Posts filed under ‘Arts’

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

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

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

11 Artists Paint “Set Sail” Banners

With the Quadricentennial kick-off on April 2 less than a week away, area artists are working overtime to finish their “Set Sail” banners that will be displayed at the Holiday Inn in Kingston, later to be hung over lower Broadway in the Rondout district. Each strip of canvas measures approximately 2-1/2 x 5 feet, and just getting the 11 pieces of cloth cut, sewn and gessoed was a labor of love—courtesy of Sister Hildegard Magdalen Pleva, OssR, a member of the Redemptoristine Nuns at Mother of Perpetual Help Monastery, located at Mt. St. Alphonsus in Esopus.

Sister Hildegard notes that cutting out the banners to the precise size, sewing the thick fabric, and allowing for the shrinkage that occurred when the canvas was gessoed were among the challenges. The monastery is amply equipped with sewing materials and equipment, since the sisters make a living by sewing ceremonial capes for a Catholic lay organization. She says her contribution is a way of expressing gratitude for the lovely Hudson River landscape. “The picture windows of our monastery look out on the river and remind us every day of the wonders and beauty of all creation, [which] for us [is] a reminder of the constancy of God,” she says.

The banners are being painted in a variety of styles and images, including fanciful depictions of Henry Hudson and river landscapes. Kingston resident Henk Dijk has depicted a dramatic, fierce-looking figure head, representing Holland’s Seven Provinces, of a 17th-century ship that is being painstakingly reconstructed in the Netherlands, using the original blue prints. Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, also of Kingston, is painting a luminous landscape in the traditional Hudson River School style that has given her a noteworthy following, while Jacquie Roland, a resident of Saugerties, is working on two night scenes—Henry Hudson standing of the deck of his ship on an icy evening and his namesake river at twilight.

In researching Henry Hudson, Iva Battle, who lives in West Shokan and describes herself as “a painter of myths, archetypes and invisible energy,” became fascinated by the Native Americans. So one side of her banner will honor the Lenni Lenape, while the other will depict Hudson being swept down into the ocean into the arms of a couple of mermaids. (On his third voyage, Hudson was put out to sea in a small boat after his men mutinied; the mermaids refer to a log entry in which he described an encounter with a mermaid in Antarctica.)

Matthew Pleva (Sister Hildegarde’s son) is planning a landscape scene done in pen and ink. Known for his small-scale graphite pencil drawings, he admits he is “a little overwhelmed. Right now I’m struggling to get something 5 x 10 inches to be 2.5 x 5 feet.”

The other artists contributing banners are Steve Ladin, Cynthia Winiker, Robert Sweeney, Yourij Donskoj, Dennis Connors, and Lynn Woods. The banners will hang in the atrium of the Holiday Inn until July 1, when they will be moved out to the street. Come to the kick-off on April 2, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Holiday Inn if you’d like to see a preview of these colorful artworks.

March 27, 2009 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Art about Holland: Then and Now

Very broadly, you could entitle the Quadricentennial’s first two art exhibits, both opening April 4 and running through April 25, “Holland Then and Now.”

willem-burgert1“Holland Then” is a show of realist watercolors by Willem Burgert depicting 17th-century Holland and New Netherland at Donskoj & Co, a gallery in Kingston’s waterfront Rondout district. A resident of Alkmarr, Burgert is one of 10 artists from the Netherlands participating in the county’s Artists in Residence program. Burgert’s watercolors were from a book he recently wrote and illustrated about the adventures of three adventurous young people in the 1600s who traveled from northern Holland to Amsterdam and thence to a region of New Netherland that’s now Kingston. The pictures and detailed descriptions provide a vivid sense of what life was like back then. Burgert’s skills in historical story-telling were honed in two previous books, a picture book about Alkmarr’s 750-year history and a book about the Dutch North Sea island of Schiermonnikoog.

hendrik-dijkThe “Holland Now” counterpart is an exhibit at the Kingston Museum of Contemporary Arts, located a few blocks from Donskoj & Co., of photographs by Kingston artist Hendrik Dijk documenting the enigmatic World War II concrete bunkers that still litter the landscape in a region of Holland known as the New Dutch Waterline (sluices and a series of locks enable it to be quickly flooded, for defense). Dijk, who was born and raised in the Netherlands, noticed the small windowless structures on a recent trip to his native land. They were built by the Dutch to house soldiers fleeing possible bombing attacks and over the years have faded into the landscape (removing the vault-like structures is very expensive). Dijk is interested in their decay and how they have been incorporated into the surrounding farmland, becoming almost invisible. He plans to photograph all 200 of them.

March 15, 2009 at 3:12 pm 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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