Dutch Artists Complete Residency in Ulster County

In early September, eight Dutch artists arrived in Ulster County for their month-long residency, in time for the opening of the group show of their work at SUNY-Ulster on Sept. 10. For the next month, they worked on projects at the various art venues where they were based, adapting their media and sensibility to the different environment of their temporary home.

Helma Kuijper, a ceramist and sculptor from Alkmaar, said she normally works in soft, pliable materials when making sculptures, so when she first encountered the chunk of bluestone that was her assigned medium at the Woodstock School of Art, she was flummoxed. (Kuijper and Greta Cune, a mixed media artist from The Hague, were both working at the school for their residencies.) She came up with a novel solution: break the bluestone into small pieces, which were then tied together with plastic twisties to create a kind of blanket. The soft structure out of hard rock is displayed on the school’s grounds, draped over a low slab of rock located in a small clearing in the woods. The white plastic ties resemble delicate hatchings of white lines, giving the piece a graphic quality, as if it were a drawing on the rock.

Marya Vleugel

Marya Vleugel in her studio at Women's Studio Workshop

Marya Vleugel, an Alkmaar-based print maker who showed inky, photographic images of bridges in Europe at the group show at SUNY-Ulster, spent her residency photographing local bridges and printing them on hand-made paper at the Women’s Studio Workshop, in Rosendale. “The bridges here are so wonderful and different,” she said. “We don’t have high bridges like this in Holland.” Vleugel captures the unique character of her structures by photographing each from different angles and focusing on idiosyncratic details. She also experimented with using colored inks. By shellacking the backside of the paper, she created delicate, retro shades of pink and yellow. She took over 600 photos while in the U.S., fodder for future artworks. Vleugel, who like most of the other artists had never traveled to New York before, said she was amazed at the nature. “There’s so much wild nature,” she said. “With us, it’s all structure, and there’s not a lot of space. Everything here is four times bigger.”

Pe Okx, a multi-media installation artist from Alkmaar, showed two video installations in Kingston: Vallicht, still life and landscape images projected onto the four walls of an abandoned garage on the Kingston waterfront and accompanied by inventive sounds and fragments of a Poulenc piece, and Sung Glass, the projection of an image of a male singer through hanging shards of glass set to the soundtrack of an operatic voice emitted through a glass sheet, at the Shirt Factory. The two pieces, which aired respectively Sept. 19 and 20 and October 3, were theaters of the surreal, turning conventional notions of time and space on their heads. “I’m not satisfied with the way we see reality,” Okx said. “I want to surprise and mystify myself.”

Marit Dik, who is also from Alkmaar, showed her large, colorful, psychologically charged acrylic canvases of figures in a landscape at the Arts Upstairs Gallery in Phoenicia. Dik, who was a psychologist before an exhibiting painter in 2000, transformed a room of the gallery into an installation, “This is a love song,” the fable of an adolescent girl’s transition into womanhood through a romantic encounter with a young man. The narrative was told through a series of paintings loosely connected by pastoral charcoal drawings on the walls and accompanied by a recording of a Dutch nursery rhyme, in which a robin—stand-in for the man–knocked on the door of a cabin to come out of the cold, stayed the winter, then abandoned the girl in the spring. “I started to draw on the wall for context, to make a story without words,” Dik said. “The paintings I brought with me, and the drawings are all impressions from here.” They include depictions of animals she encountered for the first time in the mountainous woods around Phoenicia, such as raccoons and flying squirrels.

Dik’s painterly style and subject matter, reminiscent of Eric Fischler, convey a sense of tension, both in the extreme animation of the landscape—paint strokes suggest eyes and other features lurking in the forest—and the vulnerability of her protagonists. In one painting, a tough-looking adolescent girl, her midriff exposed, is unaware of a large bear that lurks in one corner; the girl, however, seems less at risk of becoming a victim than the bear. In another canvas, a girl in military garb lifts a knife over a fallen boar. “There is no line between her and the landscape,” said Dik. “My painting is a kind of camouflage. I obscure and reveal.”

