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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Re-Imagining

We are always remembering what we no longer have or do. I am sure that is how the small group of dedicated volunteers who started the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society (MBIRRS) felt when they looked at the mountain and no longer saw the railway, but could still remember the ride up to the top. Mike Colarusso, the current president of the MBIRRS, and all of the individuals who ever worked on the project (including former Beacon mayors Clara Gould and Steve Gold--among others) and those who are still working and moving forward together on the capital campaign (including Frank Skartados, Jeff McHugh, Mayor Randy Casale--among others) had a strong memory of the past or an acute imagination or vision for the future. The MBIRRS website tells the history and the narrative story leading up to the present state of affairs with accuracy and details far better than I can.
But I can tell you that after attending the Annual Gala for MBIRRS at Dutchess Manor on 12/19/13, the word is official that the support to move ahead on rebuilding the railway is stronger than ever. The most recent initiative is to have the mountain itself become part of Hudson Highlands State Park, which will occur sometime in the spring, while the acreage at the foot of the mountain (e.g., the area surrounding the parking lot and back towards the remnants of the railway) will remain part of Scenic Hudson. It certainly makes sense from a logistical standpoint to gain further support from New York State. After all, it is Mount Beacon that is in our state flag, as you will learn when you view the MBIRRS video entitled "Excelsior."
So if you haven't become a member of the society as of yet, now is the time to support MBIRRS. You can even order items online from their gift shop, like the cap with their logo. If you already have one, get one for a friend as a gift. It is a true vision to get everyone to the mountaintop - those who can still climb and those who may require a ride with ADA accommodations. We all need to get on board.

Food for thought:  This idea that one can use memory to remember the past (retrospective memory) or imagine the future (a form of prospective memory) caught my attention this Christmas season. I said to a friend the other day during a moment of reflection, "Remember, we are always making memories." I realized that this is a good reminder for those who have  either bad memories or good memories about past holidays. Grounded only in the present moment, we can recreate new and better memories that we can take with us into the future or we can recapitulate the memories that we hold dear, but cannot have in the same way because we have lost the people or the places that were their context. The choice of our memories going forward is in our hands from each moment to moment. What a gift!
In Search of New Memories
Four Side Dishes for a Boneless Center Cut Pork Roast Holiday Dinner
(Inspired by my company--Danish friend,Jens Bille and his wife Bettyann, from Gallery  508)

Braised Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
1 head red cabbage, canola oil, caraway seeds, organic balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt & pepper
Mashed Butternut Squash
Cooked butternut squash, butter, maple syrup, touch of cream, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract
After mashing all ingredients, place mixture in bowl and bake in oven to serve.

Holiday Stuffing-All the Ingredients
1 1b. loaf whole wheat bread, cubed; sautéed celery and shallots in 2 tbs .butter; poultry seasoning, parsley,
salt & pepper, 2 cups chicken stock, 1 beaten egg, 2 handful chopped walnuts, 12 diced, pitted prunes

Holiday Stuffing - Ready to Bake
Mix all ingredients until blended/wet to bake in oven in covered dish.
Vegetable Mélange for Roasting
1 fennel bulb, 8 small yams, 5 cored and peeled apples--all sliced lengthwise; canola oil,
juice and zest from 1/2 navel orange, tarragon, allspice, salt & white pepper 
Mix well to coat vegetables and bake in oven until tender.

Please note: The pork roast was not shown in deference to my vegetarian and vegan friends. Most of the side dishes shown can be adapted to be vegan. With the exception of the holiday stuffing, the recipes are gluten free; substituting gluten-free bread is possible.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Beacon Bits -- In Remembrance

