The River Pool at Beacon IN The Hudson River Opens for 2018!

 The left side of The Beacon River Pool - eye level.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The left side of The Beacon River Pool - eye level.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

As you play at Riverfront Park, known since 2014 as Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park, you may have experienced the extreme desire to swim in the Hudson River to cool off. Well, now you can - because The River Pool at Beacon is open again this year! Starting in 2007, five years after submitting construction plans to New York State, the pool opened to the public for the first time. The river pool idea was originally proposed by the pool's co-founder, Pete Seeger, according to the pool's History page.

What's a River Pool?

The river pool is netted and shallow, with a net bottom designed by Meta Brunzema Architect P.C., a New York City-based design firm. You could crawl on it, with a child on your back, pretending you are an alligator gliding just under the water surface. Or you could sit or stand in the shallow water, enjoying the breeze off the water and gazing up or down the river, thankful you aren't in the traffic moving (or not moving) on the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge. Or, you could simply sit on the colorful plastic seats and bask in the sun, slipping further into the water as you're ready.

River pools aren't unique to this spot - they have been around since at least 1830, up and down the Hudson River - but they were removed after 1930 due to water pollution. Pete Seeger was a major advocate for cleanup of the Hudson River. Thanks to his efforts as well as many other organizations including Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper, the river has improved since then, and many groups and people continue to advocate in this direction.

Can Anyone Use the River Pool?

It's a free pool for all, thanks to support from individual donations, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Durst Organization, the Abrons Foundation, the Hudson River Foundation. The pool's organizers actually want to increase its size. They're working with another architecture firm to design a bigger pool, and they're talking with cities and towns to find the right location that offers agreeable environmental considerations.

What's It Like Swimming in the River Pool?

 The changing room at The Beacon River Pool.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The changing room at The Beacon River Pool.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

So fun. So relaxing. You're IN the river, just sitting there protected from the currents by the anchored netting. The pool is small, so you'll be near others as they dip in and out of the pool. The pool is also very shallow: An adult is up to their waist or thighs. The River Pool is fully staffed by lifeguards, and even has a changing room!

If thunder rolls in and you need to leave the pool and wait 30 thunder-free minutes to go back in, you could always shoot baskets at the park's basketball court, or play on the playgrounds. Or have a picnic on the grass (watch out for alllll of the goose poop).

An additional perk: Riverfront Park is very breezy, so you'll be cooled off quickly down by the river no matter what.

Is Swimming in the Hudson River Safe?

The Hudson River was contaminated by companies who dumped pollutants into it for many years. An ongoing effort to clean up the Hudson River has spanned several decades. As of today, it has reached cleaner levels, but is closely monitored by The River Pool at Beacon. Says a representative from The River Pool this year: "The quality in Beacon Harbor is definitely of concern. Beacon Harbor had a long run of low numbers. We hope this is a temporary situation. That said, the pool is off the north shore of Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. The water is tested every week by the county health department. We would not open if the water was not considered safe for swimming."

Swim For The Pool - From Beacon To Newburgh!

Fundraising continues for the pool with regular donations that you can make at any time, and during the 15th Annual Newburgh to Beacon Hudson River Swim, where you can sponsor a swimmer - or be a swimmer that people sponsor! See the Beacon to Newburgh Swim page for details.

Make a donation here to keep this all going, but don't worry if you can't. It was designed for all to be able to access and experience the Hudson River. See you at the pool!

Backyard Pool for Heat Wave - Blow It Up

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Call it a heat wave, or just call it summer in the Humid Hudson Valley. Either way, you're going to need water to dip into. If you are too dazed to get down to the River Pool in the Hudson River, then head to Rite Aid to get this big blowup pool. Adults can fit into it, as well as small mermaids. Mermaid tails aren't included, but you can get an actual one here. Swim for free in your backyard, or in the River Pool.

Be sure to pick up an air pump at Brett's True Value down on West Main Street (on the way to the Metro-North train station). The pump will make it a breeze to inflate the backyard pool!

Clearwater receives Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley grant for Sailing Classroom Equipment

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One of the Hudson Valley's best-known environmental organizations closed out the year with a bang. On December 27, 2017, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater was awarded a $1,962 grant from Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, Community Grant Fund – Putnam County to help purchase science equipment for Clearwater’s Sailing Classroom. This grant makes possible the curriculum’s aim to teach young people about the ecology of the Hudson River estuary, according to a news release from Clearwater.

"We are extremely grateful for this support from the Community Foundation of Putnam County," says Maija Niemisto, Clearwater's Education Director. "Students aboard the sloop Clearwater will now have access to the equipment needed for sampling the Hudson River water, fish, and plankton with their own hands. Clearwater’s Board joins me in thanking the Foundation for providing young people with the tools necessary to investigate the natural world around them on voyages of discovery aboard The Environmental Tallship of America.”

