Palenville, New York
|Palenville, New York|
Rowena Memorial School
|Nickname(s): Village of Falling Waters|
|• Total||3.3 sq mi (8.6 km2)|
|• Land||3.3 sq mi (8.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||568 ft (173 m)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0959772|
Palenville is in the southwest part of the Town of Catskill, located at the junction of Routes 23A and 32A. It lies at the foot of Kaaterskill Clove, nestled against the base of the Catskill Mountains. Kaaterskill Creek runs through the town, and was spanned by a locally famous swinging footbridge, destroyed during Tropical Storm Irene. The creek provides a number of swimming holes in the summer months, and the Long Path runs through the town.
Palenville was an important center of the Hudson River school of the 19th century. Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and other notable painters stayed and worked in Palenville during the height of the movement. The famous painting Kindred Spirits depicts Cole and William Cullen Bryant near Kaaterskill Falls, just uphill from the town. The famous Catskill Mountain House was also located just outside Palenville. Palenville is the fictional home of Rip van Winkle.
Palenville historically is considered the 'First Art Colony in America' (as noted by Dr. Roland Van Zandt, author of The Catskill Mountain House). It is located at the base of the Catskill Mountains at the entrance of the Kaaterskill Clove. There you will find countless waterfalls and many of the motifs of the most famous of 19th-century American artists. In fact, it was called the Village of Falling Waters.
With the coming of the twentieth century, the large boarding houses of the mountain top started to close their shutters, yet, Palenville and the surroundings remained a summer wonderland for the horde of city dwellers who peppered the bluestone lining the creeks, escaping the summer's heat and the city stench. Palenville was one of the Catskill's vacation meccas hosting nearly two dozen small and medium sized boarding houses and as many if not more hotels at that turn of the centuries. Palenville, the Kaaterskill Creek and the Kaaterskill Clove remains a popular subject for painters as well but times change and with the popularity of its vacation traffic, changes in taste, technology and all that progress brings the painters had long moved on by the time of the great wars. The artistic history of the hamlet had faded away by mid-century the same as the sounds of laughter and frolic filling its lanes faded each September when the shutters closed and all but a few 'locals' huddled-in for winter in the shadow of the mountain.
It was not until late in the 20th century that the history would be remembered and in a synchronistic moment an art gallery opened on Main Street Palenville and The Pine Orchard Summer Festival rekindled the creative campfire at this magical little hamlet.
Opening its doors in 1980 and hosting its first national juried show in 1981 the privately owned and funded Terrance Gallery exhibited more than 1200 artists from all over the country, in a call to revisit the historic gathering place of the 19th-century painters. The Pine Orchard located on 60 acres (240,000 m2) along the Manorville road through fund raising and grants refurbished a chapel into a theater and hosted Opera, players, musicians, writers and artists. And also Shakespeare and the Circus arts where presented there by the Bond Street Theater group.
During those years many painters, professors and the public in general came to realize the specific importance that Palenville had held to many writers, poets, painters, playwrights, inventors, photographers and even early movie actors and movie makers - yes Mary Pickford, for one, made several movies in Palenville. And during those years also, there was hardly to be found a child not able to walk on stilts, ride a unicycle or tumble their way through the lanes of Palenville. And many of them grew into the creative arts as painters, musicians, song-writers and performers - the group 'Dripping Goss' for one who made the scene in NYC clubs before the new millennium had struck; Robert Goss (American Gothic Records) with his 45 rpm recording that sold throughout Europe in the 1990s, some of which were recorded at The Turning Mill Studio in Palenville.
The Terrance Gallery and the Pine Orchard festivals have long since close their doors but the Palenville Library, the Woodbine Inn, and many new, old, full- and part-time businesses and residences keep the candle lit. Painters again are coming to Palenville to enjoy its plethora of motifs, and one day perhaps these newer canvases will join those from the 19th century that adorn the walls of museums throughout the world today.
Other noted artists who frequented Palenville and the Clove were: Winslow Homer, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Addison Richards, John Frederick Kensett and Sanford R. Gifford. Landscape painters of the 20th century, to name a few, included: Albert Handel, Barry Hopkins, Athena Billias, Michelle Moran and Patti Ferrara. George H. Hall, who was a 'genre' painter, took up residence in Palenville towards the end of the 19th century; and Terrance J. DePietro, an abstract painter, who was early on influenced by the Hudson River School, maintained residence and a studio from the later part of the 20th century into the 21st. (He brought artists from Quebec, Canada, i.e. Nicole Lemelin and Remi LaRoche to find inspiration beneath the "shadow of the mountain".)
