by Bill Batson
Art lovers travel to Nyack from around the world to experience the childhood home of the preeminent realist painter, Edward Hopper. Daytime visitors enjoy exhibitions of contemporary artists and Hopper family artifacts, but for neighbors who come at night, there is a special sensory treat. For those who arrive with a blanket or chair on designated Thursdays and Fridays in July and August, a feast of jazz music and cinema is served in the backyard.
Ray Wright came up with the idea for the Jazz Music in the Garden series when he was a Hopper House director in 1981. Once he gained the support of his fellow board members he reached out to then Nyack High School Music Teacher Bert Hughes to be musical director, a role that Hughes plays until this day. “I sent personal letters to all the surrounding neighbors to win their approval for the outdoor evening concert series,” Wright remembered. In its 37th year, the series attracts some of the greatest jazz performers and a loyal audience
This year Jazz Music in the Garden presents:
July 19 – Peter Furlan Quintet w/Neil Alexander
July 26 – Mark Patterson Quintet
July 28-29 – Next Generation Jazz Weekend
August 2 – Steven Bernstein R&B Jazz Band
August 9 – Jeremy Wall and John Ragusa
August 16 – Richard Sussman Group
The first movie that multimedia artist Kris Burns projected on a building in Nyack was Charade in 2002. That screening helped form Rivertown Film Society, a nonprofit that celebrates the art of the motion picture through film screenings and educational programs.
In 2011, as artist-in-residence for the Hopper House, Burns organized a series of pop-up projections commemorating the 40th anniversary of the arts center. People walking through the village would stumble upon cropped figures from Hopper paintings projected on bricked over door ways and windows. A showing of Hitchcock’s Psycho transformed the side of the Verizon building, which stands adjacent to the municipal parking lot, into a drive-in movie screen. “Hitchcock was inspired by Hopper’s painting of a physical space, House by the Railroad, to make Pyscho. I was inspired by the physical space of the Verizon building to show Hitchcock’s film.”
This year Film in the Garden presents:
The same community spirit that saved this humble structure from destruction in the 1970s, launched these two popular outdoor art events. The Edward Hopper House was literally a few signatures away from condemnation when an ad-hoc coalition that included neighbors, Rotarians, labor unions, students and artists came to the rescue. Thanks to a local tradition of historic preservation and the absence of over-development, the majority of the village that you see today is very close in scale and population density to how Nyack was in the early 20th century, when Hopper was a child.
A short walk from this house to the north will bring you to the First Baptist Church, a sanctuary that was founded in 1851 by Hopper’s great-grandfather. The enterprise that generated the income that allowed Hopper to pursue a career in the arts, GH Hopper’s Dry Goods Store operated by his father from a storefront that is now the Grace Thrift Shop several blocks to the South of the family home.
In 1979, former Hopper House Board Chair Alan Gussow wrote “half of all the business blocks standing in Nyack in 1950 were built in the 1880s and 1890s” during Hopper’s childhood. These brownstone brick facades, when bathed in the light reflected off the Hudson, produced the saturated tones that form the color palate in many of Hopper’s most important paintings, such as Early Sunday morning.
Hopper left home after graduating from Nyack High School, but would return to visit his sister, Marion, who lived in the house until her death in 1965. The artist died on May 15, 1967 and his wife of over 40 years, artist Josephine Verstille Nivison passed away a year later. The demise of this entire cohort of the Hopper family over such a short span put the future of the family home in jeopardy. After Marion’s death, the house became an abandoned eyesore inhabited by squatters.
When Jeffrey and Barbara Arnold intervened to save the house of their late neighbor Marion in 1970, a real estate investor with plans to demolish the home and build apartments had already purchased the property from the Hopper Estate. The Arnolds were able to raise $15,000 from gifts and interest free loans from concerned citizens to buy back Hopper’s house.
But that was just the beginning of what local architect and historian Win Perry calls the greatest and most exciting adventure of his life. Perry volunteered to coordinate the restoration project. The steady stream of individuals and organizations that answered the call to save Hopper’s house and appeared at the work site to lend a hand must have resembled an Amish barn raising.
Edward Hopper celebrated the essence of his hometown on canvas, making our village globally recognizable. If these volunteers had not returned the favor, we would not benefit from the cultural pilgrims from around the world who come to Nyack to see what made Hopper happen, and the community wouldn’t have summertime jazz and cinema
Special thanks to Art Gunther for his essay on the restoration of the Edward Hopper Arts Center that was published last year in a fortieth anniversary commemorative brochure entitled “The Edward Hopper House, Beginning, Achievement, Future: A tribute to Our Founders.”
For those who want to learn more about the private life of the reclusive artist, I recommend Gail Levin’s “Edward Hopper an Intimate” Biography, Rizzoli, 2007.
by Bill Batson
I adore alliteration. So when I saw a flyer promoting a writers circle called River River, I took the bait. Sure, I love the Hudson and all bodies of water that keep rolling along. But this title was not about a river. River River promises poetry.In a world where overheated polemics scorch ears and singe eyeballs, I am thirsty for nuanced language, open for interpretation. Then I saw the subject line announcing their most recent digital journal, “A user guide for undead neighbors.” I was hooked. Brothers and sisters, snap your fingers for River River, and co-founder, Anu Amaran.
What is River River?
River River Writers Circle is a nonprofit literary arts organization, the existence of which occasions writing salons, open mic events, readings with award-winning authors, workshops, and an online journal of new writing and photography. We’ve been shepherding itinerant bands of poets and writers in Nyack and our lower Hudson valley environs since 2015.
Was there something in your development as a poet that led you to start River River?
I don’t really think of it that way. It’s truer to say that River River started up because of other poets. I sensed the need, and, since no one else was doing it, the job fell to me. In my own development, though, I had been reading works by some tough American poets, like Ai and Jane Hirshfield and Reetika Vazirani and Jean Valentine, for my MFA thesis. And philosophers Krishnamurti and Wittgenstein. Since I was wading way deeper than the sugar-coated poetries I’d known before that, the need for a practice of grounding oneself in community became crystal clear. I also felt that developing a stronger, better-educated audience for fine literature and the work of independent presses in this country would require more local organizations across the landscape. We are a necessary part of the arts ecosystem.
