Arts

En pointe en plein air: The Ballet Project

Above: A ballerina in a hay field in Liberty. Part of "The Ballet Project," a series of portraits of ballerinas in Catskills and Hudson Valley vistas by Erik Christian.

In the right light, the landscapes of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley can take on a kind of mythic quality. Mountaintops, forests, ponds, cliffs, caves—and it helps if you throw a ballerina in the mix.

That's the concept behind “The Ballet Project,” a photo series by Monticello photographer Erik Christian in which he captures his dance-inclined daughters against a dramatic variety of natural surroundings. His dreamlike images transform the Ashokan Reservoir into Swan Lake and the Neversink Gorge into Giselle's forest glade.

We caught up with Christian to talk about the project, which he’s been creating in collaboration with his kids (now 13, 10 and 7) for three years and counting. (Christian asked us not to identify his children in this story.)

Q. Where did the idea for “The Ballet Project” come from?  Read more

This Weekend: Big Eddy Film Festival

Above: "Dig," a short film about a man who digs hole while his neighborhood watches, will screen at the Big Eddy Film Festival in Narrowsburg this weekend. 

The third annual Big Eddy Film Festival kicks off Friday night and runs all weekend long in a 1930s-era Art Deco movie theater in the Sullivan County hamlet of Narrowsburg.

Twenty-seven new indie films will be screened at the festival, including a documentary about Jewish comedians, a short film about digging a hole, several documentaries about dementia and memory loss, and whimsical Japanese feature about a recluse who is obsessed with the movie "Fargo."   Read more

Tannersville bets big on arts; launches third season of Jazz Factory

Above: Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts at the 2013 Catskill Jazz Factory. Photo courtesy of the 23Arts initiative.

Piers Playfair and his wife Lucy believe that the arts are the key to economic development in the Catskills.

“It’s important we have a strong artistic spine,” Playfair said.

The couple decided to bring renowned jazz musicians to the Catskills two years ago, when they founded the Catskill Jazz Factory -- a series of performances, workshops, and master classes -- in the Greene County hamlet of Tannersville.

The Jazz Factory, which kicks off its 2014 season tomorrow night, was such a success that the Playfairs are making it the highlight of new organization that plans to run year-round arts programming in and around Tannersville.

The new initiative, which launched this summer, is called the 23Arts Initiative (23Ai for short), and is named after Route 23A, which runs through Tannersville.  Read more

TMI Project: Voices in Action plays Rosendale

Above: TMI Project stage manager Erica Pivko, left, talks with founder Julie Novak. Photo courtesey of the TMI Project. 

"I had constructed these pants when I was in one of my nuthouses," Joanee Tarshis says in a video produced by the TMI Project. "I had been refusing to make a wallet in occupational therapy. Only crazy people make wallets."

Stories like this, from mental health patients, at-risk teens, and domestic violence survivors, are the heart of "Voices in Action," a monologue show produced by the TMI Project that comes to the Rosendale Theatre on Tuesday, July 29.  Read more

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This Weekend: 8th Annual Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival

Above: participants in the Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival make their own motor-less vehicles to race down Main Street. Photo courtesy of Karen Terns.

Crazies, start your engines! 

(Just, no motors, please!)

Purveyors of wacky and wild vehicles are invited to compete on Tannersville’s Main Street on Saturday, July 26 as part of the 8th Annual Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival.

Participants simply have to create their own motor-free cars — using anything from Santa sleighs, flower pots or garbage cans — and be ready to race starting at 2 p.m.  Read more

The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice celebrates Spain

Above: The tent housing the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice mainstage goes up in Phoenicia's Parish Field. Photo via the festival's Facebook page.

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Above: Camille Zamora performs zarzuela. 

Each year, Phoenicia’s International Festival of the Voice kicks off with something akin to a barn raising. Volunteers unload a massive 5,000-square-foot stage with large white tents flanking from its roost in a local barn and put it together in Parish Park in the tiny hamlet of Phoenicia in Ulster County. 

The tent is already up and ready for this year's festival, which kicks off next Wednesday, July 30, with a theme of “Celebrating Spain.” The five days of vocal events and lectures spread across eight local venues offer a wealth of flamenco and salsa-inspired numbers along with gospel, Jewish liturgical music, shape note singing, and the centerpiece performance of "The Barber of Seville."   Read more

This weekend: Hudson Valley Chalk Festival in New Paltz

Above: Mike La Casas' chalk piece from the 2013 Hudson Valley Chalk Festival. Photo via the Hudson Valley Chalk Festival's Facebook page.

This weekend, Mike La Casas will create an entire galaxy, complete with stars, planets, rings and meteors. And by Monday, it will most likely be gone.

La Casas, 53, has been composing chalk drawings of galaxies, animals and dinosaurs since he first heard about street art on a radio segment 20 years ago.

On an impulse, he picked up some chalk that day, and still hasn’t stopped.

He said the impermanence of chalk art is part of its allure — it’s what makes it a distinct medium.

And because these pieces of art are fleeting and temporary, unlike other visual artists, chalk artists craft their work for an audience.

“There’s no studio that will let you watch an artist paint,” La Casas said. “This is unique.”

La Casas said he likens street art to performance art, because watching someone create the piece, and the banter between audience and artist, are just as much a part of the experience as appreciating the finished product.  Read more

Mud and chaos mar Hudson Project music fest

 

Above: A Hudson Project festgoer earns her 15 minutes of Internet fame, as she shrieks at the river of trash and belongings running through her campsite. Source: The Festive Owl's Facebook page.  Read more

Catskills Irish Arts Week kicks off in East Durham

Above: Musicians performing at the Catskills Irish Arts Week. Photo by Timothy H. Raab, from the Catskills Irish Arts week Facebook page.

Fervid followers of traditional Irish music and dance descend on East Durham this week for the twentieth annual Catskills Irish Arts Week.

The week-long event, which started in 1995 with 10 instructors and 70 participants, has grown to include over 70 instructors of music, dance, art and writing who will lead workshops to hundreds of participants. In the evenings, local pubs and music venues host performances and more informal music sessions.

On Saturday, the week winds up with the East Durham Trad Fest, a day-long celebration of Irish music, dancing and storytelling. This year's Trad Fest will honor Felix Dolan, a longtime member of the Catskills Irish Arts Week teaching faculty who died in 2013.   Read more

More than a funny girl: "One Night With Fanny Brice" at the Open Eye Theater

Above: "One Night With Fanny Brice" musical director and accompanist Kent Brown, playwright Chip Deffaa, and Patricia Dell starring as Brice.

For a few days in July, the legendary Borscht Belt musical comedian and Ziegfeld Follies superstar Fanny Brice returns to the Catskills -- at least in spirit.

Actress and singer Patricia Dell stars in the upcoming one-woman show “One Night With Fanny Brice,” by playwright Chip Deffaa, staged by Margaretville's Open Eye Theater. In her role as Brice, Dell takes on the indomitable persona of the first female star of the Jewish entertainment circuit, and breathes fresh life into musical classics nearly a century old.

“‘Wow’ was my reaction reading the script,” said Dell. “My only exposure to her was the movie, ‘Funny Girl,’ starring Barbra Streisand. There’s a lot more to her.”  Read more


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