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   Art Walk, 2019
Saturday, September 21 2019
It had been a little cool lately, but this morning it was warm enough to have our Saturday morning coffee out on the east deck just like we usually do in the warm weather.
At noon, Gretchen and I drove with the dogs down to Ray and Nancy's house in Old Hurley for a lunch that Nancy had made. It was broccoli rabe with mushrooms and pasta and it was really good. Nancy doesn't cook with as much oil as Ray does, so Ray got himself a shot glass of olive oil in order to raise it to his preferred oiliness.
Artistically, Ray has been astoundingly prolific of late, cranking out dozens of canvases of acrylic paintings. They're all abstract, though some of them have repetitive drawn with black edges. I'm don't really understand (or particularly like) abstract, though some of it is objectively great, particularly a large painting that looked like it had been painted by a Piet Mondrian without recourse to a straight edge.
Ray had to work as bartender this afternoon, but Nancy wanted to go be part of Kingston's "Art Walk," an annual show across numerous galleries. That seemed fun, so Gretchen and I joined her, leaving Ramona and Neville to hang out with Jack and (until he left for work) Ray. Meanwhile, there was a kids' party raging (to the extent such things can be said to rage) next door.
The places Gretchen, Nancy, and I were interested in were in Midtown, so we started at the big brick building near the railroad tracks that houses Village Coffee (the kind of new-Kingston coffee shop that looks like it would be right at home in Brooklyn) and walked around in a big, unfinished space that housed a smattering of works. Some were sculptural and there were a couple video works as well, though the most interesting consisted of a bunch of balloons in various states of deflation that had been cast in plaster. They looked so real that I blew on them to see if they could be moved.
While we were in Midtown, we walked over to our rental brick mansion on Downs Street to see how our contractor is doing with the replacement of rotten steps and planks on the front porch, which she'd begun this morning. Gretchen had found the contractor via our friend Trish and was very excited because she's a no-bullshit trans woman, could start right away, and her bid was low. When we showed up, the steps themselves were already replaced and the planks in front of the door had been ripped off, exposing mostly-good joists underneath (though they were visibly hairy, fibers along the surface having gradually come loose over the decades).
We walked back to the teeshirt factory, where we walked around in five or six open studios. I liked the paintings by a woman who liked to depict ominous figures floating in gloomy atmospheres; Nancy said she'd bought one of her paintings recently. The only art any of us bought were a couple of plates hand-painted with depictions of wild animals, a squirrel for us and a rabbit for Gretchen's old girlfriend Barbara as a token of Gretchen's appreciation for arranging a poetry reading in Pittsburgh. There was some wine at that opening, so I poured a little into a paper cup.
Our final destination on the art walk was the Lace Factory, another abandoned brick factory from Kingston's rust-belt past being revived as upscale art lofts. Thought Gretchen couldn't remember, we'd actually been to some sort of rave-type party at the Lace Factory years ago back when it was still a rotten shell of a building. Now, though, it's exterior has been completely cleaned up and there have even been plantings and tidy new walkways installed. Walking inside, we were astounded that something both so beautiful and in such good repair actually existed in Kingston. Such sights simply didn't exist in Kingston a couple years ago. The only thing I had to compare it to in my mind was how perfectly the Russians had restored palaces ruined by the occupying Nazis. In one of the side-buildings was factory's old boiler, and it was a couple stories tall and taking up about 400 square feet. It had been left intact as it was, with all its beautiful pipes and badges of engraved text. There were a few displays of art, but all we really cared about was the building. We even got a chance to check out someone's loft apartment, which was so beautiful Gretchen jokingly said we should buy "a place in the city," and by that, she meant "here." I pointed out that we already owned real estate "within walking distance of this very place."
Nancy drove us back to Hurley, where the dogs greeted us with an enthusiasm no human will ever show. Before we left, I looked at leaking sewer pipe in the basement. I suggested the wrap it with a better plumbing tape and call it day. A slightly better fix would be to cut out a piece of rotten cast iron and replace it with PVC, a fix I'd be willing to do for them.

This evening for date night, the initial plan was to maybe drive up to Saugerties and got to Rock Da Casbah, but in the end we opted for a Japanese place on Albany Avenue called Miso Asian Cuisine. Gretchen doesn't like seaweed, so she usually can't eat sushi unless it is wrapped in soy paper, which is something Miso can do. So we both ordered sushi rolls (avocado for me, asparagus for her) and two noodle dishes. I also ordered a Hurricane Kitty, which used to be my favorite beer back before the IPA revolution. I expected for it to disappoint, but it was surprisingly good. Of course, Keegan Ales might've changed the recipe in recent years to better compete against all the IPAs now available.
Our waitress screwed up our order and Gretchen ended up first getting sushi with seaweed, sending it back, and then getting it done correctly after she'd already eaten half her noodles. I don't know what it's like to eat sushi on a stomach nearly-full of something else, but it just doesn't sound right.
After our meal, we strolled back behind the sushi place looking for some sort of kooky religious establishment for which we'd seen a sign. We never found that, but we did find an quiet little suburban neighborhood jammed in between the railroad tracks and Albany Avenue. We walked all the way to the tracks, where a freight train was apparently waiting for tracks up ahead to clear before it could get moving. Gretchen had never been so close to a non-dead freight train before, so we took the opportunity to climb up the side of one of the hopper cars to look in. It was full of gravel. Seeing how easy it was to board a waiting freight, Gretchen fully understood how tempting it would be to be a hobo traveling on or in such cars. If one threw down a blanket in that hopper, one could travel for free while staring up at the stars. On a warm dry night like tonight, that could be really fun.


One of Ray's bigger paintings, measuring about three by two feet.


Some of Ray's smaller paintings. The four by twelve inch canvases are forming a "big, beautiful wall" that Gretchen and I made.


A purple-lit gallery in the Tee Shirt Factory. Gretchen is on the left and Nancy is in the middle.


Art in the Tee Shirt Factory. I don't know who that guy on the phone is.


The old boiler in the Lace Factory.


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