Sunday, March 6, 2011

About CENTERpieces

Chalk drawing by Jean-David Derremaux, Master Gardener and Bio-Dynamic Guru at The Center for Discovery

Hurleyville, in Fallsburg, Sullivan County NY, stands today as a mere shadow of its former glory as “the heart of the Catskill Borscht Belt”.  There are various buildings and structures that act as enduring reminders of its history, and there are many who would like to see this area fulfill its potential and come back to life before the remainders of these historical edifices are dismantled.

A group of bungalows, built in the 1940’s and now derelict, will be transformed into unique works of art.  

The curatorial team of Julie Courtney and Jennie Shanker working in collaboration with the Center for Discovery, are proposing a 2 year project that will initiate what we hope to be an ongoing venture, bringing unique experiences and events to the area, reviving the region through art and culture.  We plan to launch this endeavor by inviting artists to utilize existing structures - transforming them into artworks, or to create new edifices which will have a transformational effect both on-site and in the community.

Geodesic dome building for artist Richard Torchia's project

A range of artists, both emerging and established will be selected to create site sensitive, environmentally thoughtful and audience accessible projects that would attract people from far and wide.

Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center for Environmental Health and Education at The Center for Discovery

The Center for Discovery is an organization renowned for the educational, clinical, residential, social and creative arts experiences it provides to children and adults with significant intellectual disabilities and medical frailties.  What distinguishes The Center is its philosophy of creating challenging, accessible, healthy, loving, supportive and homelike educational and work settings in which the children and adults can develop relationships, learn and grow, and foster new social and artistic skills. The agency’s mission is to offer these individuals and their families innovative educational and social experiences, enriching their lives through personal growth. The end result is increased independence and improved interpersonal abilities for each individual.  

But the Center is truly visionary, and its understanding of the responsibilities it has to its population extends its role beyond it’s walls. The largest employer in Sullivan County, they have expanded the work they are doing to benefit not only their community but also their region. Having recognized that their residents are highly sensitive to food additives and pesticides, they founded a biodynamic organic farm and bakery to insure the quality of their produce. Through this, they not only feed their residents, they open their doors to neighbors through a Community Supported Agriculture program, which has spawned a local food movement.  Recognizing the rare quality of the offerings at this farm, a group of chefs from some of the finest restaurants in NYC both patronize their farm, and support the work the Center does with its residents.  Additionally, the Center has been a leader in green building, having constructed the first LEED Certified Medical Center to serve as a model for the industry.  The most recent building they’ve constructed will be certified LEED Platinum, with an HVAC design that uses the farm’s irrigation system as a source for indoor climate control.

Livestock at The Center

The Center for Discovery is experienced in partnering with professionals and organizations from outside of their field who fall into important roles for those with a larger vision.  They’ve been collaborating with the Natural Resources Defense Councilthe nation's most effective environmental action organization (their founder, John Adams, has just received the Medal of Freedom, the top civilian honor bestowed by the President, from President Obama, alongside Jasper Johns and other luminaries.)  Other partners include the Open Space Institute (OSI), which protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character, as well as the Catskill Mountain Keepers, a grassroots environmental organization working to protect the Catskills.

Biodynamic farming at The Center

Together, these organizations have been acting as conscientious stewards of the land, environment and the community in the region.  Now they are turning to education and the arts to further the health and welfare of the residents and their area.

Main Street, Hurleyville

The Center recognizes the potential of their setting, and would like to promote development that adds value and creates opportunity.  They are interested in encouraging a transformation that brings the town of Hurleyville back to life, turning it into a charming area with  restaurants, bookstores, and art galleries.

Each of the artist projects and sites will be maintained for a number of years, adding new projects annually in other interesting, unique, neglected buildings in the area.

Over time, the region will be transformed into a “sculpture park without boundaries”, with many artist-project/sites for people to visit, experience and travel between – like a charm bracelet of projects dotting the Catskills.  With Storm  King and Dia Beacon located just one hour away, the range of unique art experiences in the area will be unparalleled.