In case you’ve been snoozing and missed out on its first two iterations, be advised that the Bardavon has been rolling out an ambitious and diverse series of seasonally themed programs at its two urban beachheads in Poughkeepsie and Kingston, which it’s calling the Four Seasons of the Hudson Valley Festival. It’s a sort of stealth community revitalization initiative that pulls together all manner of cultural and educational organizations to create citywide celebrations organized around some common thread of interest. Last spring Kingston had the Serious Laughs comedy festival; summer ramped the annual Independence Celebration up several notches, and Poughkeepsie’s annual Celebration of Lights parade and fireworks will get the same expansion treatment in December.
But this month, something entirely new to the area is already underway: SkyFest, inspired by the approach of possibly spectacular Comet ISON. Two reliable annual meteor showers, the Taurids due on November 4 and 5 and the Leonids on November 16 and 17, also coincide fortuitously with SkyFest. Almanac Weekly’s own astronomy guru Bob Berman has been acting as a sort of master of ceremonies for the six-week skywatching, outer-space-celebrating blowout, hosting a moonwalk a couple of weeks ago on the Walkway over the Hudson. He has another lecture coming up at the Bardavon on Tuesday, November 19, titled “Light and Color in the Universe,” with a low admission price of $5.
An ongoing feature of SkyFest is the free public sky-viewing being offered every Wednesday night from 9 to 11 p.m. through November 30 being offered by the Vassar College Observatory. To confirm viewing conditions on a given Wednesday, call (845) 437-7340 before 4:30 p.m. or (845) 437-7679 after 8:45 p.m.
The official wrap-up for the festival comes on Saturday, November 23 – before ISON is expected to become visible to the naked eye – when the Hudson Valley Philharmonic is scheduled to perform Gustav Holst’s crowd-pleasing orchestral suite The Planets at the Bardavon. The music will be accompanied by projections of gorgeous imagery provided by the Hubbell Space Telescope, and the Vassar Choir will supply the eerie, gradually fading women’s chorus that characterizes the final movement, “Neptune, the Mystic.” Tickets cost $32 to $55, $20 for students, and can be obtained at the Bardavon or Ulster Performing Arts Center box offices, by calling (845) 473-2072 or online at www.bardavon.org.
Too cold or cloudy to stand outdoors staring up at the sky? You’re in luck this weekend, as the visual art component of SkyFest kicks off at the Barrett Art Center and the Adriance Memorial Library, both in Poughkeepsie. In early October, a challenge was issued to the Hudson Valley’s artistic community by Barrett curator Ursula Morgan: Submit a piece in the style and medium of your choice that in some way incorporates, interprets or highlights astronomy, and we’ll exhibit the best examples at one or the other venue for most of November.
Many fine artists responded to this “star search,” and works by the following were chosen for inclusion in the two simultaneous SkyFest exhibitions: Christine Agro, Joseph Apuzzo, Deborah Beck, Debbie Bein, Laura Bianco, Jerry Curtis, Penny Dell, Susan Fowler-Gallagher, Tarryl Gabel, Sally Gil, José Gomez, Claudia Gorman, David Horton, Annette Jaret, Roxanne Johnson, Sandra Kitt, Ellin Kristofik, Alex Kveton, Rebecca LoVerso, Donald Lubowich, Barbara Masterson, Phyllis McCabe, Richard Morris, Susan Nagel, Jane Nelson, Ellen Metzger O’Shea, Bill Panuska, Renee Pasquale, Lin Price, Susan Schmader, Elayne Seaman, Dace Serafimovs, Orie Shafer, Leigh Ann Smith, Irv Suss, Jonathan Talbot, Jean Tansey, Richard Vinson, Karl Volk, Anna West, Greg Wing, Nancy Yu and Margaret Zeitlin.
The Adriance Library opening will run from 3 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, November 2, and the one at the Barrett from 4 to 6 p.m., so that art and astronomy fans can wander between both venues, which are just a five-minute walk apart. While traversing the Library’s Atrium, you’ll also pass underneath an installation created by Arm-of-the-Sea Theater that depicts a dome of the Universe from which floats a collection of three-dimensional spacefaring vessels made by kids.
The SkyFest art exhibition at the Library, which is located at 93 Market Street, runs through November 26. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Call (845) 485-3445 or visit www.poklib.org for more information. The Barrett Art Center is located at 55 Noxon Street and open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the SkyFest art exhibition there will be on view through November 30. For more information call (845) 471-2550 or visit www.barrettartcenter.org.
If Vincent Van Gogh were alive today, wouldn’t he want to celebrate the arrival of a “Great Comet” with his vision of the night skies aswirl with giddy, glorious light? Perhaps the art world’s next Starry Night will be unveiled in Poughkeepsie this Saturday. Come and see for yourself!
SkyFest: Astronomy & the Arts visual art exhibitions, opening Saturday, November 2, 3-5 p.m., through November 26, Adriance Memorial Library, 93 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, (845) 485-3445, www.poklib.org; opening 4-6 p.m., through November 30, Barrett Art Center, 55 Noxon Street, Poughkeepsie, (845) 471-2550, www.barrettartcenter.org.