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December 09, 2016
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All work and no play?

Sullivan County 2014 pageant winners Samantha Shaver-Ruff, left, Lorna Dewitt, Ariana Kaminski and Amanda Rampe were on hand at the 24th annual kite festival strolling the grounds and posing for pics with their fans.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

No, that can’t be right. Some folks think my life is all play and no work, but that doesn’t quite fit either. I believe that my busy schedule of concerts, art shows, festivals and parades suits me, and as the dog and I careen through the four counties, 60 communities and two states that serve as the territory we cover for The River Reporter here in the Upper Delaware River region, I would prefer to think that although I may be a lot of things, dull isn’t one of them. Nor is my events calendar, which is quickly filling up. Now that spring has sprung, I’m going to have to make some tough choices in the next few months, selecting one from column A and one from column B, in an effort to report on the array of artistic endeavors that dot the landscape, all of which contribute to the rich tapestry that is life in the Catskills.

The past week has served as a great illustration of how colorful and varied that tapestry can be, with an art show, a kite festival and the world premiere of a new play to see. There were other choices of course, and I’m assuming that some of you attended some of them and I’d love to hear about it. Call me. Meanwhile, I’ll try to describe my adventures with the Wonder Dog, without sounding (ahem) dull. The campus lawn at Sullivan County Community College (www.sullivan.suny.edu) was slightly moist and somewhat squishy last Saturday from all of the rains of late, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit or deter families from flocking to the 24th annual kite festival, which as always, drew a huge crowd. The Loch Sheldrake Fire Department was on hand to cook up traditional festival fare, along with Hog Heaven’s barbeque, Italian ices, cotton candy and more, as hundreds of enthusiasts let their kites take flight in what turned out to be perfect weather conditions for flying. The festival is free, made possible by the generous sponsorship from SUNY Sullivan in conjunction with Jeff Bank, Thunder 102, WSUL/WVOS Radio and the Sullivan County Visitors Association. As usual, the pup was recognized throughout the day, and she posed for pics with the kids before getting her very own hot dog, while I rested my weary bones.

The clever couple behind the Green Door (www.greendoormag.com) held an open-door closing party in Liberty, NY last Sunday, and since I had missed the art show when it opened, I took advantage of catching it just before it closed. The exhibit, titled “I Wasn’t Young When I Left Home,” featured the new work of artist WM Landau, which he describes as “addressing the significance and importance of structures that surround me, in and around this area,” including his artistic interpretations of cabins, barns, bungalows and work sheds. “All of the paintings here were readied specifically for this space,” Landau told me, “and many of them are inspired by the patchwork patterns of farmland that abound. I’ve loved having my work (www.wmlandau.com) on exhibit here at Green Door,” he continued. “Unlike many gallery spaces that can be perceived as sterile environments, Akira and Ellie Ohiso have created a space that is incredibly warm and inviting.” Landau’s work is (IMHO) inviting as well, and although this particular exhibit has closed its doors, his art abounds throughout the region, so we’ll keep an eye on him.

I perceived a pattern emerging as Dharma and I headed to South Fallsburg, NY (www.scdw.net) and the world premiere of local playwright Bill Duncan’s “HolyHolyHoly” at the Rivoli, which is playing through this weekend, featuring Albee Bockman, Darren Fouse, John F. Higgins, Mike Gastwirth, DeLois “Cookie” House, Leif Johansen, Carol Montana and Ellen Pavloff. The play tackles a lot of issues (religion, civil rights, child molestation, birth/death to name but a few), and an informal discussion with the cast and crew following the show revealed that Duncan “fell into directing the show” as well as writing it, which may have gotten in his way. There are some really good moments in the play, and some outstanding performances as well, but I left the theatre a bit confused and befuddled, unsure of the message that Duncan wanted to convey. The show follows the lives of three disparate men involved in various aspects of the clergy, all of whom have issues. The women in their spheres play an important role in the direction their lives take and the storyline is sometimes tough to follow as the time period fluctuates from the past to the future, but never the present. Higgins is outstanding, with solid performances by House, Gastwirth and Montana, but I found the show as a whole to be overwritten and under-directed, in need of some editing and a keener eye for detail. Still, it’s interesting, but I’m not sure that the playwright ever made a decision of what direction he wanted the story to take. Both comedic and dramatic, the story wobbles a bit, but has merit, to be sure. The poster claims that “It’s not what you think,” and although it is a worthy play, it could use a little work.