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October 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

Historic Dutch Ships Visit Kingston Sept. 17

A fleet of flat-bottomed Dutch sailing ships stopped in Kingston overnight on Sept. 17, as part of a Quad celebration sail up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany. The 18 boats had arrived in New York City on Sept. 3 by cargo ship and sailed around the Statue of Liberty before heading up the Hudson, stopping in Nyack, Peekskill, Constitution Island and Kingston, followed by Catskill, Coxsackie, and Albany, with the voyage ending Sept. 20. The boats will be transported onto a freighter on Oct. 2 for shipment back to Holland.

Dutch_blog1Such a massing of historic sailing boats probably hasn’t been seen at our city docks in at least a century. The boats were something special: their rounded bows and sterns, decorative detailing, and chocolate sails seemed lifted from a fairy tale. Shaped like a genie’s slipper, each boat had a pair of leeboards tucked up along the sides, wooden paddle-like appendages that are lowered when the boat is tacking against the wind, to help keep it from drifting sideways. Designed for navigating the shallow inland lakes and coastlines of Holland, the boats don’t have a keel, which makes them susceptible of capsizing in a strong, gusty wind.

Originally used for fishing or delivering cargos of soil, dung, peat or other raw materials, the ships are popular with hobbyists who race them for fun. The oldest craft dated from 1885, and the boats ran the gamut from fairly spartan craft that preserved their working-class origins to replicas with luxurious cabins. The HZ 108, for example, was an authentic, 1934 botter (type of fishing boat) owned by the city of Huizen, its fish tank intact, while the Sydsulver, a 2008 replica of a cargo boat, had an elaborate carved mahogany cabin, complete with showers, and the latest electronic controls. Most of the boats are privately owned, and the $500,000 cost of transporting them stateside was mostly borne by the crews and owners, according to Jan te Siepe, chairman of a foundation that promotes traditional boats and the event’s organizer.

Dutch_blog2On Friday morning, I hopped a ride to Catskill on the Hoop & Veictrouwen, one of two skutsjes, a type of cargo boat used in Friesland, a province in northern Holland. The five crew members included an electrician, cook, mason, and TV sportswriter, and they were sleeping in the long, low cabin that took up most the length of the ship—somewhat like cargo themselves, given the ceiling height of less than five feet. Built in 1916, the boat had a steel hull measuring 16 meters long and three and half meters wide; to propel the cigar-shaped vessel, 330 square meters of sail fluttered in the breeze.

We left the Kingston dock around 10 am, with the crew turning the winches to raise the massive brown sail. We passed the graveyard of rotting barges in the creek, sad remnants of the Rondout shipping industry, and pivoted left into the broad, glittering Hudson, the peace disturbed only by a cannon blast from the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sloop, to our port side. Along the eastern shore, we passed the replica of Hudson’s ship Half Moon, looking surprisingly shrimpy. A blue heron fluttered along the shore, and the only sounds were the squawk of birds, the whoosh of the Amtrak train, and the boisterous singing of Dutch sea chanteys by the crew. They had never been to New York before and were amazed by the scenery. “For us, that’s a mountain,” said Akke Vrymoeth, pointing to the ridgeline overlooking the river.

Dutch_blog3Around 1 pm, the wind died. Swimmers dived from the neighboring boats, and we chugged into Catskill by motor. Once back on shore, I asked te Siepe what surprised him most on his trip up the Hudson. Lack of boats on the river, he said. “Most of the cities were ports 100 years ago, but now you’re completely land focused. You have the treasure, and you don’t realize it.”

September 29, 2009 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

River Day | 10 June 2009 | Kingston

River Day | Clearwater | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Clearwater | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Halve Maen | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Halve Maen | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Onrust | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Onrust | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Cornell | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Cornell | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Welcome Party | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Welcome Party | by Nancy Donskoj

June 18, 2009 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Stikker’s and Hoegen’s Space Explorations at the Dorsky

Amsterdam artists Carolien Stikker and Philipine Hoegen will spend their residency in Ulster County working on a film project at the Samuel Dorsky Museum, at SUNY-New Paltz. Stikker captures and manipulates photographic images to create a kind of “technological sublime,” while Hoegen is an installation artist utilizing video, photography and print media. Here are edits of a statement from the artists about the project: (more…)