Palenville Interarts Colony
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In 1982 the Bond Street Theatre from New York City came to recreate the home of America's first arts community as the 'Palenville Interarts Colony'. The Colony had a day named in its honor by NY State and received the prestigious Genius Award from the MacArthur Foundation, the first time an organization ever won this honor. The programme, led by Co-Artistic Directors Joanna Sherman and Patrick Sciarratta was generally called Interarts. As creativity attracts creativity, thus the Palenville Interarts Colony was born. Start-up funds came from the State of New York Legislature, who thought it a good idea to bring a major new arts center to a small town. This helped us to revitalize broken down buildings and create studios out of old walls. The vision and enthusiasm of a few initiators must be mentioned: painters Francis Cunningham and Allen Barber, director Torben Bjelke, Dave Brubeck and sons (who gave us two benefit concerts), Kevin Kennedy (who owned the camp), and, of course Bond Streeters all: Mary Dino, David Feder, Stephen Ringold, Luanne Dietrich, Fred Collins, Marlene Abraham, Michael McGuigan, and Directors Joanna Sherman and Patrick Sciarratta. Lasting 12 years, the Colony was a feather in their personal, creative caps – for which they received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation (“Genius”) Award in recognition of theior groundbreaking work. The award consisted of $50,000 for three years – and it is not a grant but a gift for, well, ‘genius’ work and service..
The Colony provided facilities and inspiration to over 1500 artists, and produced performances by New York city based artists who resided there: Paul Zaloom, Charles Moore African Dancers, Sachiyo Ito Japanese Dance, Bread and Puppet Theatre, Eiko & Koma, Gail Conrad Tap Dance, the Chinese Acrobats of Taipei, the Brubecks, and many more, as well as the first US International Conference on Theatre Anthropology featuring key speakers Eugenio Barba, Richard Schechner, and Edith Turner.
Between adjudicating and facilitating artists’ applications for residency, producing other artists’ shows, managing the household, staff, and fundraising, the resident theatre company was also creating and performing its own new works, such as Of Sand and Thunder (1987, directed by Carey Perloff), The Case Of the Missing Universe (1988, directed by Pat Sciarratta), Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1989, directed by Marlene Abraham), Heartbeast (1989, directed by Stephen Ringold, with his new ensemble), and Nightmare On Wall Street (1990, directed by Polina Klimovitskaya). Patrick returned to the stage after many years to perform a one-man show, Feynman (1995, directed by Peter Von Berg), about the famous physicist. Meanwhile, Michael spent a year performing The Tempest in New York City’s famed Delacourt Theatre, with Patrick Stewart, then at the Broadhurst on Broadway directed by George Wolfe. The arts community had a real and direct effect on visual and performing arts during its run.
The Colony brought the actors into the richly creative worlds of sculptors, poets, painters, musicians, dancers, and writers, and gave the founders an opportunity to make this distinctive world open to a local, rural community that had never experienced this type of serious, engaging, international art up close. In recognition of its success with all constituencies: theatre and other residents, artists, and visitors, former Governor Cuomo and then NYSCA Chair Kitty Carlisle Hart succeeded in naming a day in its honor throughout the state in 1984.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,120 people, 433 households, and 287 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 337.2 per square mile (130.3/km2). There were 551 housing units at an average density of 165.9/sq mi (64.1/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.16% White, 0.45% African American, 0.27% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.27% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.23% of the population.
There were 433 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.7 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $40,833, and the median income for a family was $51,250. Males had a median income of $32,353 versus $23,542 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,848. 7.4% of the population were living below the poverty line, none of which were under eighteens, over 64, or families.
Notable residents past and present
- George H. Hall, artist
- Hannah Arendt, political theorist
- A. A. Bondy, musician and singer/songwriter
- Rufus Palen, congressman
- Rip Van Winkle, fictional resident
- Dripping Goss musical band
- Brian Goss, musician; Dripping Goss, others
- The Felice Brothers musical band
- Carrot Top
- Darrell Whitbeck, artist, musician
- Michael Billera, performance artist, lyricist, member of The Warm Jets, Aunt Wayne, Spincycle Lava
- Robert Goss, founder of American Gothic Records, musician; member of The Warm Jets, Crippled & The Burnout
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