This blog post is all food for thought. It has been a week where it has been difficult not to be thoughtful, reflective and emotional.
It has been a week since the tragic Metro North Hudson Line train accident that occurred on Sunday December 1st. That is our train. The one that runs beside our river, as steadfast as the tugs and barges that go north, only to return south. That was our train with our people. The people who commute to work on a daily basis, the people who rely on the convenience of the ride to Grand Central to take in a museum or play in NYC, the people who come up to our town to visit the Dia Museum, attend gallery openings, hike Mount Beacon and Breakneck Ridge and to check out the revival on Main Street.
It was hard not to want to read every article in the New York Times and the Poughkeepsie Journal News about the train derailment. It was difficult not to want to hear the updates on the radio driving to work and reports on the morning and nightly news. It was heart wrenching to know that the majority of the people on the train were residents of the Hudson Valley and that two of the deceased were living within a neighborly distance from Beacon and that a close by neighbor who was a dentist traveling to the convention got on the train in Beacon and was critically injured.
It was difficult to wait for the news. The news that confirmed it was not a mechanical failure. The news that the train was speeding far above the speed limit. The news that reported there was no texting and no alcohol. The news that leaked that the engineer may have dozed off during that last non-stop run from Tarrytown towards 125th Street via the fateful curve at Spuyten Duyvil. 
Blame will not return any of the lost life, nor reverse the critical and life-changing injuries, both physical and psychological,  for all the passengers who boarded that train without a glimmer of knowledge that this train would not reach its destination. That  early Sunday morning train that lulled many passengers to sleep. The train that traveled south with the sun rising in the east over the river on a clear but cold winter morning.
I cried when listening to the personal narratives of those who could still speak about their experience of being slammed against the sides of the train car as the cars left the track. I cried when I thought of the engineer, William Rockefeller, also a local Dutchess county resident, that was spoken highly of by neighbors and friends and union representatives; the one who will forever hold the grief, the guilt, and the responsibility for the role that he played in the derailment. I cried when I realized that observers were looking to vilify the engineer without understanding the nuances of circadian rhythms and sleep disorders for night shift workers and how these factors play roles in countless numbers of mass transportation and industrial accidents when workers suffer from chronic sleep deprivation and live out of sync with the natural circadian rhythms that are biased toward daytime work.
I was struck that two of the deceased, Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh NY and Jim Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring NY were en route to engage in activities related to the festivities leading up to Christmas: the lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree and the singing of Handel's Messiah.  But I was mostly touched by the examples of their lives. They both were involved with family, with community, with activities and work that they were passionate about. Both of them were loving, caring and generous individuals who reached out to others, who practiced countless acts of kindness and who were living the Golden Rule . They were stellar role models for all of us, who like them, do not know when our life will come to an end. It seemed that Donna and Jim were not taking any time for granted; they practiced living the best life day to day. Some would call that spiritual wisdom. I call it a gift for those of us who did not know them, but by their example can dig a little deeper and try a little harder and live to our full potential just the way that they did. With gratitude for their lives, I ask for them to rest in eternal peace.

Storm King Mountain along the Metro North Hudson Line
Links for those who might want to make a holiday gift as a donation in memory of Jim Lovell (for the care of his family) and Donna Smith (for Habitat for Humanity in Newburgh.)
Links for those who want to learn more about circadian rhythms and sleep disorders and the role of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The latter are links passed along by a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, who responded to an email I sent to a researcher at Rush University with a specific and direct request for her to write an Op-Ed for the New York Times to better inform the public about the science of sleep and circadian rhythms.
Sleep induced accidents can happen to all of us. Not a day goes by that I personally am not touched when I pass a certain spot on Route 9D in Garrison where I had a close call with a momentary 'nodding off' this past summer. There but for grace, go I....or you.....
Pause and reflect and take the time to learn about avoiding sleep deprivation that can cause accidents in your life.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Behind the Scenes

Yanarella School of Dance had its 55th Annual Recital on Friday 11/22/13 and Saturday 11/23/13 at the Pete and Toshi Seeger Auditorium in Beacon High School. This terpsichorean celebration signifies the success of the Main Street dance studio over many years prior to Beacon's resurgence in the last ten years post-Dia Beacon. One has to wonder how many hours of practices go into a stage ready performance, how many costume changes, how many hours of parents driving and waiting for their children to finish classes, and how many hours perfecting choreography that it takes over the course of one year -- let alone realizing that this has been going on year after year -- across generations of Beaconites who persevered through the tough times on Main Street to see that the legacy of dance can still light up even the darkest night.

Getting ready!
Time to get moving!

Getting ready for Polar Express

"It's almost time to go on stage again!"

"I think we are ready to go."
Perfect Pointe!

Beauty in motion

It's never too late!

