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June is bustin’ out all over!

Wooden mask artist George Saj with two examples of his colorful works now showing at the BrookHouse Gallery.

May 31, 2012

Memorial Day weekend conjures up many images: backyard barbeques, flag-waving parades, garden parties and the requisite boat launches, as the lakes, rivers and ponds begin to swell with visitors swarming to the Upper Delaware valley. Many of us look forward to an extended, three-day siesta as the hammocks go up, and s’mores begin to waft through the night air.

I considered resting, but rejected the notion out of hand (that’s what winter is for). Here in the mountains, most of us wait until the end of May to begin our serious gardening, with confidence that Jack Frost has finally taken a hike. As the vegetables and flowers begin to climb toward the sun, I usually consider planting something, but rarely do. Fortunately, my neighbors dig in, providing me the opportunity to admire, without actually getting my hands dirty.

Over the years, I have strolled the gorgeous gardens at the Forestburgh Playhouse (, marveling at the show-stopping displays that producing director and Playhouse gardener Norman Duttweiler has created, so when I noticed that the “Miracle of the Forest” had been awarded a Sullivan Renaissance Phase 1 Beautification Grant, I pulled into the lot to check it out.

Not one to rest on his mountain laurels, Duttweiller had scheduled a morning to spend time with residents and fans who were anxious to help out with the project, which includes a new split rail fence, a children’s garden and renovation of the existing beds, borders and containers. Folks showed up (including Forestburgh town supervisor Bill Sipos) trowels in hand, and pitched in, knowing that the results will be, as always, spectacular. A second “volunteer day” is scheduled for June 2, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, so it’s not too late to lend a hand in anticipation of the theatre’s 66th season.

That same afternoon, the BrookHouse Gallery ( in Barryville, NY had scheduled a reception to present the “Wood Mask Collection” of artist George Saj. Never one to pass on hors d’oeuvres, I changed into shorts (Hot and Muggy, Attorneys at law) and made my way to the show. While chatting about the colorful, intricately carved masks with Saj, I noticed several of the gallery’s resident artists in attendance, including painter Beau Gostomsky, sculptor Janet Rutkowski, jeweler James Hawley and potters Ellany Gable and Carolyn Duke.