Thursday, October 31, 2013

Here's what happened

Last Saturday was a beautiful fall day with clear blue skies that all but assured a good turnout for our Autumn Art Tour.  Twenty of us assembled at 10:15 AM at Woodstock Golf Club’s parking lot, from which some of us carpooled to the various artists’ locations.  The majority, however, apparently preferring to have the flexibility to linger a little longer at a studio or grab a cup of coffee here or have a snooze there, decided to go in their own (mostly) BMWs and Lexuses.  Bruce and I tried to lead the way in our black Outback but it wasn't easy to have a caravan in the town of Woodstock (too many pedestrians crossing near the village green).  Thank goodness for GPS, which comes in handy where there is no cell service as in Willow and Lake Hill.....There were 26 of us by the time we got to Lowell Miller’s studio at 2:30, and our group peaked at 30 during Brinton Baker’s pottery show-cum-reception at Byrdcliffe Barn (6:15).  

As we had predicted art crawlers were fascinated by the decidedly unique styles of each of the nine artists whose studios we visited by appointment that day.  We spent an average of an hour each at every stop, except for Calvin Grimm’s studio and grounds, where we spent 1.5 hours including a leisurely and light lunch.  The group was amazed not only by the art they saw that day but also by the studios, no two of which were alike in either structure type or interior vibe.  Each artist said a few words about their art, their intentions and their spaces.  Each one had an interesting story to tell.  We drove from Woodstock Village to Saugerties, then on to Willow, Shady, Bearsville and back again to Woodstock Village.  

It was heart-warming, awe-inspiring and humbling to see all the fine art that we did see that day.  Every artist has his or her admirers now and they're not mutually exclusive.  I'll be calling each participant to get their feedback re what they're eyeing before too much time elapses.  Some artists are giving our group a courtesy discount that is effective until the end of the year, and in some cases slightly longer.  Others may raise their prices as the art market recovers along with the US economy, possibly by April or May next year - based on what our stock market is suggesting.  While some art crawlers have bought art (they're mostly my close friends and informed me), others are still mulling over what to do after talking it over with their spouses.  I'll be checking with them regularly and try to close deals.  I was after all a salesperson for 22 years.  

Dinner later that night at Red Onion was elegant, crowded, fun and noisy with only a few hitches.  The number and size of the dinner tables changed from three tables of 10 to four tables of eight each, due no doubt to a miscommunication between me and the restaurant manager Jeff.  This resulted in a minor crisis for my seating plan got upended.  The other mishap is that the singer Rachel Loshak came down with pneumonia the day before and was too sick to perform for us.  As luck would have it the singer-guitarist-cartoonist Morgan Taylor, her better half who came back from a road trip earlier that day, came to the rescue and performed for us five beautiful songs.  The crowd liked him.  The last hiccup had to do with the serving of coffee and tea.  It was part of dinner and even I was waiting for it but forgot to summon a server about it, and soon the crowd started leaving.  I asked Jeff the next day why my tea never came.  At a dinner party of this size at RO people are not automatically served coffee or tea even if it is included in the price.  They have to ask for it.  Since we were 31 in a space that he originally said was best for 27, I guess the servers got too frazzled to ask any dinner guest if she or he wanted one.  Wish I had known of this policy then.  We had four additional friends come by for the performance and dessert portion and it would have been nice if they too could have had their coffee.  Dessert was uber-delicious but the serving portions were also super huge for my taste, again probably due to the unexpected guests to servers ratio.  I got full just looking at my family-size slice of gluten free walnut cake and had only a third of it..…..

Four of us took a brisk walk at 9:00 AM Sunday.  Eleven of us showed up at brunch at Oriole9 by 9:45 AM.  A good time was had by all this past weekend.  Tomorrow I'm handing head librarian Amy Raff a check in the (very low) four digits to support the annex project.  This amount may rise and our red ink surely falls if the artists sell enough paintings between now and April 30, 2014.  If so we may even be able to do something similar but not exactly like it in about six months’ time.  Dinner may even be at Red Onion again, but this time in the main restaurant spaces and not on a Saturday during peak tourist season.....

