Go uphill for the riveting views, and stay for the house tour at Frederick Church’s home, Olana. Church, a significant artist in the Hudson River School of Art movement, built his Persian-influenced style home overlooking his beloved river. Posthumously, Church became an important player in the Hudson River conservation movement, when one of his paintings was employed in the effort to ban a nuclear power plant within view of here. Protesters in the 1970’s used one of Church’s winter landscapes to show exactly how an industrial facility would mar the perfect scene. The ploy worked and the plant was put elsewhere. You’ll see this landscape and a number of Old Masters on a fascinating tour of Church’s home and studio.
If you’ve hopped around all the galleries the city has to offer, you can head out of the five boroughs and see what the more bucolic upstate towns have to offer in the way of art. From touring a former school that’s now a gallery in Columbia County to a day trip to Peekskill, there are many ways to sneak in some culture during a weekend escape.
You hear it all the time: those who occasionally visit Hudson will remark on the many changes they’ve encountered since their last swing through town. New businesses are always opening and the end of summer 2015 was an especially active time for the little city’s business district, with establishments of all kinds opening their doors. But it’s not just quantity. The quality of Hudson’s new businesses continue to elevate the Hudson experience for both residents and visitors alike. Here are five new hotspots to check out next time you’re there.
Earlier this month I traveled upstate to celebrate one of my friend’s (and one of our very own interviewees) Alisa Richter’s wedding in Hudson, New York. Having lived in the big apple for more than half my life I was hit with a realization that until this year, I had actually never been beyond the confines of the city – my first taste of life upstate was visiting Dia:Beacon this summer. Since, I’ve been itching to experience the beauty the rest of the state has to offer. With an opportunity to celebrate one of life’s most cherished events and the chance to explore more about local life in towns including Hudson, Phoenicia and Germantown I was able to truly discover some amazing destinations that are well worth checking out for a weekend getaway no matter the occasion.
The upstate New York festival continues to provide a haven for the sound-obsessed.
Whenever someone tells you something is revelatory, take a teaspoon of salt. Basilica Soundscape has been wreathed in clover and sheathed with hosannas since debuting four years ago, most reports citing the beautiful setting and pedigree of its curation, focused on music and peppered with the visual and written arts. The event is named conjointly, for the fest’s dark brick home—a beautifully converted pencil shaving distillery and maple leaf sorting facility that now looks like a place Matthew Barney wouldn’t mind visiting (he did, actually, and has collaborated with fest curator Brandon Stosuy)—and, presumably, for the martian contours of its sonic output. Its list of performers have almost nothing in common sonically, but all live on the outskirts of town.
WHEN warm weather arrives, artists by the hundreds, including me, venture outside with paint boxes and portable easels. This passion for plein air painting is a phenomenon of recent years that has come to include competitions, workshops and shows in towns, villages and scenic spots like the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which hosts more than 200 artists each July at Plein Air Easton. I now have seven paint boxes and folding easels, ranging from watercolor sets the size of a cigarette pack to a full-scale French easel made just the way it was for the Impressionists.
While popular haunted places in the Midwest struggle to gain recognition and help from local governments and mainstream business/tourism organizations, one state is getting it right. When I began researching legends in Upstate New York, I came across this website, and I was surprised to discover that the website was the result of cooperation across more than a dozen local tourism bureaus. Whenever the subject of haunted places or tours is discussed with community leaders in my home state of Illinois, it is usually in hushed tones, as if they are speaking of porno theaters or international crime rings. Despite the benefits of paranormal tourism, for example, a number of years ago local church leaders in my hometown petitioned the public library board to shut down a friend’s ghost tour, which she had ran successfully in cooperation with the library for years, because it was allegedly “occult” related.
Take a trip to New York’s Hudson Valley to taste one of the season’s most elusive flavors.
Now that the seemingly endless winter is truly over, there are harbingers of spring everywhere: cherry trees blooming, arms and toes exposed. For foodies, the change in seasons is exciting for another reason: For a very brief moment, farmers’ markets will be overrun with ramps, a spring vegetable that’s also known as a wild leek. Its flavor is pungent, sort of like a cross between a spring onion and garlic, and its presentation varied: pickled, grilled, used in pesto, as a pizza topping…the list goes on. Because of their scarcity—ramps show up early in the season in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, then hit their peak for just a few weeks—they’re enormously popular among the food obsessed; in the past week alone, Eater.com, Bon Appetit,and Serious Eats have all published articles extolling the elusive allium’s virtues.
When asked how the city of Hudson has changed since she first arrived in 1991, Linda Mussmann says, “People talk about real estate now and not as much about art. The gentry, to some degree, has landed.” Mussmann has run Time and Space Limited, a multidisciplinary art warehouse, with partner Claudia Bruce since 1993, planting the first artistic seeds of the latest wave or creative regeneration. Mussmann and Bruce created an environment for edgy art (political theater, independent films, and in-your-face exhibitions) and community resources for underprivileged kids that continues to this day. “The goal is to have the opportunity to work until we die,” Mussmann says. “We’re never finished.” What defines Time and Space Limited, like much of the rest of this city percolating with hope and hype in equal measure, is the spirit of creative entrepreneurship: Hudson has the highest self-employment rate in New York state—almost 10 percent—and is ranked 83rd in the country. It’s a place where you’ll find antique stores and auction houses alongside vintage clothing and record stores, and an empty lot where a handful of food trucks have created an impromptu food court. Hudson even has its own version of a neo-vaudevillian circus troupe: Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.
Harrier Hill Park is a culmination — not a destination. It is the journey through the city of Hudson, and the Town of Greenport, that yields this vista as its reward. Traveling through the Hudson Valley countryside, I reminisced about descending through the Grand Canyon to its bottom at Phantom Ranch. I was captivated by the recollection that every step down the canyon trail was an unfolding panorama of texture, vistas and color, and that my boots changed color from the dust of each hue of rock strata — red, brown, orange, green.