Thanks Again Washington County
By John R. Greenwood
|Foxfield Farm - Granville, NY|
I owe a lot to Washington County NY. It has come to my rescue time and time again. It has been a tough summer for me. There has been some family losses and more work than play, thus making it more difficult to recuperate. But, as it has in the past, the green pastures and farm scenes of Washington County have revived my spirit and brought me back peace of mind. The resuscitation began with the 2016 Washington County Fair. I didn't get to enjoy the rides, tractor pulls, or the displays, but that’s okay. It was my visit at 3:30am to pick up milk that brought my pulse rate and my outlook back on track. Passing by the darkened rides and curtained midway games was therapeutic. Picturing the change that would take place in the hours ahead brought a smile to my face. As I pulled in the back entrance to the waving flashlight beam of a man that had probably manned that same post for years, I waved back in a semi-salute of mutual appreciation for being early morning sentinels at this yearly late summer event. As I backed in to the milking barn to prepare the milk tank for pickup I scanned the dimly lit barns looking for an early riser. The cows stirred quietly, mooing a welcoming good morning to me. I saw the familiar sign of Lincoln Hill Farm right next door. The same farm where a tragic farm accident was overcome by the miracle of prayer and the farmer strong will of Lenny Austin. Lenny who just months earlier teetered at heavens gate refused the invitation and decided to stick around for what we all hope will be decades more county fairs. The strength of Lenny, his family, and the close knit network of friends and neighbors was an inspiration for any one with a ticking heart this summer. I can’t express how deeply I was affected watching the farming community rally around one man and his family. It was uplifting and the high point of the summer of 2016. My admiration for farmers and the communities where they reside has always been of the highest regard, but in this, my 61st year, it quadrupled.
|Heide Merecki and Sara Kelly |
at Lovejoy Hall on the Hubbard Hall Campus
Today I enjoyed another spirit quenching experience in the town of Cambridge NY. The Cambridge Valley Fine Art Tour was in its second day and there was one artist in particular that I had been wanting to meet. Matt Chinian was one of the seven artists in town who were displaying and selling their work all within the city limits. I apologize for not getting to visit all seven artists but heat and time took a toll and my wife and I had to cut our tour short. Before meeting Matt we did get to meet artists Heide Merecki and Sara Kelly in the Lovejoy Building on the Hubbard Hall Campus. Their work was wonderful as were their welcoming personalities. It was like reacquainting with old friends. Two more examples of Washington County hospitality that has been so supportive of my own work.
|Artist Matt Chinian|
We left these two lovely artists and headed out to meet Matt Chinian. Matt’s gallery is located next to his home. It’s a beautiful piece of property right on Main St. I’d been by it dozens of times on my way to Bedlam Farm, Battenkill Books, and Hubbard Hall. I knew where it was because I’d seen the sign out front. I never would have stopped by unannounced or without an invitation. The tour was the perfect opportunity to introduce myself. I’d become interested in Matt’s work because not only did his work resemble my favorite artist Jack Lewis, much of it was done along the banks of the Hudson River. For over a year I’ve wanted to show Matt, Jack’s work. I knew in my heart he would be as drawn to the painting and writings of Mr. Lewis as I was. I pulled into Matt’s back yard and parked the car. My wife was not feeling well so she relaxed quietly while I headed into the gallery to introduce myself. Matt came out of the gallery door as I approached. I instinctively said, “Hi Matt, I’m John Greenwood, aka “Raining Iguanas” from the blog and Facebook.” Although we hadn’t met before, it seemed like we had. I was the only visitor at the time so I took full advantage of it by blasting Matt with both barrels. I couldn't explain why I was so interested in his work fast enough. Matt is a quiet and mild mannered man. I was rattling on like a four year-old on Red Bull. The poor guy didn’t know what hit him. He was gracious and genuinely interested in my Jack Lewis, Hudson River connection. This was better than any ride at the fair. It was better than any ride at Disney for me. “I just happen to have a copy of, “The Hudson River” in the car Matt,” I interjected. He nodded and with two strokes of a paint brush I had it spread out on a table in Matt’s gallery looking for a similar painting in Matt’s collection. It didn’t take long to locate one. As I gently flipped the boxes of prints one scene stopped me in my tracks. It was a painting of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and the Hudson River done from the banks below the Olana Historical Site. It was almost an identical match to Jack’s painting in the Hudson River book done from the same location. There were over fifty years between the two paintings and I was enjoying them both equally. I had to have Matt’s rendition. I said, “I’ll take it!” Before we could go any further more visitor’s showed up cutting our talk short. I didn’t want Matt to miss an opportunity to make another sale so I stepped back. Later we made a commitment to get together at another time so we could talk in more detail about his work and the painting I wanted. It was like Christmas morning with a room full of presents you have to wait to open. Our meeting was much too short but it had enough content to pump me up for another week or two. I couldn’t wait to get home to write about it. That’s a bonus!
So, tomorrow morning when I return to the Washington County Fair Grounds to pick up the last milking I will scan the empty barns and the disassembled rides. I will replay my Sunday art tour. I will make a list of thank you’s to all the great people from the area who have decorated my life over the last few years. Jon Katz and Hubbard Hall got the ball rolling and it looks like it has no signs of stopping anytime soon.
|A sign found in Matt Chinian's Gallery|
Good advice I'd say