Historic Art Exhibit Comes to Elting

New Paltz is packed with historic landmarks, and beautiful ones at that.

The Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz held a competition this past week, which included artwork exhibiting the themes of “preservation, and life within a historic context” of these landmarks, according to Hudson Valley One. This competition was co-sponsored by the library and the New Paltz Historic Preservation Commission for the past five years.

According to commission member and exhibit coordinator Kamilla Nagy, the HPC approached library director John Giralico with the idea. 

“Mr. Giralico has been instrumental in the success of the event, providing exhibition space and help with arranging the display,” Nagy said. “It is an added bonus that the library itself is an important historic landmark and a great example of preservation.”

The HPC’s mission, according to their website, is “to protect, enhance and perpetuate the heritage of the Village of New Paltz.” This art competition exemplifies this mission in its entirety.

Nagy was the driving force of the competition and has been the exhibit coordinator for the art show since its debut.

“I came up with the idea for the show as a way to engage the public a bit more in historic preservation, and familiarize locals with the Historic Preservation Commission of the Village of New Paltz and our work,” Nagy said. “I was in charge of submissions and curating the artwork, printing our program for the show and approaching potential judges.”

Nagy was inspired to direct this event when she was thinking of ways to promote the preservation of architectural heritage in New Paltz. She believes an art show engages the public, while also allowing artists in the area to showcase their talent.

“Connecting people to our historic landmarks seemed like a great combination,” Nagy said. “The show usually features landscapes as well, and historic buildings not just in New Paltz, but in the greater Hudson Valley area.”

Chair of the Village HPC, Thomas Olsen, also agrees that this event showcases local artists, while “promot[ing] positive thinking about architectural preservation in our community.”

This year, the competition saw 37 submissions which Olsen explained as typical for the show. This year, however, the quality of submissions was very high.

“Submissions are open to everyone, and we try everything we can think of to get the word out (press releases, social media, direct contact, etc.),” Olsen said. “Still, we would welcome more student submissions and actively encourage SUNY artists to submit.”

There is a core group of artists who have participated in all the exhibits, Nagy said. This group includes Camille Fischer, Lana Privitera, Donna Rutlin, Judy Stanger, Maureen Rogers, Katherine Gray and Kevin Cook. Besides from normal submissions, there are new artists each year as well.

The competition was separated into three categories, which included painting, drawing/mixed media and photography. Within the different sections, there are certain guidelines followed by all judges.

First, the theme of the show is the most important, as the art submitted must be inspired by “historic landmarks, landscapes, architectural details and life within a historic context,” Nagy said. Then, the expression of the art regarding its historical value is looked at.

Other criteria include the artist’s point of view (literal or metaphorical), and if there is something catchy about the piece. The last judgment criteria focuses on technical skill, which includes color scheme and composition.

After the panel of judges deliberate on which pieces they believe should be considered winners, they are announced about a week into the art exhibit on a Saturday at the Opening Reception. The walls of the Ron Steinberg Reading & Meeting Room were covered in submission artwork at the reception, with a few tassels hanging denoting first through third place winners based on the section.

“The artists are invited of course, and many residents attend the reception as well,” Nagy said. “If a winning artist is unable to come to the reception, the HPC contacts them with the good news.”

In the photography category, the winners were Agnes Devereaux (first) with “New Paltz Noir,” and William Powe (second and third) with “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Misty Morning.”

In drawing and mixed media, Maureen Rogers (first) with “Nyquist Harcourt Sanctuary,” Judy Stanger (second) with “Reservoir Approach” and Katherine Gray (third) with “Home!”

 Lastly, in the painting category, the winners were Lana Privitera (first) with Back of the Hasbrouck House, Mary Ottaway (second) with Mohonk from Pine Road and Mira Fink (third) with Firemen’s Hall: Flatiron Building.

Cami Fischer took home the Best in Show award in 2019 for her piece “Lenape Lane: Gatehouse Road to Mohonk Mountain.”