Friday, October 30, 2015

Fright night in b+w

It’s hard to visit Pierson’s Farm in October without bring drawn to Fright Nights. The Saturdays in October leading up to Halloween are home to this annual fright fest. One of this Otisville farm’s barns and an adjoining cornfield are transformed into a real treat for horror lovers: a haunted farm experience.

Props of monsters, zombies and skeletons decorate the corn maze and barn’s interior, and actors in costume and face paint come face to face with unsuspecting guests as they navigate the dark and twisting route.  

I was invited earlier this month by organizer Mike to take photos of the scene and in the process got a daylight tour of the maze and barn. The project ran for years at his home in Middletown and later expanded into Pierson’s unique space. Fright Nights is also a charity event and regularly donates proceeds to local fire departments, soup kitchens and pantries.

Pierson’s Farm itself is open year-round and throughout the months you’ll find seasonal items like pumpkins, Christmas trees, eggs, farm-raised beef and chickens and baked goods. Settled in 1790, it’s one of the oldest farms in Orange County.

Fright Nights was voted a top 3 haunt in the Hudson Valley in 2014 by the Times Herald-Record’s Readers Choice Awards. For the brave, the show starts at 7pm.

Fright Nights at Pierson’s Farm:
Pierson’s Farm:

Friday, October 9, 2015


In Chinese philosophy, autumn is a time for turning inward. A season for paying attention to the self’s inner voices and needs after the abundance and energy of summer and in preparation for winter’s unpredictability. During last month’s Newburgh OPEN studios weekend, a free annual tour of the area’s creative spaces, we were surprised to find the opportunity to take take this usually self-guided walk under the direction of movement expert and crafter Ophra Wolf.  

Ophra is the face behind Force & Flow Integrated Bodywork, in which she strives to help people find wholeness through creating and connecting healthy bodies, and opening minds and hearts. Her methods for increasing self-awareness and replenishing energy go beyond the familiar yoga, Pilates, and meditation to tools like Feldenkrais, Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, and Contact Improvisation.

Her 2-hour tour, called the Mindfulness Studio Walk, focused not so much on our destination but in the mindfulness of the journey: Looking inward too see what determines your movement and senses, focusing on the ground, surroundings, sounds, and personal space.   

Ophra’s own creative movement was later featured at one of the tour’s stops on Johnes Street, where she performed “Ophra is Pursuing the Pulse” at Sigunik Studio. Her performance was slow and deliberate, making each position mindful and chosen. Performing beside her was Craig Chin, filling the space with a hypnotizing sound, known as ambient music. Craig’s website quotes Brian Eno describing the term ambient music as it “must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

Interpretive dance, which translates human emotions into something visual, is an art medium just as painting or sculpting, but not as understood, perhaps because of its fleeting result. Someone gave me a popular and easily understood example of interpretive dance. Watch the music video for singer Sia’s song Elastic Heart. The two characters acting out a rollercoaster of emotions can be interpreted as a man struggling through the comfort and betrayal of addiction.   

Ophra’s performance alongside Craig’s music made for my favorite part of this year’s Newburgh OPEN studio tour. Meeting the artist, having her guide us through a part of her work followed by her performance, made for a unique day filled with art in not one, but many forms. 

Force & Flow Integrated Body Work: 
Craig Chin:
Newburgh OPEN Studios:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Opened spaces

Imagine, if you will, your favorite artwork. Maybe it’s a VanGough print in the bathroom, a gifted wooden bowl holding keys by the front door, or a house and tree and sun finger painting on the fridge. Have you ever wondered where it was made? Unless it was created by someone you know well, its origin and even the artist may be a mystery.

The last month in September is Newburgh OPEN Studios. Founded and organized by Newburgh Art Supply owners Gerardo Castro and Michael Gabor, this annual weekend-long event connects the City’s creative minds with curious art lovers. It is free and self-guided. Participants pick up a map at Newburgh Art Supply on Grand Street and set out to meet over 50 artists in various studios.

First stop is the art supply store itself which houses the studio of founder Gerardo whose works comprising Drawing Spirits: anointed sorcerer burns appartitions on paper were featured. He explained his process to visitors—using metal and heat to brand marks onto paper, some being life-size outlines of himself adorned with detailed symbols.

This year’s mediums included painting, performance, collage, sculpture, book binding, photography, sound, weaving, assemblage and vellum. One woman worked with encaustic paint, a beeswax-based substance which is heated and applied. Many artists had pieces for sale and I took home one of Gerardo’s smaller prints. He signed the picture and now it sits in my bedroom in a tall floating-style frame.

“Newburgh OPEN Studios, celebrating its 5th year, is a direct manifestation of our mission to foster artistic expression, civic participation and the economic growth of Newburgh’s diverse community by supporting, promoting, and advocating for arts and culture by supporting the livelihoods of working artists in our region. Therefore, NOS will continue the tradition of presenting the Fall tour the last weekend of September.” -Gerardo Castro & Michael Gabor

Newburgh OPEN Studios: