Patrick Milburn Press


Van Winkle Wakes

New gallery scene enlivens once-sleepy Catskill


Ulster Publishing
September 8, 2005
by Paul Smart

A new gallery scene for the Hudson Valley is about to shift from a quiet simmer to a full boil up in Catskill this coming weekend, as one handsome new gallery opens, another gets its second big exhibit underway and three others continue their quiet pull on the region's cultural aficionados. It all promises to be the continuation of a major development drawing tourists to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge area, once home to the area's most legendary painters, Frederic Church and his teacher/mentor, Thomas Cole.

The new gallery, set to open this Saturday, September 10 from 5 to 8 p.m., is called M, on behalf of its owner and chief artist, well-known illustrative painter Patrick Milbourne, who will be showing a selection of his sublimely evocative, softly observed yet emotionally redolent landscapes.

The new exhibit, a collection of decidedly contemporary landscapes, opens at the spectacular Brik Gallery, which has been featuring great work by a number of Brooklyn-based and local artists under the renowned curatorial hand of Williamsburgh-scene pioneer Richie Timperio. The three painters being focused on at the 6 to 9 p.m. reception the same evening, September 10, are Ronnie Landfield, Dennis Cady and Bill Thibodeau. Suffice it to say that the combination of these two shows, with their foci on landscape, should do much to cement this town's art character quickly.

Rounding out the scene in Catskill for a full evening of openings this Saturday will be new shows and open receptions for ongoing exhibits: the Wilder Gallery, now showing "Street Art"; the Open Studio, featuring earthcentric spiritual pieces by a number of women artists living in the area; and the Greene County Council for the Arts, currently showing "Pulp Visions," a cutting-edge exhibition of artworks created from paper, including sculptures, collages, artists' books and prints curated by Donna Barrett and Erica Potrzeba and featuring a wild assortment of great pieces from an international crew of artists.

Open during the day, but a must-see just up a short walk from Main on Spring Street, where all the openings are taking place, is Cole's historic home. Cedar Grove offers a newly renovated artist's studio, hourly tours of the house and, to be seen on those tours, a great show of 19th-century landscapes by the great George Inness.

In addition to all on view, the Village of Catskill itself is working with private developers to renovate a number of Main Street and waterfront buildings into low-rent housing and work studios for artists seeking a reprieve from other parts. Talk about the gaining of immediate critical mass!

For those deciding to make a visit for the various opening events this weekend - which draw a sophisticated scene of artists who in recent years have moved on from the City, as well as Ulster County, for well-lit and ample-sized working spaces - one should consider staying for the numerous interesting restaurants now starting to line Catskill's historic Main Street, along which all the galleries are located. Our top suggestions? Wasana's, on the east side of the street down towards the traffic light, has no atmosphere but serves authentic Thai family food at very affordable prices. Bell's Café, on the other side of the street nearing the Community Theater moviehouse (itself a treat, being one of the last early-20th-century movie palaces left in the region), was recently bought by a European couple who serve great salads, sandwiches and blue-plate specials and coffees all day long. La Conca D'Ora is classic Italian, friendly and small-town. And these are just the choices within walking distance!

The new galleries, M and Brik, are located at 350 and 473 Main Street respectively. Wilder, GCCA and Open Studio are in the blocks in between. Have fun!