Try an Art Class *Free* at the Wallkill River School

From the archives - July 2011

Montgomery, NY: If you’re going 45 miles per hour on Rt 17K between Montgomery and Newburgh you are going way too fast.  Maybe you’re not breaking the law, but you are going to fly right by the Patchett  House – home to the Wallkill River School.  (See Map).

The building itself is a modern marvel.  The woman inside - Shawn Dell Joyce - is an accomplished pastelist and the director of the school.  She is delightful and welcoming - visit her for your own tour! (232 Ward St. Montgomery, NY)

Shawn opened her doors to me graciously.  Once inside, she toured me through expansive rooms basked in an abundance of natural light and stunning parlors with particular marble fireplaces. Original Victorian accents like elaborate molding and blond hemlock wrap-around railings are just a few of the timeless architectural components of this 200 year old house. The rooms are adorned with beautifully framed artwork – membership artists are featured deliberately in each space. I was blown away by the magnitude of the artwork (I didn’t realize that kind of talent was hanging out around town).  The class schedule is elaborate – there is something for absolutely everyone.  And, the creative concept – founded in a true love of the arts – is the essence of the Wallkill River School.

It’s a confusing name - the place is neither river, nor school (at least not in the conventional sense) and carries a Montgomery address.  The project was derived from the legacy of The Hudson River School which was the first artist-activist movement dating back to the year 1850.  The modern designation of the Wallkill River School is a non-profit artist cooperative.  In other words they aim to provide functional, beautiful space where genuine artistry can flow freely. They aim to benefit everyone - including you!

The school is home to a Plein Air Workshop (I’ll explain in a minute), crocheting, painting classes, drawing instruction,  and kid classes like Claymation – even a class entitled “I can’t even draw a stick figure!”.  (That's right up my alley!). Classes are modestly priced and include membership – an entitlement which offers a long list of benefits at several different price points.  ($30-$1000)

Plein (French for Open) Air Workshop is a breathtaking concept where paint meets canvas in an endless panoramic scene. The school has scouted out locations that change monthly and include farms, meadows and forests throughout the Hudson Valley.  Students meet together for a morning paint in pastel, acrylic, oil or watercolor depending on the teacher.  New instruction is  rotated in weekly to provide a dynamic platform for brazen artwork in various techniques.   (Week-by-Week Schedule is available).

To add beauty to the mission of the Wallkill River School, they are also founded in an agricultural revolution – a mission the Hudson River School also shared.  Plein Air Workshop serves as an ode to this purpose by linking artistry and agriculture on a cognitive level.  The patronizing of local farms and consuming local produce is a cause near and dear to the heart of the school and Shawn as well.  The program is such that teachers end their classes by treating students to a locally grown lunch.

If you are an artist, are thinking you’d like to become an artist or just don’t even know how to draw a stick figure, the Wallkill River School is the next step for you!

And they are offering everyone an opportunity to try a Plein Air Workshop class. FREE. 

If you are between the ages of 13 – 20 you may also be eligible for the “free teen” program which includes a black and white photography course, intro to drawing, cartooning and painting.

A $10 art class is scheduled each Tuesday in July – free to seniors

If you prefer to call : 845-457-2787