Encore! Time to take a bow........
Food for Thought: Alvin Ailey said, "Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and it should always be delivered back to the people." I say there are no excuses anymore. It doesn't matter what size you are, or how old or how tall you are or whether your feet are perfect. It just matters that you have the need to express your feelings in movement and that you have the desire to be challenged to do something new. Motor learning is an excellent way to create new neural pathways. Everyone knows that rhythm is inherently natural -- just watch a baby respond to music -- and it is known that dance has social and communal implications -- just look at anthropological studies across diverse cultures. While dance may become the next hot topic in cognitive neuroscience, it may also be an immediate vehicle to connect with neighbors and friends in the spirit of community. So it's time for the new Beacon to join in the dance of the old Beacon! There is still time to register for the 2014 cycle of classes.
Thank you Angela for two years of beginner adult dance lessons!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Firsts and Last

The autumnal blaze seemed to linger longer this year. Gratefully. The almost perfect weather throughout October was very much appreciated after the anomalies of the last two year's snowstorms and hurricanes arriving on October 29th. So this year felt more like a treat than a trick and was marked by some memorable events experienced for the first time, as well as the "last."
October 4th was the official opening of he Towne Crier Café in Beacon. As a new member, I used my free concert ticket on October 5th to see Battlefield Band from Scotland. I had never been to the Towne Crier in Pawling so I cannot compare the new with the old; however, I was satisfied with the venue, the ambiance, the music and the energy of the crowd. Pawling's loss is Beacon's gain! It will be interesting to see how things settle into a groove once the rhythm of the kitchen and wait staff and acoustical fine tuning are all in full swing. Towne Crier is a definite plus for Main Street and I know my first concert is far from my last. 

A second first this fall was a sail on the Clearwater, which embarked from the pier in Cold Spring on Columbus Day weekend. Despite the fact that there wasn't much wind and not enough singing, it was a memorable experience as I took in the panoramic view and unique vantage point to gaze at Constitution Island and West Point to the south, Little Stony Point and Breakneck to the east, and Storm King to the north and west. It was a most beautiful way to float along on the Hudson on a warmer than usual October day, remembering the working, wind-powered sloops of yesteryear, while celebrating the vision of Pete Seeger's environmental teaching vessel in the present. Supporting the mission of the Clearwater continues to insure a watchful eye on the state of the Hudson River for the future.
Alas, amidst the firsts, I picked up my last share from Obercreek Farm, the CSA that I joined for the 2013 season after two years of membership in the CSA at Common Ground Farm.
The bounty of the crops this year was notably improved. The sight of this sample autumn harvest of cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, potatoes, kohlrabi, spinach, scarlet turnips, and autumn crown winter squash was enough to inspire a potato/leek soup and roasted root vegetables medley, whetting the appetite for the culinary delights of this last share, while signing up for next year's growing season.
Food for thought: New beginnings in the midst of endings keep the cycle of renewal going strong. Novel experiences inspire us to explore further. Deeper. We develop new habits, traditions and routines when we indulge in the same thing over and over and over again. Something new becomes something old, just as the familiar Girl Scouting song says, we are reminded to -- 'make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.'
Potato Leek Soup
1-1/2 stalks leeks, cleaned, sliced and roughly chopped
5-6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
48 oz. broth (I use chicken)
12 oz. water
Butter, canola oil, parsley and tarragon (fresh or dried - as you like)
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute leeks and potatoes in a combination of 2 tbs. butter and 1 tbs. oil in a large pot until leeks are translucent (about 15 min.). Add broth, water, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper to vegetables and cook for about 1-1/4 hrs. Puree soup. Add 1/s cup milk or cream (optional.) Return to heat. Serve with chopped fresh herbs sprinkled on top. If milk/cream was not added to the soup, a dollop of sour cream on is a nice garnish.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beacon Bits -- "For the People, By the People"

