Since perfection is impossible, those striving for it are both blessed and cursed.
Stephen Blauweiss and Karen Berelowitz are two such strivers. Their impossibly detailed book The Story of Historic Kingston, Featuring 950 Images and Connections to the Catskills & New York City is unquestionably the most comprehensive and lavishly produced local history ever. Anybody who buys it — and that should include every lover of Ulster County history — will get their money’s worth from this glossy and elaborate 470-page volume with 950 images. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this hefty volume is equivalent to a million-word book in value.
A New York City native, Blauweiss has made his living primarily as a filmmaker and graphic artist. He moved to Kingston in 1999. He also produces theatrical events and art exhibitions.
Berelowitz is an artist and entrepreneur who has worked extensively with a great variety of non-profit and profit-making organizations, including her own business, Karmabee. Originally from South Africa, she has been a manager at the Omega Institute, a consultant to the World Bank, and a volunteer teacher at a small village in Costa Rica, among other employment.
The book’s publication was postponed several times because it wasn’t the way its authors wanted it. A highly skilled pair of perfectionists who labor incessantly at what they do, Blauweiss and Berelowitz don’t easily countenance tinkering. Suggesting a change of wording in their book is to these artists like asking Michelangelo to cover up a figure on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You have to be a pope to do that.
You’d think that after this massive accomplishment the pair would rest on their laurels. Not so. They devised a series of summer presentations and events in Kingston, including outdoor neighborhood film screenings and Sunday gallery talks (the last one is a closing night event at the Fuller Building at 45 Pine Grove Avenue in Kingston at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21).
Architect Scott Dutton, owner of the Fuller Building, has been a staunch supporter of Blauweiss and Berelowitz’s work. Until September 19, an extensive show of posters, a condensation of the Kingston book, are on exhibit on the ground floor of the Pine Grove Avenue facility. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a breathtaking rare photo blown up to fit a poster, and there are dozens of them in this showing. If you haven’t seen the detailed photos of the life and death of the old Kingston central post office, Kingston’s subway line, the wonderful images of Kingston Point Park at the turn of the twentieth century, the transformation of the city’s commercial life over time, or the various factories which provided so many Kingstonians employment for such a long time, this is your opportunity.
The Fuller Building, a rehabilitated shirt factory, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Enter via the parking lot next to the building.