Who are some of the other founders of River River?
My co-founder, Donna Miele, was the first to step up and start planning, organizing, and hosting events with me. She is a fiction writer, teacher, lawyer, and co-owner of CILK119/Cuppa Pulp Writers Space in Nanuet. David e. Bell, a local writer, photographer, consultant, and sailor (and more) also provided lots of support as we worked through the brainstorming and trial-and-error of building a nonprofit organization.
Where did you get the name?
The name is a kind of translation of what a literary community was called in my south Indian tradition. In Tamil, the word cankam (pronounced “sangam”) refers to legendary gatherings of poets, scholars, sages, and patrons in ancient times. This word comes from a root in Sanskrit meaning “a confluence of rivers.” It’s the same root for the word sangha, which refers to a meditation community. Interestingly, I learned from my geologist friends that Nyack used to be a site of confluence, which is why there’s a natural break in the palisade here along with the wide, silt-filled shallow of the Tappan Zee.
How did River River form?
I had been running an informal writers’ salon at my house for a couple of years (also known as the Saturday-night Indian-food orgy and reading), and the writers who were regulars at that series were my inspiration for the organization. Bryan Roessel of the Rockland Poets, Rosemary Farrell and Laurie Needell at Nyack Library, Cherie Raglan, and Alison Stone, who have all worked on aspects of the local literary scene, joined in this early incarnation. I felt that the lack of an established literary arts organization in Nyack was holding us back. As a nonprofit, 501(c)3 entity, we have been able provide some fiscal sponsorship and programming assistance to groups running specific literary programs, like local artist Katie Elevitch’s women’s storytelling project, which was awarded a Rockland DEC grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, with our help.
What does River River do?
Whatever the writers around here want us to do. Writers are by definition very independent-minded people, and it’s often difficult for us to gauge what they really want or need in their organization. We’ve found that the writing salons and the readings series are popular; everyone has come to expect them now. Our literary journal is also a huge effort for us to produce and edit, but it’s worth it to be able to showcase local writing alongside the submissions we receive from around the world. We get people to listen to each other properly.
Am I the only one that loves saying River River? Is there a comma?
No comma! I’m not sure if people like saying it, but if we’re doing our work properly maybe there is a bunch of writers who like thinking “river river….”
What work are you doing with McCullers House?
The director of the Carson McCullers House, Nick Norwood, has been wonderful to work with in developing plans that align with River River’s programming goals. We’ve collaborated on readings and open mic events, and one of our weekly writing salons meets in the house. Our members certainly appreciate the particular inspiration of McCullers’s work and legacy by participating in our joint programs. We’ve also brought teen writers into creative engagement with her writing, and plans are underway now to do more of that in the fall. It’s been a very fruitful partnership between organizations for our Nyack community.
Any events coming up?
Always! The next reading in our 2018 series is coming up on Sunday, July 15 at 3 p.m. in the gallery 95 ½ Main. We’re hosting two amazing writers: Mary-Kim Arnold and Suzanne Parker. Their bio information is available on the events page of our website, RiverRiver.org. We’ve also put together a “summer excursions” schedule for our writers, including writing sessions at the Dewint House, Storm King Art Center, and Lyndhurst. Our environmental writing and travel residency in Vietnam is open for registration right now, and that group of adventurers will start on a program of preliminary writing and research this fall.
How can someone join your writers circle?
Just show up! Anyone can join. Most events are free and open to writers working in any genre. Our writing salons offer a noncompetitive and welcoming space in which everyone is invited to generate new work, share their creative efforts, and enjoy camaraderie with fellow locals. Writing in community encourages practicing discipline in creativity, increasing confidence in the voice, and listening to one another with positive attention and intelligence.Our events calendar is updated regularly with special events and our schedule of salons. We publicize things on social media, too, so we should be pretty easy to find.
Tell us about your upcoming residency?
We are offering a travel residency to Vietnam, in collaboration with an NSF-funded science workshop by a friend of mine who is a climate researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Briefly, writers will join in discussions comparing and contrasting scientific methods with aesthetic methods of inquiry, will present short talks on environmental writing and landscape-oriented literature, and will gain insight into writing about travel experiences. We plan to spend a few days in the inspirational central highlands landscape of Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, near Dalat, Vietnam. Bookending the trip will be our arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), where we will take excursions to museums and other sites along with our generative writing workshops, and at the end of the residency two days in Dalat, exploring the cultural heritage of this former French colonial hill station and surrounding region.I visited these places in December, and the welcoming attitude of our hosts impressed me. We learned to say “thank you” in Vietnamese pretty quickly, because we were saying it a lot. I have organized a writers’ residency in Slovenia, and some of the same reasons that made it a rich experience also apply to Vietnam. For instance, the language presents a barrier in both places, so our writers must become very conscious of language and our reliance on the English language. History and current challenges in these locales make a deep impression because we encounter perspectives and specific details by direct experience, outside of our American stories.We’d like to include students in this residency, so we are running an online fundraiser to offer scholarships. Any writer with an interest in environmental writing is welcome to join us. I’m looking forward to learning too, right along with everyone else on the trip.
How has social media and the internet effected poetry?
It’s been a boon to poetry. Social media and the internet make distribution so much easier. Recently I read that the rate of poetry reading by young people is up significantly in the past few years. Just goes to show that we poets have not been wallowing in metaphoric mudholes of obsolescence. (Yes, I’ve been accused of that.) We’ve just been waiting for people to wake up to the lovely rivers that are still running undammed inside the human soul.
What is a flash poetry mob?
Well, the way we do “flash poetry” doesn’t actually create a “mob.” More like a series of doubletakes as passersby realize that there are some people typing on manual typewriters, and then realize that those people are typing poems. And then, not poems from stale memory or anything, but freshly imagined and composed and typed in a few minutes. In a flash of inspiration. Anyway, I think a mob would overwhelm our antique technology.
How many members do you have?
We don’t have a membership model at River River because we are interested in the openness, the boundarylessness of community writing. Between our events calendar and other media, we have a following of around 650 locals who are interested in what we do. The journal attracts hundreds of submissions of poems, stories, essays, and art for each issue.
