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.

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Mountaintop Artists Liman and Trautman Shine in Ridgewood

That area of the Northern Catskills known as the Mountaintop is home to heartbreakingly beautiful scenery, gorgeous summer days, inhospitable winters–and an amazingly active colony of artists and crafters. I’ve written about photographer Francis Driscoll in these pages (and will be doing so again) as well as crafter and antiques dealer Cindy Smith. Now, as a lover of the Mountaintop I’m pleased and proud to report on a wonderful exhibit by Mountaintop artists Peter Liman and Sheila Trautman in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Sheila Trautman poses near her work.

Sheila Trautman poses near her work.

The exhibit is called Oil and Water Do Mix, and Peter (an oil painter) and Sheila (a watercolorist) demonstrate successfully the truth of that statement. Despite their using two different media for their paintings, their work does blend well. I wonder whether it has to do with the sense of place they bring to their work and, with that, their obvious love for the places they paint. Reading the captions to each painting was almost as much of a delight as seeing the paintings themselves. Of course, a number of the paintings depict scenes in the Mountaintop region,

Peter Liman with one of his paintings

Peter Liman with one of his paintings

and I felt privileged to recognize those; perhaps not many in this New Jersey venue could say that.  Bergen County has its own lively arts scene, and, although these two gifted artists are no strangers to the area (Peter is now resident there),  it’s nice to think of the people in northern New Jersey who are seeing Peter and Sheila’s work for the first time.

Oil and Water Do Mix is at The Stable Gallery, 259 North Maple Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ, easily reached off Route 17. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm, and the exhibit runs until January 31, If you can make it, do get to see it; it’s more than worth it.

Guests at the reception enjoying the art

Guests at the reception enjoying the art