Over the River and Through the Woods
Hudson River Valley Art Workshops is located in Greenville, New York, 30 miles south of the State Capitol of Albany and 15 miles north of the town of Catskill. You need to make note of this when you come this way…because there are actually FIVE towns named Greenville in the state of New York.
Greenville is a very small town, there’s not much going on here and that makes it the perfect place to come and immerse yourself in an art weekend. The students eat breakfast and dinner together in the dining room. A five day class includes a six night stay at the Inn with 24-hour access to the studio space. Make art, eat, sleep (or not), repeat. Owner and Chef Mark LaPolla told us at dinner that at one time, the Inn was the largest employer in town. He joked and added to that “Everyone else works at one of four Dollar Stores.”
Welcome to Greenville
In the center of town there’s a library, and across from it you will find a used books store. As soon as the students realized the used book store was within walking distance of the Inn, everyone made their way there at lunch. Christine was very happy to have so much traffic in the middle of the week. The students were now excited to shop for old books that could be torn apart and painted for collage. I now give you all permission to become hoarders.
Small Town Charm
On the first night I was here, the fire alarm went off loud enough for everyone in town to hear. I didn’t think much of it but asked Mark in the morning. He explained that there are several towns that work together out here, and that the fire departments are volunteer. “If there’s a fire in a neighboring town, the alarm goes off so that they can all pull together from neighboring towns.” Life in a small town, the population here is listed as 3,000 but Mark tells us that includes a large geographical area that spreads way out from the center of town. And we ARE in the CENTER of town here, we enjoyed a fire works display from the dinner table on our first night, in celebration of Greenville Day.
World Class Dining
Kim and Mark LaPolla go out of their way to bring amazing artists here to the Greenville Inn to teach at their Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. The lineup for next year includes some very heavy hitters such as Jane Davies, Bob Burridge, Skip Lawrence, and Alvaro Castagnet. Not only is the art experience wonderful, but every meal is an experience in culinary creativity. In the mornings we enjoyed the breakfast special or eggs a-la-carte. We were encouraged to try the poached eggs, which were perfect. Where else are you going to get a really good poached egg? Mark asked us rhetorically. And thank you Regina for your amazing service!
All of the quilts on the beds and the fiber art hanging on the walls in the rooms are by Kim LaPolla. Kim’s own art inspired her to build the art workshop business with her husband Mark 12 years ago, they packed their bags and relocated to Central New York from the Bay Area in California.
Chef Mark’s dinners were amazing and included Alaskan salmon, steak Diane, New Zealand lamb tagine with couscous and dried fruit, Italian breaded chicken breast, smoked salmon chowder, corn on the cob, oven roasted cauliflower, steamed green beans, house baked break, an extensive wine list, decadent desserts including house-made green tea and banana saffron ice cream (beet chocolate cake with boiled icing, anyone?). And as if we had not already gained five pounds this week, every afternoon at 2:30 we were treated to warm cookies (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin) with coffee and tea. As the week rolled on, students watched the clock for cookie time!
OMG I ate a fresh baked cookie every day, and they were the size of my head.
Thank goodness for sketchy waisted skirts.
Make Art, Eat, Sleep, Repeat…
Despite all the eating and some sleeping, we did manage to spend endless hours in the Carriage House Studio. Students were in class with me from 9am to 4pm, but the studio space is open and available to them all day and night. I can say that our two day students were the only ones who arrived early to work, but the students who stayed on site at the Inn often stayed in the studio working late into the evening. They arrived to breakfast bleary eyed in the morning.
On Monday night we gathered to work and watch (or listen) to the presidential debate. There are no TVs in the rooms here at the Inn, there is a TV on the wall in the studio, and one in the main house upstairs sitting area. We didn’t spend much time in the sitting area, so we watched in the studio. The wonderful thing about this group was that everyone respected each other’s political views. No one argued about the debate, we didn’t talk politics at dinner, and we agreed to disagree when we had to.
Far and Wide
In addition to my arriving here from Florida, we had Bev and her husband from Pennsylvania, Anne and her husband from New York City, Jody and her daughter Molly from Colorado, and others from the surrounding New York State area including Wurtsboro and Patchague. Molly actually lives in Denver and I hope to see her and Jody next year at Art Makers Denver!
One of things I enjoy most about teaching is all the wonderful people I get to meet. Jody is a cattle rancher in Wray, Co. We learned much about cows this week (a cow, vs. a steer, vs. a bull), and we learned the Molly had enough of cows and moved to Denver after earning her degree and studying abroad in Australia.
I also have to share that Linda and Anne are both returning students. Linda took my class in Penn Yan, NY and Anne traveled all the way to Sedona, AZ from New York City. Anne told me that it was a big deal for her to make it out West all by herself, but that she was determined to take my class that year. I am so grateful for everyone who takes my class, but I’m also humbled and honored by those who choose to take it a second time (or a third, or a fourth…) Thank You!
All Good Things
Tonight is our last night, we’ve enjoyed our farewell dinner and tomorrow after breakfast we will check out and make our way home. But tonight, we are back in the studio again. Making more paper, finishing touches, visiting, enjoying common ground.
We’ve had an amazing week, we’ve ripped and glued, learned new things, and made new friends. There’s still a group breakfast in the morning… I’ll be dreaming of the perfect poached eggs on toast.
I’m looking forward to heading home to Florida too, I’ve been gone too long.
for being a part of
My Art Journey,
Italy 2017 Retreat!