Sunday, July 15, 2012

Platte Clove Residency: Prologue

Platte Clove residency cabin, Catskills Mountains

Early this coming Wednesday morning, I'll land at New York City's JFK airport, borrow a car from friends, and drive north to an attractive cabin located in Platte Clove, a valley at the eastern edge of the Catskill Mountains that was etched by glacial meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age. Each summer, the mountain side cabin is home to a revolving door of visual artists, writers, composers, and ecologists selected by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development's Platte Clove Residency team. I'm honored to be one of the Platte Clove 2012 Artists-In-Residence.

From the residency's press materials:
"[The Platte Clove residency is] a retreat for artists, working in a variety of disciplines, located in the living landscape where American art began. Situated at the Catskill Center’s Platte Clove Nature Preserve, artists will reside in a rustic cabin in the middle of 208 wild, pristine acres full of hiking trails, multi-tiered waterfalls, and old growth forests."
If, when viewing the region's topography from above (think Google Maps), you imagine the Catskill Escarpment, the rugged northeastern range of the Catskill Mountains, to be a flexed arm, the Platte Clove cabin is located in the crook of the elbow. Though little known by name, the escarpment (and the elbow "crook," in particular) is one of the most celebrated landscapes of the United States. Made famous in the mid-19th century by Thomas Cole and other Hudson River School painters, Platte and Kaaterskill Cloves were, for a time, celebrated hotel destinations for New York City aristocrats; today, they're most popular with hikers.

Since I'll be hitting the trails, I expect to cross paths with quite a few fellow outdoorsy types, but I also hope to see abundant bird life, white-tailed deer, and maybe even a black bear. Being a herp enthusiast, I'd also love to encounter a timber rattlesnake. The only area residents I hope to avoid are deer ticks. The recipient of countless tick bites over the years, I've already been infected with Lyme Disease once (it was easily knocked out by a course of antibiotics), but I'd prefer not to deal with it again.

Thomas Cole
"A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning"
Oil on canvas
36 x 54 inches
During my four days in the Catskills, I'll shoot photographs, hike, read, create some painting/drawing studies, and keep a journal. The journal component of the project will detail my daily activity and species encounters, but will also include musings on the intersection of conservation and art. During my earlier residencies at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and Florida's Everglades National Park, I was able to provide HH readers with regular updates. (You can read the KHNC posts here; Everglades posts here.) The Platte Clove cabin lacks an Internet connection, however, so I don't expect to post anything until after my return to San Francisco. (The cabin also lacks running water, so, after several long days on the trails, I expect to be a little ripe, rolling back into the Big Apple looking and smelling like Grizzly Adams.)

More to follow.

Image credit: Platte Cove cabin photo ripped from

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