Art Meets History in an Historic town

Newburgh, NY —– Some 30 artists – and one pooch – gathered recently on a softly-lit afternoon in this little upstate city on the banks of the Hudson River. They had all participated in the latest of the city’s successful Artist-Studio Tours, and had agreed to celebrate at the home of Michael Gabor and Gerardo Castro, who own and operate the Newburgh Art Supply shop at 5 Grand St., a few steps from Washington’s Headquarters.
One of those artists was Ruedi Hofman, a photographer who had been Richard Avedon’s assistant and who, with his wife Ann Stratton, had bought a house in Newburgh.
At one point during the party, he told the artists he’d like to get a group shot of them, and said he’d found the perfect spot for it.
Had he ever.
The 27 artists – and one dog – followed Hofman a few blocks to one of the most beautiful, if heartbreaking, locations in the mid-Hudson: Newburgh’s Dutch Reformed Church. High on a hilltop overlooking the river, the imposing, 177-year-old Greek-Revival structure had been abandoned in the mid-1960s and fallen into a tragic state of disrepair, along with the city’s fortunes as businesses moved out and gangs and crime moved in.
But in recent years, artists from New York and beyond began serving as the shock troops of the city’s revival. They bought and renovated many of the old buildings, renovating them and using them both as living quarters and art studios. They not only survived, but thrived here. Many now believe they are approaching the critical mass needed to tip the city back onto the track of progress and prosperity.
So when those 27 artists gathered in the church that fall day, with shards of its fallen roof hanging precariously above them and its broken pews behind them and its battered balcony all around them, it surprised no one that they were all looking straight ahead, with nothing but determination and optimism in their hearts and hope in their eyes.
The 3-foot-wide Hofman photo is on display at Newburgh Art Supply; to view it, to see  more Hofman photos or for more info, call the shop at 845-561-5552.

Get Your Read-Hot Poetry Here!

All are invited to experience “Epiphanous Poetry in a Victorian Solarium.” The readings will be presented by the Hudson River Poets at 2 p.m on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 297 Grand St. in Newburgh.

Many of the Hudson River Poets are published, performing, and award-winning writers. Ages range from 13-80; educational attainment, from high school to Ph.D. On Jan. 6, the poets will be sharing their original poetry of awakening, in conjunction with the twelfth day of Christmas – the Epiphany. This will be the first public community presentation by the Hudson River Poets in many years.

Admission at the door is $5, which will support HRP’s participation in Newburgh Illuminated, a festival slated for June 2013. There, the poets will present a literary and visual-art exhibit at the Newburgh Free Library. Some of the Hudson River Poets, such as Clay Buchanan, Eve Hinderer and Rosolinda McGovern, are also visual artists. Other well-known poets in the group include Lou O’Neil, Mona Toscano, Sharon Butler, John Fitzpatrick and Jamaican Raga poet Ras Negus.

For more information on the Jan. 6 poetry reading or the Hudson River Poets, contact Laura Lamica at 568-7334 or

Happy Holidays from M&T Bank!

Yesterday i received in the mail a 20-page brochure from M&T Bank, where I am a customer for the following reason: It was located in the same building in downtown Baltimore as the law firm that helped me create the trust i was chosen to manage (lucky me!) for my disabled cousin, and I was only going to be in Baltimore that ONE DAY, so i took the elevator downstairs with all my paperwork and ducked into the bank that was right there and set up the trust account.

That was a year or so ago;  ever since, i’ve been getting monthly statements and other communications from M&T, but this one was a doozy.

Entitled, “Important Information Regarding Changes [by which they mean, “Increases”] in Fees,” it contains the lurid details on the  many, many ways they’ll nick their customers more than ever before, in the new year. Here are a few notable ones, and i swear to God the quotes are verbatim:

1. On “Relationship Savings” accounts, the monthly fee is going up to $7.50, and the fee “can no longer be avoided by having a Free Checking or M&T Totally Free Checking account.” Makes you wonder how much they charge per month for checking accounts that aren’t “free,” doesn’t it? i also wonder if there’s a word for the “relationship” you have with a bank that jobs you for $7.50 a month for your “Totally Free” account. [Readers should submit suggestions; winners will get directions to their nearest credit union.]

2. For “MoneyMaker Savings Account” holders, there will be a “$10 service charge for each monthly cycle if the balance is below $2,500 at the end of any day of that cycle.” So tell me: If the $10-monthly-fee account is called a “MoneyMaker,” who exactly is it making money for?

3. Lucky holders of  “MyChoiceChecking” accounts get a new $6.95 monthly service charge unless you complete one of  three different tests, the least onerous of which is spinning straw into gold and bringing it to your nearest M&T branch on either a fixed-gear bicycle or a pogo stick (that must be why it’s called “MyChoice”).

4.  And for those of you with “M&T Direct Checking” accounts, “The monthly service charge will increase to $14.95, and … [editorial comment: This is my favorite part] “…the fee to have images of your paid checks returned with your statements will increase to $5 per month.” But don’t worry: You can get out of the monthly $14.95 fee if you have an average daily balance of at least enough for a down payment on one of those new Jaguar XJs that are so popular now.

I could go on … and on … and on. But i won’t, because  suddenly i’m feeling the urge to send a holiday card to my dear Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union.

I’d send one to the bank too, but they probably charge a fee for that.