Open Studios Paints a Picture of New-and-Improved Newburgh

The City of Newburgh's 2nd Annual Open Artist Studios was quadruple the show that last year's was - bringing in viewers from as far away as Paris to tour the 25 walkable square blocks that encompassed the presentation over the weekend.

Visitors enjoyed the tour through some of Newburgh's most decorated and intriguing properties (even the old Regal Bag Factory opened their gates for this!) to eyeball the prolific works of over 30 local artist in the city of Newburgh.

Octopus' Garden on display at the Newburgh Brewing Company

I took full advantage of a fall day more perfect than could be painted - the air was still and the trees still lush with summer green....

The Tour begins at 5 Grand St.

Tourists and art lovers picked up maps to the city at Newburgh Art Studio - owners Michael and Gerardo were curators of the event. According to their report Saturday's numbers neared half-a-thousand visitors and the Wherehouse staff confirmed that the lunch rush on the corner of Liberty St/Ann St. was unprecedented.

Artist Erika Walker on display at the Wherehouse

Just down the street, Roy Spells was opening the door to visitors at the Foundry. Spells sits on the board of directors at the condo community on Johnes St. - participation in the Open Studios was a dry run to see if the art shows are a good fit for the space in the coming year. Then, a painting caught my eye so I asked about this lovely lady perched on the railing. That's when Greg Burak formally introduced me to his still life replica of his long-time friend Elma (oil on canvas). Greg's typical piece takes nearly a month to complete.

Rachel Weidkam who's work was also on display in the Foundry foyer showed me her tribute to her sister - acrylic on burlap. As an artist, Rachel is typically inspired by old film - like in the portrait below - but she also dabbles in watercolor.

Down by the waterfront DJ Far East was spinning in Will Teran's artist loft. I enjoyed splendid views of the Hudson from his third floor apartment - the walls draped in grand imagery of his life's work .... Will was away on business but, that did not stop him from answering the call for an open artist invitation with some party music..

Around the corner, Jae Connor - a tattoo artist from Boontin, NJ has just arrived. Despite negative "Newburgh" headlines in a google search.. the shop owner at Electric Lotus tattoo parlor - made the hour long trek with his kids Aiden (9) and Grace (5) in tow .. he laughs a bit as we round the corner of Washington st. - beautiful park landscape in view, crowds of people touring around us - so I briefly explain the state of revival to put it all in context. The conversation is fleeting - in just a few minutes he will be shaking hands with his artist inspiration - Thom DeVita who's mixed media art is being displayed on the Open Studio circuit..

Jae studies DeVita's brush strokes -

DeVita's celebrity dates back to the 1960's - where he worked for nearly 50 years on the Lower East Side as a world renowned tattoo artist. DeVita now resides here with his wife and was a source of pride for event organizers and a cherished member of the artist tour.

Graceland Tattoo's Adam Lauricella (left) show off his Thom DeVita (right) original print

My last stop was the Regal Bag Building who's mighty gates had been left open for Open Studio visitors. The second and fourth floors were bursting at the door seams with half-a-dozen artists on display in rooms up and down a blinding white hallway that seemed endless. I discovered a body of work in concentric circles by Jill Baroff upstairs and stayed long - wondering if an iPod could be crocheted out of this yarn ball of ear buds.

Pleasantries were exchanged during the passing-by of many groups of curious wanderers. I loved most of all an interaction with a young twenty-something from Cornwall named Christina.  When asked about her rendezvous in the city streets of Newburgh she went on the record saying, "It's gotten a lot better."

Congratulations to all of the participating artists, venues and sponsors including but not limited to : The Wherehouse, The Newburgh Brewing Company, Mixture Prints, Granite Factory, Crawford House, Ann Street Gallery, The Healing Arts Studio, Scenic Arts, the Foundry as well as Joan, Shiela, Debbie and Amy Kaplan.

"Got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time."

Article by Stefanie Pearl