Dreams and fantasies from the Bethel Council of the Arts

Posted 2/8/23

NARROWSBURG, NY — The present exhibit by the artists of the Bethel Council of the Arts (BCA), titled “Exploring Worlds of Dreams, Fantasies and Symbolic Imagery,” gives regional …

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Dreams and fantasies from the Bethel Council of the Arts


NARROWSBURG, NY — The present exhibit by the artists of the Bethel Council of the Arts (BCA), titled “Exploring Worlds of Dreams, Fantasies and Symbolic Imagery,” gives regional artists an opportunity to welcome the New Year, welcome new members, and show work of a different dimension.

On display at the Narrowsburg Union (NU) until Saturday, March 4, it is curated by Nick Clemente of DesignLab in Loch Sheldrake.

Over 100 works are displayed, ranging from woodcuts and photographs to painted glass and abstract paintings.

Established in 2016 as a nonprofit organization to foster artistic expression, civic participation and economic growth, the BCA provides support to over 100 artists and advocates for culture. According to Clemente, “When the BCA lost its space in Kauneonga Lake, due to the sale of the building, the Narrowsburg Union forged a positive relationship with it.”

This is the third BCA show at the NU and features nine new artists. The artists show the power of the imagination and individual creativity that abides in our region.

Clemente said that his driving force as curator is to have “regional artists meet each other and to bring attention to young artists.”

He created a poster design of QR codes, accessible with a smartphone, to read websites, Facebook pages or email sites of each artist shown.

When it comes to his own work, the woodcuts are hand-created images first; then they are brought into a digital environment and laser cut by Catskill Laser Engraving n Hurleyville. They are finished with gold leaf by Joanie Nicole, making the final product a group effort.

His work, Clemente said, is inspired by dreams and many years of meditation.

Vincent Henry is a new artist. He synthesizes pen-and-ink, watercolor, and pencil work into detailed, “tattoo-like” pieces, influenced by Americana and Japanese-style tattoos. Natural elements are fancily blended with dragons, skulls and snakes.

Chris Ramirez’s works span three decades. He is an award-winning photojournalist, and his clients include the New York Times, Mercedes Benz, the Discovery Channel, and the Wall Street Journal. He is also an active firefighter, and recently has been creating content to promote volunteer firefighting and the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire’s Recruitment and Retention task force.

Ramirez’s photographs of dancers were taken during rehearsals at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, NY, in 2006.

Svetlana Askenazy displays what can be called “infinite time,” although she named it “Beyond Time.” A depiction of clocks without numbers and the inner gears represent infinity. Superimposed eyes “depict the soul,” she said.

Thong Keokham delightfully explains his use of acrylics. “My interest is in creating images and fantasies like the world around us, but ambiguous and abstracted. Shapes and colors intersect, overlap… to invoke imagination.”

Joanie Nicole, Clemente’s wife, specializes in painting on glass, which she learned from a master in Siena, Italy. In 1995, she began a company, “Light Curves,” that produces custom jewelry, stained glass windows and lighting fixtures. “As an artist, I was drawn to glass… a media which enhances the play of color and light,” she said.

The most enchanting of Mountaindale resident Lucas Hoeffel’s photographs are black-and-white depictions of sea foam and curved tides along the shore at Fort Tilden. Also well captured are bluish designs of ice formations in a wetlands area near Liberty.

He was born to a Brazilian-American family, and a move to Brazil in 2010 developed his connection to photography. His inspiration is from the phenomena of natural world designs which convey the presence of life or its absence, he said. “These sublime encounters touch almost beyond the grasp of reality.”

“The show also includes other outstanding works,” Clemente said. “The delicate art of Sharon Molloy are uniquely created circular pieces which seem to echo the wave-like patterns of nature and hint at the depths and origins of the universe. They are both playful and profound.”

There was so much to admire.

“The original pastels of Krishna Ralph Hilton seem to have a light source emanating from the media itself. His mandala-like structures evoke a sense of calm and joy,” Clemente said. “Krishna owns the Arati Store in Hurleyville, offering a variety of spiritual books, jewelry, beauty and health products.”

Catharina Christiana’s “wonderful photographs… seem to be inspired by the poems of Shakespeare and Pre-Raphaelites paintings,” he said. “Also featured are the fantastic worlds of William Rozar’s photo montages, the witty word play of William Landau and a sensitive woodcut created by Stephen Morse.”

Curiously unique are the talents of Robert Montagnese, a former beauty executive. A trip to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, in 2016 brought him to the St. Charles Bridge, where stands a statue of St. Margarita. By enlarging a photo of the head and applying oil paint, chalk, pencil and gold leaf, he created one of the highlights of the show.

The works of two artists not present at the opening caught my eye. Both artists are involved with “Happy Life Productions,” a diverse creative enterprise in Woodstock. Ice formations photographed by Kelly Sinclair are outstanding, and a painting called “Ganesh”(a colorful elephant brandishing a fiddle) by Mike DuBois is transcendental and worth studying.

The BCA is seeking a new home and can be reached currently at bcabethelart@gmail.com or elainedolginlieberman@gmail.com.

Bethel Council of the Arts, Narrowsburg Union, Nick Clemente


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  • designlab

    As curator of this BCA art exhibit, it was an honor and pleasure to collaborate with a group of artists that have created such spectacular work. The show is a true testament to the power of creative imagination and talent that exists in our region. The Narrowsburg Union is a fabulous venue to showcase these pieces. To learn more about the individual artists, go to this link to view QR codes with more information - http://freepdfhosting.com/94e2680e4d.pdf

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