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- John Garay
- Angel Thorbjorsen at Miss Lucy's Kitchen in Saugerties
Travel about nine miles east and you'll find the village of Saugerties, a lively center for art and commerce that has become a tourism magnet in its own right. So what's drawing in the visitors? According to Mark Smith, chair of the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce: "The largest industry in Saugerties is tourism. In order to support that, you need restaurants, you need points of interest [such as] the lighthouse and Opus 40. There's plenty to do here."
Indeed, Saugerties is home to a wide variety of cultural attractions that set the town apart from the rest of the Hudson Valley. Many visitors come for the mystical experience of exploring Opus 40's sprawling expanse of climbable rock sculpture, while others may have been signaled by the Saugerties Lighthouse, the only lighthouse on the Hudson accessible entirely on foot. Performances by the Arm-of-the-Sea Theater company, such as the upcoming (to be performed in Saugerties on August 19) "Dirt: The Secret Life of the Soil," hope to illuminate the link between humans and their environment through experimental puppet theater that combines art, ecology, and activism. Pro Musica, an organization devoted to hosting and promoting chamber music in Saugerties, will begin its 22nd season on September 17 with a concert by the acclaimed Boston Trio. However, the epicenter of Saugerties is undoubtedly its collection of friendly storefronts, each brimming with life and surrounded by bustling foot traffic.
Many of the village's businesses locate themselves at the crossroads of utility and style: The veteran barbers at Union Shave have invented a lifestyle brand on the cutting edge of men's fashion, and offer up clothing and skate decks alongside fades and pompadours; Green showcases a selection of recycled or sustainable mid-century furniture that has the potential to awaken the interior designer within all of us; and Montano's Shoes promises a trusted, custom footwear experience that has attracted patrons from across the region for over 100 years. Bibliophiles will find themselves right at home in between the stacks of used books at Our Bookshop, and those looking for caffeine and a comfy chair to read in are welcome to spend the day at Inquiring Minds, a bookstore and coffee shop located just down the street.
Culinary tourists will have plenty of innovative dishes to sample, no matter what their tastes. Lucky Chocolates sculpts organic sweets into detailed bulldogs and terriers that are almost too adorable to eat, while the Dutch Ale House combines a historic atmosphere (rows of wooden clogs adorning the walls conjure the town's Dutch heritage) with a diverse local beer list to keep ale aficionados in their seats. Deli-Cioso combines authentic Caribbean fare with American classics to create masterwork sandwiches such as their bestselling Cubano, and the multicultural menu of the newly opened Wise Owl Café & Curiosities has piqued the curiosity of those keen on vegetarian and pescatarian fare. Those in search of casual fine dining should look no further than the Red Onion, a 19th-century farmhouse turned restaurant that features an elegantly eclectic menu that spotlights old favorites such as the braised beef short rib as well as the more adventurous sautéed calf's liver.
Nestled between these storefronts and eateries are Cross Contemporary Art and Emerge, two galleries that ensure the fine arts maintain a presence right in the center of town. Emerge focuses on upcoming yet respected artists in the Hudson Valley and New York metro area, while Cross features the work of established, mid-career artists. In an effort to make purchasing the featured art economically viable for a wider audience, Cross owner/curator Jen Dragon encourages her artists to sell more affordable paper works as well as paintings. In this way, she hopes to involve more people in the fine arts community: "These are artists who live among us, and they happen to be world class, but then also possibly [people] can afford to buy [a work of art], and they made a good investment because this artist's work is also in the MoMA...and yet it's also something they can have in their living room." The gallery's current exhibition, "Site/Sight," features six painters, all women, who draw on the cultivated practice of close study to create works that challenge the viewer's concepts of scale and perception.