Could you share some work of your members?
Some of our regulars have been published in the journal. Stop by RiverRiver.org and look for titles by Juan Mobili, Katherine Dering, Julie Goldberg, Celeste Rose Wood, and Steven Swank. Our blog also publishes a “borrowed pages” feature, which highlights some of the writing that comes out of our writing salons. Or stop by Patisserie Didier Dumas around 8 p.m. on most Wednesday nights, and you can hear their readings hot off the crepe pan of imagination.
I’m glad I don’t know. The story (or poem) is more exciting when the action keeps you guessing. But the best ways to find out are to join our email list, follow our events calendar on Meetup.com, or keep in touch via social media. Or come on by and just write with us.Bill Batson is an artist, activist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” River River Writers Circle“ © 2018 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com
by Bill Batson
Since 1954, the Nyack Field Club has provided family-style recreation for its members. The club has prospered on a piece of property that was twice famous, once for hosting world-class tennis tournaments and later as a resort created by America’s first major yoga practitioner, Pierre Bernard. Exemplified by board members that average many years of service, the club is guided by leaders who speak sanguinely of a place where life-long friendships are made. Something in these 12 acres of soil has inspired successive generations to indefatigably organize competitive sports, recreational games and social gatherings.
Not every Nyack Field Club member plays tennis, but without the game, a true history of the club could not be served. Starting in the late 1880s, the land that the club now occupies was the site of the World Cup level Nyack Tennis Tournament. The event was hosted by what was then known as the Nyack Country Club and was “held yearly just a few days after the annual Forrest Hills tournament so that international competitors would have another American tourney after having to spend 5 days to get here by Ocean Liner,” according to local historian John Patrick Schutz.
The name of the club changed to the Braeburn Country Club when Pierre Bernard acquired the property in 1918. A yoga teacher to the wealthy, Bernard captured the imagination of enlightened European and American elites as well as the ire of the newspapers of the Hearst organization. Fueled by a xenophobic reaction to a wave of immigration in the early twentieth century immigration (sound familiar?), Bernard was hounded out of Manhattan. The buildings, and tennis courts, were the ideal location for the guru that tabloid dubbed “The magnificent Oom” to create a resort. Van Wyck Rossiter, an executive for the Vanderbilt family’s Grand Central Railroad sold the home that he built as a weekend getaway to Bernard’s wife Blanche De Vries. The Braeburn club’s original foot print stretched from Midland Avenue to the Hudson River. The estate encompassed the current Upper Nyack Elementary school, and eventually became the lower campus of Bernard’s sprawling ashram, innocuously called the Clarkstown Country Club.
Four local business men, Harold Mac Cartney, Richard Jewett, Homer Lydecker and Orville Mann established the Mid Land Company on May 20, 1954 to acquire the land as Bernard was nearing the end of his epic, vedic run. The next month, on June 12, a board was establish to create a private club.
“It was around the time of the opening of the Tappan Zee bridge,” recalled local architect and long time member John Colgan. “Post World War II businesses were starting to get established in New York City, which reinvigorated suburbia. The founders wanted a place to swim and some early members like Browne, Bachelor and Bromley were known tennis players on the east coast. My father was a member. I came on much later when I had small children. I had played tennis at Nyack High School – with a little cadre of talent including Paul Bernabo and Tom Probert.
“In 1971, there were only seven tennis court versus ten today,” recalled Ed Sonoski. “I joined for the Tennis. I used to play on the Merrit Courts in Nanuet on Townline Road. We thought it would go down because the patriarch of the club had died. We joined Nyack for the sports and the family. My daughter Jane grew up there. They had a swim team for the kids.”
Like Sonoski, Paul Bernabo joined for the racquet sports. “I’ve only had two jobs [at the Nyack Field Club], head of the tennis committee and board president, twice,” said Bernabo. A local tennis legend, Bernabo began playing at Upper Nyack Tennis Club on North Broadway, which used to have four courts. Before shaping the program at Nyack Field Club, Bernabo won the Bryce-Witt Boys Championship at Nyack High School for three years. His game was good enough to earn him a Temporary Duty Year playing tennis in the US Army, where in served in Germany from (?)
His impact as tennis committee president was immediate. Under his leadership, the field club hired Gerri Viant as tennis pro in 1983. Viant had been a ranked junior player in South Australia, and had taught tennis in the United States for several years. Viant was asked to help improve the club’s Platform Tennis program.
Platform Tennis was invented by James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard in Scarsdale, NY in 1928. The game that is played on a court that is one quarter the size of a standard tennis court, combining elements of tennis, racquetball and squash. The scoring is like tennis, but players only get one chance to make their serve. Like squash, you can play the ball off the fencing that encloses the court.
Viant was still new to platform tennis when she started at Nyack, but having the need to learn the game so that she could comfortably transfer her tennis skills to the smaller, quicker game changed her life. She has gone on to win eight Nationals Women’s crowns and two runner-ups, with her double’s partner Sue Aery. They were inducted into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006.
“When Paul hired me there were very few female head professionals. I was 27 years old and not from the area. He took a chance that thankfully worked out,” Viant said.
“We didn’t really have a year round manager when I arrived – Nyack was really run down and tired, the club had seen better days. We made improvements , we raised the energy.” With Viant’s efforts, racquet sports are now played year-round at Nyack Field Club, from April through October on the har-tru courts and from September through March on the platform and the job of the pro was no longer seasonal.
On June 17, Viant and Bernabo were on hand when the court where the club finals are held was re-dedicated as The Paul Bernabo Championship Court. For the last 25 years, Bernado has been the umpire calling aces and faults court side. Now his presence will be felt forever.
Speaking at the dedication Viant said” Usually in the middle of the day when the sun was at its peak, Paul would slice and dice his way to victory, always giving 100% effort, no excuses, no fluff, just plain and simple, play by the rules, give it your all, may the best man win, and enjoy a coke on the porch afterwards. And on a weekly basis, his social skills were on full display, as he embraced playing mixed doubles with his wife Myrt, who is also a great competitor and exemplifies how sports at the Nyack Field Club and Friendship goes hand and hand.
