A collection of more than 90 hooked rugs by members of the Dutchess County Rug Hookers Guild may be seen at the Stanford Grange from Friday, November 21, through Sunday, November 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. These colorful pieces come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and designs. There are animals both wild and domestic, traditional early American motifs, landscapes and some abstract patterns. Some of the rugs resemble paintings; others are more primitive and “ruglike.” All are distinguished by the “hookers’” splendid sense of color and design. 

I especially liked Robin Ventres’s rug depicting a barnyard scene with a black-faced sheep, a crow, chickens and their chicks, along with two pumpkins. Sarah Jones had hooked a rug for her niece, Anna, whom she showed standing near her house beside a waterfall. Most remarkable was a fox, by Trish Helmer of Stanfordville, that was so detailed it might have been created with paint rather than with wool. 

This month the Cooper Finn Gallery on Front Street is showing the work of painters Mado Spiegler, Kate Avery and Judy Malstrom along with marble sculpture by Carl Grieco. 

Mado Spiegler has been an artist for over 40 years, first creating paper cutouts in the German folk tradition and later in increasingly large and complex forms. For years she worked primarily with black and white. She says “I didn’t think I could do color,” until discovering watercolor on silk.  Now the swooping lines and shimmering colors are what distinguishes her art. I also liked an assortment of her small watercolors displayed on a table.  

754 one of Mado Spiegler's paintings on silk

Posted: 10/8/14

At the end of September Kent gained a new gallery.  James Barron has been an art dealer operating from his house in Kent and a gallery in Rome. Last week he opened a gallery in an upstairs space adjacent to the Morrison Gallery.  

Barron has been a weekender in Kent for more than 20 years.  He graduated from Brown University in 1980.  He worked for the Knoedler Gallery, which represented the estates of Alexander Calder, Adolph Gottlieb and David Smith.  He left to work in Geneva, Switzerland, for Jan Krugier, who represented a quarter of the Picasso estate, handling works by Whistler, Kandinsky, Degas and Matisse. Krugier passed away in 2008, and the gallery closed.  At that point Barron went out on his own as a private dealer.  He shows at Art Basel in Miami and the Armory Show in New York City. 

“I set up an office in New York, working with some of the best collectors in America,” said Barron. “I have sold Jackson Pollock, Matisse, Picasso, Richard Diebenkorn to some of the great philanthropic families in America.”

The TriArts Sharon Playhouse summer season is ending with “The Little Mermaid.” Most of us read the Hans Christian Andersen story as children. Many saw the Disney film. Since the Broadway production closed in 2012, after a four-year run, Alan Menken has added new songs and writer Doug Wright has expanded several of the roles. As a result the version opening Thursday in Sharon promises to be even better than the original. 

John Simpkins has been the artistic director of TriArts for the past two years, after serving as guest director for four years. He explained that TriArts is one of the only theaters in our part of the world to employ actors at all levels of talent and experience. TriArts casts are usually composed of a couple of Equity actors as well as some non-Equity young professionals in paid positions. The ten college students who come for the entire summer appear in two productions, which earns them two credits from New York University (NYU). Talented people from this area also have a chance to try out at the auditions Simpkins holds in February. As Simpkins says, the mix of performers gives everyone the chance to learn from each other. 

An awed audience heard the premiere of a one-singer opera written by Michael Hersch at BAM last Wednesday (June 25), based on poems written by a Romanian poet, Martin Sorescu. The performance by the sole singer, Ah Young Hong, under the direction of Roger Brunyate, was captivating. She reached to the depths of feeling.  She bared her soul, she opened her heart; she asked existential questions; she took us through the poetry’s agonizing experience of death by cancer.  This sounds morbid, but we were taken beyond existence into the galaxy of stars, into spaces beyond our world, into feeling beyond the present into timelessness.  Ah Young Hong’s voice ranged from piercing high notes that filled the hall to rich, mellow tones to intimate whispers.  She held her audience, enveloping them with a power that transcended acting: her feelings became your feelings.    
The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center in Poughkeepsie was the scene of a gathering of musicians and composers and their supporters last Sunday afternoon, as a new music series had its inaugural concert. It is the brainchild of Josh Groffman, composer and pianist. It drew a good crowd, and it looks like Groffman has the momentum to make things happen.  
The word phantasmagoria describes Alex Shundi’s paintings.  Fiery angel wings ablaze with electric blue eyes, enmeshed hands holding Pinocchio’s nose, lascivious-looking pomegranates, a stork carrying a piece of prociutto, eyeballs with three pupils, knuckles grasping earlobes, nebula connected to beating hearts, flying fish that become swallow-like à la M.C. Escher, pictures that come out of their frames to shake hands and a panoply of hidden symbols abound in work that looks like it was done by a surrealist Harry Potter. Alex Shundi’s current exhibit, “Antenna” is up until March 27 at the Warner Gallery of the Millbrook School.  The word ‘antenna’ refers to the artist’s ability to be receptive to images which speak to him.   His memories and imagination dialogue through that interaction to allow other shapes, memories and archtypal stories to unfold.     “Each artist approaches their point of creativity from the center of their own universe,” said Shundi at a lecture for Millbrook School art students on February 26 in the Holbrook Arts Center.

Musically, Oliver Kennan is an outfielder. He’s not a strong-armed pitcher or a quick-footed shortstop. He’s the reserved one who is paying more attention to the game than everyone else on the field, waiting for his chance. The 23-year-old is a full-time musician singing the lead vocals and playing guitar for the band Outfielder, which released its debut EP on Christmas Day. 

TMI caught up with Kennan in the same Millbrook house that was used as the band’s creative sanctuary in the summer months. 

Kennan attended high school in the city, at York Prep School, where he sang in the school choir, he says. He tried drums and then guitar and started writing his own songs. Kennan’s musical inspiration in high school was any musician at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival, from Hendrix to Joplin. 

Kennan said he was shy in high school, with little interest in anything other than music. He made friends when he started the band Stale Air, which now he is a little embarrassed to mention. 

“I wrote my first songs, we couldn’t sing, we couldn’t even keep a beat,” said Kennan. “It was a great learning experience.” 

Nobody recalls the cat in the barn

that Christmas morn when the rabbi was born,

as it hunkered in the hayloft dreaming

of running mice, luxurious pillows.

It lay there too quiet for a remark


A Lost Christmas Tale




Nobody recalls the cat in the barn


that Christmas morn when the rabbi was born,


as it hunkered in the hayloft dreaming


of running mice, luxurious pillows.


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