Preview: Mount Tremper Arts Summer Festival

Stills from Pam Tanowitz’s postmodern ballet. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Mount Tremper Arts (MTA) has come of age. The cultural center, founded by photographer Mathew Poikok and choreographer Aynsley Vandenbroucke, has been slowly building in scope and reputation since its inception in 2008. Seven years down the line, MTA has appointed an executive director, Abigail Guay, to handle administration and development duties. The artist-run center has also received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for the first time. 

The upshot? MTA’s annual Summer Festival will feature a whopping five world-premiere events. 

That, and Poikok, who’s been the only full-time staffer for most of MTA’s existence, can finally take a breather. 

“I recently smiled for the first time in four years,” he says. “What we’ve been really working on for the past few years is taking [MTA] from an all-volunteer mom-and-pop shop to a nationally significant arts nonprofit. It’s a really wonderful movement forward for the organization.”

Here’s a brief rundown of the music, dance and theater performances on the roster for this year’s Summer Fest:  Read more

This Weekend: The 2014 Upper Delaware BioBlitz

Above: The photo awarded "Best in Show" in the 2014 Upper BioBlitz Photo Contest, "Head in Clouds" by Todd Anderson. Photo courtesy of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Sullivan County.

Winners of the Upper Delaware BioBlitz photo contest will be recognized on Sunday at the Ten Mile River Camp in Tusten as part of the weekend-long event celebrating the biodiversity of the Upper Delaware watershed.

Out of a pool of 300 submitted photos, the judges selected 25 winners in landscape, people, art, plants and various animal categories — which they had to subdivide even further to include more winners. 

The “Best in Show” winner was Todd Anderson’s photo “Head in Clouds,” a scene depicting a Tusten sunset in a watery reflection.

Anderson’s prize is a Canon Powershot ELPH digital camera and a framed 11x14 print of his photograph. The other first place winners will also receive framed 8.5 x 11 prints of their pictures.

In addition to the awards, attendees of the BioBlitz can check out specimens from the area, meet various scientists and tour the Ten Mile River Camp site to find out more about the different species on the property.  Read more

This weekend: Taste of Country Festival returns to Hunter

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Above: A video of highlights from the 2013 Taste of Country Festival, which featured Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Willie Nelson, Hunter Hayes, Billy Currington and more. Source: Taste of Country Festival's YouTube channel.

Ready your cowboy hats and Daisy Dukes for this weekend’s Taste of Country Music Festival, kicking off tonight at Hunter Mountain.

The four day, two-stage event is the only multi-day country music festival in the Northeast, offering country music lovers a star-studded line-up of performers, along with vendors, activities and food. Folks can take a break in between sets and check out some fireworks, frisbee and golf demos and even a live-action “Farmville 2” petting zoo. 

The lineup includes headlining crooners Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert and Hank Williams Jr. Also performing will be newcomers Chase Rice, Thomas Rhett and Jamie Lynn Spears (yes, Britney’s younger sister).  Read more

Green Door closes

Green Door, a Liberty-based quarterly magazine about Catskills life and culture, is shutting down.

It's been a good run; in their three years and 13 issues, Green Door's founders have launched a multi-use art space on Liberty's Main Street, popularized the word "hickster," gotten a nod from the New York Times for their "Narrowsburg Not Williamsburg" T-shirts, and earned plenty of love from the local arts and business community. But, as the sage says, sometimes love just ain't enough.

Founders Ellie and Akira Ohiso announced the news on the magazine's website and Facebook page on Tuesday:  Read more

Head injury can't stop Woodstock artist Lenny Kislin

Above: Lenny Kislin. Photos courtesy of the Orphic Gallery and Lenny Kislin.

After falling and hitting his head on the ice in February, Woodstock artist Lenny Kislin has recently returned to his passion: making sculptures from primitive early American antiques. 

Last week, despite the fog of anti-seizure medication, Kislin started making sculptures again. This Saturday, he'll make an in-person appearance at a new gallery show featuring his sculptures alongside the photography of Catherine Sebastian in Roxbury on Saturday.

Left: "Weather-Beaten, Angry And Disillusioned, Blitzen Flies No More," by Lenny Kislin.