Viant stepped down four years ago. Proof of her enduring fondness for the club is found in her recent decision to buy a home adjacent to the club, and to join as a member.
Current Board Chair Bill Loftus is not surprised by the longevity of Viant’s commitment to the club or her wish, even in retirement, to move closer. “We are a member-run family club,” Loftus proclaims. His twenty years on the board, five as president, cap 50 years a a member. “I started when I was six. My parents chose joining over a family vacation.” One of his three grown children who is local is a member as is his sister. “We are not a country club,” he asserts, “members are responsible for the upkeep of the club. We strive to maintain that dynamic today.”
One of Loftis’ proudest achievements is the renovation of the all-purpose building, where members can relax and view the action on the platform tennis courts. In addition to the snack bar, and out door grills where members have their own summer barbecues, the club has contracted with local eatery Rockland Roots who pull up in their food truck to provide meals for social events.
Over the years, The Nyack Field Club has continued to expand their youth and family social activities. There are many seasonal events including their Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Winter Holiday Family gathering, and the “bring on summer” Schools Out Party. The club also offers a six week all day or half day camp program for children ages three to thirteen.
According to past board member Glenn Meyerson, the social aspect is the most meaningful. His two children, Benjamin and Rebecca were active in the club’s camp and the swim team, participating in meets against clubs in Palisades, West Nyack and Nauraushaun in Pearl River. “Our kids would have swim practice during the week and learned to play tennis. Starting at four they stayed in these programs until they were 14 and 15. They made life long friends here,” Meyerson said.
Meyerson, who is a past president of the Nyack Center Board of Directors, spent a combined 22 years on the board of the Field Club with his wife Kathi. “Now, as always our focus is on children and our vibrant summer camp. If somebody asked me what is the single best thing I did for my kids growing up, I’d say it was joining the Nyack Field Club.”
To learn more visit: Nyack Field Club
Special thanks to: Laura Graham, Bill Loftus, JP Schutz, John Colgan, Orville Man, Jr., Dale Lydecker, Ed Sonoski, Glenn Meyerson, Gerri Viant and Paul Bernabo. Photo of Nyack Country Club represented from Hudson Valley Heritage.
Nyack Sketch Log:Yoga Reborn Here from September 3, 2012
JP Schutz’ blog At Home from September 3, 2010 :A True Nyack Character… Pierre Bernard
JP Schutz’ blog At Home from September 29, 2011, 100 Years Ago This Month: Nyack’s National Tennis Tournament
by Bill Batson
Life-long artist Elaine Schloss was one of the earliest antique dealers to open shop in Nyack. Now, she’s one of the few to endure. You can visit her establishment,“My Own Little Corner Antiques,” Wednesdays through Fridays from 1:30 to 5:00p at 142 Main Street. Schloss now exhibits her paintings and a selection of local visual artists among the diminutive collectables that line the counters, cabinets, shelves and floors of her store. The current exhibit has been extended through July 21. As a merchant who got started at the first Nyack Street Fair over 40 years ago, Schloss symbolizes many of the cultural trends that make our village unique.
“I have been an artist all of my life. When I was 12, I used to copy pictures of ballerinas,” Schloss said. “I never went to art school. I never thought of it as a career. I was a writer.”
Schloss worked as a publicist for WPIX and 20th Century Fox. She’s written children’s plays and musical theater and is an actor and singer.
But she was always making art.
“I love the drama of color and line. Sometimes my work is realistic, sometimes I work in semi-abstract forms. But it has always been about the face and the figure, the emotion and the form…and color.”
Schloss became interested in antiques at the very first street fair in Nyack organized by the Arts, Crafts and Antique Dealers Association in the early 1970s, a time when antiques were hip.
“I had a ring that I hated, and I went to the street fair and I saw a ring that I loved and I asked if they would trade. I got more value than I paid and I got something that I really loved, so I said this is an interesting thing.”
Soon after that epiphany, she opened a store on 9w before moving into the Franklin Avenue Antique Center 40 years ago.
“Back then I was a picker, like the show American Picker. I would go to antique shows and swaps and garage sales, to find things that I loved, buying from one venue and selling it to another.” For 35 years, she shared her space with Marge Clark, who recently retired. “It’s such a joy to find something old that was handmade and that someone wore, that has history. I believe that objects of beauty hold the personality of the people who touch them, when you find something beautiful, when you hold it and look at it, there is magic.”
When Schloss opened her shop, Nyack was a regional antique center. “There have been a lot of changes. Lots of places are closing. Mostly because of the internet and eBay. There used to be forty shops in Nyack like mine. Now there are only five.”
In describing her inventory, you can hear the writer and the artist: “I have all sorts of small collectibles .. the kind your grandma, or mother, or you (depending upon your age) have played with, worn, admired, adored, wished you’d had. Unlike the internet, which is glutted with things for sale which are disappointing when they arrive in the mail, my shop is a place where you can see, touch, even smell, the history and beauty, the heft or the almost impossible delicacy of yesterday … the woman’s flowing figure, or a blown glass vase (cased lemon-yellow outside, lime inside), or a Madame Alexander princess doll, or a tiny Victorian wooden doll’s cradle, or a piece of jewelry, or an Art Nouveau inkwell with a woman’s head and hair flowing around a jade center .. or a museum quality, curiosity … a “fluter” a heavy metal two piece gismo made to iron those 1900’s ruffles into men’s collars and cuffs … or see a lovely 1930’s painting, or a child’s book from 1900 — all pieces of history.”
Several years ago, Schloss moved to a new space in the Franklin Street Antique Center, enabling her to expand her space and walls into a long-desired gallery. The art gallery brings together the two passions that have fueled Schloss for decades, art and antiques.
The urge to make art and connect people to objects of art is captured in a comment Schloss heard after a dance performance many years ago. “I went to the Joyce Theater, at the end they had a talk back with the dancers. A women in a wheel chair spoke and said that when she looked at the performance, she thought she would feel bad because she’s in a wheel chair, but she didn’t because ‘I’m dancing with you.’ That’s how I feel about art. When someone looks at your painting it brings them to the moment of creation. They feel what the artist felt, the power and the joy of turning paper or canvas or glass into something beautiful, or thought provoking, or spiritual. That’s why people buy art. People want to bring home something that transports them.”
