DATMOD Dress Rehearsal

On Tuesday I wrote about the Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama that will take place the first two weekends in August at Gelston Castle Estate in upstate New York. Last evening I was invited by Producer Kyle Jenks to photograph a few of the actors in costume. The rehearsals take place at the United Methodist Church on Golf Course Road in Amsterdam. Pastor Carl Chamberlin has graciously opened the doors of his church to the cast as well as other community groups interested in the Arts.

The costumes really brought the drama to life and the grounds of the United Methodist Church are very similar to those of the Gelston Castle Estate where the drama will be performed in August. As the actors put on their costumes, they immediately became the characters from the novel.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Entertainment, History, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , ,

Hot Club of Saratoga

Riverlink Park in Amsterdam came alive Saturday night with the sound of gypsy swing. Hot Club of Saratoga, upstate New York’s premiere gypsy swing quintet, played a repertoire reflecting the spirit and style originated by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli most prominent in the 1930’s. The band consists of Chad Tallman on solo guitar, Chuck Kish on rhythm guitar, Tucker Callander on violin, Jonathan Greene on clarinet and Dylan Perillo on string bass.

Thanks to the efforts of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, the Riverlink Concert Series presents free concerts every Saturday night at 7pm.



























Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Entertainment, Music, Outdoors | Tags: , , ,

Amsterdam’s Walter Elwood Museum

The Rao Center at 100 Church Street in Amsterdam, New York is home to the Walter Elwood Museum. This eclectic collection is part of Amsterdam’s history. Walter Elwood was an educator in the Amsterdam school district in the early 1900s. He traveled worldwide and brought back interesting artifacts to teach his students about world and natural history. This extensive collection was donated to the school district and an organization was formed to help care for and display this collection.

Ann Peconie is the Executive Director of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley. She and the museum board have done an excellent job displaying this collection for public view. Robert Going, Esq and Vice President of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley was kind enough to give me a tour of the museum on Saturday during the museum sponsored Amsterdam Farmers’ Market.

For more information about the collection as well as museum hours, please click on the above link.


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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, historic preservation, History | Tags: ,



Categories: Art, Photography, Technology | Tags: , ,

Amsterdam Celebrates Mardi Gras!


The Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation proudly hosted a Mardi Gras Dance Party fundraiser at the Creative Connections Arts Center last night. With a crowd of dedicated Riverlink Park Concert fans in attendance,the turnout was fantastic. This was the major fundraiser for the Waterfront Foundation who bring free concerts to Amsterdam every Saturday during the months of July and August. Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys brought the house down with Zydeco music that kept the dance floor full the entire night. Café Nola’s Creole creations even got the OK from the native Louisianans in the band.

The Art Center was transformed to a Mardi Gras inspired showcase. Special thanks go to Emily Gavry who painted the huge Bourbon Street mural that made the room come alive and to Marie Gavry who created the bead and mask centerpieces that graced each table and inflated balloons Saturday morning. Thanks to Evan Gavry who set up the audio equipment, partly owned by Evan with some rentals, and provided audio mixing the entire night. Thanks also to the City of Amsterdam for providing use of the Creative Connections Arts Center.

The Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation Board members responsible for organizing, promoting and running this fundraiser are Paul Gavry, Denise and Robert Terry, Jerry Skrocki and Dave Blaze.























Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Celebration, Entertainment, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About that Art Center…

Around this time last year, the City of Amsterdam, NY realized it owned a building recently vacated by St Mary’s Hospital Outreach Center. Several organizational meetings were held by Mayor Ann Thane to get public comments on just what to do with this building. There were several great suggestions including a Community Recreation Center. Through a series of missteps that did not include required approval from the Common Council, a handpicked committee was formed with the intended purpose of managing and running an Art Center. This committee then became a private entity that would have control of a city owned property again without any advice from the Common Council, the legislative body for the City of Amsterdam. Creative Connections became very non-communicative, refusing to hold public meetings and would not answer any of my email inquiries. Aside from a couple of art shows, there was little action from this committee or programming for the public.

Throughout this process, I recommended to both the Mayor and the Creative Connections Committee, that they get approval from the Common Council as required by law,before proceeding any further. My suggestion was ignored creating a great deal of animosity.

My earlier blog entries describing these occurrences can be found here and here.

At last nights meeting of the Amsterdam Common, a resolution was presented for approval that transferred funds to pay for furnace repair, carpeting and painting of the Creative Connections Arts Center. This brought about a long needed discussion by Council members about why they were never consulted regarding the use of this building.

I commend Alderman Valerie Beekman for standing up to the Council with a direct criticism of the way the Art Center has been handled, at the same time expressing the importance of continuing to move forward and do things the right way as an example to our kids. She pledged to donate the rest her salary to pay for expenses incurred.

Left out of today’s Recorder article describing last night’s Council meeting, was my formal request that one of our Aldermen propose a resolution dedicating the building at 303-305 East Main Street as a Community Recreation Center. The approval of this resolution would, by law, put the management under control of the City Recreation Committee and would allow them to directly receive funding and grants for programs and improvements. This would increase public confidence in the center by providing a documented, public flow of funding with no appearance of impropriety. It would also open the center for use by the entire community and allow the Recreation department to charge a usage fee, relieving some of the tax burden.

I believe my suggestion was taken seriously and that we will see some movement on this proposal.


Alderman Valerie Beekman authoritatively asserts that the Art Center be handled the right way as an example to our kids.


Amsterdam Recreation Director Rob Spagnola explains the Art Center repairs and upgrades to Amsterdam’s Common Council.

