In my humble opinion

The secret garden

Posted 9/20/23

My job often leads me to out-of-the-way fun spots in the Upper Delaware River region. When I find people I know at one of those hidden gems, it’s even better.

Such was the case a few weeks …

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In my humble opinion

The secret garden


My job often leads me to out-of-the-way fun spots in the Upper Delaware River region. When I find people I know at one of those hidden gems, it’s even better.

Such was the case a few weeks ago, when I heard that River Reporter columnist Cass Collins would be hosting a garden party at her home in Narrowsburg, NY, celebrating a project she has created in collaboration with sculptor Naomi Teppich.

The Art Garden is “a unique outdoor sculpture garden” that she has installed on the beautiful, sprawling grounds of the house she shares with husband Jim Stratton. These days, one can find Cass strolling through the sculpture garden cooing to her new grandchild Rosie, and grinning from ear to ear.

I grabbed the opportunity to check out the art and have a chat with Cass during one of those strolls, as we perused the sculpture on display, and Collins gave me a peek into her world, and how it all came to pass.

JCF: The first question that comes to mind is—why?

CC: Herds of deer. Over the years, I’ve tried to plant things that are pretty to look at and the deer ate them all. So I started putting out small sculptural pieces and made a little garden bed to frame them.

JCF: By the looks of things, you’ve graduated to larger pieces. How did that evolve?

CC: Naomi and I would take bike rides and talk about life, art, children… and one day I said I’d love to have more sculpture in my yard to look at, and she thought that was a great idea, because she’s a sculptor. She invited me to see the work in her own yard, and I fell in love with one of her pieces, titled “Red Shrooms.” What I like about sculpture is when it has a sense of whimsy, and captures your attention. “Red Shrooms” is colorful and also slightly sensuous, so I ended up buying it.

JCF: That explains one, but there are quite a few more here now.

CC: After that, Naomi invited me to a sculpture show called Collaborative Concepts, which takes place on a farm that had lots of pieces—all designed to be placed outdoors. There were sculptures made of marble, bronze, plastic—all kinds of material. I met a lot of people there, and after Naomi introduced me to several of the artists, she and I started to discuss the concept of some of them showing their work here in the garden.

JCF: How did you make the leap?

CC: It wasn’t a leap, really. We have room and Narrowsburg is a town where people come to see art, so it seemed to me this would be a good place to showcase artists. It just organically evolved.

JCF: So, you and Naomi have actually teamed up on this garden project.

CC: Oh, yes, absolutely. We both know a number of artists, but since she’s a sculptor, she attends a lot of sculpture-specific shows. That’s her world and that’s how I met several of these people, including Bernie Klevickas.  He’s one of our newest artists and I love his work. He’s a welder for the City of New York and creates these sort of undulating sheets of aluminum.

We’re also featuring work created by Bibiana Huang Matheis, Barbara Galazzo and Carol Flaitz, Lisa Breznak, Martin Springhetti and, of course, Naomi.  

JCF: So, anyone can just come here to see the sculpture garden? No appointment necessary?

CC: Yes. It’s free and open to the public. 10 [a.m.] to 6 [p.m.] every day, all year long.

JCF: Wow. That seems insane. In my humble opinion.

CC: Maybe I’m just naïve, but I’ve never been accused of that in the past.

JCF: Do people just show up?

CC: Yeah, they show up. Even those who know me ask if it’s OK to simply come over to see the installation. “Yes. It’s open,” I tell them. “Bring your friends.”

JCF:  What’s the plan? How long will this installation be here?

CC: Two years is the general idea, but it’s always evolving. As some pieces sell, others take their place. The sculptures are for sale, but I don’t take a commission on anything. The artists think I should, but I don’t really want it to become a commercial venture.

JCF: What is the goal then? Is there one?

CC: Yes. The goal is simple. To help artists sell more art, and to expose the community to more kinds of art, too. The range [presented in the garden] is pretty wide—from representational to abstract. Art is very much a part of my life and always has been. Art expands our view of mankind and the world; it’s fun. Art adds to our pleasures, and I want other people to experience that.

You heard what the nice lady said. Go. See. Have fun. The Art Garden is located in the flats of Narrowsburg, NY, a 10-minute walk from the Narrowsburg-Darbytown Bridge. Parking is available on-site. For more information, email

Fun Fact: “The Secret Garden” is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in book form in 1911 after serialization in the American Magazine (November 1910 - August 1911). Set in England, it is one of Burnett’s most popular novels and is seen as a classic of English children’s literature.

sculpture, art, Narrowsburg, Cass Collins, Naomi Teppich


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