Public Art Projects
au•gust art festival
Over 9,000 people came to Rosendale to experience the au•gust art festival that ran August 7 – 29, 2015. Heige Kim, Program Director. managed a series of events that included over thirty selected local, national, and international artists who presented con[temporary] videos, installations, performance art and sculptures along the mile of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail that links the WSW studios to Rosendale. The kick-off event took place on August 7th, with Shoulder Land Video Festival curated by Dani Leventhal at the Rosendale Theatre.
We hosted three extended residencies for artists from out of the region to make work specifically for the event. Emily Speed came from England and to create a performance/installation piece for the festival. Emily, who works regularly with architecture as crucial identifying characteristics of community, created a series of three buildings as costume that melded aspects of the history and architecture of the town. The three buildings walked along the trail at various times throughout the festival, and they also participated in the festival’s opening events.
Barbara Westermann, a German artist currently living and working in New York City, worked for over a month creating three murals on an outside wall connecting two of WSW’s buildings. She was trained as an architect, and over time began to work on collaborative installation pieces. For au•gust, she created a mural based on historic mapping of Rosendale’s mines, landforms, and geography. Barbara also taught a weekend workshop geared for the general public that incorporated an unusually fast drying concrete, making it possible for participants to take home the pieces they cast.
Melissa Jay Craig exhibited two distinct works, both created entirely out of hand made paper. Melissa is a highly skilled papermaker who creates sculptural forms without an underlying armature, relying exclusively on the way the pulps are processed. For au•gust, Melissa exhibited ear forms that referenced her own failing hearing while encouraging us to listen to the world around us. She also created book forms that wrapped around tree trunks. Just before installing her work along the trail, Melissa taught a week-long workshop sharing her technique with artists from across the country.
Pat Oleszko’s The Would/Lands
In 2014, Pat Olezsko worked at WSW’s as our first Rosendale Cultural Crossroads Public Art resident. Her multidisciplinary work interweaves social commentary with eccentric presentations involving elaborate costuming and linguistic jests. Pat has created work at the Museum of Modern Art, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as worked internationally throughout Europe and South America.
During her two-month residency at WSW, Pat responded to Rosendale’s history and geography to create The Would/Lands along the Rail Trail near the Rosendale Trestle. Pat worked at the CHRCH Project Space and began her residency by participating in the annual Soapbox Derby in Kingston, with a piece responding to the legalization of gay marriage. It had a full bridal party, complete with a mother-in-law carrying a sperm donor syringe. It was followed by an open studio weekend with the opportunity to have your picture taken with the brides.
The Would/Lands piece consisted of fifteen individual sculptures/costumed characters:
A Maiden in Dis Dress, The L’astro-nut, Miss Ills Dottywood, Sir Veillance, Trojan Rabbit, DUMB/ME, Posted Girl O No, The Critic, The Family Trees, AlphaPat Suit!, Da Virgin, Kneepoleon’s Foot Soldiers, Acrobat On the Edge, and herself as the Bloviating Bore-acle. The installation opened with a costumed performance and ended two months later when Pat returned to perform a ritual burning of her Would/Lands creatures.
Early years of Public Art at WSW
The confines of the original space encouraged us to develop a series of off site public programming that featured the work of women artists.
The first public arts event in 1979 was Flying Objects, a day-long event held at the New Paltz Airport. Artists were invited to create pieces that in some way reacted to the air. In the months leading up to Flying Objects, free kite-making workshops were held across the county.
Art Off Track presented sculptures in the woods along the Delaware and Ulster Rail Ride in Margaretville, NY.
With the support of CETA (Comprehensive Education and Training Act) grants, WSW produced Women’s Work in Film and Video, a long-standing series of topical films made by women filmmakers. These free film screenings and exhibitions were presented in nontraditional art spaces like laundromats.
Roadworks used CETA funds to hire unemployed artists and engage them in developing art projects for installation along roadways and other public sites around the county. A companion CETA project also hired artists to create prints for permanent installation in public sites around the county.
Flashlight was produced in 1987 as a town-wide celebration of winter. WSW hired Donna Henes to come to WSW to work in residence with youth from the Rosendale Youth Center creating a series of snowflakes strung with lights, one for every resident in town. Neighbors were encouraged to participate by flashing their outdoor lights as the inaugural parade passed their home, and welcomed to the town-wide Flashlight party held at the community center.
Local youth were also engaged with the creation of Pumba, a cement rhinoceros that lives on the grounds of the Rosendale Community Center. Pumba, created by Judy Sigunick, began its life as a kiln where tiles with images of Rosendale’s history were fired. Working with kids from the Youth Center, Judy helped them create the mural that is housed there today.