Clearwater anticipates that by the end of 2018, more than 600 students in Putnam County will have benefited from using this science equipment.

About Hudson River Sloop Clearwater 

Launched in 1969 by legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as champions of the Hudson River. To date, more than half a million people have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem aboard the sloop Clearwater. Clearwater has become the grassroots model for producing positive changes to protect our planet. For more information, visit Clearwater's website.

The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley

Serving all of Dutchess, Putnam and Ulster counties, the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley is a driving force in philanthropy in the region, distributing funds from thousands of donors to connect people who care with causes that matter. Administering more than $60 million in assets, Community Foundations works with donors to provide grants and scholarships. The group also establishes endowment funds for nonprofits and other charitable causes, and collaborates with government, private foundations and local leaders to address current and emerging needs. Learn more at Community Foundations' website.

Scenic Hudson Hosts Discussion Over EPA's 5-Year Review of GE's Removal of Pollutants from Hudson River

This Tuesday evening, from 5:30 to 8 pm, Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, Green Beacon Coalition, and the City of Beacon will convene for a public meeting, aka a "Night of Action," at Scenic Hudson's River Center at Long Dock Park in Beacon to discuss the findings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of whether General Electric (GE) completed its cleanup of decades-long releasing of toxic chemicals into the Hudson River.

The EPA produced a draft Five-Year Review. According to Scenic Hudson: "The draft Five-Year Review outlines the goals of the cleanup and whether or not these goals have been met and if the remedy is functioning as intended. EPA is stating that the project 'will be protective' of human health and the environment in 53 years, but state and federal agencies are saying a century or more."

During the event, Scenic Hudson will show a presentation that will walk through the Five-Year Review and its findings. The groups are hoping that the presentation will help provide the audience with talking points to spread via word-of-mouth. They also will collect public comments that will be submitted to the EPA by the September 1 deadline, calling on the EPA to change their determination and require additional cleanup from GE.
 
The event will also include a screening of a new clip from filmmaker Jon Bowermaster, a Q + A discussion, and a comment-writing opportunity for guests to fill out postcards that will be mailed to the EPA.

For more information, visit scenichudson.org or RSVP on Facebook

  Photo Credit: Scenic Hudson

Photo Credit: Scenic Hudson

Hudson Valley Residents Have Spoken! Anchorages Proposal Put on Hold by U.S. Coast Guard

After receiving much feedback about the proposed anchorages on the Hudson River, Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, has suspended future rulemaking decisions and directed a formal risk identification and evaluation of the Hudson River, known as a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA). This study is conducted to learn more about the safety and environmental risks associated with the myriad waterway uses of the Hudson River. At the moment, there is only one seasonal anchorage ground on the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston, New York.

More than 10,200 comments were received from waterway stakeholders during the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) comment period that ended December 6, 2016. You can read a summary of the comments received here. According to Lieutenant Karen Love Kutkiewicz, Public Affairs Officer of the First Coast Guard District, the comments generally fell into one of the following three categories: 1. Those opposed to creating anchorage grounds (94%); 2. Those in support (3%); and 3. Those reflecting a neutral opinion (3%). 

Kutkiewicz also adds “The Hudson River is a beautiful national treasure. It also serves as a source of drinking water, recreation, tourism and economic prosperity. The river historically has been and will remain a vital corridor for maritime commerce. The Coast Guard’s role on the river includes protecting the environment and promoting navigational safety. These are complementary objectives, as safer navigation inherently improves environmental protection.”

In the fall, a group of waterway users and stakeholders will conduct a two-day structured workshop to meet these objectives and ensure the PAWSA process is a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and agencies to determine the safety of the waterway.

If members of the public wish to be considered for participation in the workshops, please email: HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by July 21 with your name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills.

Beacon Open Studios 2017: Pirates, Paintings, Treasure

Beacon Open Studios (BOS) is a signature, citywide event in Beacon. For some, including myself and this year's new director, Samantha Palmeri, the discovery of this citywide art show happened quite by accident while meandering outside. Every year, dozens of Beacon artists clean up their studios, organize their brushes, and put out their best tools and works of art. Through this project, the public is invited in to directly access artists and their productions. Beacon Open Studios is going on now, on May 13 and 14 from noon to 6 pm. The kickoff party was Friday evening at Oak Vino.

How to Experience Beacon Open Studios

Open studios are identified by a large red dot in the yard of the artist's home studio, or on the studio door of an artist's space in a building. There is an official map that you should pick up or visit on the BOS website, but there is something quite special about stumbling upon a red dot and following your curiosity inside. This wonderment continues to be my favorite way to experience Open Studios.

