Nyack Sketch Log: The Corner Frame Shop

by Bill Batson

The next two exhibits at Hal Parker’s Corner Frame Shop present important pieces of Nyack history — an appropriate topic for someone who has been in business in Nyack for the last 40 years. The current exhibit, Nyack As It Was, As It Is, and his next show, Tappan Zee Bridge Reflections invite the public to witness and document the shifting landscape of the Village of Nyack

Nyack As it Was, As It Is features the photographs of William Waldron. During a lifetime devoted to his three loves: family, his hometown and photography, Waldron amassed an enromous visual record of Nyack in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Waldron developed his love for the camera in Nyack High School’s photography club. According to his son Peter, who is the custodian of Waldron’s photographic record, his father was constantly taking pictures. If there was a public event, or if something was being built or demolished, Waldron was there to point his lens.

It just so happens that Waldron’s life overlapped a period of great upheaval in the village. He captures the excavation of massive rock cuts for roads and thruways, the devastation of fires, like the one that destroyed McDermott’s and the erection of massive public works like the Tappan Zee Bridge. “My father never imagined that there would be an exhibition of his work” Peter Waldron told me. “He took all of these photos for our family album.”

The Waldron family has been in Nyack since before the Civil War, a conflict his ancestor’s joined. Waldron Terrace and the namesake street are on the land where his great grandfather once farmed. Maybe his family’s generational association with village gave every structure and element of the topography enhanced sentimental meaning. Up until the mid twentieth century, the American landscape was a static and settled affair. The construction or destruction of a building was a major and prolonged event, worthy of fanfare and documentation.

Elizabeth Turk, who selected the photographs and curated the Waldron exhibit with Parker, said that she has been inspired by his example. “If William Waldron was around, he would have been taking pictures of each stage of construction of the new Walgreens,” Turk suggests. After seeing the exhibit, local designer and business owner Karen Houghton told Turk that she was going to start recording the evolving landscape of the village.

Parker’s next exhibit Tappan Zee Bridge Reflections honors the tradition of the citizen documentarian that Waldron exemplified by asking artists to focus their creative attention on the Tappan Zee Bridge before its proposed demolition and reconstruction. Over two-dozen artists are expected to be included in the juried exhibit. The public is invited to attend an opening reception that will be held on Sunday, August 5 at 2p.

Rainy Afternoon on the Tappan Zee Bridge, 10” x 10”, encaustic by Heather Douglas

Parker thought this show was important to mount because as one of the communities that will be most impacted by the fate of the Tappan Zee Bridge; Nyack is also the home of many visual artists. “Each day we hear a discussion about the bridge that centers on public policy and politics,” Parker said. “It is also an important time to hear from the artists.”

A portion of the proceeds of all sales will go to VCS, a family service agency with an anti-racist, social justice mission. “In these difficult times, VCS has experienced significant cut backs in their funding. I want to do my part to contribute to their important work,” said Parker, who is the secretary of the VCS Board of Directors.

There is still time for artists to submit work for consideration. There is a non-refundable $10 registration fee. Submissions must be received no later than 5pm Saturday, July 14.

Oil, watercolors, works on paper and photographs, suitably framed for hanging, are eligible for consideration. Submissions can made digitally at hal@thecornerframeshop.com or in person. The preferred format for digital submissions is jpeg, no less the 300dpi at a minimum of 5×7 inches.

Photographers like William Waldron and the artists that are participating in Tappan Zee Bridge Reflections perform a valuable public service. Imagine if we assembled all of our private photo collections in a massive public album? Combined with the work of local visual artists we would have an extraordinarily comprehensive archive of our existence. By being thoughtful documentarians of our experience, we can take stock of what merits celebration and note of what warrants improvement.

Unlike many exhibitions where you are asked to come and admire talents allegedly beyond your grasp, these two exhibits invite you to imagine yourself as more than just a passive spectator. If you use a camera, or a pen or a brush to record the world around you, especially as the pace of change accelerates, future generations of your family and your community will be in your debt.

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