Two Trips to Newburgh

Two visits in thirty days and only just scratched the surface of what this city has to offer.

We parked on Broadway just by the Ritz (where Lucille Ball made her debut performance, a young Frank Sinatra performed with the Tommy Dorsey Band, and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Prima sang) and walked around the corner and through the community garden. It’s hard to miss this – a whole wall of a building serving as display space:

Newburgh: Portrait of a City. Photos by Dmitri Kasterine 1995-2011 celebrating the people of Newburgh. Stunning. Ann Street Gallery is right around the corner.

The destination of the first visit was the Ann Street Gallery specifically to see the Interaction of Colour exhibit and the work of Mery Lynn McCorkle. She writes:

 I’ve settled on making collages with painted rag paper and then crusting them mostly with translucent glitter, both hiding and revealing the textures underneath. The mantra of the conceptual art world has been anorexic – less is more. And while that can be as structurally illuminating as prairies and deserts, I’m Southern and like lushness, decay and shiny things, awkward, vibrant visuals. Glitter manages to be both gauche and elegant, a fitting description for how I see our world. Mery Lynn McCorkle

Mery Lynn McCorkle

Mery Lynn McCorkle. Detail

It’s a lovely gallery space and the exhibit is terrific. It’s there until October 14th so still time to visit. It has forty works by fifteen artists: paintings, drawings, sculptures and installation works. Each artist’s work chosen for its expressive and chromatic qualities, as well as, for being visually stimulating. You can see some images of the work here.

Look at this colorful landscape (left) and then look at the close-up right to see what it’s made of. Reminds me of some of the amazing work of artist-teacher Li Pipman Denaut has created with students at Poughkeepsie Day School.

Hilary Christensen: Detail

And in that same upcycling vein, here – below right – are books repurposed by Conny Goelz-Schmitt:

A chance meeting with Newburgh artist Judy Thomas led to an invitation visit to her studio.

And that led to the second trip for the Newburgh 7th Annual Open Studios 2017 weekend.

Judy Thomas is a one-person booster and cheerleader for the city and her contagious enthusiasm and energy are inspiring.

The piece below is “Cadence” from 2016 and it’s made from hosiery.

The first trip took us down to the waterfront for lunch. The area has the embalmed tackiness of many waterfront areas but the food was good and the view of the river across to Beacon mountain was lovely. It wasn’t even spoilt by the limp flutter of a Trump flag on one of the boats moored at the dock. Of course it did not occur to me to entertain the pleasurable thought of sinking it. That would be wrong.

Be sure to check out the Archway murals under the rail viaduct.

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Paddle steamer at Newburgh waterfront.

And the so inclined can take a river trip on a paddle steamer.

For lunch on the second trip we moved back to Liberty Street where there are a number of very appealing places to eat. We ended up at Ms. Fairfax and were not disappointed. Several other places looked appealing too, so more to try next visit.

Of course there’s plenty evidence of urban blight and decay. It’s sad to see so many boarded up houses and empty buildings. The artists of Newburgh have transformed some of them and put that industrial space to good use.

PS 6 on Liberty Street (left) opened in 1895 has seen better days.

As well as all the art the city is full of historical surprises and visual delights. there’s Washington’s headquarters of course but there’s also this marking the first street to be electrified and where Thomas Edison stayed.

 

There are old shopfronts and store signs and just look at this Kreisel’s Furniture marvel of an art deco sun rise.

Even the rusting fire escape throws great shadows on the wall when the sun shines.

Some of the blocks have that Brooklyn brownstone feel of gracious living – just needing some loving care and attention (and money). Here is the artist Paulien Lethen whose gallery display space was a house. I was very taken with this painted car hood salvaged in Williamsburg and placed in front of the fireplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did get to all of the studios but all of those we visited were wonderful. here is a slideshow of some of the pieces and places i photographed. And so much I didn’t get to record. Congratulations to all  Newburgh artists for all of your work. Thank you for sharing your work and your work spaces with us last weekend. Images also include pieces on exhibit at the Ann Street Gallery.

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And finally an image of a boarded up and roofless building that has a multi-lingual message for Newburgh and for all of us:

2 Comments

  1. Christopher Duncan:

    I enjoyed reading about your visit to Newburgh. A few years ago I worked directly with some of the youth and families who live in what you called the urban blight. I could fill you in on some of my experiences with them if you like.

  2. Thanks Christopher. I would love to hear of your experiences. Walking around – even just a little – I was reminded of when I lived in North Kensington, London in the late 1960’s. It has the some of the same feel to me of transformation and energy, decay and vitality, deprivation and hope. I look forward to what you have to say.

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