However, the more one learns about each artist, the longer the list of which artists to visit. Some participants are longtime artists who dropped "practicing artist" for a few years and are returning anew, while others are artists who make commissions for private clients or advertising agencies, while others still are artists who produce fantastic work yet only display during times like these.

Who Is Participating In Beacon Open Studios This Year?

Over 50 artists are taking part this year. Several of them are emerging artists and some are simply to to the event. The physical map, which you can pick up at Hudson Beach Glass or at many restaurants or shops, is organized by artist, but also groups artists by location. For instance, if there are six artists showing in one location, you can search by geography as well, if you wanted to see a bunch at once. 

Let's take a peek!

 Artist: Chris Sanders, "Treasures of the Hudson Highlands" Photo Credit: Treasures of the Hudson Highlands

Artist: Chris Sanders, "Treasures of the Hudson Highlands"
Photo Credit: Treasures of the Hudson Highlands

"Treasures of the Hudson Highlands"

Chris Sanders is a storyboard artist for the film and television industry. Pirate lore of the Hudson River and Valley captivated her, and she began creating graphic novels inspired by pirates who did travel up and down the Hudson River years ago, in search of treasure, or hiding their own. Her first book, a historical fantasy, was published in November. You can meet the artist and see the original pages during Beacon Open Studios. The best part? She's full of Hudson Highlands pirate knowledge, so best ye get thee there.

Location: 45 Beekman Street, one of the artists in Spire Studios


 Artist: Stan Lindwasser Photo Credit: Stan Lindwasser

Artist: Stan Lindwasser
Photo Credit: Stan Lindwasser

Stan Lindwasser

Stan Lindwasser is new to Beacon, but not to the art scene. Stan has been a professional painter for decades, and has designed installations that were shown at the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, NY, and the Bertha Urdang Gallery in New York City. An excerpt from his artist statement includes: "I question the place and role of color: on lines, as lines, or replacing lines. The works I have been doing reflect my careerlong interest in the details of line and color, the creation of shapes and the placement of these on paper, or in space. These paintings reflect my thinking about direction and how changes in density of paint or use of water define and subtly change the composition."

Full disclosure, the design services extension of A Little Beacon Blog works with Stan on his website, so we are familiar with several years of his work, and appreciate his fascination with color.

Location: 35 Monell Place

Rosemary Braghieri Rednour

Photo Credits for above photos: Rosemary Braghieri Rednour

Rosemary makes "jewelry and sculpture from a different perspective," as she puts it. She's opened up her studio for visitors to see how she does it all.

Location: 17 East Main Street

Here's a sampling in video of what the Open Studios experience is like:

 

The New Director at Beacon Open Studios

This year marked the event's transition to a new director, Samantha Palmeri. She too discovered Beacon Open Studios while meandering around town, and for her, it made a life-altering impact! We interviewed her for this article:

What is your background?

I'm from Staten Island originally. I've lived in Beacon 2 1/2 years now. This will be my third year as a participating artist in BOS. I graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a major in painting, and since graduating I've held practically every job in the art world, including teaching, directing, curating, art handling etc. I've owned and directed two separate art galleries, one in Staten Island and one in New Jersey. And I've been a practicing artist for the last 20 years.

Why did the directorship appeal to you?

 Open Studios' Director Samantha Palmeri's artwork, on display at 11 Creek Road. Photo Credit: Samantha Palmeri

Open Studios' Director Samantha Palmeri's artwork, on display at 11 Creek Road.
Photo Credit: Samantha Palmeri

When I moved to Beacon I was very content to just be in my studio working. We moved here because we liked that there was already an art community happening. I wanted to join something that was already established and not have to start from scratch. When I heard that BOS was in need of a director and it might not happen this year, I didn't even hesitate to find out how I could volunteer.

First of all, it's one of my favorite events of the year in Beacon, plus it was good timing for me, and again, it was already an established community event that had its own footprint and identity. I felt especially as a participant myself I had enough ideas and experience to be able to add to what was already a great event.


What was your favorite thing about Beacon Open Studios the first time you experienced it?

There are a lot of artists in Beacon! There's a lot to see and experience. The overall quality and diversity of the artwork is great, and it's special to this town because a lot of events like this [in other locales] tend to all look the same with the majority of artists all making similar looking things.

The first BOS I went to was before I lived here. We had sold our house and were coming up here expecting to get confirmation on a place to rent. That place fell through and we were wandering around BOS a little depressed because we didn't know if we could find a place to live. We happened to start up a conversation with one of the participating artists and she said, "Oh, I know another artist in town who has a place for rent." We ended up calling her that day and finding the house we rented for the next 2 years. So, I suppose BOS will always be extra-special to me and my family because of that! It just was a perfect example of how welcoming and awesome this art community really is!