Ironically, I am posting this blog entry on the day the federal government shut down. But don't be alarmed, People's Bicycle is still open for business!
With a name like People's Bicycle, you'd expect good customer service and a user-friendly environment. That's exactly what you get from this warm and congenial team
From left to right, Sarah, Jon, Bryan, Kyle, Aaron and Kantu
Sarah Womer has her own  venture of 'transforming waste into community' with Zero to Go
of local bike enthusiasts and avid techies. Now located at 72 Maple Street (on a quiet residential street, not far from the high school and Memorial Park) in a large open garage space suitable for repairs, assembly, storage and supplies, People's Bicycle has already been in business for 4 years in Beacon. A little off the beaten path from its last location on Chestnut Street, it is definitely in a suitable environment for a growing business.
Jon Miles, Manager and Owner, is personable and honest about the work that is
required to adjust or repair the bike you have and want to keep without making you feel inadequate or unsavvy about your unfamiliarity with new equipment and improved bicycles for ergonomic and satisfying cycling, without any sales pressure or hype to make a new purchase. (I'm sure he can speak excellent "bike" with those who are more knowledgeable than I as well.) Educated in economics and political science in college, Jon exudes a comfort about his vision of using bicycle transport for mundane tasks of daily living; he has given up using a car, albeit a challenge, perhaps less so in our locale, reminding me that a bicycle is the most efficient mode of transportation in terms of energy expenditure.
People's Bicycle (PB) sponsored some of the new bike racks, with the PB logo,  near Key Food on Main Street
Designed and manufactured by Dero, an American company in Minneapolis, MN
with assistance from local NYC rep Ben Cramer and community aficionados, Pat Manning and Justin Riccobono
Looking around the shop, you would surmise that this is not necessarily a shop for the bicycle racer, as you notice the baskets and saddle bags, bicycles built for two, and carriage add-ons for riding with small children in tow. "Team PB" is knowledgeable about the integration of cycling within the lifestyle found in  different European countries and cities - like Amsterdam and Berlin - so this global sensibility makes it obvious why there is a map of the world in the office. Jon seemed to enjoy my story from childhood as I reminisced about an aunt in Norway who cycled for daily shopping errands with her American relative tucked in between the packages on the back of her bike, just as he showed his curiosity about an invention in Trondheim that allows bikers to connect to a track that assists them in getting up steep hills. Taking time to listen to a customer is the neighborly thing to do. Jon gets it.
At People's Bicycle, there is a vision about creating a bicycle culture for real people and it is palpable. I came into the shop to seek an adjustment to an inexpensive, but new, Schwinn bike I had recently purchased to get out onto the Rail Trail in Dutchess County. Before I could actually bring the bike in, I had a couple of phone conversations and an emergency visit to help put my new bike rack together and secure it to my car.  I was even offered a pick-up in the richshaw-pedicycle that Beaconites have witnessed Jon travel down Main Street!

I appreciated the patience and kindness during these contacts. I also witnessed these qualities with a variety of customers visiting the shop on two occasions: a family retrieving their tried and true bicycles, a father with two children in tow who was more interested in his own bike fantasies as he focused on a new "fat bike" and ignored the excitement of his son looking around the shop, and a pre-teen who showed up as one would arrive at an ER with his bike emergency -- a chain derailment that needed to be fixed quickly so he could get back into action.
Kyle and Aaron focused on problem solving

My bike was ready in several days with the promised work that had been previously estimated and assessed by Jon and Kyle. All ready to go, I left a happy customer, who now felt confident about putting the bicycle rack back onto the car, ready for the trail, knowing I had made some new friends who will be there when I need my tune-ups. Or basket. Or - down the road a bit - a large tricycle made for a geriatric cyclist who has lost her balance!

Food for thought: My confidence and faith in a younger generation who are authentically living the values of their parents' generation -- the quest for decreased pollution, simpler lifestyles, and building connections in community -- was restored  once again after getting a closer look at how this team is running their business and living their lives as role models in the community. I think Jon, with his education, people skills and affable personality, would make a great city councilman or member of Beacon's planning board. With his forward thinking mindset, one could sense that the bike racks and shared-lane markings, known as "sharrows"* and the occasional group rides down Main Street are just the beginning of a what will become a solid bike presence in Beacon.

