With some of the most beautiful and bucolic scenery in the state of New York, Washington County excels in two principle areas of human productivity – farms and art. Readers of this blog have read and seen a fair amount on some of Washington County's finest farms, but I haven't written much on the area's formidable art scene.
This past weekend the second annual Washington County Open Studios Art Tour took place with artists around the county opening their studios to visitors. With a graduation party on Sunday and cooking for an anticipated crowd of 50-100 people, i did not have the time to partake of the whole tour. I did, however, pay visits to two studios representative of the exceptional quality of art produced in the area.
My fist stop was at Leslie Parke's studio in lovely Cambridge, N.Y., about 30 minutes east of Saratoga Springs. Leslie, who has been painting since the mid-70's has embraced a number of styles over her career from photo realism to complete abstraction and a number in between. Amazingly, she paints in all those styles with a keen eye and consummate skill. We commissioned Leslie a few years ago to paint portraits of our three sons as well as all of us together. She did an incredible job then of capturing our individual nuances. Some of her most recent work is a continuation on what she did with us, playing with light on water. In addition, she has done amazing work with trees and elements of the natural world. Walking through her studio was like walking through a gallery of a number of equally talented artists, each with a different style and viewpoint. The continual evolution has served to keep her work fresh and ever stimulating.
After completing some errands and starting my drive home, I stopped at the studio of Gyula and Hannie Varosy in Cossayuna, N.Y. The Varosy's, a husband and wife pair of complementary artists, moved to their country home in the late '80's to raise their two daughters and commit themselves to their artistic endeavors. Gyula, Hungarian born and a Pratt Institute trained artist and architect, designed and oversaw the construction of my own home in the early '90's. In addition to the physical structure of the home, his influence extended to a number of items of hand-built furniture, sculpture and drawings. Dutch-born Hannie, who has an incredible eye for design and color, paints, draws and works with mundane smaller objects such as cigar boxes, transforming them into whimsical, but not sentimental or overly "precious" artistic expressions. Their eldest daughter, Clara, has channeled their abundant artistic energy into a budding career of her own. Now studying at Pratt, she also displayed some of her extremely promising work at the show. While Gyula has focused most of his creative time sculpting wood, bronze and plaster into colorful, amazing, erotic and sometimes frightening shapes often influenced by the world of mythology, it has been particularly fascinating to me to witness the evolution of their home and studio over the years from a lovely, but somewhat ordinary farmhouse and barn into an extraordinary landscape and gallery perfect for exhibiting their collective creativity. The two most recent additions include a specially designed and built exhibition space, that is a fantastic variation on an ordinary pole barn, and a nature trail along a brook and through woods, in which Hannie, in particular, has converted the wood's detritus into a serene gallery of nature.
If not already doing so, I would suggest keeping an eye out for next year's Open Studio Tour dates to make a visit to washington County to inspect these and the other outstanding studios in the area. At the same time, one can visit some of the great farms and farmstands of the area and partake of their splendor and bounty as well.