Saturday, May 14, 2005

Arty & Farty

MONEY AND GLORY. That sale on Friday in New York of Asher B. Durand’s painting “Kindred Spirits” for an obscene $35-million-plus (highest sum ever paid for an American art work) is fraught with implications for GreeneLand. All works by members of the 19th century’s Hudson River school of landscape painting gain allure (=market value). Luster accordingly is added to Durand’s friend and mentor, the founder of the Hudson River school, our own Thomas Cole. Thus, no small gain in market value goes to Cole’s “Prometheus,” which reposes (deteriorated) in Catskill’s public library. And a huge dose of vindication goes to County Historian Raymond Beecher’s heroic, lonely undertaking to bring back to life Cedar Grove, Cole’s home and studio here. That project, with Jack Van Loan giving daily pro bono supervision to restoration work performed by Richard Rappelyea and his Dimensions North crew, is now the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, whose visitors will multiply. The Durand sale also serves to boost the value, and perhaps the financial feasibility, of the contemplated re-creation at Cedar Grove, according to the artist’s own drawings, of Cole’s New Studio. And perhaps the buyer of Durand’s painting—Alice B. Walton, daughter of Sam--would welcome an invitation to attend, this fall, a Cedar Grove “salon” devoted to the Durand-Cole connection. At the center of Durand’s picture are two figures: William Cullen Bryant, the poet, and his great friend, Thomas Cole. The salon would be dubbed “Kindred Spirits.”

CHOICE FOR TONIGHT. Pianists Vladimir Pleshakov and Elena Winther perform works by Mozart, Milhaud and Rachmaninoff, punctuated by nuggets of piano history, at Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Red Barn in Hunter. (518)563-4908.

HAPPENING NOW. “Heart of a Heroine: An Experiential Weekend Retreat for Women” is happening now (5/13-15) at GreeneLand’s Brahma Kumaris Center (; Here’s hoping that participants succeed in effort to “Discover how spiritual awareness can improve the quality of your life and enable you to become the heroine in your own life story.”

ON CHURCH, NOT AT. Tomorrow (Sunday, 5/15), at 2:30pm, “Frederic Church at the Center of the World” will be given exposition by superbly credentialed Katherine Manthorne. Locale is not Olana (Church’s famous citadel in Columbia County) or Cedar Grove (home base of Church’s mentor, Thomas Cole). It’s Gallery 81 in Greenville (intersection of Routes 81 and 32) and sponsor is culture-pitching All Arts Matter (=Tony DeVito & friends). By word and slide projection, Dr Manthorne, former executive editor of American Art, professor at City University of New York, exhibition organizer, scholar, will link Church’s interests in exotic places to his paintings and to creation of his Moorish castle and estate. (518)966-4038.

AND JUST AHEAD. “Into the Private Domain: Artists’ Studios Past and Present,” a touring symposium jointly sponsored by Thomas Cole National Historic Site and by Olana, next weekend (5/21-22). Talks will cover not only Thomas Cole and Frederick Church, but also other notable artists of the past--Daniel French at Chesterwood; N C Wyeth at Chadds Ford, Russel Wright at Manitoga—and, on Sunday, visits to working studios of live local artists: Patrick Milbourn, Lucia Gannett, Dina Bursztyn, Fawn Potash, Portia Munson, Jared Handelman, Ruth Leonard. $35 per person; $30 for members. Info from Valerie Balint, associate Olana curator, (518)828-0135 ext 314.

SHOW TIME at Catskill Mountain Foundation. “Headliners and One Liners: Songs and Stories of the Catskill Hotels,” with period photos. Mark Singer, who plays more than he sings, with Darcy Dunn, who sings more than she plays, perform with friends on Saturday night (5/21) at Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Red Barn.

“PRE-OPENING” (Is that like being pre-approved?). Before unveiling his new Brick art gallery at 473 Main Street in Catskill, entrepreneur Frank Cuthbert is hosting a “pre-opening concert” on May 22 (Sunday) from 5pm. The distinguished duo of Garfield Moore, cellist, and Stephanie Watt, pianist, play works of Marcello, Dixon, Nin and “Rachmaninov” (close relative of Mountain Foundation’s “Rachmaninoff”). Donations ($10; $5 for seniors & students) to Arts Council. Puzzled about composers’ names? Here’s a clue: in addition to being a concert pianist around New York area and Europe, an adjudicator of young artists’ competitions, and head of Piano & Theory Studies at Long Island University, Ms Watt is an ardent student, teacher, historian, player, and prize-winning dancer of the tango. For more info: (518) 965-2999.

HEADLINE ART (well, craft anyway): “Breathtaking plans for cops in their cups.”—New York Post, 5/11, reporting police commissioner’s plan to spring random breath tests on cops who’ve had alcohol abuse records. To appreciate it fully, you need to see how the words just fit into available one-column space. Not so well crafted are these amphibolous headlines, cited in World Wide Words: “Island Monks Fly In Satellite to Watch Pope’s Funeral”; “Rubber Whale Helps Train Instructors.”

MISNOMERS DEPT. Did Michael Esslie, attorney for opponents of allowing a Movie Gallery in Cairo, really say (Daily Mail, 5/9) the town’s planning board “continues to flaunt the law”? Or did he properly say flout?

1 comment:

John Thorn said...

Hi, Dick. Responding to your comment left on mhy blog, Glad to "meet" you. You may find more of regional interest at my other blog,, where I've posted stories on Durand, Downing, Davis, Vaux, Vanderlyn, Melville, and more. My story titled "Walm-Art" will run in tomorrow's Woodstock, Saugerties, and Kingston Times. Because it may not make it online at,I wil b epleased to send it to you if you supplyyour email address. I may be reached at:
I'll check out your blog, too.