Waiting for Maria, our unofficial photographer and righthand person last weekend, to send me photos to share here.  A heartfelt thanks to everyone for your involvement in and support of our project.  A shout out to Rose Reyes Long for helping me create and maintain this serene-looking blog, upload distinct imagery from artists' websites after obtaining their permission, and produce an overall elegant and streamlined look.  See you all before too long.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Twenty-four hours before our art crawl I had an incredibly busy day today.  It is not like me at all for I usually like to have everything prepared weeks ahead of time so I can relax the day before - at least that is always the intention.  I woke up at 7:30 AM and soon went to an artist's studio to help type labels for his art works.  After three hours of typing and fighting with his printer I proceeded to another artist's studio to help him finalize his display and take away what has too much sentimental value to be sold.  (Those went to storage.) We put labels next to the pictures he can part with.  Back to the it-takes-a-village theme, we had no less than five friends and hired help in attendance to help clean, dust and tag the items at this location.  Had a detour at another artist's studio at her request to check out what she had done so far.  To my disappointment, price tags were still missing....she promised to have them ready by her time slot tomorrow. As a shopper myself - and I may be alone in this - I don't want to be bothered asking any questions if I can help it.  For if you have to ask you probably can't afford it.  If everything is well marked then it is that much easier for all concerned.......

I was late getting to each of my appointments for I was having printer problems of my own since last night, so of course I was late leaving every appointment as well.  My next stop was the hair salon, where I was also 30 minutes late.  So nice that Frey did not yell at me.  He was helping someone else so while waiting I decided to run out for two quick errands that had to be absolutely done and by the time I got back another 30 minutes later, they were almost ready for me.  But I had to do two more tasks so with my hair color still processing and only a shower cap on top of it, I had to drive to those two places nearby.  What a funny sight I must have been.  Luckily they are both good friends and they understand the desperate means that desperate people resort to.....

When I got home very late at 7:30 but with every strand of hair in place at least, friends from out of town whom we had invited to dine with us at 7 were already deep in conversation.  I quietly went to my printer to print out 22 welcome packages for tomorrow.  With nine hours remaining, the only thing left to do now is to make a seating plan for dinner and match 36 guests with one another to make up three fun tables.  Maria has done the calligraphy on place cards she gifted us from her store (or she can send me a bill).  She'll also make the flower arrangements for each table.  All she needs is a copy of my seating plan so she can get there tomorrow before 7:45 PM, and we're done.  See you tomorrow.  All I ask of you is this: if you're an art crawler please don't be late nor skip out on any studio visit.  If you are an artist please label your art.  Thank you for your support of this project and all best wishes to you!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With two days to are the credits

With only two days to go before our Autumn Art Tour takes place this Saturday, I expect the artists are almost ready with their displays, labels, price lists and the like.  We have given the head counts to our lunch caterer Black-Eyed Suzie's and our reception caterer Christine Gonzalez.  We are still accepting bookings for the latter but it would be slightly tougher to accept lunch bookings after Thursday 12:00 PM, for the lunch ingredients get bought on Thursday and prepared by Friday.  I visited Cheryl, owner of BES at today's farmers' market, who told me so much.  Btw our lunch menu will feature: Fig-Walnut & Brie with Baby Arugula on Baguette; Grilled Chicken with Olive Tapanede and Roasted Peppers on Ciabatta; Roast Beef with Horseradish Mayo and Baby Arugula on Rye; homemade Black Currant Soda; Panna Cotta with Seasonal Fruit Topping; Regular Coffee, Decaf Coffee and Tea with milk, sugar and honey.  For our reception at 6:00 the menu Christine has devised is as follows:  Antipasti Platter with Smoked Mozzarella; Peppadews; Hard Salami; Cucumbers and Green Peppers from Maria's garden; Cherry Tomatoes; Marinated Artichokes; Olives; and Bruschetta.....Pork Dumplings with dipping sauce.....Wine and Juice.

