Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hudson River Explorers

Back to my MetroNorth day now!

 Seeing the newly-"daylighted" Sawmill River and the science barge were bonuses enough to merit their own post, but the real purpose of my trip last weekend was a visit to the Tarrytown train station and the Hudson River Museum to see an absolutely beautiful new public art installation (a commission from MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design) by Sebago's own sailing committee co-chair, Holly Sears, and a related set of prints at the museum. The museum exhibit is gone now (Sunday was the last day) but the beautiful glass panels in the overpasses at the Tarrytown train station are up for as long as they last, and if you're ever in the area, they're really worth a visit. Don't forget - click on any picture for detail!


Holly's a great sailor and a great sailing instructor, and she and her husband and co-chair Jim have done amazing work in building a small-craft sailing program at Sebago (I may have been bummed out about how I did in Sunday's sail but really, the chance to learn to sail a whole entire boat all by myself was a big draw for staying at the club even after storage reopened at my abruptly-shuttered original home base in Chelsea, and although I'm still a much better paddler than sailor, I really, really enjoy this different way of playing on the water). On top of that, she's an amazing artist, too. You can see more of her work at


First time I really saw any of her paintings was a few years back when they had a winter meeting of the sailing committee at their apartment -- she had a couple of big pieces hung in the living room and they were just gorgeous, that was a while back but I'm picturing sort of floating assemblies of shells and stones and driftwood, sharply, cleanly detailed, the surface of the painting absolutely smooth and glossy but the image deep-looking, like you were looking into very clear pool on a day without a breath of wind - only of course hanging on a wall.

This effect is created by her choice of medium; she herself describes it like this on her site: "Oil glazing tends to create a mirror-like surface that can produce a luminous depth and at the same time shows the history of the making in the surface of the painting - a plastic effect that allows a painting to engage the viewer in an abstract and formal way upon close inspection." I haven't got the art vocabulary to think of it that way, but now that I've read that...yeah, that's it. You can get some idea from her website but even the best monitor can't really do a painting justice.

According to the catalogue she gave me, Holly actually got the commission in 2010 - I suppose I should be surprised that I didn't know anything about it until this summer except that I'm really not! Holly's a fairly reserved person - really nice, but not one who goes around tooting her own horn much; I don't tend to ask a lot of questions myself (it's not that I'm not curious about other people, and if you've been reading this blog a while, you know that I definitely like art, it's just that I don't like to be nosy), and besides, at the club, I think we all really have this tendency to sort of shed our other selves at the gate - we're all there because we love boats and boating, and that's just naturally what we all end up talking about. 


Looking out at the river and the Tappan Zee Bridge on the stairs down from the North Overpass. South next!

Partway through the summer, though, with the panels installed at Tarrytown and the public and press began to rave, Hudson River Explorers started to appear on Holly's facebook page with increasing regularity. I think the first link I saw was a Tarrytown Patch article with pictures that once again just made me go "Ooooh!" - then there were more reviews, more friends of hers congratulating her, then swimming elephants began appearing in the subway...really great stuff!

Owls (sorry I cut this one off so badly!)

I started to make vague plans to go see this sometime. I have a good friend who lives in Wappingers Falls, was thinking maybe I'd stop to check it out sometime on my way up to visit her - 

Hawks, Tappan Zee Bridge, and Owls

but then I found out that there was an exhibit at the Hudson River Museum ( ) that was closing on Sunday the 14th. Now, the Hudson River Museum has been something I've been interested in visiting for a very long time; they have a great collection of Hudson River School paintings (what local paddler isn't a total sucker for dramatic stormscapes in the Highland?) and they also have a scale model of the entire Hudson River called the Riverama that I'd heard was really neat. It's a ways away though, and when I have been going to Yonkers in the past, it's usually been for a paddling thing, and I was never quite willing to take a train ride just to see the Riverama. But with Holly's exhibit and installation added to a prospective itinerary, I thought that might make for a really nice day! 

Elephants (this is the one that's been on all the posters)

I was originally going to go weekend before last, but then I thought of another thing I really wanted to do if I was going up that way - namely, catch up with a couple of old friends from the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club ( ). Knew they were both out of town the original weekend I'd been leaning towards; Pat was available this last weekend and that's how I ended up getting all the Yonkers extras!

It was actually tons of fun having Pat and Mark (Pat's S.O., he'd originally thought he would be working so wasn't part of our plans, but when it turned out there'd been a schedule foul-up, he joined us). Pat gave me the great mini-tour of Yonkers, we had lunch at Guapo, the Mexican restaurant that had taken over the space formerly occupied by the Mexican restaurant we always used to go to after rolling sessions at the Yonkers YMCA. A bit more upscale, but the food was still good (I got brave and had a tongue taco 'cause Pat said it was good, and it was!), they still had our traditional post-rolling beer (Negra Modelo), and it was still very reasonable. Then we headed on to the museum and station and that was REALLY neat. Pat is another wildly talented friend - she's a textiles engineer and works for Consumer Reports, and for fun, along with being an excellent paddler, she spins, dyes, weaves, quilts, knits, and her stuff is also all gorgeous. She's got a wonderful eye and it was tons of fun watching her look at Holly's stuff for the first time. I'd already become somewhat familiar with it - my first "Wow, that's amazing!" moment was back with the Patch article, I still loved it but Pat and Mark were seeing it for the first time, and Pat was just loving the weird size juxtapositions...

the mysterious proximities (are the porpoises flying, or are the little birds diving?)...


And just the way the panels glowed. She actually caught on more quickly than I did that seeing the panels in different lights would be interesting, too - we were up there a bit before 4, I think, and I just thought we'd caught the perfect time with the panes all lit up - Pat said she thought they'd probably change in interesting ways in different lights, and then on Sunday Holly really got to talking about the work and how she got the commission (an absolutely grueling competition, she was one of 9 who were in consideration, she said she spent 400 hours putting together her proposal, I assume that's work that the artist doesn't expect to get reimbursed for...) and when I mentioned the light, Holly said almost exactly what Pat observed, that the panels weren't just meant to be observed in the direct illumination of the late afternoon sun, but in all sorts of lights. 

Swimmers (again, wish I hadn't cut this one off...), Tappan Zee Bridge, and Swoop - leaving the South Overpass. 

I have one more set of pictures to share from this trip - Holly's exhibit plus the other neat stuff at the Hudson River Museum - but it's getting very, very late and I need to turn in now, so I'll save those for another day!

And once again - if you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of the Tarrytown train station with a few minutes to spare, I really recommend a trip across the overpasses. These pictures just don't do it justice!


O Docker said...

Very cool stuff.

The birds and porpoises remind me of something you can see at the Monterey Acquarium, where a tank of sea otters is open to the outside and attracts local shorebirds.

We've all seen ducks dive under water, but here you can watch them underwater. Ducks will 'fly' around underwater, flapping their wings just as they do in the air. And they're fast! They 'fly' almost as fast underwater as above it.

And no, I haven't had a drop of wine yet today.

Baydog said...

But surely by now you have.