- Words and Photos by John Domine
On the Road: Hudson Valley, NY
Seeking a Fall getaway but don't want to hop on a plane? Look no further than the Hudson Valley, just north of New York City! The region is beautiful this time of year with the cool, crisp air and the changing colors of the leaves. Add to that some amazing artwork in several small cities dotting the river, and you have the makings for an awesome weekend escape.
Just hop in a car (or take the Metro North to its terminus at Poughkeepsie and rent a car as I did) or hop in an Uber to explore all that is on offer. Either way, prepare yourself for some incredible art and some pretty great locally-sourced food.
If you are interested in seeing the best murals in the Hudson Valley, there are four towns I explored which merit a visit: Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Beacon and Newburgh. Of these, Kingston is the shining star in my opinion. Start there and make your way south for a fun-filled Saturday. Or, take your time to soak up the charm of each destination over the course of the whole weekend. Either way, you are in for a treat with all the Hudson Valley has to offer.
The city of Kingston sits just 91 miles from NYC and is charming in its own right. It has an "old town" vibe with a Farmer's Market on the weekend, serving up local offerings and farm-fresh produce from the Hudson Valley.
Kingston is also home to the O+ Festival, which was started in 2010 by a group of artist-activists, doctors and a dentist. The mission of the program is "to empower communities to take control of their collective wellbeing through art, music and wellness". Through the program, they build long-term relationships between creatives and health and wellness providers to help strengthen the local communities. Each year, these efforts culminate in a festival of celebration in which under-insured artists and musicians create and perform in exchange for a variety of services donated by doctors, dentists and complementary care providers.
For me, and now for you, that means there are some beautiful walls to enjoy throughout the year and for years to come. Here are some of the works you can hope to see while visiting Kingston.
And the best part is they have a map, providing locations with mural and artist descriptions to make things easy for you. If you are already using the Street Art Cities app, I have added the locations there as well for the New York area. *Note: if you don't have the app, you really should!*
Work by Baltimore-based artist, Gaia, entitled "Pronkstilleven"
"O+ EMPOWERS COMMUNITIES TO TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR
COLLECTIVE WELLBEING THROUGH ART, MUSIC AND WELLNESS."
After you are through checking out all the amazing art in town, you will probably be hungry. I can highly recommend Kovo Rotisserie on Front Street. The Greek Fish Taco was absolutely delicious, and the spicy Bloody Mary hit the spot! If you want something on the lighter side, the Greek Caesar with lamb meatballs is tangy, crispy and savory all in one delicious bite.
Once you have taken in all of the beauty Kingston has to offer, head south to the city of Poughkeepsie, known as the "Queen City of the Hudson".
The O+ Fest has found its way to Poughkeepsie as well, which translates to more incredible art on your Hudson Valley tour. A majority of the work lies in the center of town, right around 290 Main Street. There you will find several pieces, including a massive eagle by Justin Suarez, in a piece entitled "Mantling".
In addition to these works, Risa Tochigi recently painted for the Underpass Gateway Project nearby at the Route 9 underpass on Main Street, with an art intervention piece meant to "impact, inspire and empower". The project is a commissioned mural project that is a collaboration between Poughkeepsie Alliance, ArtsMidHudson and O+ Poughkeepsie.
Continuing your Hudson Valley art tour will take you to the city of Beacon, where, for a limited time, you will have the opportunity to check out the work of contemporary pop artist Ron English at his pop-up gallery and storefront, "Beacon Popmart". Hand-painted walls of quirky characters adorn the outside of the building, while grocery store-like signs advertising per pound cuts of "cow corpse" and "mermaid" hang from the windows. Head inside to check out the various toys and novelty items for sale. But you had better hurry. In talking with Ron on-site, the pop-up won't be around much longer.
If you are looking for a dinner recommendation, you would do well to make a reservation at Café Amarcord, at 276 Main Street in Beacon. With its hearty New American fare, we thoroughly enjoyed each and every plate, from the ricotta raviolis with mushroom and truffle, to the veal with mascarpone mashed potatoes, and finishing with the fruit panna cotta with lemon macaron. Let's just say, we definitely ate well in Beacon.
The last town to visit on your Hudson Valley art tour is Newburgh, located just 60 miles from New York City. In 2102-2013, the Newburgh Mural Project brought in Dasic Fernandez to paint some walls around town and serve as artist-in-charge to provide local young artists the opportunity to learn about mural-making. He left the city with some incredible pieces which I only discovered on this trip by accident.
Rising from the base of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and extending her arms towards Washington’s Headquarters, “The Legacy” pays tribute to all those who strive for freedom. The mural captures the spirit of a young girl soaring high above Newburgh-straddling the past and the future, dusk and dawn. The ribbons of her dress transform into elements of the city, capturing the power of the human spirit that shapes our communities. With her eyes focused on the rising sun, she extends her arms towards a future landscape that is yet to be created, buttressed by the confidence and beautify of a life that is fully lived in color.
This piece fuses the past and the present through the silhouette of a young man who is looking forward towards the future while the past, his roots, are reflected within him. The mural is located on Chambers Street between Broadway and 1st Street in the City of Newburgh.
This piece spans all surfaces of the underpass on South Street, encompassing the connection between the material and the individual, portraying how one transforms and builds the other in a continuous circle of transformation and influencing.
This wall captures the way in which the arts – like the human spirit – extends beyond all boundaries and exceeds the limits of ordinary experience, unifying all things “day and night, darkness and light” into one. The mural is located on the South Wall of the Ritz Theater on the corner of Broadway and Liberty Street.
Before heading back to the city, treat yourself to brunch at Ms. Fairfax, serving up locally-sourced fare at 105 Liberty Street. The Croque Monsieur with an egg (*Croque Madame) was heavenly, and their list of specialty cocktails has something for everyone.
Now you know where to go in the Hudson Valley for all the best art, as well as a few spots to refuel along the way. The Hudson Valley is beautiful any time of year, but even moreso during the Fall. So, enjoy a weekend in the country to balance out the hustle and bustle that we love so much about our city.
What are you waiting for? The Hudson Valley is calling!