The morning began with vivid red strawberries and the day continued with even brighter colors.
Tie-dyed flowers crafted from paper coffee filters festooned the stairway to the first exhibit of our journey.
This was open studio day in the Rivertowns, an artsy neck of the Westchester County woods. My friends Josefa and Suzanne had art displayed in a converted church. Josefa made this fantastic image originally for a children’s book.
We drove to a factory building perched above the Hudson River, now housing everything from bagpipers to potters, originally constructed for the Anchor Brewing Company in 1889. We wedged ourselves between the weedy denizens to park.
The longest white stretch I’ve ever seen, now abandoned, snapped simultaneously by Suzanne, who is a first-rate photographer.
And, on the side of a truck, an omen I chose to see as excellent.
In the first studio I was introduced to the artist Madge Scott — she knows my friends — who unexpectedly wrapped her arms around me, hugged me hard, then grasped and held my hand while staring into my face and uttering one word, Wow, over and over again for several minutes. Rapturous views out the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the rapturous feeling of been “seen” by another human being.
Her canvases, some of them depicting her native Jamaica, tell powerful stories.
Mama’s Boy has a woman about to make dinner with her children around her. That’s a bucket of water. The key hangs on the nail behind her, Madge told me, because the family doesn’t have the wherewithal to go out much, they don’t have reason to lock their door. “It was hard to make a painting like this,” says Madge, “but I had to at the time.”
At Coronado Print Studio we saw the arresting photos of Edward Endress, shot in La Paz, Bolivia.
There are nine in his series, Portraits in the Yunga’s Market, and each one shows a day laborer waiting for work, his bag spelling out his specialty: plumber, electrician, painter, etc.
We spent time with Eleanor Goldstein, who had tidied up her space for guests, but still had her oils out as though she might dive back into a project at any moment.
Eleanor talked about the inspiration she derives from flying, how she furiously sketches in pastels as the plane banks before landing, and transfers that inspiration later to her painted canvases. You can see the curve of the earth over her shoulder.
Inspiration comes from many places. Ellen Hopkins Fountain, a renowned painter of Hudson River views, says that “sometimes it’s an out of body experience.” You might feel, as I do, looking at her work, that somehow the familiar estuary flows exactly as it should, that it is the perfect image of itself.
Ellen’s studio, in her lovely house’s light-flooded garret, had grown crowded with visitors by the time we got there in mid-afternoon.
She was indefatigable, showing fans her beautiful watercolors. Many of them depicted the Palisades, that range of rocks that faces lower Westchester across the broad, calm river.
Pleasant, open and no nonsense, she gives visual artists a good name. “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot,” said Picasso, a bit obscurely, “Others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” Fountain does the latter.
In Ardsley stood a house by a cult architect, Martin Lowenfish, whose white stucco exterior had been augmented by a handsome addition the multitalented Suzanne had actually designed last year for Christina Griffin Architects. A new master suite, kitchen and art studio sheathed in stone. Very nice.
Inside, Patricia van Essche displayed her upbeat graphic products.
“Design, create and inspire an artful life,” is her motto. This mega blogger will create a handsome portrait of your dog – or two dogs, if you have them, and if they happen to be sitting in a swimming pool.
One more stop, and one that had some mystery about it. We were going to visit textile artist Arle Sklar-Weinstein, in Hastings-on-Hudson, and I had the vague feeling that I had once actually studied under her, as a teenager. I was interested in learning how to weave, and with the rental of a table loom and some instruction from a local artist I was able to achieve my dream.
But Arle had to disappoint me. I asked her. She confirmed that my idea, my image of the past, was mistaken. But though she was never my teacher, I discovered some fascinating things at her studio. She has been making quilts with and without photographic images for decades. She incorporates objects, in this case a set of her mother’s household keys.
Her most recent work involves outsize kimonos she stitches together from plastic and fabric. It was exciting to see a project she’d embarked on just six months before. Starting something brand new and then inviting people into your studio to see it? That’s brave. “I’m stimulated and excited by things I see in the environment,” she told us. “I’m more political than ever before.”
The one with the gold coins, in this close up, is called “Life Hazard: Midas Touch.”
I didn’t come away from this day of art any richer, except on the inside.