Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dull Greene

GreeneLand is semi-rural, below average in per capita income, above average in resident geezers, devoid of higher education, pocked with crumbling moribund tourist resorts, culturally backward. Right?

Well, not altogether.

*Too numerous to name, one at a time, are the GreeneLand-based painters and landscape photographers who sustain, and transcend, the venerable Hudson School of Art tradition.

*For a thrilling esthetic jolt, or a series of jolts, click . Be sure to get a full-screen look at every object.

*In addition to conducting the Windham String Orchestra, Robert Manno is making an opera. His opus-in-progress depicts the life, and the strife, of Dylan Thomas, the bibulous Welsh poet, and his battling wife, Caitlin. An excerpt won selection for concert performance by the New York City Opera Company’s orchestra and soloists. “It is one of ten pieces they chose to showcase out of eighty submitted to them” in a yearly VOX competition, Mr Manno told Seeing Greene. “Three or four of the showcased pieces have gone on to full-fledged productions in opera companies around the county….” Many of the lyrics in “Dylan and Caitlin” come straight from the poems. Think of a melodious rendition of “In my craft or sullen art/Exercised in the still night/When only the moon rages/And the lovers lie abed/With all their griefs in their arms,/I labour by singing light/Not for ambition or bread/Or the strut and trade of charms/On the ivory stages/But for the common wages/Of their most secret heart….”

*Also on Mr Manno’s to-do list is a musical setting of a Thomas Cole poem.

*Among contributions to next year’s observances of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s cruise up the river that now bears his name will be a new book, River of Dreams, by GreeneLand writer-illustrator Hudson [sic.] Talbott. Meanwhile, Mr Talbott’s just-published United Tweets of America went into a second printing even before its official launch.

*Having completed his nationwide tour in “I Love a Piano,” GreeneLand thespian Johnnie Moore will do a run of “The Sound of Music” with the Mac-Haydn company in Columbia County, as part of that company’s 40th birthday celebrations.

*Jewelry-makng is alive and well in GreeneLand. Some baubles that bedeck “Cat House Cat,” fronting Functional Tiles & Sculpture on Main Street, Catskill, are the work of Pat Feinman (whose website was fashioned by Pat’s son Luke Litman).

*Performance Histories (PAJ Publications) is GreeneLander Bonnie Marranca’s latest publication. It is a collection of “conversations” with contemporary artists and of essays on art as spiritual practice, ethical aspects of performance, the theatre of food, and visual art performance. Ms Marranca, editor of PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art and professor at the New School’s Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts, has been a Catskillian since 1979.

*Of special local interest is Ms Marranca’s Hudson Valley Lives (Overlook Press, 1991), a richly illuminating, judiciously edited collection of writings, early and late, about this region. “In local knowledge,” she says in the Preface, “begins self-knowledge. Here is the starting point for what used to be thought of as worldliness, now transformed into global consciousness.” The Hudson Valley “is a topography of the spirit”; it “embraces a heritage that has fed every tributary of American enlightenment.” Here’s hoping that copies of Hudson Valley Lives are available, in plenty, during the quadricentennial celebrations of 2009.

*The penultimate item in Hudson Valley Lives is the text of a talk given by Thomas Cole, back in 1841, to the (ahem) Catskill Lyceum. Cole’s final sentence, expressing environmental fear and hope--“We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our own ignorance and fear”—is the basis of a symposium to be held tomorrow at GreeneLand’s Thomas Cole National Historic Site ( The speakers are eminent scholars. Their topic, ideas about the healing power of nature, is an esoteric one. Judging from experience with similar events over the past two years, it will be a sellout. (Later in the afternoon, Educational Director Gregory Rosenthal will meet with people who are interested in training to be docents at the Cole Site).

*Tomorrow’s talk will come on the heels, so to speak, of today’s walk. In keeping with National Trails Day, and sponsored by GreeneLand’s Mountain Top Historical Society (, three ace naturalists—Bob Titus, Larry Tompkins, Bob Gildersleeve—will conduct a two-hour hike to Sunset Rock, which is Site 7 on the recently-demarcated Hudson River Art Trail.

*Meanwhile, at the North-South Lake campground, a new outdoor exhibit will be unveiled; it is composed of reproductions of field sketches made from that spot, 170 years ago, by Thomas Cole.

*Thespian Casey Biggs has contracted to play a major role in “The Beholders,” an independent film. He’ll be away from his GreeneLand home during part of August-September for that job, as well as during weekends this summer for appearances at “Star Trek” conventions. In the meantime, he is busily pitching ideas here about arts-related approaches to our quadricentennial celebrations. Come mid-September, moreover, he’ll start directing a New School for Drama production of “Love’s Labors Lost.” About that project he reasons as follows: “since the language in the play is a veritable tango I feel inspired to set it in Buenos Aires and make it a literal tango as well.”

*Clay is the material on which GreeneLander Dina Bursztyn works not only with her hands but also with her mind. Her imagination yields, in addition to ceramic objects of art, an evidently profound sense of ancestral connection. Dina conveys this sensibility in a poem, “Collaboration,” as published in the “I Love You Greene” section (Doreen Perrine’s bailiwick) of the May issue of Arts Alive.

Touching clay feeling the memory of rivers whispering streams carrying leaves pebbles twinkling in the water

Touching clay finding fingerprints of people who lived long ago those who shaped the first vessels the first images of the human soul

Listening to the slight breath of a seed or an egg unraveling the gaze of an old spirit

In reverence I welcome the beginning of a lip

Touching the skin of the earth fingers wet with the sap of time dancing, haunting, hunting for a new existence slowly blooming from memories and rivers stones and stars sacred rituals and the history of human hands.

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