Shandaken Studio Tour has surprises

Blue Shower by Tracy Phillips.

Jim Nevin’s multimedia Art Cave, Durga Yael Bernhard’s multi-cultural illustrations, and Dave Channon’s kinetic 800-pound metal gorilla are just a few of the works on view of this year’s Shandaken Art Studio Tour, happening Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28, in western Ulster County. Drawings, paintings, outdoor sculpture, quilts, and ceramics are among the media on display in a wide-ranging sampler of the creative spirit coursing through Phoenicia and nearby communities.

In past years, the tour has featured up to 30 sites, but organizer Dave Channon has pared the offerings down to a more manageable dozen or so. Many more regional artists will be visible in group shows at the Pine Hill Community Center and Phoenicia Arts and Antiques (a.k.a. A & A), where the gallery side of the former pharmacy, now a crafts market, has been newly renovated. 

If there’s a theme underlying much of the work, it’s environmental concern. The cover of the tour’s guide booklet, Shandaken Whole Arts Catalog, is a mashup of the Whole Earth Catalog, Star Trek’s planetary exploration, and the studio tour mountain lion, relaxing on a palette. As new participant Tracy Phillips states in the catalog, “I feel a deep sorrow regarding human impact and the inevitable destruction of life on this planet…The work over the last couple of years takes this theme into a future when people are no longer here. In these imagined landscapes, I engage the notion of Earth’s eventual regeneration.” Phillips’s studio is located in the lush setting of Woodland Valley.


In surroundings of natural beauty, of course, nature often takes a primary role. At Astrid Nordness’s pottery on Route 28A in Boiceville, her intricately designed ceramics “invent a new ecosystem of imaginary wildlife.” Cari Rosmarin, on Watson Hollow Road in Olive, creates paintings, monoprints, collages, and more, with an emphasis on visionary landscapes. 

Several sites offer work in outdoor settings. In Boiceville, Brunel Park features huge Native American-inspired totems. Down the road, the Catskill Visitors Center (formerly the Catskill Interpretive Center) has only a few sculptures left of the many it has hosted in past years. You can still see the whimsical gigantic dung beetle rolling its ball of trash. The center is taking a break from outdoor art this year, said Channon, but he hopes to bring work back there in the future. He feels the site is perfectly laid out to become a Catskills version of the sculpture park at Storm King. 

Meanwhile, outside the train stations at Mount Tremper and Phoenicia, the Rail Explorers rail bike venture has welcomed a slew of sculptures and has even begun placing art along the tracks for viewing by bikers. Among the four new pieces just added in Mount Tremper is Naomi Teppich’s “Cactus Conundrum.” Channon encourages drivers to pull over to the parking lot and take a look. “You can’t see them going by at 65.” 

At the western end of town, Jim Nevin has opened up his Art Cave for the tour. Located on the second floor of the Pine Hill Community Center, it’s an interactive installation that Channon describes as “a raw-beam attic world with memorabilia everywhere.” Downstairs is a group show curated by Tony Jannetti.

On Broadstreet Hollow, wander through Channon’s sculpture garden and see Karen Charman’s brilliant quilts, pillows, and qwalts, or quilted wall hangings, featuring batik patterns, iridescent silks, and Australian linen tea towels. Down the road are Durga Yael Bernhard’s inspired paintings and drawings with natural and spiritual themes, as well as her children’s books, greeting cards, calendars, and more.

The weekend begins and ends in Phoenicia, with a Friday night reception at 6 p.m. at A & A, where a new show of local artists is opening, under the direction of Margaret Owen, formerly of Arts Upstairs. Mélange, a Main Street gift shop, displays intricate woodwork by Douglas Houska and fabric art by Kim Houska.

Sunday Dawne-Marie exercises her art both in and out of her tattoo parlor, Skinflower, creating lavish paintings that incorporate flora and fauna. Skinflower will host the tour’s closing party and the shop’s 10th anniversary, on the Phoenicia boardwalk on Sunday, July 28, from 1 p.m. on, with refreshments and live rock music.

The Shandaken Art Studio Tour will be held Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28. For maps of tour sites and descriptions of artists, pick up the Shandaken Whole Arts Catalog at locations around Phoenicia or view its pages online at