Photos by David Gordon
In what has become an end-of-summer tradition, artist Ze’ev Willy Neumann held his fourth annual beach party on Saturday, Aug. 23, with entertainers performing within the huge frame he constructed overlooking the Esopus beach.
The stage, built into the frame for the occasion, was surrounded on the sides and back with a series of slender decorated wooden poles. This year, a new sculpture has been added near the red frame: a huge replica of a water chestnut seed pod, the invasive plant that clogs the creek and Hudson River.
Neumann has included a talk on the dangers of water chestnuts in each of his presentations, and his sculpture includes a built-in wastebasket for collecting any chestnuts on the beaches.
Though they are usually contrasted with the water chestnuts found in Americanized Chinese food, this type of water chestnut can also be eaten. Laura Phillips, who was among the group at the unveiling of the statue, said she had found several recipes online for the noxious variety of chestnuts (look for “water caltrop” recipes). Neumann suggested rather than expend a great amount of effort to eradicate the plant, it could be cultivated for export.
Following his presentation on the water chestnuts, Neumann moved over to the frame, where the program featured music, poetry and storytelling until about 9 p.m. Among the highlights, poet and actor Dean Schambach; musicians David Wood and George Dengler; singer-songwriters Ernie Mortuzans and Jeanne Weiss; storyteller Janet Carter; violinist Akiko Kamigawara and Wood with singers David Knutt and Kyle Yerry.
Carter told the story of her participation in anti-war vigils in Saugerties and the reaction of passers-by, both positive and negative. Schambach recited Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “Gunga Din.” Akiko’s brilliant renditions of classical violin solos wowed the audience, and Mortuzans and Weiss had the whole audience singing along for their finale performance of “Ripple.”
Following the party, Neumann thanked the mayor and Village Board for their help in making the event possible.