What can we expect this year from Beacon Open Studios?

Because it's my first year directing, I really didn't want to make too many drastic changes. We ended up picking the second weekend of May for the date. That's the first thing, the fact that it will fall on Second Saturday this year. I thought it would only bring more visitors so it's a win-win. It happens to also fall on Mother's Day but again, I think the town will be hopping that whole weekend! We're also revising the color catalog. The more sponsors and registered artists we get, the bigger the budget we'll have to work with. We'd like to make a fold-out map this year so it's easier for visitors to find artist studios and figure out how to spend their day in Beacon. There will be musicians playing at certain venues and there are a few new locations to visit this year, including the Shambhala Yoga Center and the Creekside Lofts behind the Howland Cultural Center.

Does this kind of event run in other cities? If so, where? Is it all connected? Or a general concept that gets picked up?

There are open studio events all over the place. They're not connected in any way. It's a boost to any community to be considered a cultural destination. Not every town or city has a substantial community of artists like Beacon does. And even places that do, don't necessarily have open studio events. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. BeaconArts and BOS is run completely by volunteers, and believe, me these people work hard!!

***

Beacon Open Studios is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a re-grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Arts Mid-Hudson.

Beacon Open Studios is a sponsored project of BeaconArts, a 501(c)(3) organization supported through grants and donations and run entirely by volunteers.

Chime in here with where you were able to visit, and tell us your favorite parts!

Beacon Sloop Club's "Little Boxes" Painting Fundraiser for Sloop Woody Guthrie Restoration This Weekend

A painting of the Woody Guthrie on a square canvas, similar to art produced for the "Little Boxes" fundraiser.

The 38-year-old Woody Guthrie, a sailboat (aka daysail sloop) built by Pete and Toshi Seeger and the Beacon Sloop Club in 1978 to create public access to sailing on the Hudson River, will not be sailing this year. The Sloop Woody Guthrie instead will undergo a complete restoration, and is currently fundraising to complete those efforts. The most recent fundraiser is the "Little Boxes Art Contest" happening this Sunday, December 4, from 5 to 8 pm at Scenic Hudson's River Center (Red Barn) at Long Dock Park, Beacon NY.

The Woody Guthrie is a long-standing symbol of river improvement: It was built to foster people's appreciation for the Hudson River during the early years of massive cleanup projects after General Electric (GE) had discharged 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River from two GE capacitor manufacturing plants located in the towns of Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York, between 1947 and 1977. The Seegers were instrumental in spearheading the cleanup and protection of the Hudson River. Building the Sloop Woody Guthrie was one way they demonstrated their commitment, and the sloop brought the public into direct contact with the Hudson to experience its vastness and river life for themselves.

In 1969, Pete and Toshi Seeger and the Hudson River Sloop Restoration instituted the second great "Age of Sail" on the Hudson River with the launching of Clearwater, a wooden, gaff-rigged, topsail sloop, based on traditional designs developed over a 100-year period during the heyday of commercial sailing on the Hudson River. In order to make the boat more manageable by a modest budget and team of volunteers, the Woody Guthrie was designed as a smaller replica of the Clearwater.

About the 'Little Boxes' Art Contest 2016

People are encouraged to participate in the contest as artists or as patrons bidding on the art, to be auctioned off on Sunday, December 4. For an entry fee of $25, (fee can be paid here) each artist will receive a 3 x 3-inch, numbered canvas on which to create an original work of art, in their media of choice, on the theme of "The Hudson River." This fee includes a ticket to the reception, which is otherwise $15 (ticket can be purchased here). Artists wishing to submit multiple entries may purchase an additional canvas for $5. All completed artwork must be returned by December 2. Registration as an artist, or to simply attend the event, which will include refreshments, can be purchased here online.

To receive a canvas: Purchase your ticket online and bring proof of purchase to River Winds Gallery, 172 Main St., Beacon NY, Wednesday through Monday between noon and 6 pm.

All artwork will be offered for sale at a starting bid set by the artist, with all proceeds to be split 50/50 between the artist and the Woody Guthrie Restoration Project. Attendees will have the opportunity to vote for People's Choice awards. A prize of $50 each will be awarded for the following categories:

  • Most Beautiful
  • Most Spectacular
  • Funniest

Ticket Details

The Artists' Reception and Awards will be held:
Sunday, December 4, 2016
5 to 8 pm
Scenic Hudson's River Center (Red Barn)
Long Dock Park, Beacon NY

Tickets for the reception only are available for $15, and can be purchased here.

For more information, please contact Susan Berliner at 845-527-8671 or Rosemary Thomas at 845-463-4660.