To the Editor:
I was insulted by Beth E. Wilson’s unjustified tirade about Catskill’s cats and Hudson’s dogs [“Touch Not the Cat,” 7/08].
Wilson writes that the Columbia County Council on the Arts and the Chamber of Commerce should not sponsor this street art project because it is “enormously popular.” She likens the sculptures as “paint by number,” “dumbed down,” and “fast food” that “surrenders to the lowest common denominator.” She was disgusted by the positive comments the pieces received by people on the street. Wilson writes, “Popularity alone is not a proper gauge for the success or failure of a public art project,” and the “easy popularity that they (the cat sculptures) enjoy is a slap in the face to...more significant artistic projects.” Perhaps Ms. Wilson would whitewash the Sistine Chapel because the frescos are popular with the public.
Wilson explains in her critique how she feels about art: “The average citizen will throw his or her hands in the air, shrugging helplessly when confronted with bleeding-edge contemporary art.” She describes a half-mile “path to nowhere” with no payoff at the end as engaging.
The Chamber of Commerce and CCCA have the right idea to sponsor a project that is good for tourism. People come to look at free art and while they are there, they visit the town. There is nothing wrong with that. Everyone, except Wilson, is happy with that arrangement. If people hate the art, they won’t come.
I made a day trip out of seeing Hudson’s dogs and Catskill’s cats. I had never been to Catskill and it was my sole reason for the trip. I knew what to expect and I wasn’t disappointed. I knew that of the 80 or so sculptures, I would find some to be ugly, some to be whimsical, and some (in spite of Wilson’s disagreement) would be very imaginative. I spent several minutes examining the hundreds of world stamps on The Philatelist, and a number of us were amazed at the amount of time it must have taken to glue thousands of cylindrical glass beads onto Starry Night. With so many animals, there were plenty to like. I not only spent money on a meal but also visited many galleries and shops that were open along Warren and Main Streets.
Obviously, art is subjective. Wilson may believe that 30 or 40 heads on a floor qualifies as legitimate art (“Portfolio: Tatana Kellner,” 7/08) and that the street art in Catskill is “impervious to thought.” The cats and dogs aren’t meant to incite deep contemplation and they aren’t meant to change the world. They are just fun. If having a good time disturbs Wilson, she doesn’t have to look at them.
I will use Wilson’s last line from her article to comment on her arrogance. “Stop the madness...NOW!”
To the Editor:
I hate working Sundays, but today (Sunday, July 6) was made better by the fact I waited until this morning to read the July edition of Chronogram with the Lobster House Restaurant painting on the front cover while waiting for customers to come into Adams Fairacre Farms Poughkeepsie’s garden center. I found a copy lying atop a bag of grass seed just before leaving for home on Saturday. I was going to read it at home Saturday night but decided to wait until Sunday morning.
What an excellent piece to convey “deep summer,” as I call this time of year, when it seems all but impossible to reap the harvest of the season’s offerings. I always feel as though I am going to miss something if I don’t hit every event or festival advertised in yours and other publications. I become a victim of the Madison Avenue “gotta be there” effect. Lobster House screams out to me, “Find your own summer!” as the boat driver scours an obviously open and lonely portion of the sea.
As a result of finding my own summer, like the lobster boat guy, I and others become part of one another’s own summers in the long run. So even though I hate working Sundays, I do love early summer mornings, especially in summer, and even more so Sunday mornings in summer. Those early morning summer Sunday customers become part of “my summer,” as I am sure I become part of theirs.
Thanks for a great magazine!