I have to clean the house for I'm expecting five house guests, all of whom I'd booked for my guest spaces almost on the day (night, really) that I conceived of the idea to work on this event.  It was around the dinner table with friends one Saturday in early July that the idea crystallized in my mind.  I had recently been involved in soliciting art for one of two silent auctions I've been involved in since moving upstate.  Four artists immediately gave me a piece of their work to be auctioned off, the proceeds of which would go to the not-for-profit organization.  I felt that I should help promote these artists who not only produce art I like but also are generous of spirit.  So I brought up the subject to Pat Horner, the beautiful and well-liked current president of Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, when I went to pick up a picture that she was donating to my event in late June.  She liked the idea and said she'd be on board if I ever did it.  When I pitched the idea to the other artists, they were amenable too.  The mention of Ms. Horner's name undoubtedly lent a large dose of credibility to the project, which made it easier for the other artists to decide to come aboard too.  My pitch was to bring to Woodstock at least a dozen would-be art buyers from downstate.  I knew that at least three of my friends had recently either expanded their home or moved to a new home or two or office, and would most likely need some pieces of art to decorate their new spaces with. I thought I could attract a few more art enthusiast friends in addition.  Ron Pordy read and edited an agreement letter I wrote at an artist's request and everyone went along with it.  Then we marketed the project through word of mouth and social media from mid-July.  Btw we got a lot of compliments early in the process about our "attractive-looking" blog.  My sister Rose, based in Seattle, is the techie and patient teacher who taught me everything I now know about blogging.....There were some disappointments: at least two couples' travel plans coincide with our event and they could not join us after all, one did not want to travel alone, while some others were just not interested.  (But five of them suggested they'd do private viewings with us at a future date.)  But in the end we've been able to attract close to 20 art crawlers, almost half of whom have to travel two hours or more to get here this weekend.  I am happy that they are so supportive of a good cause (and me).  Writer and yoga teacher Wendy Kagan was instrumental in introducing us to singer Rachel Loshak, who will perform for us Saturday night.  Wendy wrote a nice blog about us on Chronogram.  Jeff Beck of Red Onion was kind enough to give us everything we ever requested re our dinner.  Susie Gordon, who owns Divine Desserts and is the most gracious hostess I've ever met, will supply her gorgeous and plentiful desserts.

I recently met Susan and Stuart Auchincloss, two strong pillars of our community.  When I learned that Stuart is also the president of the board of trustees of Woodstock Public Library, among his other voluntary work, it was an easy decision for me to choose the Library Annex Project as the beneficiary of our art tour.  They're a charismatic and community-involved couple.  I invited them to be the honorary co-chairs and hosts of our fundraising dinner, which they generously accepted.  They even postponed their planned family reunion in London so they would not be jet lagged at our dinner.  There is a charge to join our art tour and fundraising dinner.  Part of all ticket proceeds will benefit the annex construction.  I've blogged earlier as to why I am a fan of our local library and why it needs our support.

With 48 hours to go before our kickoff, outstanding matters include printing almost 20 sets of a welcome package, making a music playlist for reception and another one for dinner with Bruce's help, designing a dinner-seating plan and writing out place cards with Maria's help, producing a walking tour map for Sunday with Dana's help, picking up groceries we'll need for reception with Christine's help, cleaning a friend's space with Annette's help, picking up wine and delivering it, picking up flowers from Sunfrost and have Maria arrange them.......As you can see it takes a village and a half to pull this off.  By the time I get to my hair appointment at 4:30 PM this Friday at Woodstock Haircutz, I know I can relax for it means I'll have completed all these tasks prior.  There is no other option.  Saturday should be all fun and games.  Will be mindful not to overdo it though for Sunday morning we have to be up in time for a rejuvenating nature walk from 9:00 AM right in the center of town (please wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat to be safe), led by our Woodstock Land Conservancy friends Michael and Rosalind.  Brunch follows at 9:45 am.  Make appointments for 11:00 AM with studios (or let me know and I'll make them for you) beforehand, if needed.  Best wishes to all involved in this project and thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of it!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Logistics for Autumn Art Tour this coming Saturday & Sunday, Oct 26 & 27

Hello All,

I'm looking forward to seeing you this Saturday.  I've sent all confirmed attendees an email containing the addresses corresponding to time slots for each artist studio.  (I'll email the same information to any one who confirms that they'll be attending.)  It's important to note that the studios will open only during their respective designated times (i.e. by appointment that day) so it won't be possible to drop in at whatever time we want to......

