|Catskills over Athens, NY, 8X6, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas. The grass is courtesy of a park worker who was string-trimming nearby. Not to worry; it will pick off when the painting is dry.|
When Nancy Woogen and I were painting at North –South Lake on Thursday, a woman glided past us in her kayak. “Oh, you’re painters!” she exclaimed. “May I join you?”
Turns out she has been looking for her tribe. I introduced her to my pal Jamie Williams Grossman, chair of Lower Hudson Valley Plein Air Painters. We arranged to meet the following day at Site #9 on the Hudson River Art Trail, also known as Promenade Hill Park in Hudson, NY.
|A tug approaching the Athens-Hudson Lighthouse in the Hudson River.|
Like many upstate New York towns, Hudson went into decline after its primary industry was closed down, but its industry wasn’t the usual paper or steel mill. For a century, Hudson was notorious for vice. Its red-light district included 50 bars, 15 whorehouses, two major illegal horse gambling rooms and a big-stakes floating crap game—all in a community of just a few thousand people. A series of high-profile raids in 1951 put an end to that. Hudson slumped into the familiar pattern of decay.
|Power lines crossing the Hudson, 8X6, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas.|
It’s been gentrified since my last visit, driven into the inexorable real-estate maw of New York City. This is great for the landowners of Columbia County, and not so good for those who need to buy or rent houses.
I talked to an artist who commutes to Manhattan and who is considering relocating to Troy, farther upriver. “Two hours on the train I can handle,” she said. “But two and a half is just too much.” Having done my time commuting from Rochester to Manhattan, I understand.
I painted a half-day at Promenade Hill, and decided to start the trek back to Rockport, ME, where my commute is, well, nothing at all.