June 18, 2009 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

The Enigmatic Paintings of Dutch Artist in Residence Marit Dik

Painter Marit Dik is one of 10 artists from the Netherlands visiting Ulster County this year in commemoration of the region’s centuries-old exchange with Holland. She will be showing her large acrylics at the Art Upstairs gallery in Phoenicia as well as at SUNY-Ulster in September. Dik, who prior to becoming a painter was trained as a psychologist,  has shown her work in galleries throughout northern Europe. She paints representational but enigmatic scenes that scintillate with light. Below are excerpts from a recent critique of her work by American writer Donna Wolf:
“The landscape paintings of Marit Dik immediately transport the viewer to a serene setting far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Drawing inspiration from nature and familiar everyday settings, children often populate her large, abstract yet figurative paintings on canvas. Her work depicts scenes with a splendid tranquil atmosphere while simultaneously capturing a brief, fleeting moment…
“Dik achieves this quasi-idyllic quality through her choice of subject matter as well as through her abstract figurative style of painting. In the series of paintings completed in 2006 and 2007, she explores narratives and scenes of children relaxing, playing… just being in the outdoors…The children in her work can be seen as a metaphor for innocence…Their presence imparts the works with an air of harmonious nonchalance, yet [there is a] mounting tension of their pending adulthood in the not too distant future…

“Using thinly applied acrylic paint on canvas, she captures a melodious struggle between paint and light. Like expressionistic painters in the past, such as Cezanne, she avoids strong lines, choosing instead to carve forms through the juxtaposition of patches of paint…A gentle flowing pulse seems to ripple across the canvas…The use of paint as light also enhances the fleeting aspect of the actions…of the figures. The large scale of the paintings in combination with the open, close-up angle she provides the viewer allow us to penetrate the setting without disturbing its carefully constructed harmony.  Creating a partition in the dense forest gives us just enough light to observe the scene without becoming a trespasser.

“… the abstract landscape settings that form the background take on a life of their own in her series of trees and flowers. Using abstract painting techniques, she draws our attention to specific details of a flower or tree without attempting to depict them realistically. She paints in just enough detail to whet the viewer’s appetite and give an impression of the moment and setting…She is not merely interested in a realistic rendition of a situation, instead she is interested in the atmosphere, the feeling, the emotion…you can almost feel the unspoken  tension and potential of the scene.

“The painting technique in the body of work produced in 2009 during a residency at ArToll, Germany, resembles camouflage material; her brushstrokes and color patches subtly hint at the presence of small animals. She maintains a sense of intimacy by adapting her work to a smaller scale…Here we become acquainted with her impression of the forest, which is both powerful and majestic. It is therefore not surprising that she has entitled this series Jagd und Liebe, Hunting and Love.”

June 18, 2009 at 8:26 am Leave a comment

Quad Meal Specials at Two Dozen Ulster County Restaurants Offer Taste of Hudson Valley

Twenty-six restaurants, located in Kingston, Saugerties, New Paltz, Woodstock and Mount Trempor, are offering a $16.09 meal special during the Quadricentennial Celebration of Henry Hudson’s 1609 voyage. Ulster County is known for its abundance of excellent restaurants, and the discounts enable visitors and residents alike to sample the regional variety of culinary offerings at a very reasonable price.

Chefs are taking the opportunity to be creative. Here are a few sample deals, most of which are offered through October:

The Holiday Inn in Kingston, located on Washington Avenue, is serving a traditional Dutch dinner. The current menu: split pea soup; sweet and sour pot roast with egg noodles and Dutch-style coleslaw; and Malva pudding, a cake made with apricot jam, topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream. After your meal, check out the 10 artist-designed banners painted in Quadricentennial themes on display in the hotel through May.

New World Home Cooking, located at 1411 Route 212 in Saugerties, is serving a sweet pea and leek brown-rice risotto. The item has been selling briskly, according to management. The restaurant has attracted a following for its “global peasant food,” and on Friday nights it features live music, with no cover.

The Steel House, located in Kingston’s Rondout district, is offering two $16.09 specials: a large individual pizza and a pitcher of beer or soda, and eggplant rollatini with pasta. Located in a former foundry, the restaurant has a waterfront patio and outside tiki bar. It serves New Italian cuisine, including brick-oven pizza, as well as steak varieties.