*Acknowledgements for Beacon's "sharrows" initiative
Mark Roland, Karla Raimundi, Linda Hubbard, Mark Wildonger, Scenic Hudson, Stowe Boyd, Beacon Streets and BeaconArts.
There is a current fundraiser through October 25th, with a modest goal of raising $1,150,
which focuses on expanding the sharrows in Beacon.
People's Bicycle has contributed a number of tune-ups to help support their efforts.
Other local vendors (Mountain Tops, Bank Square, Beacon Creamery and Tito's) are also participating.
Follow the link to the Indiegogo campaign, improving-main-street-beacon

People's Bicycle is a new member of BeaconArts



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beacon Bits - This-'n'-That

I finally got to visit the Visitor's Center kiosk on the corner of 9D and Main Street. Run by the Chamber of Commerce and chock full of informational brochures for Beacon and the Hudson Valley, it was staffed by a family of friendly volunteers. Local vendors are allowed to bring posters, flyers and business cards to have available for distribution--helpful for Beaconites, as well as visitors to town. Word has it that if you don't find this center open, you call always stop into RiverWinds Gallery on Main Street, which serves as a tourist information site as well. Great for business and helpful for those looking for personal recommendations from those who are in the know!
I also finally got to The Hop, although I almost kept hopping along because of the size of the lunch time crowd on Labor Day. But I was determined to take in the ambiance and savor the selection of comestibles and potables in this artisanal fare and craft beer specialty shop.
While the logo on the available T-shirt advises that The Hop is "not a bar" -- I wondered if some couples holding court at the counter were in fact using it as a 'watering hole' as they addressed politics, the economy and sports over a few glasses of ale served on tap. It was the friendliness of the waitress that encouraged me to stay and test out the menu with the
simple grilled cheese (Adirondack Red Wax) on multigrain bread served with a cup of the best corn chowder I've ever tasted along with a glass of Doc's Hard Apple Cider. Simple and delicious.
On the way out I asked for a link of the uncooked lamb and kale sausage in the refrigerated case along with other meats and cheeses for sale for take-out, making it very clear that the butchering that occurs in The Hop is serious and shouldn't be overlooked for special ingredients for cooking at home. The sausage was perfect sautéed with fresh tomatoes and garlic that were picked up last week from Obercreek Farm, the CSA that picked up where Common Ground Farm left off.
All in all, it was a satisfying lunch and the visit allowed me to see that standing around the center island, which showcases a variety of local beers, was not inconvenient or uncomfortable when all the tables (way too few in number for the popularity of this venue) are full -- which is quite often. Thank goodness for the take out option!
Across from The Hop is my favorite antiques dealer, Kathleen Newcomb, of Studio Antiques. Now in its third location since first shopping there in January 2011, the shop is now home to multiple dealers. It's always a pleasure to browse and have a chat with Kathleen who is also an artist and master of restoring fine paintings.

Now that I've finally caught up with the odds and ends at summer's end, I eagerly anticipate the autumn with all of its activities that are packed into a limited amount of time and hope to blog about some of them in detail in a more timely fashion!
Some food for thought: Some of us need closure and are troubled when we have those loose ends hanging around. Blogging has left many loose ends for me over the last couple of months, but the satisfaction of finally getting to tie them up and check them off the list is a good feeling. These quiet days in early September when the weather is cool in the morning and evening, the days are growing shorter and the leaves are starting to change colors are like loose ends. There is a sense of turning and moving in a direction that will eventually signify there is completion. Boats are being pulled from the Hudson, pools are being covered over, annual plants are being unpotted and perennials are being pruned, and the harvest of new apples is in full swing. All of these rituals are endings that can be savored while they last because they will make room for what is to come. The season of abundance, variety and novelty is on its way. It is the season for the Hudson Valley to continue re-inventing itself along the lines of the historical tradition of drawing people to the area that look for creative and restorative activity. Past and present artifacts attest to this impression. The first 100 years of life in Beacon just might be undone by the second 100 years at the rate things are going. There's a virtual renaissance of food, art, culture, and naturalistic leisure. Anticipate the pleasure and savor each moment of joy. Hello autumn!
Selected Coming Attractions
9/13-9/15 - Beacon Independent Film Festival (BIFF) - University Settlement Camp
9/14 Second Saturday
9/22 First Wine Class of the Season on Pinot Noir at Artisan Wine Shop
9/29 Mt. Beacon Incline Railway hike during NY Ramble
9/29 Spirit of Beacon Day Parade (rain date 10/6)
10/4 Opening show at Towne Crier Café
10/12 & 10/13 Clearwater's public sails from Beacon (Saturday) and Cold Spring (Sunday)
10/12 Second Saturday
10/18-10/20 Sheep & Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY
10/20 Cider Crawl in Beacon, coordinated by Artisan Wine Shop
And don't forget your last Zora Dora of the season before they close in October!
 Highlights of summer 2013
Cucumber-Lime-Mint, Caramel Pink Sea Salt, Vanilla Beet Tie Dye, Avocado, Grapefruit-Honey-Ginger