Schloss has chosen three outstanding local artists to show along with her own work during this exhibit was extended through July 21, 2018:
Inspired by the highly imaginative work of Salvador Dali and the experimental, satirical compositions of Frank Zappa, Eugene Lagana likes to create artistic stories with surrealism. Eugene began his career in technology, which has a huge influence on his body of work. Experimenting with new hardware and photographic techniques has resulted in innovative works of art.
Continuing to read books, watch training videos and participate in photography classes, he always considers himself a student of photography. Eugene says the most enjoyable part of showing his work is answering technical questions about his photographs and observing people’s reactions when they see one for the first time.
Bern Cohen is an accomplished actor and artist. One-man shows of Cohen’s work, particularly his images of Southeast Asia and Southwest USA, have been at galleries throughout New York including The Madrigal Gallery (Nyack), Blue Gallery (Saratoga), The Factory Gallery (Middletown), The Courthouse Gallery (Goshen) and The Happy Dog Gallery (Piermont). Simultaneously, Cohen created a children’s book for National Geographic, “Wonders of The Desert,” which gave him a body of Southwestern images.
During most recent years, Cohen’s movie and TV acting career has grown to where it limits his involvement in photography shows to Nyack, his now home-town. He currently has acting roles in such hits as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Norman, and was recently in a comedy sketch on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Cohen is now working on a photo project about women in non-traditional jobs and is also organizing a book of his Asian photography.
Donna Davies Timm
Donna Davies Timm, a native of Great Britain, has lived and worked in New York for the past 20 years.She studied Surface Pattern and Textiles at Cumbria University, UK, specializing in Tapestry Weaving. Over the past 20 years Donna challenged and expanded her creativity into other forms of textile art, constructing and embellishing customized costumes for historical re-enactment and theater. Her artistic creativity is expressed in her love of watercolor painting, figure drawing and free style embroidery or “thread painting.”
My Own Little Gallery is located inside My Own Little Corner Antiques at 142 Main Street in Nyack. You can reach Elaine Schloss at email@example.com or 845 353-3341.
See also: Local Arts Index, Elaine Schloss.
by Bill Batson
By 2030, The U.S. Census Bureau projects 74 million Americans will be seniors citizens, nearly one quarter of the population. Increasingly, families will require facilities that can meet the needs of the more frail elderly by providing residential settings that include medical, therapeutic and recreational services. Michael Braunstein took the helm of Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Valley Cottage in January 2018 cognizant of the challenge at the heart of this trend. Paraphrasing the 90’s rock band REM, Braunstein works to make Nyack Ridge a place full of “smiley, happy people,” by pursuing clinical excellence and a strong connection to the community.
Braunstein is a third generation nursing home operator. His grandfather bought a Nursing Home in the Bronx in 1956, serving as administrator. His grandmother was the cook. As a self-described nursing home brat, Michael would play bingo with the residents and serve tea. When Michael graduated from college, he took a position at a nursing home owned by his father, who had followed in his father into the family business. “From those early years, I’ve learned that its important to communicate with the staff and residents. To try to understand what their needs are. For the residents, this is their home. You want to make them as comfortable as possible,” Braunstein said.
Braunstein’s father was on hand at recent ribbon cutting ceremony organized by his son to inaugurate the new management team at what was formerly Nyack Manor Nursing Home. Residents sat under a clear blue sky, serenaded by the African drums of local percussionist Arthur Lorde and were treated to sweets from an ice cream truck. Setting the tone with brief remarks, Braunstein welcomed Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann and Nyack Mayor Don Hammond to officially launch the new name Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
In his remarks, Mayor Hammond listed the various events and local recreational programs that Nyack Ridge is actively supporting. “Michael is a very impressive corporate citizen, said Mayor Hammond. “He didn’t call up and asked what we could do for Nyack Ridge. He called me to ask what they could do for the community.” Apparently, Braunstein wants the residents to feel like Nyack Ridge is their home, and the community to think of Nyack Ridge as a good neighbor.
Braunstein has noted that the character of Nyack Ridge is shaped by a staff that includes members that have reported to work for decades. The facility manager and one of the receptionists has been on the job since the 1970s. The date of the ribbon cutting was chosen to coincide with skilled nursing week to acknowledge the pivotal role good staff play in the successful operation of any health care facility. At Nyack Ridge a staff of approximately 200 men and women work tirelessly to provide health care, food, housing and recreation up to 160 residents.
“When we came to Nyack Ridge, we wanted to make sure that the public knew that we provide more than long term care,” said Administrator Josh Lowinger in explaining why the word rehabilitation comes before nursing in the facilities title. “Whether you require intense rehab or can only handle a more gentle approach – our therapists individualize your program to facilitate and encourage independence and to make your stay as short as possible.”
One staffer that touches the lives of all the residents and helps cement the tie between Nyack Ridge and the community is Josephine Andaloro, Director of Therapeutic Recreation and Volunteers. Andaloro engages the interests and talents of the residents and gives them opportunities to interact with each other and the community at large. In February, Andaloro continued a civically-minded Valentine’s Day tradition that she started when she arrived five years ago.
Partnering with local schools, charities, churches and veterans’ organizations, Nyack Ridge and its residents created over 3,600 hand-crafted hearts that were delivered to active duty and returning soldiers. As part of the ceremony when the hearts where given to Mike McWilliams, Veteran Services of Rockland County, New York State Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski presented a resolution celebrating the life of 102-year old Nyack Ridge resident Assunta Lombardi.
When Clarkstown Supervisor Hoehmann spoke at the ribbon cutting in May, he noted the significance of the fact that Nyack Ridge has received a five star rating from the Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services. CMS is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average,” according to their website. Maintaining that five star rating and keeping everyone smiley and happy are Braunstein’s goals. As our population ages, having an award winning, upbeat, community oriented institution like Nyack Ridge is something to smile about.
Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is located at 476 Christian Herald Road, Valley Cottage. To learn more click here.
by Bill Batson
Once a waiting room for commuters, this tiny train station in Piermont is now an exhibition space for time travelers, a history museum. Open every other Sunday from June through October, the public is welcome and the tickets are free.
