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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.”


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

Commissioned Quadricentennial Artwork Unveiling Ceremony

Kingston City Hall. 420 Broadway
Friday, April 17, 10 am
Join the City of Kingston’s Mayor James Sottile and others for the unveiling of a special Quad inspired print of Henry Hudson exploring the river bearing his name created by renowned landscape artist, John Zaccheo. A native Kingstonian, and graduate of Kingston High School, Zaccheo is an artist who has circled the globe and is known for his prints of Mediterranean ports and seascapes.  His special salute to the Hudson-Fulton Quadricentennial was commissioned by the City of Kingston. Prints of the original painting will be available for sale at the unveiling.  The framed prints have been numbered by hand and are being sold for $50, $100 and $200 according to their size, and come with a certificate of authenticity. Contact: Katie Cook, City of Kingston, NY (845) 331-7517

April 9, 2009 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

It’s Official: 400th Anniversary Celebration of Henry Hudson’s Voyage in Ulster County Kicks Off April 2

Ulster County’s Quadricentennial Celebration officially kicks off on April 2 with a mini-celebration at the Holiday Inn in Kingston, featuring colorful, artist-designed banners, old-time music and samples of the “$16.09 specials” that will be offered by many area restaurants. The event, held from 5 to 7 pm, will be an occasion for representatives from the arts, historical and community organizations that are sponsoring Quad-related events, local governmental officials, and other Quad participants to meet and greet each other. The public is also welcome to attend.

Eleven local artists have been invited to design and paint canvas banners inspired by a theme related to the Quadricentennial. The artists are Steve Ladin, Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, Cynthia Winiker, Jacquie Roland, Matt Pleva, Iya Battle, Robert Sweeney, Hendrik Dijk, Lynn Woods, and Yourij Donskoj. The musical traditions of the region will be brought to life with a lively performance by The Slide Mountain String Band, featuring Earl and Mimi Pardini and other musicians on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass. The Pardinis have called and accompanied square dances held throughout Ulster County. They’ve also performed frequently at schools, weddings and other special events.

Restaurants that will be offering a $16.09 lunch or dinner Quad special throughout the celebration will be serving up samples. While it’s too soon to say which restaurants will be at the Holiday Inn, those offering specials include the following: the Hoffman House, Steel House, Mariner’s Harbor, and Frank Guido’s in Kingston; The Inn at Stone Ridge; and Cafe Tamayo, New World Home Cooking, Cafe Mezzaluna, Gisiano’s Restaurant, The Grouse House, and The Smythe House in Saugerties. Other eateries are also expected to participate. The Holiday Inn, along with Pinegrove Ranch & Family Resort and possibly other area lodgings, will be offering special Quad discounted rates.

A few of the participating Quad venues, such as The Klyne Esopus Museum, will feature a display at the kick-off event.

The kick off will be held almost 400 years to the day (April 4) when Henry Hudson departed Amsterdam in the 85-foot-long Half Moon, accompanied by a crew of 16. He would stumble upon the river that bears his name five months later, anchoring just off the site of present-day Kingston in mid September. Numerous exhibitions, lectures, festivals, house tours, and performances scheduled countywide from the beginning of April through the end of October will celebrate the region’s Dutch roots, the native Esopus people who were here centuries before the Europeans’ arrival, and the landscape, ecology and culture of the Hudson River.

A full listing of events, maps, and other information is available at The Ulster County Quadricentennial Arts Celebration Committee, which is overseeing the marketing of Quad events, received funding for its efforts from the Cultural Tourism Initiative, a project of the Arts & Business Council of New York and the New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, contact Nancy Donskoj; 845-338-8473;

March 12, 2009 at 8:51 am Leave a comment


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