Monday, September 2, 2013

Beacon Bits -- A Serious Look

No matter what side you are on, everyone has an opinion about gun control in the United States. If you've ever been to a gallery show at Fovea at 145 Main Street, where photo exhibits showcase international photojournalists, you know that you will walk away with a wider vision of what the issues are, whether the focus is on stigma and gays in the military or environmental and food concerns caused by industry or the aftermath of 9/11 in the rubble of the towers or what it is like to live with a disability. So you can be certain to expect that your mind will be expanded when you visit "The Gun Show", which is open through October 6th, whether or not you have already attended opening night in July or during a panel discussion and film viewing in August on recent Second Saturdays, or that you may need another look before the show ends.
The exhibit is curated by Neil Harris, Associate Photo Editor at Time magazine and features seven  photojournalists -- Jesse Burke, Ty Cacek, Barbara Davidson, Jon Lowenstein, Drew Ludwig, Erin Trieb, and Pete Muller. Photographs depict American citizens with guns used during shooting practice, for hunting, in the military, as well as, photos of families and communities affected by the aftermath of gun violence. One of the most haunting pictures in the series is a staged orchestration of target practice in a school setting, suggestive of the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. (See review in Poughkeepsie Journal News.)
Neil Harris, Associate Photo Editor, Time Magazine, listens to comments during opening of show in July
One could say that the seed  for the show was planted by a grassroots group (Hudson Valley Committee Against Gun Violence), which met under the leadership of Stephanie Heimann, co-director of Fovea (along with Sabine Meyer.) Members of the group insisted that Fovea could be a visual vehicle to educating the public about the gun culture in the United States. Stephanie worked her magic and turned to fellow Beaconite Neil Harris who in turn connected with those photographers whose work he was familiar with and could draw upon for such a themed show. It seemed magical to know that all this networking and behind the scenes work could result in three months of a most important and potentially controversial exhibit in the simplest and most direct way --- that is, letting the photos tell the story, without narrative or debate or argument. Just photographs that show a viewpoint so that an experience is created for the person looking at the photo. One could say that the time and talent spent on creating this exhibit is an attestation to what Margaret Mead stated about 'never doubting what a small group of people could achieve.'

As if the still photography wasn't enough to contemplate, Stephanie was further able to collaborate with Terry Nelson of the Beacon Independent Film Festival (BIFF) to bring the film, "A Son Down, After Sun Down" to Fovea during the second month of the show. The film is about gun violence close to home. Filmed in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, the film was an intimate look at men who rely on guns for survival because they are captive in poverty and the street culture. Director Chrisopher Zino Sarmiento was present for a panel discussion along with Monte Frank from the Newtown Action Alliance and Andy Pelosi, president of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. I received a surprise invitation and honor to moderate the panel on August 10th. (Click on link to see the panel video on the Fovea website. Excerpts of my comments are shared below.)

Fovea will host photographer Erin Trieb who will give an artist talk on her experience documenting gun culture at Second Saturday event on 9/14/13 at 6pm.

Some food for thought: It is a true treasure to have Fovea located on Main Street in Beacon. I honestly don't know if every Second Saturday attendee knows how special this exhibition gallery is -- but I do know there are many 'groupies' who appreciate and support what Fovea is all about. I still have hopes that Mayor Bloomberg in NYC would take note of this exhibit and fund it to send it on the road, across America, to every American community that needs to take a second and third and fourth 'hard' look at the gun culture in our country. It has been said that 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. "The Gun Show" illustrates this point; it is just too important to stay local. This "Gun Show" needs to go on the road and travel along with all the other gun shows, the kind that usually comes to mind when you hear the phrase, in order to present a thoughtful and balanced perspective on what someone actually buys into when they purchase firearms.

Comments for the Panel Discussion on August 10th
The fortunate thing about being at Fovea and discussing the various points of view of gun violence in American society is that we are not gathered here to be like the ‘blind men and the elephant” – the well known story that depicts the human limits of perception based on the various ‘parts’ of the ‘whole’ that we come in contact with.
No -- we’re not here to ‘stick to our guns’ and focus on the areas of concern we are most familiar with.

