Catskills Corner Feb 7-8

The town of Catskill has gone from nowheres-ville to happenings-place in the last three years, and though the financial crisis may slow down Main Street’s otherwise-rapid progress, I severely doubt it will halt it. For those who don’t like to cross the river into Hudson for a proper dose of hip, they can now stay in the quaint town at the foot of the mountains that’s finally (or, perhaps, given its history, once again) living up to its grand name.

Catskill is a natural place in the mountains to develop an art scene, given the presence of Cedar Grove, Thomas Cole’s historic home. The British-born Cole, who came to the States from Lancashire aged 17 and died at just 36, is considered the father of the Hudson River School of Art, a genre of painting that thrived on the ever-changing light and shade (not to mention the shifting seasons) of the local scenery. For those who don’t know about this Hudson River School, this Saturday February 7 will provide an ideal opportunity to learn a little more, as the various Main Street galleries, co-ordinated by the Catskill Gallery Association, open their doors for new their new shows, featuring special exhibitions of contemporary and historic Hudson River painters. I suspect that wine and cheese will be liberally provided up and down Main Street between 6 and 8pm, and that the various new bars and restaurants in-between will benefit from the overflow.

clove.jpg The Hudson Valley of yesterday: Landscape, Sunrise in the Clove, undated, by Thomas Cole (1801-1848). On show at the Thomas Cole Historic Site.

And for those who don’t know about Cole but would like to know more, the following afternoon, Sunday February 8, at 2pm, John Stilgoe, Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard University’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, presents Framing Cole: The Years Before Rediscovery. To quote from the web site:

Today we understand that a huge piece of American cultural history is derived from Thomas Cole. But how did America view Cole in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth? Why did he become forgotten for 100 years?

Presumably, Stilgoe will provide the answer. Following his talk, the Catskill Gallery Association will host another reception at its Main Street galleries, eschewing the wine and cheese for coffee and cake. I haven’t hung out properly in Catskill for a year or more (these mountains are a big region and the town of Catskill is almost an hour away) but this weekend sounds like a good opportunity to put that right.

If I do decide to go and I can get the timing right, I can head west from Catskill after the Saturday evening receptions and still make it to Windham Fine Arts in time for the opening of its own new show, entitled Ullr’s Reverie. Ullr is the Nordic ski-god, and the name seems appropriate given that nearby Windham Mountain is enjoying such a great season. (Memo to self: get back out on Windham some time soon, I haven’t been on that mountain for years.) The openings at Windham Fine Arts are especially warm and cozy, usually with some better-than-average wines on pour, and director Marie Christine Case has been known to make her own home-made food dishes for customers. She’s also got a keen eye for artists and judging by the lone print excerpted on the website, Ullr’s Reverie should be no exception. The reception runs from 7-9pm.

wfa_1232145375_skitracks_14x24_web.jpgThe Hudson Valley of today: Windham Fine Arts’ Ullr’s Reverie show features winter scenes by James Coe, Elissa Gore, Tom Key, and Mara Lehmann.

And if I head out and I’m still standing (which is two big “ifs”), I may finally get to visit the Cave Mountain Brewing Company on Windham’s Main Street, which opened last September and has been enjoying some rave word-of-mouth reviews. The microbrewery, which is also a restaurant, offers six of its own beers on draft and half a dozen New York State guest taps. Add in Windham’s own winery and it’s fair to say that the town is staking a claim to do-it-yourself drinking capital of the Northern Catskills. Cheers!

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December 2021