The sounds of steam driven engines and horns echo in the memory of a dwindling few who lived in Piermont when the village was connected via rail to a national transportation grid. But this Saturday, June 16, thanks to the talents of scenic artists Betsy Franco Feeny and Gary Tannenbaum, a replica of a locomotive will pull into this station, as part of Family Fun Day, an effort to get young people on board the local history express.
Piermont Historical Society Presents Family Fun Day
June 16, 2 -5p
- Reading by Brian Floca, Author and Illustrator of Caldecott winning book “Locomotive.”
- Games and prizes
- Learn Morse Code
- Be a junior station master
- Get your picture taken on the Piermont Express
Piermont Historical Society Museum is located at 50 Ash St.
The historic territory to explore from this debarkation point is vast. When former Piermont Historical Society President Richard Esnard led the battle to acquire the lease for the station, he argued that preserving this history of this community satisfied more than just parochial needs. “The story of Piermont told on the walls of this building is of historic significance to the political and economic evolution of this nation.” Specifically, Esnard was referring to the end of the war that birthed our nation and the beginning of the industrial era that resulted in the wealthy world power that we have become.
America Saluted for the First Time in Piermont
The Revolutionary War came to an end in this southeastern corner of Rockland County. In May 1783, George Washington arrived at what was then called The Slote (Dutch for ‘the ditch’) to meet Sir Guy Carleton, Commander-in-Chief of British forces in America. After resolving matters relating to the cessation of hostilities at the American Army’s Headquarters in Tappan, Washington returned for a dinner on Carleton’s ship, the HMS Perseverance, and a 17-gun salute. The gesture was the first official recognition of the United States of America as a new sovereign nation.
The Name Remains, the Trains Came and Went
The first President of the New York and Erie Railroad, Eleazar Lord, had substantial holdings in what was still called The Slote in the 1830s. It is said that he used his clout to have the terminus of the railroad built on a pier near his land. He also renamed the village Piermont, combining a reference to the pier where his railroad ended and the mountain that abutted his estate, where Lord lived in a structure one could only describe as a castle
President Millard Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster traveled to the newly minted Piermont on the steamboat Erie on May 14, 1851, to take the inaugural trip by rail back to Dunkirk on Lake Erie. Although the railroad put the American industrial revolution on the fast track, the fortunes of the railroad in Piermont were more fleeting.
The Fixture Called Flywheel
The unmovable object that is the center piece of one of Piermont’s rover parks is the part of a steam driven generator called a flywheel. The generator was installed in 1902 by Robert Gair to power the production of paper from his mill that was built on Lord’s Erie Railroad pier.
In an epic example of the phrase, they don’t build them like they used to, the decline of the local paper industry, the designs of luxury real estate developers and the full force of a wrecking ball could not persuade this flywheel to budge. So it now stands as a symbol to the durability of American workmanship and provides a place name for a park and an art gallery that have sprung up in its stubborn shadow.
She sold them tickets to ride
Belle Kelly moved to Piermont from Watkins Glen, NY, and served as a station master, ticket agent and telegraph clerk from 1908 until 1940. For decades, commuters using the Northern Branch Railroad that brought them to Jersey City and then eventually, New York City, were welcomed and aided by Belle Kelly. (The Erie Railroad was not served by this station.)
Three years after the railroad ceased operations in 1966, Kelly’s son, Tom, purchased the station. Belle died in 1976 and Tom continued to live there until his death in 1996, whereupon title eventually passed to the Village of Piermont. In 1975, the railroad right-of-way was deeded to Piermont and designated a public park by the Village of Piermont.
The memories of generals, presidents, industrialists and a dedicated station clerk now occupy this erstwhile waiting room. Visit one Sunday for a short trip trip through Piermont’s significant past.
by Bill Batson
In almost 300 Nyack Sketch Logs, this is my first guest sketch. The schematic diagram is by my fiancé, Marisol Diaz, and depicts an idea I had for a piece called “Bistylus Built for Two.” Working in tandem, we have created three works for an exhibit entitled “Dynamics: Partners in Life and Art.” Our efforts, along with collaborations from 10 other couples, will be unveiled on Saturday at 7pm at the Volition Gallery at Bell-ans in Orangeburg. Come to the opening reception to sample a visual feast from kitchens with two cooks.
Speaking of food, the concept for this exhibit emerged during a discussion Marisol and I had over Indian Food in Nyack in 2016 with James and Phyllis Dodge. “We started to consider the number of friends that we have that are both life partners and artists and James, who can not resist a pun, saw that you can’t spell partners with out a.r.t.,” Phyllis remembered recently.
James & Phyllis have worked together establishing Bell-ans as a regional creative arts center since 2007. The hive of buildings in Orangeburg that once produced a popular indigestion tablet known as Bell-ans is the location of the Volition gallery, where the Dynamic exhibit will open on Saturday, June 9 at 7:00pm.
Founded in 1897 by John Lanphere Dodge, the son of a Civil War Union Army Surgeon, Bell-ans became a national pharmaceutical brand. One hundred and nineteen years later, the structures shelter the Shakespeare Children’s theater, a yoga study, horse stables, dozens of artist studios and Volition.
“This exhibition of works by couples and partners will show the results of togetherness and collaboration with one’s closest connection, reveling a new side of their expression or current connection to each other and the outside world,” said Co-curator Kristin Bowler, who partners with husband Spencer Tunick.
“Dynamics are what we experience when we come face to face with an outer catalyst in the form of another being who is ultimately our teacher through relationship,” said co-curator Lauren Rudolph, who will exhibit in the show in collaboration with her husband Jay Schick. “Through the vehicle of creative expression we will explore the nature of our partner dynamics and that which makes us choose to share this life and grow together.”
Meet the eleven creative couples cooking up compelling collaborations in Dynamic: Partners in Life & Art
Beto & Rob
Rob Kovacs: I received my first camera, a Kodak Disc, nearly 30 years ago, and I have
never stopped looking at life through the lens of a camera since.