But rather, we are here in the context of The Gun Show, curated by Neil Harris, with multiple points of view of several photojournalists showing different perspectives of a highly charged issue in American culture: our relationship with guns and the impact of guns on our society.
We’ve just seen a film that is ‘loaded’ with so many rich images and stories of guns and violence that it has probably taken our breath away to imagine daily life as it really is as told in the stories of the lived experiences of those interviewed in the film. And we will talk more with director Chris Sarmiento about the perspective of his film and the men he brought to us who are immersed and trapped in a gun subculture that transects matters related to socioeconomic status, illiteracy, race and imprisonment – right here, close to home, in our bucolic Hudson Valley.

We have a member of the Newtown, CT community, Monte Frank, who represents the Newtown Action Alliance, an organization that emerged from the perspective of random and vulnerable victims of violence and the impact the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook elementary had on personal awareness about gun violence and the desire to use a new level of consciousness to be proactive – all from a reactive position.
And we’ll talk more with Andy Pelosi, president of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, an organization that aims to use primary prevention to mitigate potential violence by limiting the firearms that can be carried in public places of higher learning.

So we will try to use Fovea’s perspective of keeping all the issues in focus as we move through the Q&A that I will start amongst the panelists and from the subsequent discussion from you, the audience.
The panel discussion was taped by National Public Radio for a future broadcast, TBA.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Beacon Bits -- "Three Graces" of Beacon

The "Three Graces" in Greek mythology (i.e., referred to as the Charites, and also known as the Gratiae in Roman mythology) were said to be goddesses of charm, beauty, and creativity. I was reminded during the second Saturday celebration of the tenth anniversary of RiverWinds Gallery that we have our very own "Three Graces" here in Beacon: Linda T. Hubbard, Mary Ann Glass and Virginia Donovan. 
Virginia, Linda and Mary Ann (left to right)
As partners and co-owners of RiverWinds, they opened their doors at 172 Main Street, representing 12 artists in 2003, just months after DiaBeacon came to the waterfront in the renovated Nabisco factory. The gallery now shows up to 45 diverse artists who hail from the Hudson Valley. Beacon's "Three Graces" are all accomplished artists in their own right; Linda is a photographer and supporter of the arts, Mary Ann is a photographer and workshop creator, and Virginia is a painter and jewelry designer. In addition, Linda Hubbard was instrumental in founding the Beacon Arts Community Association (formerly called BACA, now known as BeaconArts), as well as Art Along the Hudson, and has been awarded several honors for her involvement and support for the arts. And Mary Ann hosted a workshop in a Tuscan villa last year and has a pictorial blog, which I follow, featuring her stunning photos that highlight the beauty of the valley.
Some food for thought:  Inspiration and prescience are special gifts. Being present at the right time and taking advantage of an opportunity takes intuition but the ability to succeed also takes foresight and planning. But being a visionary takes faith to move ahead and proceeds with grace. Beacon is fortunate to have had the artistic and entrepreneurial talents of these three women who wanted to connect to the artistic revival happening in Beacon and to leave their own legacy as they moved into the developmental phase of life where one looks to practice generativity. One could call them "muses" as  well --- the goddesses of inspiration for the arts. But whatever they are called, we are also being called to find the inspiration to follow our bliss, make our mark, and follow our destiny. It is great to have so many wonderful goddesses to be our role models. Thank you Linda, Mary Ann and Virginia!

Make an inspirational visit to RiverWinds Gallery the next time you stroll along Main Street


