Tag Archives: New CIty

Ron Wasserman builds his big-band dreams on a classical bass

Ron Wasserman, front left, with the New York Jazzharmonic. (Mihyun Kang)

Ron Wasserman, front left, with the New York Jazzharmonic. (Photo by Mihyun Kang)

This article was first published on NyackNewsandViews.com. GO HERE to read it in its original form.

By Steven P. Marsh

Ron Wasserman fell in love with the seductive syncopations and improvisations of jazz as a young musician, but the relationship faded and he abandoned tiny, smoky jazz clubs in favor of the New York State Theater in 1988, when he landed a permanent job playing double bass in the New York City Ballet Orchestra.

Nearly three decades later, sparks are flying again between the 54-year-old musician and his youthful obsession: He started a 17-piece big band, the New York Jazzharmonic, last year, and is presenting its next concert, featuring famed violinist Lara St. John and tango artist J.P. Jofre, this Sunday at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia in Manhattan.

Continue reading

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Visual artist Doris Laughton finds inspiration in New City

Doris Laughton in her studio in New City. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

Doris Laughton in her studio in New City. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

I had the great opportunity to finally get to chat with Doris Laughton, a wildly creative multimedia artist and notable neighbor on South Mountain Road in New City.

Her “splat” sculptures have earned her the nickname of “splat lady,” but her work — with her art and her dedicated stewardship of her unique home, designed by 20th century painter and potter Henry Varnum Poor, who also lived on “The Road” — goes well beyond that. The house has been owned and occupied by artists for all but a couple of years in the five-plus decades since it was built — first Judith Freedman Deming, who was Poor’s niece and a  founder and longtime proprietor of Fiberworks in Nyack, and, since 2008, Laughton.

Go to lohud.com to read the full interview with Laughton.

Free staged reading of High Tor on High Tor premieres today

Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby in the 1956 TV version of High Tor. The new production of High Tor on High Tor uses music composed for this teleplay.

The free staged reading of Maxwell Anderson’s thought-provoking play High Tor starts today (Saturday, Aug. 21) at High Tor State Park — the patch of open space in north New City, N.Y., on the mountain from which the play takes its title.

The 1936 comedy-fantasy, written by a resident of the High Tor neighborhood along South Mountain Road, helped fuel an interest in land preservation in the area that is going strong today.

Click here for a video interview with Terri Thal of the West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland’s land trust, which is producing the play to call attention to open-space preservation issues that persist today and here for a LoHud blog item and photo gallery related to the show.

The free show is being staged at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parking is free. Seating is provided. Come early and have a picnic in the beautiful mountainside park. Click here for directions and more details.

Click here for a fun item about the vineyard that once occupied part of High Tor, and some details of the West Branch Conservation Association’s successful battle to save it from development.

Revival of Maxwell Anderson’s ‘High Tor’ play to be performed on the slopes of High Tor

See A free reading of the play that helped save this rockland County peak from destruction

In just 10 days from today, on Saturday, Aug. 21 and Sunday, Aug. 22, we’ll get a chance to see a performance of High Tor, a play that really did change the world.

The West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland County’s Land Trust,  is producing two performances of Maxwell Anderson’s New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play Award winner for 1937 on the on mountain the play was written to save and from which it takes its name.

Write what you know

The old adage for writing is that you do your best when you “write what you know.” That’s what famed playwright Maxwell Anderson did in 1936.

Maxwell Anderson, left, accepts the 1936 New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1936, a year before he won it again, this time for "High Tor."

Anderson was a resident of South Mountain Road in New City, an area that had become artists colony over the years, attracting creative folks such as Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, John Houseman, cartoonist Milton Caniff — along with Burgess Meredith and Alan Jay Lerner, who lived just over South Mountain in Pomona. Continue reading

Erik Friedlander brings his show back home

Erik Friedlander performs at The Stone in NYC this Spring

Erik Friedlander performs at The Stone in NYC this Spring

Cellist Erik Friedlander is bringing his multimedia show  Block Ice and Propane back home to Rockland County, N.Y., this Sunday when he performs at the Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA).

