends.

In the short time it has been in existence–it celebrates its first anniversary on July 6– the Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center has evolved into a major presence in the vibrant Northern Catskills art world. An outreach of the Hunter Foundation, the TAAC is appropriately located on Route 23A,  just a few miles from the famed Kaaterskill Falls, a beloved subject of landscape painters at least since Thomas Cole first painted it in the 1820s.

The TAAC’s vendors represent an impressive mix of local artists and antique collectors. From prints, paintings, and photographs to rugs, chairs, and other items awaiting new owners to love them–and let’s not forget the books on the history of the area–, the TAAC truly does offer something for everyone. All is under the skillful management of Rick Thomas, who has made this space in a renovated 19th-century building a pleasure to walk through. Walk in the door and you’ll get a friendly greeting from Rick, who welcomes you to have a leisurely look around in the two-floor space.

Rick’s hospitality extends as well to organizing talks by the TAAC vendors. Recent speakers have included famed Northern Catskills photographer Fran Driscoll and historian/author John Ham. It’s a great way to get to deepen your acquaintance with the artists/collectors/authors and their works.

I’ll be giving a talk at the TAAC on Saturday afternoon June 28 at 3 pm–sharing Book coversome tips on how I approach my photography, especially my work in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, and perhaps whipping up your enthusiasm to get out and take your own photographs of this beautiful region. Also, we’ll have our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour available for sale, and I’ll be glad to sign the book for you as well! I look forward to meeting you there.

The Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center is open year-round Thursday through Monday from 10 am to 6 pm. Like them on Facebook to get the latest news.

While you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to enjoy a meal in one of Tannersville’s fabulous restaurants. My personal favorite? The Last Chance, which also sells cheese and other irresistible food items (such as chocolate!!!) for you to take home.

Great Concerts in Cold Spring

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If you enjoy high-quality concerts of good music, Cold Spring is a great place to keep in mind. The Chapel Restoration, for example, presents a series of performances each year, and yesterday I attended the second concert in their Music Series 2014. It was given by the choir of St. Philip’s Church from nearby Garrison, and the program was sheer heaven for those who, like myself, enjoy the great tradition of sacred choral music. Directed by

Concertgoers and choir members mingle after the concert.

Concertgoers and choir members mingle after the concert.

their leader Durward Entrekin, the choir offered an amazing range of pieces from sixteenth-century motets by Palestrina and others to contemporary works by Morten Lauridsen and Pete Seeger.  (Pete Seeger? Yes – a moving setting of his “To My Old Brown Earth,” definitely a not-a-dry-eye-left-in-my head sort of piece. And what could be more appropriate than performing Pete Seeger at a venue near his Hudson Valley home?) In between, we had Fauré’s always stunning Cantique de Jean Racine and the Kyrie from Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the excellent soprano soloist Julie Heckert.

These concerts take place in the historic chapel overlooking the Hudson that began life as the Chapel of Our Lady to Ed IMG - -2361 sserve the workers in the West Point Iron Foundry just south of Cold Spring. Many of these workers were Irish, and this chapel was built in the 1830s to serve their religious needs, probably the first Catholic Church in New York north of the city.

Ironically it was that same West Point Iron Foundry, when it went on to become a major producer of Civil War armaments (the famous Parrott gun was made here), that began causing damage to the chapel due to the frequent test firing. A series of further problems was set in motion that led to the chapel being abandoned in 1906. It was then ravaged by fire in 1927. This once impressive building was a ruin until 1971, when a small group of people, including actress Helen Hayes, banded together, bought it from the Archdiocese of New York, and undertook to restore it.

Today the chapel is used for cultural events and can be booked for weddings as well. If you’re in the Cold Spring area, it’s definitely worth taking a look and, on weekends, couldn’t be easier to get to – it’s just opposite Cold Spring’s Amtrak Station, where parking is free on weekends. Right next to the chapel is the Foundry Dock Park with commanding views of Constitution Marsh and, on the opposite side of the river, the U.S. Military Academy.

For more information on the chapel, visit the Chapel Restoration’s website.

For more photos and history of Cold Spring and many other sites in the beautiful Hudson Valley and Catskills, check out our book, Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour. Contact me to learn how to get a signed copy.

 

 

Hunter Foundation and Albany Institute

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Happy Easter, happy spring! It looks as if the long winter is finally over, and with that comes new activity. I just want to tell you about two special activities coming up:

The Hunter Foundation’s 2014 Online Auction begins today, Earth Day. The Hunter Foundation is located in what IMHO is the most beautiful area in the Catskill region; you can visit their website to learn about their mission and goals.  I had the honor to be invited to donate one of my photographs to their auction and so I chose one of my most popular ones, Catskill Woodland Glow (shown above). The winner will receive this, beautifully framed, along with a copy of our book, Historic Hudson Valley.  Please visit their website to see the page for my entry — there are many good prizes here, it’s for a worthy cause, and I hope you’ll bid on something to help the Hunter Foundation and perhaps win something you’ll enjoy.

Also — this Sunday Anton and I will be speaking about our Historic Hudson Valley at the Albany Institute of History and Art! That’s Sunday April 27 at 2 pm. We’re quite excited to be speaking at the place that houses not only one of the most impressive collection of Hudson River School paintings anywhere but also the complete collection of Thomas Cole’s papers!  Here is the AIHA home page — you can get directions there — and here is the page featuring our talk. Hope to see you there!