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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.