Hudson Valley NY is Buzzing with Art, Music, Science Virtual Stages, Gardens Open

The Hudson Valley NY scene for art, music, science and natural beauty is buzzing as cultural institutes, art centers, studios, research organizations and professional artistic programs take to the virtual stages and platforms to showcase their prowess and works. These institutions are enormously important in their own right for the artists they represent and nurture but they also play significant roles in building communities in the Hudson Valley New York. They appeal to fans, volunteers, curators, listeners, appreciators, donors and followers. The Wassaic Project, The Stissing Center, the Cary Institute, The Fisher Center at Bard College, Innisfree Garden and Wethersfield House and Garden and Olana are just a few of these community-rich cultural organizations hosting virtual events and classes to the public and the gardens are open for walks.

The Wassaic Project is at the forefront of the national conversation around rural arts as rural communities in America have less access to the arts. They are actively voicing the importance as art as a community building tool in rural areas. They recently hosted multi-day intensives, including the Wassaic Camp for Rural Arts Organizers and spoke at Common Ground LA as part of the working group “Rural Communities: How to Engage and Collaborate with Them.” The Wassaic Project houses its resident artists in the middle of town, keeps almost all of our programming free, and partners with arts education programs in local schools.

Everyone is invited to Wassaic’s Virtual Summer Benefit on June 13, 2020. All ticket-buyers get access to an intimate, curator-led virtual tour of the exhibition on June 13, as well as pre-sales of the book featuring 60+ artists, essays by Barbara Bourland and Sharmistha Ray and several long form interviews. You can get the tickets on the website.

The Stissing Center in the town of Pine Plains in Hudson Valley NY is being creative with reaching its community. Brian Keeler, the Executive Director of The Stissing Center, has initiated “The Chair Series,” a wonderful and heartfelt paean to the newly completed building that was opened with great fanfare last fall with Wynton Marsalis giving seminars to the high school jazz band and the entire town enthused with the Mr. Marsalis’ charisma and talent. Brian completed the first in the three-part series with a talk and discussion and guitar and singing. Eugenia Zuckerman, a world-famous flautist, dedicated the second performance to the building and the next one will be hosted by composer, musician and playwright, Jake Holmes.

The Fisher Center at Bard College also in Hudson Valley NY has named its new virtual stage, UPSTREAMING, that offers never-before-seen recordings of SummerScape Opera, curated content from the Bard Music Festival archives, and exciting new commissions, specially conceived for the digital sphere, from Fisher Center artists including Pam Tanowitz, Tania El Khoury, Justin Vivian Bond, and Anthony Roth Constanzo, and more. As quoted from the website: “UPSTREAMING broadens the Fisher Center’s commitment to reaching audiences far beyond the physical walls of our building, and offers new ways of engaging with the artists we collectively hold so dear.”

The nearby Cary Institute of Ecosystems in the Hudson Valley NY is one of the world’s leading independent environmental research organizations that supports basic environmental research with the potential for transformative impacts. The scientists are global experts in the ecology of: freshwater, forests, disease, and cities. Founded in 1983 by eminent ecologist Gene Likens, the scientists today have a deep understanding of the key drivers of ecological change, among them climate change, invasive species, and human influence on land and water.

Cary Institute scientists have been instrumental in informing the Clean Air Act amendments, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Environmental Protection Agency, and management practices throughout the Northeast, including the Hudson River, New York’s Catskill and Adirondack forests, and the watershed of Baltimore, Maryland. Sharing its science is key to the Cary’s mission. Through a range of programming, they are enhancing the ecological literacy of students, decision makers, and the public, and training the next generation of ecologists and resource managers. To that end, they have also taken the Covid bull by the horns and are scheduling webinars (check out the one on Covid and extreme heat) and online benefits, such as Kick the Tick as well as sharing videos from past events and scientific seminars. The Cary Institute’s grounds and trails are also open to the public for walks as long as you adhere to social distancing guidelines provided by New York State.

As stated on its website, Innisfree Gardens also in Hudson Valley NY is recognized by many as one of the world’s best gardens and is a powerful icon of mid-twentieth century garden design. It is the work of landscape architect Lester Collins, FASLA (1914–1993), with important contributions by his clients, artist and teacher Walter Beck and gardener and heiress Marion Burt Beck. At its core, Innisfree is about the individual’s experience in nature. Inviting exploration and even contemplation, Collins’ sweeping landscape merges the essence of Modernist and Romantic ideas with traditional Chinese and Japanese garden design principles. The result is a distinctly American stroll garden — a sublime composition of rock, water, wood, and sky achieved with remarkable economy and grace. Innisfree is already open for visitors with reservations only that can be made on the website.

The nearby Wethersfield Estate was constructed and refined over 50 years by Chauncey Stillman’s careful eye as a place of personal retreat, agricultural experimentation, cultural enrichment, and scholarly conviviality. An avid art collector, horseman, garden enthusiast, and conservationist, Mr. Stillman combined all these interests when designing and constructing his estate. Today, his home and gardens are a foundation and a place where visitors can walk the gardens and the trails, enjoy talks and events (in post Covid times) and enjoy the art museum. The gardens and trails will be open for visits starting tomorrow, June 5, 2020.

Overlooking the Hudson River from its peak along with river’s bluffs and only 75 minutes from New York City, Frederick  Church’s house, Olana is the home and surrounding estate of the Hudson River painter Frederic Church. It is now a National Historic Landmark within the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. During this time of Covid, Olana has been presenting a fascinating lecture series and tours of current exhibits as well as talks by curators and experts in the Hudson River School and Frederic Church and his contemporaries. Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) was the most celebrated American landscape painter of his time and he became a central figure in the Hudson River School art movement. The virtual learning program at Olana can be found on the website.

The Stissing House in Pine Plains is a perfect way to end your day or take a break for lunch. Currently they are providing take out food and you can order in advance. Remember, community and culture are the delicious sides to the dish of life but one also needs to eat!

By Victoria Larson, Editor, Side of Culture
VK Larson Communications

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