A block away, Savona’s Trattoria is offering a choice of any pasta on the menu with a free glass of wine or dessert. The casual dining room serves Italian classics at reasonable prices and features a wide selection of Italian wines.

Peekamoose Restaurant and Taproom, located on Route 28 in Big Indian, is emphasizing Hudson Valley ingredients in its Quad special. Sample entrees it has served so far are shad roe and an organic vegetable plate, with roasted shitake mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, peas, lightly wilted pea shoots, and Quinoa grain with homemade ricotta cheese. Located in an old farmhouse, the restaurant has a tree-trunk chandelier and is decorated with natural and found objects; there’s a bar with a deck and a nightly bonfire.

Other participating restaurants are Mariner’s Harbor, Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant, Mezzaluna Café, Ship to Shore, Dolce Café, Hoffman House Tavern, Portobello Ristorante, Terra Nova 4 Seasons, Elephant Wine & Tapas, Roudigan’s Steakhouse, Frank Guido’s Little Italy, Armadillo Bar & Grille, and Ship to Shore in Kingston; Gilded Otter Brewing Co. and Village Tea Room in New Paltz; Café Tamayo, Café Mezzaluna Bistro, and Gisiano’s Restaurant in Saugerties; Bread Alone Café and Bakery, Landau Grill, Oriole 9, and Violette in Woodstock; and Catskill Rose Lodging and Dining in Mount Tremper. For a complete list of addresses and contact information, visit www.hudsonriver400.org.

Another business offering a Quad special is Jarita’s Florist, in Woodstock, which is selling a $16.09 floral arrangement. Quad discounts on lodging are offered at the Holiday Inn and Rondout in Kingston, Moondance in New Paltz, The Inn at Stone Ridge, The Grouse House and the Smythe House in Saugerties, and Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort in Kerhonkson.

April 20, 2009 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

April 2 Quad Kick Off a Big Success

Last night’s kick off at the Holiday Inn in Kingston was an auspicious start to Ulster County’s seven-month-long Quadricentennial Celebration. A large crowd filled the hotel’s spacious atrium, which was festively hung with a dozen artist-designed banners (the excellent hanging job was courtesy of a fork lift and labor contributed by Darmstadt Overhead Doors).

Adam from New World Cooking

Delicious comestibles served up by eight restaurants previewed the taste treat in store for visitors and residents who order the $16.09 Quad meal “special,” which will be widely available at area eateries during the celebration months. The old-time fiddle, banjo and mandolin tunes played by Earl and Mimi Pardini and their band mates in The Slide Mountain String Band kept things lively. There was time out for remarks by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, County Executive Michael Hein, Ulster County Tourism Director Rick Remsnyder, and Carla Smith, executive director of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, speaking on behalf of the arts organizations and other groups hosting Quad events. The speakers highlighted various Quad-related initiatives planned for the county and its abundance of cultural, natural, entrepreneurial and historical resources.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill

All in all, a rousing good time was had by all, and the TV cameras were there to capture it. Participating restaurants were Savona’s. Peekamoose Restaurant and Taproom, New World Home Cooking, Mariner’s Harbor, The Steel House, Rosita’s, Mezzaluna Café, Ship to Shore, Dolce, and the Holiday Inn, which featured a colonial Dutch “Malva pudding,” made with apricot jam. Banners were painted by Steve Ladin, Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, Jacquie Roland, Matt Pleva, Iya Battle, Robert Sweeney, Hendrik Dijk, Lynn Woods, Dennis Connors, Cynthia Winiker, and Erik Richards in collaboration with Cristina Brusca.

Earlier in the day. there was a formal proclamation commemorating the county’s 400 years of history and the opening of an exhibition of historic documents, “the Formation of Government,” at the Ulster County Office Building, located in Kingston. The proclamation was printed on handmade paper made from Abacca fiber by the Women’s Studio Workshop. The well-attended opening gave the public a first look at several documents in old Dutch, including the 1661 charter of the Dutch Court at Kingston.

April 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm Leave a comment

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