May I suggest carpooling?  It's not only environmentally friendly, but also practical for certain studios may not have enough parking spaces or street parking on narrow roads may endanger your vehicles or may obstruct traffic......Lastly it can be a fun way to get to know others in the group.  For this purpose I've contacted the centrally located Woodstock Golf Club to ask if they'll lend us their parking space.  The management of the club, led by general manager and course superintendent John Rizza, has magnanimously given us permission to park at their auxiliary parking area, which is the grassy lot across from the club (on Route 212 and east of Cucina), that day so we can carpool!

Shall we all try to meet there this Saturday, October 26th, at 10:15 AM and share rides?  It takes five to seven minutes to get to the Kanter-Hutchison studios from there.

We are 14 in all on the art tour and I'm counting on a) no last-minute cancellations from anyone; and b) some more persons may well join us for either morning or afternoon studio visits only, for they could not commit to a whole day this Saturday.  I would appreciate hearing from you if you fall in the latter category so I can tell two different caterers (Black-Eyed Suzie's for lunch, and Christine Gonzales Pordy for reception) how many persons they'll need to feed!

Our fundraising dinner, the honorary chairpersons and hosts of which are Susan and Stuart Auchincloss, has been sold out for some time.  The reason is that I had chosen a venue that can accommodate only 28 persons.  For this reason we could not market it actively.  (Lesson learned: next time, if there is one, we'll get a more flexibly expandable room.)  However, we've just been able to persuade Red Onion's very kind manager Jeff Beck to add three small tables outside the dining room to accommodate performance-and-dessert only guests from 10:00 PM.  Singer Rachel Loshak is OK with this idea.  So we ran with it yesterday and two of the six seats are spoken for, while it's first-come first-served for the remaining four seats.  The way it will work is said ticket holders would have to stand in the dining room during the performance and sit down at three small tables just outside of it for dessert and coffee.  Btw desserts, to be supplied by Susie Gordon's Divine Desserts, are going to be delicate and delicious.  A suggested donation of $50 for said performance-and-dessert tickets will go to the library......

An aside: Those who can not join us for dinner that night ought to try the special Halloween dinner fare at Creekside Grill, which is the current incarnation of the restaurant at Woodstock Golf Club.  I hear it's good and I myself have to try it very soon.  I'll surely try to go there again from next month on in order to reciprocate John Rizza and his colleagues' generosity re parking this Saturday.

Back to our art tour group, please be reminded that the next day Sunday we have a nature walk of Comeau Property right in the heart of town.  According to its website, "Comeau Property is a 77-acre municipally-owned parcel and the seat of Woodstock Town government....It has approximately 74 acres under a conservation easement with the Woodstock Land Conservancy," which means it will be protected as a perpetually open land by WLC.  It's a beautiful piece of property and we are very lucky that Michael Drillinger and Rosalind Dickinson of WLC (thank you, Rosalind and Michael!) will be leading that tour at 9:00 AM on Sunday, October 27th.  (This is actually helpful for we got lost when we tried to walk it one day last winter and haven't tried to go back since.)  Let's meet at the parking lot that is closest to the town offices at the top of the hill, at 8:55 AM Sunday so we can start the walk promptly at 9:00.  If you're running late you may call my cellfone for Michael tells me he has ATT and gets good service in there.

This will be followed by brunch (at 10:00 AM if not sooner) at Oriole 9 Cafe, which is within walking distance of Comeau Property.  As Oriole 9 does not take reservations, I think we'll be fine at that time of day even on a Sunday.  There is a long community table that I hope we can have if we get there early enough (say 10:00 AM sharp).

11:00 AM Sunday is set aside for appointments with studios we'll have visited the day before, for those who want to take a second look at the art they liked and/or seal the deals.  Please let me know during dinner (or the artists themselves if you prefer) if you'd like to make such an appointment so they don't double book.

Dana Egan is working on designing for us a walking map of Woodstock that highlights our favorite art galleries as well as stores.  We'll give you a copy on Saturday when we see you.

