I am having a hard time letting go of summer. The new crisp air of the fall grasps remnants of the summer. Gradual warming colors of vegetation in the City’s parks and the rural areas of New York State and the Tri-state area, make me dwell on the spontaneous, unexpected beauty, wonders, and summer happenings that I have witnessed and experienced nearby my West Greenwich Village apartment and upstate.
Having been a Connecticut-born gal, I have roots and family there. Mostly raised in the Berkshires, it has afforded me a cornucopia of happenings and experiences throughout the years, particularly in the spring, summer, and fall. One benefit of working virtually is that one can still feel in touch with the diversity and cultural energy of the city while also feeling the richness that the countryside and all its communities can offer. Each equally diverse in nature, although some are more populated than others. So, I ventured out more often. Post-COVID has brought increasingly more people to the forefront of tangling and managing these two worlds in their lives, particularly New Yorkers like myself. One special experience of the summer was upstate in Wassaic, NY, where many artists, particularly from New York City, Brooklyn, found respite, creative energy, and community in remote places.
Getting out of the city and taking the Metro North to CT via the Grand Central will bring you to the many cultural activities in the Northwest Corner of CT and aligning NY towns such as Wassaic, NY, Millerton, NY, Kent, CT, Washington, CT, to name a few. In this case, I will highlight the Wassaic Project.
It is an art experience and community that is non-profit and run by several committed individuals to encourage and nurture the arts. When I revisited Wassaic it was like déjà vu. In the hamlet (a word used for a town that is too small to really call a town, but which still has a vital community), there was once a corn mill and a barn. At first, it was used for traditional mill purposes, then it became an auction for animals, and now it is a home for the Wassaic Project along with other surrounding structures. When I went into the barn, memories of an old neighbor of ours, who worked for the state but was a farmer in earlier years, took me to one of its cattle auctions when I was an adolescent. I remember how excited and curious I was. Everything was mesmerizing and fascinating: the particular fast naming, loud sound of the auctioneer’s voice in the barn… I could hear it replaying in my mind. And, to my pleasant surprise, the crudely hammered and arranged seating in the barn was still present at the gallery, as well as the old sign of the price of cattle.
The barn and its corals were converted into artists’ studio spaces still preserving its character. As you meander around each space of varying sizes and shapes, you have a chance to meet and talk to artists along the way. Many of these ambitious creators were from the city and hopped on the opportunity to apply and get a spot in one of these spaces. One was a graduate of FIT in Manhattan, another lived and worked in Brooklyn, and so on and so forth. This open studio showed their work and process to all that came. The artists were most elated to have the experience of space, and the offerings to the country, and also welcomed all the visitors providing a multitude of unique stories. Nearby was a restaurant/bar, which once was a brawling type of bar, and is now one for all to come. In between was another repurposed large barn, an old mill structure that had multilayers and served as a gallery of wonderful works of talented artists.
Outside one could enjoy a band the organization had invited, as it does in the summer, to play for those that came to visit. What more can one ask for? And this wonderful experience was absolutely free. For young artists, this is a fantastic opportunity to do studio practice, experience the country, and see life in a whole different way while still being only within two hours of the city. I recommend this to anyone who wants to drive to this beautiful part of the country, revel in nature, see art, make out, or recharge your batteries. The quaint and fantastic country towns are certainly worth the train or car ride. Stay a while or a few days.
When you are in New York, living in the West Village, there are always different, artistic, thought-provoking activities to experience. Particularly in places like Washington Square, happenings are always in the air. Whether it be the diverse functional art worn by park goers, the continuous song, dance, and music that plays in the different corners, benches, or grass areas of the park. It is human expression at its organic best. How many places can offer such freedom of expression, whether it be dressing in your own style, playing music (even on a piano), dancing, skateboarding, singing, playing games like chess, or creating and selling one’s art? All this is, once again, for free. Check it out, even in the cooler air of the fall it still has a lot to offer.
One thing that the virtual gallerist gains in a post-COVID virtual world is the freedom to develop one’s own schedule without the confines, expectations, and demands of a space. Don’t get me wrong, “virtual” still has its negatives and demanding challenges. But when I had physical space, I could not go to the museum as much as I wanted or had to miss must-see shows to hold down the fort. This is my first year liberated from the physical gallery space. In between my studio visits and appointments I managed to see museums that I often have not had time to check out very often. One of them is the Museum of Arts and Design near Columbus Square. Once, on a studio visit day, I managed to play a bit of hooky for a few hours to peruse and have lunch there.
This was a very invigorating change since I predominantly gravitate to painting and drawing and usually am drawn to places such as the Met, Guggenheim, and MOMA. Here I found the richness of design in functional wearable art, jewelry, installation with fabric, etc. The exhibition was inspired by fabric and how this medium is connected to and can be used to speak on the topics of activism, music, culture, and ephemeral phenomena. It also placed artists and some of their works in a context that the artists are often not generally associated with, giving the artist’s studio practice even more depth. There were works by Louise Bourgeois, Nick Cave, Jeffrey Gibson, Mark Newport, Judith Schaechter, Patrick Jacobs, and many more. There are discounts for many for certain days. Also if you can swing it, venture to the upper floor and dine at the “Robert”. The atmosphere is warm, the service and food were good, and what a view of upper Manhattan and its buildings, hustle and bustle, and, if my memory serves me well, the park! A great place for a date with a friend or just with yourself as I have had.
The roaming Gallerist will continue to roam but like every nomad one must breathe and have a rest.