Vassar College’s MODFEST concluded with the Mahogonny Ensemble’s open rehearsal Saturday February 4. Mahogany is a student-led, extracurricular musical group that purposes to write, play and appreciate modern music; the ensemble includes strings, percussion and woodwinds. Senior William Healy directed the ensemble.

 This year marks the third time that the ensemble has opened up one of its rehearsals during Modfest. Allowing an open rehearsal achieves one of the main goals of MODFEST, to give students an opportunity to appreciate each other’s work and allow the space and time for their creativity to be recognized.

Nestled away on Front Street between Marona’s and the Fire Department, a discerning visitor might notice the Neubauer Gallery. The gallery is home to John (Jack) Neubauer’s realist paintings, one of five galleries that displays his work.

Neubauer has been published by the American Artist magazine and was the 2011 featured painter for the Millbrook Paint Off. He grew up in Hopewell Junction and has spent the last 32 years painting. He studied at the Art Students League of Manhattan, spent a couple months in Tuscany, studying the famous Italian light, building a career as a modern plein-air artist.  


50 Burgundy BArns


Tucked away in the chaotic maze of Vassar’s college center is the Teen Vision 2012 exhibition, part of Vassar’s 10th annual MODFEST, which celebrates the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Teen Vision displays the work of high school students in the area who are involved with the Mill Street Loft, a not-for-profit, multi-arts educational center in Poughkeepsie. Their Art Institute seeks to assist students in developing a pre-college portfolio, enhancing artistic techniques using a variety of materials. 

While MODFEST has a 10-year history, Vassar’s partnership with the Mill Street Loft is only several years old. 

In conjunction with MODFEST 2012, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center opened up Marco Maggi’s Lentissimo exhibition on January 20. Born in 1957 in Montevideo, Uruguay, Maggi’s style evokes elements of the Dada era.  He works with ordinary, mass-produced materials to create mixed media  installations, wall-hangings and sculpture-like displays. Maggi does much of his work in New York and designed the exhibition (displayed until April 1) specifically for his Vassar show. 

Lentissimo, is Italian for ‘slow’; it also references a musical tempo. This title is apt: the whole show uses size, scale, space and color to create depth, movement and contrast. 

Lentissimo occupies three rooms, a yellow, blue and red room.  There is also an upstairs display. Each room includes a yellow, blue and red installation of stacks of paper laid in a grid format. These 84x84 installations grab your eye, enticing you to observe each piece from all angles. 

There’s a bit of history behind the Laudian frontal embroideries with cross and keys at St. Peter’s Church in Lithgow, and the kneelers and altar hangings made with silk and gold threads at Grace Church. After Erica Wilson died this past December—she is credited for reviving needlework in the US and globally—her obituary noted, “In 1954, she was recruited by a visiting American, a well-to-do woman who wanted to start a needlework guild in Millbrook, NY.” ( NY Times,12/13/2011”) 

41 Needlepoint cushion for priest's chair at St. Peter's by Margaret Parshall and Guild

42 Set of embroidered silks for the altar at St. Peter's by Margaret Parshall and Guild

Modern music, although challenging to the ear, is much more interesting to listen to in vivo than on WQXR especially when an orchestra with 35 strings, such as the Vassar College Orchestra, brings it to life.  Vassar’s Modfest creates a wonderful venue for music lovers to experience the testy ground of contemporary music. 

Horsekeeping by Roxanne Bok, Twin Lakes Press, 2012

Reviewed by Kevin T. McEneaney

What happens to a neglected farm? Roxanne Bok has an optimistic answer, as well as the proof of vital transformation. She and her husband bought a run-down horse farm with a collapsed barn, derelict fences, and ponds degenerated into marshland; they have transformed it into a thriving horse farm in Salisbury, Connecticut. There was a time when people of responsibility and vision rehabilitated warehouses in Soho, converting them into lofts during the seventies; during the eighties, neglected old brownstones were reclaimed in many cities; in the nineties, decayed waterfronts along the East Coast were rejuvenated as recreation and tourist nodes. 

33 Lisa Dellwo by Robert WarnerThe Red Devon in Bangall is exhibiting 25 photographs by Millbrook photographer Lisa Dellwo depicting rural eastern Dutchess and stark close-ups of seasonal produce grown by the men and women who farm the Hudson Valley and supply the Red Devon with ingredients.

After beginning a series featuring rustic images of locally grown fruits and vegetables in 2009, Dellwo linked up with her friends, Red Devon owners Nigel and Julia Widdowson, for an art show honoring Hudson Valley farmers and gardeners that will run through March. 

John Cariani’s new play Last Gas will receive a reading this weekend by the Half Moon Theatre Company. Hudson Valley theater-goers may remember Cariani’s quirky and romantic off-Broadway hit, Almost, Maine, that Half Moon produced in November, 2010. 

Since its off-Broadway premiere, Almost, Maine has become one of the most frequently produced plays in the United States. It has had more than 70 professional productions and nearly 1,000 non-professional productions, and has been translated into ten languages.

Gordon, Jaimy. Lord of Misrule. McPherson and Company, 2010. 

Reviewed by Kevin McEneaney

At the race track Lady Luck is never good enough. You need divine intervention to stand on the winner’s line with a smile. Or, as Gordon says in the words of old Medicine Ed, “I tell you a secret, horse racing is not no science. Some of em tries to make it a science, with the drugs and chemicals and that, but ma’fact it’s more like a religion. It’s a clouded thing. You can’t see through it. It come down to a person’s beliefs. One person believe this and the other person believe that. It’s like the National Baptists bandage and the Southern Baptists use liniment, you see what I’m trying to say? Nobody exactly knows.” 

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