Catskill Waters, a watershed-related community art project, is holding a fundraiser on October 14 that artist Keiko Sono of Bearsville describes as a hybrid of “a multi-media art project, culinary bliss, and a social and economic experiment.” Expect artworks made of ice, gourmet dishes prepared the former owner of Chanterelle in Manhattan, and unusual in a fundraiser income for participating artists.
Sono, who has received a grant from Rondout Neversink Stream Program and other sources funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, is interviewing landowners in the city’s upstate watershed about their relationship with the land they steward. She will make a video of the interviews. She also needs extra funds to extend the project into podcasting and blogging,
At the same time, she is seeking new models to help local artists of all kinds earn money from their creative work. On the Catskill Waters website, Sono explains, “Most artists never go to fundraisers because we can’t afford to, but we always contribute to them. For free. I always imagined those fundraisers to be fun and exciting—until I went to one.”
When her video was used as a backdrop at a gala for a major art not-for-profit in New York, she was invited and was deeply disillusioned. The evening was orchestrated by a slick professional events production company. Artworks were thrown together to be displayed without aesthetic consideration. Artists were shunted off a corner table. Even the main honoree declared in his speech that he was there only as a bait for the wealthy donors.
Since then, Sono has wondered. Why should all the money for such events go to professional promoters? Why not give the money to artists and let them design the event?
For the Catskill Waters autumn banquet, artists are creating work to be sold to guests, with profits going to the artists. Jeweler and artist Sergey Jivetin is making ice spoons for guests to use in consuming hors d’oeuvres, and the copper handles of the spoons — art works in themselves — will be on sale. He is also building a miniature landscape dotted with tiny villages, to be viewed through a magnifying lens made of ice. The question is, what will happen when the ice melts?
A four-course dinner will be prepared by David Waltuck, owner of the legendary Chanterelle, which operated in Manhattan from 1979 to 2009. Although it was one of the city’s most expensive restaurants, Chanterelle was famous for the warm welcome Waltuck and his wife gave to guests. The New Yorker journalist Adam Gopnik described his meal there as “a three-hour engineered transcendence of the mundane.” Every six months, a new menu cover would be designed by folks including John Cage, Edward Albee and Francesco Clemente.
Several original menus from the Chanterelle collection will be exhibited. Sono has asked seven local artists to design menu covers, which will be on display and on sale.
Bob Lukomski, who teaches electronic music composition at SUNY New Paltz, will perform live, using samples of audio recordings from Sono’s interviews. Video projections will also be shown.
The fundraiser is to be held at old Glenford Church, itself a living art project of owners Mor Pipman and Eric Hurliman. In this historic building, moved from the site when the Ashokan Reservoir was built a century ago. the couple have been creating an intimate paradise, with grapevines, an orchard garden, solar panels, and a pond, while cultivating community by hosting monthly Hudson Valley music nights.
The banquet will honor Rebecca Martin, a founder of KingstonCitizens.org. Through the work of Martin and other activists, the proposal to build a bottling plant using Cooper Lake water was withdrawn.
The ticket price of $200 is steep, but participating artists get in for free. Others may earn admission by recruiting business sponsors using an “Our Sponsors, Our Community” kit offered by Sono.
The Catskill Waters autumn banquet will be held on Saturday, October 14, at the old Glenford Church in Glenford. For information or to buy tickets, visit https://catskillwaters.org.