I consider myself an “old school” photographer, or some would say a photo
purist. I have no formal photography training, but I do have the
“photographer’s eye” and I feel it is way too easy for anyone to be a
photographer in today’s world using all the editing and cutting and pasting,
adding and removing. I do not use Photoshop or any post production editing,
I want everyone to see what I saw through the camera; What you see is
what I saw.
nature, vacation, and landscapes. I love black and whites. I have recently
started to shoot photos of people, but still prefer my animals.
Kristin & Spencer
Kristin Bowler has been posing for Spencer’s photographs for 23 years. In Dynamics – Partners in Life and Art, Kristin once again poses for Spencer but this time she poses with 15 friends in the intimacy of their home. In the spirit of female inspiration and a strong and powerful tribe, Bowler and Tunick gathered friends to pose nude with her paintings. Bowler and Tunick have previously collaborated to produce the all-women nude art action, Everything She Says Means Everything, at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland Ohio against the hateful rhetoric and actions spewed by Donald Trump and many in the GOP.
Kristin Bowler’s paintings are inspired by nature and fantasy, the realm of dreams and secrets, mysterious beings and lost worlds. In an ongoing series she explores the idea of the female muse as guide. In Bowler’s words, “My muses are a tribe of mysterious beings that accompany me to a place where time does not exist. When I paint or create I lose any sense of time and I see the muses as my guides into a hidden dimension of color, magic and nature.” kristinbowler.com
Spencer Tunick’s body of work explores and expands the social, political and legal issues surrounding art in the public sphere. Spencer Tunick stages scenes in which the battle of nature against culture is played out against various backdrops, from civic center to desert sandstorm, man and woman are returned to a preindustrial, pre-everything state of existence. Tunick has traveled the globe to create these still and video images of multiple nude figures in public settings, from a handful of participants to tens of thousands, all volunteers. spencertunick.com
Marisol & Bill
Bistylus built for two is a machine with few moving parts that is extremely complicated to operate effectively, with printed instructions, in two parts, each written on the far side of your partners heart. In Wave Science, the landscape is deceptively permanent. The elements of chemistry and physics that we call our home by the river, water, earth, flora, fauna, and invisible air hurling through space around the sun is never resting. In the waves, the energy is tangible, constantly transferable, pushing us constantly up and down. On her sometimes tranquil, often tempestuous surface, we make our home.
Marisol Diaz is a graduate of the high school of Art & Design in NYC. She received her B.A. from Antioch College in Painting & Sculpture, and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with Grace Hartigan one of the only female American Abstract Expressionist painters of the New York School in the 1950s. Marisol is primarily an illustrator, and figurative artist, with prolific sculptural and glass-technique. She often uses mixed media and the-more-accessible-than-glass, ‘bar-top resin’ to tackle universal women’s issues. Her work concepts speak specifically to her Puerto Rican Diaspora. See and learn more @ http://www.amarettogirl.com
Bill Batson has published a weekly sketch and short essay about the village of Nyack since August 2011on NyackNewsAndViews. A selection of his sketch log entries were published as a book in 2014. A second volume will be released in 2018. Batson serves as a Trustee of the Historical Society of the Nyacks, the Communications Chair for the Nyack Branch of the NAACP. Batson chaired an effort that successfully create a monument to the Underground Railroad with the Toni Morrison Foundation in 2015 honoring local abolitionist Cynthia Hesdra. billbatsonarts.com
Phyllis & James
Feeling as if their souls have been together throughout lifetimes, James & Phyllis Dodge along with their son Andrew translate their inner wounds and pain into their artwork— traveling on a path where they’re each others guides. “Prying” is the collective sentiment of freedom, taking steps with their first piece to stand and be seen heard & freed.
Their second piece “Parallel” channels lighter emotions of the humor that has brought them this far, gluing them together through their love for classic American and European vehicles. Working together as a cohesive force, their work at Bell-ans is truly greater than anything that could be accomplished alone.
As partners both in life and art, James & Phyllis have spent thirty-six years together; years both mirrored and paralleled. Finally, able to express themselves fully, and presenting it to the public at large, the couple has worked together at Bell-ans since 2007. The dynamic and productivity as a couple inspired this exhibition.
Phyllis Dodge has consistently demonstrated interests in the arts, participating in theater, singing, and acting, reflecting her family history of art and music instruction in Italy. As a designer, director and producer, Phyllis is fortunate to work with a team of talented artists to orchestrate creative events, art exhibits and educational programs at Bell-ans. Taking on the role of a catalyst, she strives to inspire those around her, guiding their expression to shape dreams & expression into form. http://www.bellans.com/
James Dodge: Installation artists, Renovation expert , father and animal lover. Studying film and installation, James has worked in 8mm producing and directing short films including Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Collegiate Nightmare, Nuke Van Winkle and Time Travelers. Managing Bell-ans since 1986, his work as an expert in restoration proved beneficial to keeping the former industrial now cultural park true to its authentic self, in addition to being a release value for his artistic passions.
Melissa & Jamey
How do we combine such uniquely different approaches into a cohesive, engaging expression? Our pieces are artistic manifestations of that. Playing our different techniques and skills off each other, sometimes harmonizing, other time clashing. This is our truth — independent and unique, but merging into one.
Melissa Lovstrom Inspired by the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley, she grew up making art. Combining formal training and self-exploration, Melissa finds enjoyment in photography, drawing, painting and sculpture. She especially relishes working mediums with her hands – being in direct contact with the piece. A world traveler and certified underwater photographer, Melissa has a special connection with the ocean.
Jamey Jackson has worked as an illustrator and graphic designer. Currently he works as an art director, spending much of his free time following personal artistic pursuits. Jamey practices many mediums and techniques but lately has been exploring heavily textured acrylic painting.He is an active member of the Nyack Art Collective and Edward Hopper House, Volition Gallery in Orangeburg, NY hosted his first solo show in the spring of 2017.
Suzette Marie & J. Alexander
Suzette Marie & J. Alexander are collaborating for the first time with individually produced mash-ups of each other’s works. Suzette Marie, whose work focuses on the intimacy of sharing a bed, moves her sleeping figures from bedroom to landscape by directly drawing and painting onto prints of Alex’s photographs. Alex, a photographer who transforms misty fields and rivers into mysterious, romantic settings through post-production techniques, digitally combines elements from each of their distinct art forms into new compositions with layers of unexpected juxtapositions.
