Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Not Just Second Saturday

If it seems like there is a flurry of activity for my posts, there is! The more involved I get in Beacon and the more things I am doing over time, the less writing seems to get done. This inverse correlation is paradoxical, but I try to remember that my blog is not about real time events - for that I would recommend Beacon Citizen - but the purpose of Beacon Bits is to reflect on community life and the opportunities for immersion in the social and cultural happenings that bring neighbors together.
I have blogged for two years as of this month and I always have many tidbits that I want to write about, but one posting that has been on my mind for a long time is the Beacon Post Office.  The wonderful murals stand as a testimony to a period of time when politicians really cared about people and afforded them the means to earn a living in the trades and arts of building an infrastructure and adorning them for generations to come.

The Beacon Post Office was built in 1937-1938 during the depression by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The murals that adorn the upper quadrant of the walls that wrap around inside the building, can be seen Monday through Saturday (except for evening hours when Second Saturday galleries have openings--a pity for our visitors.) They were created by WPA artists. The mural aptly depicts the river towns along the Hudson in an ambling manner that is characteristic of "Muhheakantuck" (the Lenape Indian name for 'the river that flows both ways.') The simple elegance and warm colors seem to be an understatement, but seem to be appropriate for the natural beauty of the region. The exterior stone used in the building was from the Cold Spring Foundry. As a testimony to its significance, the post office was placed on the Registry of National Historic Landmarks  twenty-five years ago, in 1988.

Food for thought:  Can you begin to imagine what would be created in Beacon now with all of the local talented artists if only there was a current WPA in effect???
Well, we might just be in luck with the advent of the Beacon 3D (2013) project on the corner of Main and Cross Streets. Three sculptures have been installed at 164 Main Street and will be on view through October 15th. The public sculpture project is sponsored by BeaconArts and has been organized by Eleni Smolen of Theo Ganz Studio.  The artists are all from Beacon. Ed Benavente's Sea Change, Tadashi Hashimoto's Gaia and Insun Kim's Couples (photos, top to bottom below) stand as a testimony to the flourishing arts community of Beacon.  It is hoped that this will become an annual community event with the ongoing dedication of talented artists, local entrepreneurs, volunteers and committed citizens who want to bring art into the mundane, day-to-day existence, much in the same way that the WPA had. This art in the ordinary open space is truly a gateway to Beacon's Main Street.
Fundraising is ongoing for this project; donations can be made to BeaconArts, an IRS 501(c)(3) charitable organization with Beacon 3D in the memo and mailed to BeaconArts, PO Box 727, Beacon NY 12508. Any amount of money is appreciated. since it takes a village to keep art in the public eye; perhaps 'WPA' can stand for 'With Pride & Action'.

Beacon Bits -- Magic Mountain

Mount Beacon hovers over the vibrant and tranquil town of Beacon. It beckons new visitors to climb to the top and view the Hudson River Valley in its entirety and it welcomes the frequent home town hiker. The mountain has its place in history, and it is prominently displayed on the crest on the New York State flag, yet looks to the future with the anticipated development and return of the Incline Railway. It can be magical when you see the full moon rising above its peak. And chasing rainbows that arce over its ridge are elusive, but oh so rewarding. I'd rather chase rainbows than chase tornadoes, any day.
C'est Magnifique, June 24, 2013
The Beacon Re-Imagined Exhibition (through July 6) at the River Center at Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park is a must see for those who have heard the rumors about plans for the rebuilding of the incline railway, as well as plans that are underway for the Beacon Greenway Trails, Fishkill Creek Greenway and Heritage Trail, Beacon Loop Trail and the Hudson Fjord Hike/Bike Trail. These are exciting plans for safe walking, hiking and biking trails that will allow locals and visitors to follow the Fishkill Creek or traverse along the river parallel to 9D - literally, over the river and through the woods! It is a collaboration across state, counties, municipalities - a model for eliminating boundaries and partisanship -- it will unite parts of Putnam with Dutchess and become a part of the larger vision of making it possible for people to get out into nature in ways that allow for inner peace of mind and physical renewal without needing to go far from home.
Educational display showing the Fjord Trail, at Beacon Re-Imagined, Jeff McHugh, Exhibition Director

In addition to new plans, there are some completed projects as well; the opening of the restored fire tower on June 22, 2013 was a culmination of a ten year project of volunteers coming together to repair and rebuild the stairs leading to the top viewing platform for safety and durability. A glimpse of the NYC skyline after climbing to the top is the anticipated reward. I haven't been to the mountain yet this year, but I have that plan in mind to seize that day, spontaneously, when the humidity is low and the southwesterly breeze is blowing, to take in the sights.
I also learned that there is a guardian of the mountain - or more accurately - many guardians of the mountain. Volunteers are on the ready to rescue those who are in need of help with an impressive emergency vehicle geared for traversing the rocky and steep terrain. Sighted at the centennial parade with one of its proud operators, it was an impressive reminder that there are ways that one can feel protected without even knowing there is a safety plan in place. Out of sight and out of mind, yet always ready when needed.
Food for thought:  Community volunteers have been surfacing and swarming to announce the plans that have been quietly been put into action over the last decade. We can all appreciate the efforts of others, but we can also choose to join in and find our passion in a new project.  Many hands make light work. Diverse talents are needed.  The community of Beaconites is eagerly awaiting for everyone to join in and contribute so that we can all get to the mountaintop together.
Mountain Music
Rising from the ground,
Cicadas flit here and there--
Searching for new life.