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I’ve written all sorts of Valentine’s Day columns over the years. In an effort to not repeat myself, I re-read several over the weekend, having pulled them from the archives here at The River Reporter. It wasn’t long before a theme emerged. Apparently, I’m not a big fan of the “L word.” Some essays were snarky, others were rude. One was downright nasty, dripping with sarcasm, and I momentarily squirmed—a little uneasy in my easy chair, as it were. “Wow, man,” I thought. “No wonder I’m single. I’m surprised the dog hasn’t left me by now.” Reading on, I looked at past titles like “Love is a four-letter word,” “Stop, [please stop] in the name of love” and my all-time personal favorite: “Bitter, party of one—your table is ready. Bitter?”
Determined to find a more constructive way to write about love this year, I called my “plus one,” Rachelle, and made plans to go out for the evening. “I do love art,” she said when I told her where we were going. “And the Narrowsburg Union is cool,” she enthused. “I’m in!” Self-described on its website as “An historic property with a modern spirit,” the Narrowsbug Union is indeed, very cool. The 30,000 square foot “mixed use” building features “flexible spaces designed with an eye to meet the needs of creatives, makers and professionals.” As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a commercial kitchen that small business and startup bakeries can utilize. Oh, and an art gallery. There’s more—including workshops and a large party venue— but it was the Union’s “4 Gallery” and featured artists Kevin Graham, Maureen Neville, Patricio Robayo and the inimitable wm landau that drew us last Saturday night.
“Let’s split up,” I said to Rachelle. “We’ll meet up somewhere in the middle.” The gallery is comprised of four expansive connecting hallways, and this exhibit, which runs through the end of March, is impressive. Graham’s pen and ink drawings, hanging in The Owl Gallery, were new to me. “The goal,” his bio states “is to tap into the unconscious and to reveal uninhibited personal expression in its most honest form.” Graham talked with me about his roots in music, and how his love of jazz inspires him to create “finely detailed embellishments that fill an arbitrary environment.” I may not understand the intricacies of Graham’s “process,” but I loved what he has created.
The Upper Delaware River region is home to many talented photographers, two of whom are presently represented in this group show. With titles including “Highway Grass,” “Stop Sign” and “Pelham Bay Park,” Patricio Robayo’s photographs reflect his early years growing up in the Bronx. “I feel as though I’m exploring my own life through the photographs,” he said at the reception. “So I am able to better explore not only who I am, but the world around me.” I love it when I can actually understand the subtext. Right on cue, Rachelle rounded the corner and grabbed me. “I want your opinion” she said. “I’m thinking of buying a photograph. Come look!” Maureen Neville’s exhibit, “Places I Belong,” is quite lovely and her photos, titled “Callicoon Winter,” “To the Lighthouse” and the picture in question, simply called “Barn,” are evocative of her years in Key West where she “fell in love with island life,” and the landscapes that inspire her here in the mountains of Pennsylvania. “I love taking pictures,” her bio simply states. It shows.
If ever there was a guy who loves what he does, it’s Hankins, NY artist-in-residence wm landau, and his “love for the letter and the word, even the questionable,” according to landau’s program. Working with wood and fabric, landau’s colorful pieces literally illustrate “poetry, prose, some mischief, some nonsense and some send-ups.” Language is landau’s inspiration and his use of titles like “Art is Really Good!,” “Who You Be,” and “Must You?,” elevate his humor, penchant for puns and devotion to political satire in an artistic, appealing and thought-provoking manner. To know him is to love him. IMHO.
For more on this exhibit, services, programs and upcoming events, go to: www.narrowsburgunion.com.
Kevin Graham’s abstract pen and ink drawings “reveal uninhibited personal expression in its most honest form.”