Kislin is a longtime fixture on the Woodstock art scene. On February 9, he slipped on the ice and hit his head outside of his Woodstock home. Kislin was on his way to a gallery opening and didn't immediately notice that he was injured, until he found himself behind the wheel in the middle of an intersection with no idea where he was.   Read more

This weekend: Hunter hosts 10th annual Mountain Jam

Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain.

The tenth annual Mountain Jam Music Festival, produced by Radio Woodstock WDST and hosted by Hunter Mountain, kicks off on Thursday, June 5 and continues through Sunday, June 8 featuring a line-up of 40 musical acts across three stages.

Jimmy Buff, program director at Radio Woodstock WDST, said booking acts for the Mountain Jam Music Festival is always a bit of a “juggling act.” It takes the perfect storm of luck, album releases and tour schedules to assemble the diverse line-up of new and old favorites.

“Sure, you’ve got your wish list every year,” Buff said. “But schedules have to match up with the dates. Work on this year’s Mountain Jam began when last year’s finished.”  Read more

This weekend: Rails to the Catskills premiere

Engine number 49 on the New York Ontario and Western Railway, taken around 1872. Photo courtesy of the Cornell University Library.
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Forgotten history is what interests filmmaker Tobe Carey most. His latest film, the documentary Rails to the Catskills, is an attempt to encapsulate the history of the railroad lines that abounded in the Catskills area for much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"I had been asked for years to make a film about the railroads," Carey said. “Many people don’t have a sense of the vibrant railroad industry.”  

The 95-minute film, which will premiere on Sunday, June 1 at 4 p.m. at the Mountain Cinema, Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter, highlights the cultural and economic impact the railroads had on the area.

According to Carey, the film tells the story of the railroads in chronological order — beginning with its predecessor, the Delaware and Hudson Canal — and its original intent to “connect waterways.”  Read more

Parksville music fest breathes new life into the Dead End Cafe

The Lyric Quartet takes a bow at the 2013 Parksville USA Music Festival. Left to right: Mariano Vidal, Evgeniya Krachmarova, Tom Caltabellotta, Leslie Swanson.

Music lovers of all ages can come out to hear local groups perform opera, jazz, Broadway and more once a month at the Dead End Café in Parksville as part of the Parksville USA Music Festival.

Performances are held on the first or second Sundays of each month, and feature a variety of local artists: the Coyote Anderson Quartet, the Hudson Valley String Quartet, Lydia Adams Davis and the Lyric Quartet. The festival line-up includes a few special themed shows, including a November tribute to the late Pete Seeger called “Folk and Country Music That Made a Difference.” 

The next performance in the lineup will be on Saturday, June 7, and will feature the Lyric Quartet -- now with a few new members -- singing Viennese operetta and Broadway musical numbers.   Read more

Celebrating the trout

The 25-foot-long Giant Brook Trout, a creation of local artist Bud Wertheim, is a regular at Livingston Manor’s annual Trout Parade. Photo by Tyler Young; courtesy of Manor Ink (

The Catskills region is renowned as the cradle of American dry fly-fishing. It’s the place where, in the 1800s, local anglers first began to alter English flies into shapes and patterns that mimic our own native insects.

Today, the fly-tier’s art thrives in the Catskills. Roscoe, known as “Trout Town, USA,” boasts several excellent fly-fishing shops and many local fishing guides. Phoenicia, where an important angling history collection was gutted by a 2011 fire at the local library, is now home to a digital trove of local fly-fishing lore, with a detailed hatch chart that tracks the dates of local hatches and the flies used to mimic them (

But in the Catskills, it’s not just fly-fishers who revere the trout. The native brook trout and stocked browns and rainbows that run through the cold, clear waters of the Catskills’ many creeks are part of the soul of the community — and when fishing season rolls around, everyone celebrates.  Read more

The girl within: The real story behind Harvey Fierstein's 'Casa Valentina'

Above: Larry Pine and Patrick Page in Harvey Fierstein's 'Casa Valentina.'

History has a way of revealing itself by accident. In the 1990s, antique-furniture dealer Robert Swope was browsing a flea market in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood when he stumbled upon a treasure trove—a collection of photographs taken in the ’50s and ’60s of men wearing women’s clothing, beaming beneath neatly coiffed wigs and dressed to Eisenhower-era perfection. This cache of snapshots turned out to be a visual record of life at Casa Susanna, a midcentury resort outside of Hunter, New York that catered to a very specific clientele: heterosexual male transvestites.  Read more

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