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Magical Moments

One of my favorite Sunday afternoons in July was spent visiting Gwenno James in her Beacon studio at 17 East Main Street (formerly known as Fabrications), which features her one-of-a-kind fashion and silk and cotton fabric creations to wear and for the home. It was an enchanting visit that was full of colorful visual delights made even more enjoyable because Gwenno is as lovely as her name sounds and as beautiful as her lilting Welsh dialect. The only thing missing was a spot of tea, a plate of Welsh cakes and Caerphilly!
Gwenno was born in Aberystwyth, Wales, a university town located mid-Wales on the Western coast, which has an electric railway that travels to the summit of the hills overlooking the bay (reminiscent of our own Mt. Beacon Incline Railway!) Having been to Wales in 2004, including an overnight stay in Aberystwyth, Gwenno graciously indulged my need to share my travel photos that I loving put together in a compact album. Wales (Cymru) is a magical country of castles and natural wonders from north to south that may not be a popular travel destination, but for those who have had the pleasure, the joy of sharing the experience is a time of revelry by revisiting the wonders of it all, without needing to pronounce the odd combinations of consonants that culminate in new sounds! Who knew that Llandudno was pronounced 'klandidno'. (I will admit that I've harbored the fantasy that we would have world peace if everyone in the world had to learn how to speak Welsh!)
Gwenno left Wales to study art in London and then on to NYC, but found her way up into the Hudson Valley, as one might suspect, given her upbringing in a most natural and lovely environment. While she teaches in New York, her heart is in her Beacon studio where she deftly defines color and shape into delicately hand-dyed fabric creations to wear -- scarves, vests, shawls -- and to adorn the home -- lampshades , pillows and wall hangings. Gwenno's couture clients have included Henri Bendel's, Victoria's Secret and West Elm.

Gwenno's color sense and practical craftsmanship for wearable works of art can work into any woman's wardrobe or home décor. She is open to collaboration with any customer for a unique and customized order that will accessorize or complement an existing wardrobe. Gwenno devotes all of her time now in Beacon fabricating her creations rather than organizing workshops for those who wanted to learn silk screening and marbling techniques. While I only wish I had been a participant, I think I will leave the art and craft of these fabric prints to the Gwenno's skillful eye that brings a bit of Wales to us in Beacon!

Some food for thought: Personal authenticity is a wonderful state of being. When you find yourself in the company of someone who is doing what they love, love what they are doing, and are very good at doing it, it is a blessing. We all strive to become who we were meant to be or to find where it is that we should be.  Not all of us travel great distances to do our life's work. It takes courage and heart to move miles away from home to live into one's destiny. And we are the better for it when we cross paths with someone who has done just that. Especially when we can share magical moments together. Thank you Gwenno!
We'll Keep a Welcome
Far away a voice is calling
Bells of memory chime
Come home again,come home again
They call through the oceans of time

We'll keep a welcome in the hillside
We'll keep a welcome in the Vales
This land you knew will still be singing
When you come home again to Wales

This land of song will keep a welcome
And with a love that never fails
We'll kiss away each hour of hiraeth
When you come home again to Wales

 We'll keep a welcome in the hillside
We'll keep a welcome in the Vales
This land you knew will still be singing
When you come home again to Wales

  This land of song will keep a welcome
And with a love that never fails
We'll kiss away each hour of hiraeth
When you come home again to Wales

We'll kiss away each hour of hiraeth
When you come home again to Wales.
Lyrics from <a href=""></a>

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Old News

Summer seems to be flying by. I see that I had no posts in July; there just wasn't enough time to do everything and write about it too. So I thought some highlights were in order. The next several posts will showcase some of what happened in Beacon betwixt and between the heat wave of the summer of 2013.
Second Saturday in July was the last for Gallery 508, owned by Jens O. Bille, a Danish-born artist who designed for Georg Jensen, and his wife, Betty Ann Lopate. They operated a very special and successful gallery on the East end of town for a couple of years before Roundhouse came to town. They featured works by Jens - handcrafted jewelry and landscape paintings reminiscent of scenes from Babette's Feast, filmed in the coastal areas of north Denmark - as well as local artists who were showcased in monthly exhibitions - Christine Hartman and Barbara Koffsky among them, and an assortment of antique sculpture and porcelain collectibles. For those who will miss seeing Jens in person, have no fear. He will continue to be a presence in Beacon and online for all his patrons.


Some food for thought:
It's always hard to say goodbye to friends. Even when goodbyes are not really goodbyes. Transitions and changes come in all shapes and sizes. The familiar turns into the unfamiliar, we adjust, and we eventually get used to the idea that the old has passed and the new has arrived. We habituate to the old and we adapt. to the new We crave novelty in order to broaden our repertoire. The cycle is a natural way for us to move on. We are the better for it. We take the 'old' with us and never lose it. So long as we appreciate it when we had it, we will never long for what was. We will accept what is. And become what will be.