Through images that combine drawing and painting, Suzette Marie Martin explores how body language reveals the complexities, vulnerabilities and conflicts of intimate relationships. Awards include a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA and The National Gallery of Art Teacher Institute Fellowship in Washington, DC. http://suzettemartin.com
John Alexander Baker is a fine art photographer whose extensive portfolio began during his twenty year career as an actor, lighting designer, technical director and stage manager in theater and film. His transition to digital photography coincided with a career change to Information Technology software and network development. To see more visit: http://alexbakerphotoz.com
Lauren & Jay
As children we sketched constantly, we loved to express visually. We share this sensitivity however we took two separate paths. I stayed on the path of creating art because I cannot imagine a life without it and Jay who happens to be an artist who is great at math took that route and put his art to the side for a bit. His grounded presence allows me to fly and yet he also inspires me to be more grounded. I hope I inspire him to fly a bit. He sees all of the details, I sail through the sky and other realms. I am so happy to work on this together and explore our dynamic in whatever incarnation it takes. It’s fascinating to connect in this way and to get back to our roots…Two creative kids who love to express.
Lauren Rudolph has always had a pencil in her hand and she sketched and perceived the world through creative eyes. She has created in many facets including painting, sculpture, puppetry and all sorts of mixed media, but her heart is with portraiture. Lauren is also a teacher of art because she believes that creative energy working from both sides of learner and instructor inspires her to grow and expand every day.
Jason Schick is one of those artists who is actually great at math. This skill took him down another path of business and finance. In this world it sometimes seems that you have to take one road or the other and Jay chose to take the latter and hoped to find time here and there to create. Jay met Lauren, an artist too and felt that connection to his deeply held passion, but with kids, a job and life, time seemed to grow thin. Now with the universe knocking on his door from a few different directions, it’s apparent that it’s time to pull out the pencils and create once again.
Susan & Joe
Susan & Joe collaborated on many artistic projects together when our decorative painting company was operating. Having two people work on the same mural allowed us to find our individual artistic strengths. For this project they are incorporating Joe’s scenic images and Susan’s collage skills.
Susan Strange has always envisioned herself as an artist and majored in art history at university. Years later, she worked as a designer and later a decorative painter. Currently, Strange is a collage artist.
As a high school earth science teacher, Joe LeBlanc finds art in nature. He has enjoyed capturing the world through photography and explores area of the Hudson Valley in a kayak. Recently he has become fascinated with how reflections catch light, creating abstract images as the light is warped by the small waves on the surface.
Donna & Bob
Donna Davies & Bob Timm are two individuals who have built a life together through miles distance and miles of words.Their love story began with an entire ocean between them, Bob in New York and Donna in the UK., until the moment when the universe matched them up as pen pals through a school program almost 40 years ago.
In their early years, worlds apart, their letters were the foundation of their relationship.
This early and fruitful correspondence forms the basis of their collaboration.
Donna Davies Timm, a native of Great Britain, has lived and worked in New York for the past 20 years. She studied Surface Pattern and Textiles at Cumbria University, UK, specializing in Tapestry Weaving. She has exhibited work in the Royal Academy of Art, London, as well as many private galleries throughout England. Donna expanded her creativity into other forms of textile art, designing, constructing and embellishing customized garments and costumes for historical re-enactment, theater and performance. She is currently the director of the Nyack Art Collective.
Bob Timm is a poet, musician and family man. He is a founding editor of Poetry New York and founder of the New York College Poetry Slam. Bob studied American poetry at the CUNY Graduate Center with Allen Ginsberg and was a regular featured poet at the original Nuyorican Poetry Slams hosted by slam legend Bob Holman. Musically, Bob plays drums and piano, and has performed and recorded in NY with ska/reggae bands Orange Street and The Hard Times and performed several years with New York’s premier samba drumming school, Samba New York! He is presently a contributing editor for River River Journal,
Sona & Rob
Music and art have always been significant influences for us as individuals, and was a huge component in bringing us together. These pieces are manipulated images of digital music, combining technology and analog for both music and photography ultimately creating a visual representation of the sounds and feelings we share.
Sona Viola is a portrait and commercial photographer. After years of in Marketing and Event planning for companies such as Fujifilm, she now exhibits her Fine Art is photography throughout the NY/NJ area and curated her first exhibit this year.
After years of playing in local bands, Rob Viola built a home recording studio, the featured a laptop powered by Reason/Pro-Tools. As his career has switched into the technology of television broadcast recording and live sports replays, his original love of music and the art of recording music remains.
Barbara & Ray
Ray & Barbara spent countless hours together observing and recording nature. From their porches in Nyack and the Adirondacks, and on the road following migration routes in Rockland from Lake Tappan to Stoney Point, they watched hummingbirds, butterflies, loons, egrets, and eagles and other wild life. Barbara passed away last year, just shy of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The objects and images on display, made by their hands, represent a life dedicated to making art and celebrating nature and each other.
Barbara Wright, a well regarded master gardener, once won the coveted Edward Hopper House best commercial garden competition. Barbara enjoyed painting, quilting, basket weaving, stain glass and needle point. She loved kayaking, canoeing, bird and mink watching on her beloved Schroon Lake with her husband Ray.
Ray Wright was primarily a commercial photographer for his Real Estate and Insurance business, Wright Bros., until he and his wife Barbara bought a converted boat house on Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks in 1971. Ray worked with former Nyack High School music teacher Bert Hughes to launch Jazz in the Garden summer concert series at the Edward Hopper House in 1981. His work has appeared on the cover of the Villager and he has exhibited his work and lectured on nature photography at the Nyack, Orangeburg and Valley Cottage Libraries. This January, Ray was the Artist of Month at the Edward Hopper House.
Dynamics, Partners in Life and Art will be held at Volition Gallery on Saturday, June 9th from 7pm until 10pm. The exhibit is on display through July 14th. Volition is located at Bell-ans Center of Creative Arts, 103 South Greenbush Road, Orangeburg, NY. Volition is open on Saturdays from 2 – 5pm and by appointment. For more information visit bellans.com
Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Bell-ans Exhibit Features Couples As Creative Collaborators“ © 2018 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com