Stagecoach Run Art Festival
By T.M. Bradshaw
Treadwell is a sleepy little hamlet of 283 people situated on Delaware County Route 14, less than a half hour from Delhi in one direction, and a half hour from Oneonta in the other. But it’s only “sleepy” on the surface. Treadwell is actually a thriving enclave of artists, writers, musicians and photographers, with the Treadwell Museum, the Bright Hill Literary Center and the homes and studios of dozens of artists. And on July 7 and 8 many of those studios will be open to the public during the 12th annual Stagecoach Run Art Festival.
Artist Jane Carr, one of the founders of the Stagecoach Run, summed up the pull Treadwell has for the artistic community very simply: “Because it’s paradise here.”
Of course, any number of spots within the Catskill Mountains could accurately be described as “paradise,” but, Jane said, “This is extra-special paradise. It really is beautiful; it’s like a bowl. The hamlet is down in a great bowl with foothills on all sides. They’re all around us. It’s just different. I have never seen a village or hamlet like this one. When I moved here I didn’t know there were other artists here, and so many artists have said they didn’t know there were artists here. So what is it? Is it some sort of draw for artists that we don’t even know about? I don’t know.”
Sculptor and painter Joseph Kurhajec has summered in Treadwell for over thirty years. Other artists often drop in at his Treadwell Museum for a lively visit with the energetic and gregarious Joe. Over twenty years ago he, along with artists Mila Macek, Barb Scheck and Roy Purcell, formed an artists association, but it foundered. When Jane Carr moved to Treadwell, Joe stopped by to welcome her as a new neighbor. “He was so sad that his original organization didn’t fly,” Jane said. In conversations conducted in her vegetable garden, a new arts organization was formed and the first Stagecoach Run was held in 1995.
“We had the first meeting at my house,” Jane said. “Joe was in Paris at the time, but he sent this drawing of the stagecoach and we used it on our poster that year. The idea was that certain locations become known as destinations for particular things, like New Hope, Pennsylvania is known for antiques. So we said, why can’t Treadwell be the destination for good art? We decided to keep it high-end art. The first few years you couldn’t move—hundreds of people came every day. The crowds have diminished somewhat—I think some of the early crowds were local people curious about the insides of the old houses. This year we’re reaching out to a wider area.”
In the 1800s a stagecoach ran from Catskill across the Turnpike, down to Treadwell, over to Route 357 and on to Unadilla. In those days going from the Hudson River at Catskill to the Susquehanna at Unadilla was probably a journey of several days. Treadwell was an overnight stop on that route. There are bed-and-breakfast accommodations in and around Treadwell for those who wish to stay overnight on this Stagecoach Run. Maps will be available for the self-guided studio tour. Numbered yellow signs will identify the various locations. Artists will be on hand to discuss their work and some will present demonstrations. Over thirty artists are on the tour, including painters, potters, printmakers, sculptors, and poets. Many of the participants have light snacks available for their visitors,
“I think we have fourteen locations,” Jane said, “and some people have guest artists at their studios. I’ll have a guest artist, Bill Lee, who does these wonderful pastel paintings, and this year he’s doing hand-pulled silk screens too. Joe’s got 8 people between his museum and his annex, Marie Cummings has a guest artist, and Gail Bunting may also. By July the number of artists could reach forty.”
Some of those guest artists travel quite a distance to participate, such as wire-sculptor Judy Vienneau, who is traveling from Florida, and painter Susan Roecker, who lives and works downstate along the Hudson. The scope of the tour has been expanded this year, reaching outside of Treadwell farther along the route of the Stagecoach. “Patsy Breiling will have an open studio down toward Franklin,” Jane said. “She has a big gallery. We’ll have studio stops in Franklin this year, too.”
Marie Cummings is one of the artists who moved to Treadwell and then discovered she had landed in a community of kindred spirits. She is a non-objective painter specializing in water media. “I do not paint from objects. I just paint from the inside out. When I start something, I usually don’t know how it’s going to end. When I work on paintings, I work on them in layers, and I work on them two or three at a time, because I have to let my layers dry. They kind of evolve, they begin to speak to me.”
She is looking forward to participating in another Stagecoach Run. “It’s fun,” she said. “People can go from studio to studio, just like a gallery walk. I had a lot of people come through last year, even though Stagecoach happened right after the floods, so attendance was down a bit, but sales were still good. We’d like Treadwell to become a destination. It’s only a 3-hour drive from the city.”
Joan Dworkin is another of the Stagecoach participants. She is a lifelong artist who attended Pratt Institute, The Art Students League and Parsons School of Design. Her watercolor landscapes capture the colors and subtle beauty of the area around Treadwell.
Gail Bunting doesn’t call herself an artist; instead she says she is a naturalist who paints. She uses egg tempera because it enables her to execute the most accurate representations of her woodland subjects and instill in them a sense of the mystery that connects all living things.
Joseph Kurhajec has been a professional artist for over forty years. He has exhibited internationally and his work is included in many private and public collections. His paintings, prints and sculptures draw on primitive imagery and religious motifs.
Jane Carr hides her signature and the title within the details of her colorful pointillist landscapes. “That way I can remember the title myself,” she said, indicating a corner of a new painting, “Retired Generals,” depicting two rusting “General” brand tractors. “It’s fun for people to try and find them.”
Poet Bertha Rogers will have her Bright Hill Literary Center open as a Stagecoach stop. The center houses a library and art gallery.
The Stagecoach Run Art Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information call 607 829 2108 or 829 2206.