I believe I've covered all the bases......if not and you have questions please ask either here or by calling me.  See you then, dear ones.........

Saturday, October 19, 2013

IAG Productions' Autumn Art Tour 2013 Woodstock, New York

Autumn Art Tour 2013 Woodstock, NY is an Ingenious Art Group Productions-organized tour of art studios in Woodstock.  It will be held on Sat & Sun, October 26 & 27, and will benefit the Woodstock Library Annex Project.  Nine artists on the tour include painters and/or sculptors and a potter.  The tour is targeted at art collectors who want to meet artists who produce great art, in their respective working environments. Attendees will be visiting Woodstock during what we at IAG hope will be a beautiful fall weekend, when foliage is usually at its prettiest.  Each studio and/or gallery space is very different from the next but each one is full of its own charm and will be a real treat for the art aficionado who also wants to buy some art that weekend.

The artists on this tour are: Brinton Baker, Calvin Grimm, Harvey Konigsberg, Hatti Iles, Heather Hutchison, Jenne M. Currie, Lowell Miller, Mark Thomas Kanter and Pat Horner.

This event is different from your typical art studio tour in several ways:  1) It is a guided group tour with a schedule that has been pre-agreed with each artist.  This is helpful in that a) each artist commits to open his or her studio for only up to 90 minutes on Saturday, thus freeing them up for the rest of their day;  and b) each artist gives a brief talk to the group about their technique and intention only once that weekend, which will again save them time that they can use making their art if they so wish.  2) There is an admission fee to join the tour, which will include a light lunch at one of the artist studios and also a drinks reception at another artist's space.  3) There are other group activities organized for tour participants such as a guided Nature Walk on Sunday morning, a group Brunch at a lively restaurant after it (for an additional fee) and a walking tour of IAG's recommended galleries and museums in town.  4) The 2-day event will benefit not only the wonderful artists included on the tour if they sell their art (and we at IAG certainly hope they'll sell lots of them!), but also a worthy local cause that is dear to the community's heart, that is the Woodstock Library Annex Project (more on this topic on another post).

There is a Fundraising Dinner on Saturday (Oct. 26th), which is an opportunity for tour members to meet and dine withe the artists.  It will be held at the private dining room of Red Onion, a favorite local restaurant. There'll be music, great food, interesting conversation and gregarious friends - in other words it will be one fun party!

In summary, Autumn Art Tour 2013 is expected to be a beautiful fall weekend that is jam packed with art, fun and interesting people.  It is our hope that attendees will come away from the weekend with lots of new knowledge, new friends and new art for their homes - they'll see great art and meet the artists behind them.  By so doing they will also help a favorite local institution that is the Woodstock Library - in particular the construction of its much needed additional space, the Library Annex.

Interested collectors are advised to book their tickets and accommodations early, for not only are hotel rooms in Woodstock proper limited, but also fall is high season for them.  We have a list of recommended inns and B&Bs in Woodstock, some of which will give Autumn Art Tour participants a small discount.

For tour and/or dinner tickets as well as complete details about the event, please contact Rachel Jackson of IAG Productions at 646 331 0908 or     

Friday, October 4, 2013

Update: A visit with the sculptor Lowell Miller

I stopped by the sculptor Lowell Miller's studio the other day.  He and his assistant Lucinda showed me various pieces of his that will be shown on Autumn Art Tour on Saturday, October 26th in his studio and gallery spaces.  Made of bronze, wax, ceramic, combination wax and bronze, concrete, aluminum, etc., each one was lovely to touch and see.  His method is to make a series of unique variants of each piece.  He may make anywhere from six to 20 unique variants of each design, with no two pieces ever exactly alike.  He'll be able to talk more about this when we visit him on the 26th.  His time slot is 2:30 - 3:30 PM.  Lowell Miller's website is

A gentle reminder: We'll have to stick with the itinerary strictly (time-wise) as we have nine studios to cover from 10:30 AM through 7:15 PM!  (Two pairs of artists have either adjacent or contiguous spaces, thus we could see each pair within an hour - quite efficient use of your time.)

I look forward to seeing you then........