Art Along The Hudson Unites River Towns

Philipstown is launch site for 10-town-wide annual promotion; centerpiece is juried exhibit at 

By Alison Rooney

Next week Philipstown is doing the honors in hosting the kick-off for the 9th annual Art Along the Hudson (AAH) event, a collaborative promotion, in which 10 river towns with strong arts communities link up promoting cultural activities and stimulating economic buzz from those ventures throughout the region. The kick-off (which a different town hosts each year), will be followed by a community-wide display of art works — not limited just to galleries — accompanied by special music performances and restaurant discounts.  Some of the exhibits will stay in place for a while while others are ephemeral, lasting just one night in some instances.

Each year one of the ten member communities is chosen to launch the proceedings, and this year the Garrison Art Center and Cold Spring Arts, will get things going on Thursday afternoon, May 10 with a (fully subscribed due to very limited weekday parking) reservations-only media event, entitled A River Of Art Runs Through Us, featuring Mary Kay Vrba, director of Dutchess County Tourism and Lisa Robb, executive director of New York State Council on the Arts.

Putnam County’s new tourism director, Libby Pataki, will also have a hand in these proceedings, which will be followed by a reception that evening for a juried AAH exhibition — the anchor of the whole event — at the space at 69 Main St. in Cold Spring. The exhibition, which will feature artwork from artists throughout the region, will last from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and the public is invited. The juried show, which will be open through June 17, was chosen by prominent sculptor, Guggenheim fellow Ed Smith from submissions from each of the participating towns.

‘Ice On The Hudson’, oil painting by Fran Hodes, showing at the Depot Restaurant.

Those attending the launch are urged and encouraged to visit many or all of the other venues displaying the art, as well as to partake of the food establishment enticements and musical offerings all taking place the evening of May 10.  Restaurants offering “a free …” glass of wine or “beergarita” or dessert (see listing for specifics) include Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill, The Depot, Riverview (all of which will also be displaying art works) and Whistling Willies, while music from Dallas McCord can be heard at the Silver Spoon.

Other places where art will be on view are Art to Wear Too; Houlihan Lawrence and the Chapel Restoration, which will host a special photography exhibit featuring the works of many local lens-people.

Philipstown’s art galleries, including Garrison Art Center, Marina Gallery; the Terence Donovan Gallery and Gallery 66 will be open and showing work in many forms.  These exhibits will be on display for varying lengths of time, ranging from one-night only to about a month.

While it may seem an enormous effort for an event of short duration, it is well worth it, according to Cold Spring Arts’ Barbara Galazzo, one of the key organizers.  “Yes it is a lot of work for one night,” she says, “but it is an extremely important event.  It brings all the movers and shakers to promote the arts, which in turn brings in tourists and business for everyone.”

Art Along the Hudson is no small “nice idea” kind of program, but rather a well-honed marketing collaboration resulting in a huge amount of promotion for this region: the distribution of 60,000 brochures throughout regional Metro-North stations, airports, hotels, hospitals, along the New York Thruway, etc. Advertising reaches travelers through the Amtrak, Metro-North Getaway and Hudson Valley Travel Guides as well as in Art in America. Radio ads have aired over the past year on over 20 stations, including WAMC public radio and WKZE.

‘Street II’, photo by Tom Carrigan, showing at the Chapel Restoration

The participating artistically-focused Hudson River communities included are Peekskill, Garrison/Cold Spring, Newburgh, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, New Paltz, Rhinebeck/Red Hook, Kingston, Hudson, and Woodstock.  In addition AAP promotes eight Hudson Valley Studio Tours offering art lovers opportunities to meet the many artists living and working in the Hudson Valley.  In 2011 AAH received the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation Tourism Award.

Their mission is to join together to form a marketing collaborative effort to bring focus and awareness of their art activities, sharing the best practices and supporting each other. All the coordination work is done on a volunteer basis.  Each community and studio tour contributes funds to support the marketing effort.  Additionally, sponsors help with printing and kickoff costs. Each participating community and studio tour is responsible for determining and creating their art-related events and focus, updating the AAH website, and contributing to overall organizational activities.  The participating community delegates a focal point chair and vice chair.

Americans for the Arts, a leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education “dedicated to representing and serving local communities and to creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts” came out with a comprehensive 2007 study, Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences, which set forth the following data analysis:

From major metropolitan areas to small rural towns, the research shows to what degree the nonprofit arts and culture industry attracts audiences, spurs business development, supports jobs and generates government revenue.  Locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences.  This activity creates the following:

  • 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs
  • $104.2 billion in household income
  • $7.9 billion in local government tax revenues
  • $9.1 billion in state government tax revenues
  • $12.6 billion in federal income tax revenues

Note:  New York City and Los Angeles were excluded from this study to avoid inflating the national estimates.

‘Olives and Chestnuts’, photo by Jane Soodalter, showing at the Chapel Restoration

In a more specific local example, The Center for Creative Community Development at Williams College — which focuses on the study and evaluation of the community development impacts from arts, cultural and related nonprofit organizations — recently did a study of Dia:Beacon’s expenditures and their visitors’ expenditures.  The total economic impact of Dia: Beacon, which consists of its own expenditures and the local expenditures made by visitors who reside outside the county is $12.5 million annually and in terms of local employment, 168 jobs. Sectors of the local economy benefiting most from Dia are food services, hotels and motels, retail stores, real estate and electric power generation.

Local artists participating in some way in Art Along The Hudson’s Philipstown events are: John Allen, Tom Carrigan, Ada Cruz, Tim D’Aquisto, Daisy de Puthod, Terence Donovan, Imogene Drummound, Susan English, Barbara Galazzo, Richard Gedney, Carla Goldberg, Cali Gorevic, Phil Heffernan, Fran Hodes, Thomas Huber, Grace Kennedy, Kaija Korpijaakko, Martee Levi, Maria Pia Marella, James Murray, Tony Moore, Bob Ouirfrey Chuk, Jaanika Peerna, Ann Provan, David Provan, Sheilah Rechtschaffer, Judith Rose, Richard Saunders, Ursula Schneider, Barbara Smith Gioia, Jane Soodalter, Julie Tooth, Lucille Tortora, Leslie Uribe, Carl Van Brunt,  Mindy Vessidly, Kate Whittemore, Aleta Wolfe, Marina Yashina, and Grey Zeien.

For more information on Art Along the Hudson as a whole visit the Art Along the Hudson website.   For the Cold Spring and Garrison events, click here.

Photos courtesy of the artists

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