Block Ice is a cycle of compositions based on the road trips that New City native Erik’s family took every summer in a camper atop a 1966 Chevrolet pickup truck. Erik couples his music with images to give the audience a chance to share his childhood experiences. While Erik plays, the audience will see projections of photos taken famous father, photographer Lee Friedlander, who still lives in Rockland. If it weren’t for Lee’s work, Erik might never have taken the summertime road trips that inspired Block Ice.

If you don’t know Erik’s work, come knowing that this won’t be a conventional, classical concert. Erik is one of the world’s premier experimental cello players. He coaxes an amazing array of sounds from his cello. He takes what he likes from classical, jazz and pop, unfettered by conventional rules. And he’s not shy about working with other musicians in all genres, either. He’s collaborated with artists as varied as performance artist Laurie Anderson and indie rockers The Mountain Goats.

Erik is keeping his RoCA show intimate to fit the space, but it’s worth noting that he has created another, larger-scale version of Block Ice with Bill Morrison, an experimental filmmaker. The full-blown version, designed for bigger venues, couples Lee’s images with Bill’s new videos of some of the places the Friedlander family traveled.  He’ll be performing this version in December at the Wexner Art Center in Columbus, Ohio, and the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis. (See WYMMWIG‘s previous post about Erik.)

In the RoCA show, Erik tells WYMMWIG:

“I will have more freedom to pick from my repertoire to perform pieces I don’t get a chance to play in the usual ‘Taking Trips To America’ show. Things like Carlos Santana’s Golden Dawn, Eric Dolphy’s Serene and Arthur Blythe’s Lower Nile are all tunes I love to play and haven’t had a chance recently.”

“Also there’s all the [John] Zorn Volac, Masada Book II music that is also in play. So, though there aren’t any films, there will be images from the family trips and a whole lot of cool music I look forward to playing.”

Erik Friedlander performs at 2 pm on Sunday, Oct. 4, at Rockland Center for the Arts, 27 South Greenbush Road, West Nyack, N.Y. More information is available here. Call (845) 358-0877 for tickets. $20/$15 for RoCA members.

How much of Crow House’s art will fly away?

A view from inside the Crow House studio of some of the work that could soon be sold.

A view from inside the Crow House studio showing only a few of the artworks housed in Henry Varnum Poor's self-designed homestead.

The news in Thursday morning’s edition of The New York Times about what’s happening at Crow House, the rambling New City home of the late visual artist Henry Varnum Poor is truly distressing. The idea that artwork created by Poor, who is known as the father of the modern craft pottery movement, that has been in the curious and intriguing homestead for decades is being sold off by Poor’s surviving son, Peter.

While some of the items in the house were clearly the property of family members and subject to removal, many of us who worked to save the home from the wrecker’s ball and get it into the hands of the historically sensitive administration of the Town of Ramapo believed that there was an understanding that an option existed to keep the bulk of the art with the house.

That’s clearly no longer the case, if it ever was, as evidenced by Peter Poor’s decision to sell four ceramic pieces made by his father — three of them from Crow House — at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J., on Saturday.

Certainly, Peter Poor has the right to his personal property. He can sell it, tuck it away, or smash and burn it in an affront to his father’s  memory if he likes. But he should consider the public value of his father’s legacy. To dispose of the art piecemeal would surely destroy the sense of continuity and scale that exists with the art on site where it was created. It appears that’s not something Peter Poor cares much about, given his quote about people who want to see the collection preserved: “They’re living in the past.”

It’s easy to assume that Peter Poor will simply sell a few pieces for profit, and that will be the end of it. But what he tells The Times about Saturday’s auction suggests that there is more — much more — to come.

“I wanted to put some things up with Rago to see what interest there was,” he tells The Times, adding, “This is sort of an experiment.”

That is an experiment that can only bring grief.