We also discovered at last nights meeting that the security camera systems donated by the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization last July were finally being installed by Michael R. Parillo. An example of the mounting device designed by Parillo is displayed in the next photo between Corporation Counsel Gerard Decusatis and Alderman Joe Isabel.


Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis, Alderman Joe Isabel, Alderman Valerie Beekman, Alderman Gina DeRossi

There is still time to buy tickets to the Mardi Gras Dance Party Fundraiser sponsored by the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation on Saturday, February 9, 2013, starting at 5:30pm. All proceeds go to fund the FREE 2013 Amsterdam Riverlink Park Summer Concert Series. You may buy tickets directly from the website


UPDATE: A Show Of Support

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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Law, Music, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mardi Gras Dance Party



Riverlink Concerts

Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Celebration, Entertainment, Music | Tags: , , ,

Eagle Mills Arts & Craft Show

Nestled on the banks of the Kennyetto Creek in Broadalbin, NY is the Eagle Mills Cider Company. This picturesque farm, only 22 minutes from downtown Amsterdam, is hosting an Arts & Craft Show this weekend and next. Eagle Mills is also a family fun place with activities for kids. I thought it would be a great way to enjoy a fall-like weekend with some friends who also share my love of photography. The event was free of charge although we were surprised with a $5.00 parking fee. The venue provided great subjects for photographing, baked goods and cider to take home.

Categories: Art, Entertainment, Outdoors, Photography | Tags: , , , ,

Amsterdam Photography Club

For those that may be interested, Amsterdam does have a Photography Club!  It is a very informal group with varying skill levels from beginner to pro.  There is always something new to learn at the Amsterdam Photography Club.  After just a few meetings, your photos will improve dramatically!  The club is moderated by Dr. Albert Fraser. There are no fees or dues to pay.

The club meets the first Thursday of every month, 6PM at the Coffee Beanery on Wallins Corners Road (across from Lowes).

This Thursday, September 6, at 6PM, professional commercial and landscape photographer Edward Smathers will be giving a presentation. Ed was the principal photographer in the newly published “Waterfalls of New York State,” a guide to over 100 waterfalls, beautifully photographed, mapped and described. This book is not only a great guide to finding the falls, it is also a beautiful coffee table book. Ed’s wife Jessica Painter is also a professional wedding photographer.

In honor of Ed’s presentation, I am posting my 1985 photo of Awosting Falls, located just outside of the Village of New Paltz in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve on the Shawangunk Ridge. It pales in comparison to Ed’s waterfall photography. I’m looking forward to getting a few tips to improve my technique. You should too!  Everyone is welcome to join our little group.


Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Outdoors, Photography, Technology | Tags: , , , ,

The Politics of Art

It was a great idea that has gone sour.  I wrote about the proposed Amsterdam Center for the Arts back in March of this year, when the city then realized it owned the building that formerly housed a mental health outreach Center for St. Mary’s Hospital at 305 East Main Street. Before that it was a furniture store and a church prior to that. Until last year, it was the polling place for two sections of the 5th Ward. The city had paid the utility bills for the building for years and did not realize that either.  No wonder the Controller is having such a hard time with the budget!

Mayor Thane proposed the space be used for an Art Center. I attended the meetings as I thought this would be great for our community.  As a published photographer who has had a few gallery showings of fine art prints, I realized there was no gallery space anywhere around here.  I decided I would support this effort and attended the planning meetings, made suggestions offered my help with photography and marketing. I had a lot of time and committee experience to give to the effort, until politics got in my way.

After a few meetings with the public, the Mayor decided to hand-pick an advisory committee headed by her former Administrative Aide Thom Georgia. The rests of the committee were women, many who did not take part in any of the planning meetings, but were personal friends of the Mayor.  The newly formed group met privately and would not answer any email inquiries.  They held one public meeting on June 7th where the committee members Thom Georgia, Julia Caro, Jessica Murray, Gail Talmage and Janet Tanguay introduced themselves and presented a mission statement. That is all they had for the interested public who had waited for some sign of progress from the group.  I had many questions, but they were not readily answered.  I asked what role the advisory board played and if the Amsterdam Common Council had approved of this endeavor. Georgia snidely stated, “We only answer to the Mayor.” Prior to establishing an advisory board, the Mayor contracted with an Urban Hip-Hop Dance group to use the center for dance lessons, without Council approval.

Today the advisory board announced they were now an incorporated private entity calling themselves, the Amsterdam Creative Canvas Foundation. The advisory board members were now trustees and another woman, Patrice Vivorito was also named a trustee. I do not know her as she has not attended any of the meetings.

It seems to me that the correct process is for the city’s legislative body to negotiate and approve contracts and use of city property with the Mayor acting as executive to sign the contracts.  I don’t see where this now private corporation has any authority to make decisions about the disposition or use of city property without the approval of the Amsterdam Common Council.

I was a big advocate of creating a community art center for the City of Amsterdam, as you can see in this earlier article, but I can no longer support this tainted effort. The public no longer has any input and micro-management has destroyed what should have been an inclusive democratic process.

I really thought Ann Thane could put party politics aside for the betterment of the community, but I was wrong. It was made very clear when she mistakenly sent me a copy of an email intended for Roberto Milan in which she labels me a looser.

Sour Grapes?


A newly elected member of the school board for the Amsterdam School District, a former City of Amsterdam Councilman and former Corporation Counsel agree with my assessment of this unsavory situation. The discussion of the Art Center takes place at 18:30 in the video.

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Human Rights, Law, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

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