Friends plan support events for Saugerties art teacher diagnosed with cancer

Miriam Adams, Kristy Bishop and Nancy Swart pose in a gilded frame at Bishop’s studio.

Kristy Bishop, local art teacher since 1977 and a Saugerties resident since 1973, was diagnosed with colon cancer just a month ago. Her art students turned diehard friends have orchestrated fundraising efforts for her chemotherapy treatment.

As one of the featured artists in this year’s Sailing Around Saugerties charity exhibit, two trusted compatriots conspired to obtain Bishop’s hand-painted sailboat from its original auction. They will be raffling it off as one of their fundraising benefits to assist her in her recovery. They’re also arranging a sip-and-paint benefit for her.

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Mariam Adams and Nancy Swart have used the slogan ‘C for Courage’ in advertising for the fundraisers. Bishop supported many local benefits and charities in the area with her original art, including the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Saugerties, the local Chamber of Commerce, Family of Woodstock, the Woodstock Art Museum and the Pregnancy Support Center of Ulster County. Bishop has also taught at Ulster County Community College. She wrote a column for this publication for a number of years and has been recognized with numerous awards.

“Nancy and I both had the same thought, and we looked at each other and we said ‘We have to buy Kristy’s boat.,’” said Swart. “Our husbands were with us and they were all for it. They gave us a limit and we went over the limit, even.  We would have kept bidding higher and higher. If it was just us, we would’ve kept bidding!

“We decided to approach the person who bought the boat. We walked up to him and his wife and we asked if they would be interested in selling it. [After] we told them what we wanted to do with it and he immediately said, ‘Absolutely, you can have the boat. Pay me what I paid for it and it’s yours.’ We worked it all out with the auction house.”

Now on display at Town and Country Liquors on Route 212, Bishop’s sailboat awaits its lucky new owner. The raffle that will be held December 20. Tickets in support of Kristy are available at the liquor store and the nearby CVS. The money raised by the drawing will directly assist in covering Bishop’s medical expenses. In addition to the raffle, the Sip and Paint event hosted by Cups and Corks at Cedar Grove fire company will be held on October 11. Tickets to attend the evening are being sold at $45 a person, with these funds going towards Bishop’s care as well.

Swart’s teenage son Zachery has been a three-time cancer survivor against acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  His travails ultimately led his mother to a nursing career. After serving this year as a national ambassador to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Zachery and his family have raised awareness and done fundraisers to support cancer research and recovery. For Swart, turning around and extending this same support to Kristy Bishop was second nature.

Bishop will continue to teach her art classes to children at her 174 Market Street studio during her seven weeks of treatment begun September 11. She will teach with a box filled with chemo liquid in a holster around her waist, attached to a port in her chest. She aims, despite the aggressive treatment, to continue her lessons.
Bishop’s investment in her work and her appreciation for art are so strong that she says they have transcended sedation. While she went under surgery to enable her to begin chemotherapy, not even her anesthesia was able to stop her from expounding, at length, on the importance of her role as an art teacher. “Since I was given a conscious sedation, I spoke to [her surgeon, Dr. Moscowitz] and his assistants about my love of art and my teaching program, that I needed to get back as soon as possible. I was so excited and so nervous that I talked through the entire procedure, even though my mouth was dry and it was difficult to get the words out. The passion that I feel for my purpose of teaching and painting is undeniable.”

For information, contact Miriam Adams at 914-388-2375.