The 12th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island nestled between the tip of Manhattan and Brooklyn ended on a high note, Sunday, August 27.
People of all ages, dressed to the nine’s in flapper dresses and glad rags, bearing wicker picnic baskets, stream from the ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn, onto the island with its forts and structures from the Civil War and World War II. Mere minutes from Manhattan and Brooklyn, and yet a world and an era away.
A celebration of the “hot jazz” and joie de vie of the Roaring ‘20s, the festive event never fails to inspire sheer carefree happiness. It offers the full complexion, tapestry and vibrancy of New York – people of all ages and stripes turn out and for this all-too-brief time, help turn back the clock.
Conductor, composer, musician and crooner Michael Arenalla and his Dreamland Orchestra create this literal dream, with his meticulously recreated, personally transcribed songbook of the 1920s and 30s.
The entertainment abounds on two stages (and two dance floors): The Dreamland Follies evoke Ziegfeld-esque grand dance routines; Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers is a fun-loving dance troupe that conjures the rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s; Peter Mintun takes the moniker of “world’s greatest piano man”; the Gelber & Manning Band delight with their spirited music.
The event on Sunday, August 27, starts with Roddy Caravella and his wife Gretchen Fenston (who is also a milliner and costume designer in addition to being a ballroom dancer) giving a marvelous lesson in dancing The Peabody (which Caravella notes was created in 1915 by William Frank Peabody, a New York police lieutenant, who was a rather portly gent, who nonetheless loved a spirited, fast-paced dance; the innovation is in holding his partner on his right side to accommodate his girth. Caravella walks an enthusiastic group through the various movements: “The steps start and finish toe to toe,” (Caravella refers to gender-neutral “leaders” and “followers”), coming to the part of swirling the partner, “delicately flowering air” and the dipping motion.
The afternoon is interspersed with fun activities as well which you can join: Peabody Dance Contest to determine who is the Bee’s Knees; Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade, wearing vintage swimming outfits of the age; The High Court of Pie Contest.
The second stage features The Great Dubini and Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society.
You can immortalize the day in your own Vintage Portraits-You Ought To Be In Pictures, perched on a Paper Moons or in tintypes using the same techniques and chemicals (a mixture of gunpowder and ether) as were used more than a century ago; Antique Gramophones reanimate original recordings from the 1920s.
The only thing that bursts the illusion are the ubiquitous cell phones, but being captured in photos and videos streamed to Instagram seems as important to the happening as the music.
At the end, a rather sentimental Michael Arenella, showing his appreciation to his audience and fans, notes that when he originated the Jazz Age Lawn Party 12 years ago on Governors Island, it was just a small gathering of 50 friends and fans. The event has grown in popularity over the years “because of you,” who do so much to fulfill the look and feel of the 1920s and 30s. Some 20,000 fans come from all over during the course of the two weekends, in June and August.
Here are highlights of the Jazz Age Lawn Party in photos:
Can’t wait until next year’s Jazz Age Lawn Party? Michael Arenella also performs at The Clover Club, Flatiron Lounge and the Red Room. Visit www.DreamLandOrchestra.com.
32 of the 128 who entered the US Open Qualifying Matches have won their chance to compete in the US Open Tennis Championships – and earned a $50,000 purse, as well – after winning their third round matches. Along the way, top-seeds were toppled, including both the #1 seed in the Men’s tournament (Leonardo Mayer of Argentina) who fell to 18th seed Maximillan Marterer of Germany in straight sets (4-6, 5-7) and the #1 seed in the Women’s tournament, Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, who also was defeated in straight sets to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 2-6, 4-6)
The popular 2nd seeded man, Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who had to qualify despite zooming up in the rankings from 143rd to 67th in the world after his performance in the Rogers Cup, drew a standing room-only crowd at his third-round match, overcame the loss of the first set tie-breaker, to go on to decisively defeat Jan Satral of Czechoslovakia (6-7, 6-1, 6-3).
Here are highlights from the fourth day of the qualifying matches at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, New York, and photos of those who have won coveted chance to compete in the 2017 US Open Championships:
One of the many pleasures of coming out for the qualifying tournament – on top of seeing world-class tennis close up – is getting a chance to watch the pros practice.
This year, the USTA is continuing the tradition of Community Day, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, when the gates are thrown open (for free admission) beginning at noon to watch some of the game’s biggest names in the professional, collegiate and wheelchair ranks, as well as the world’s top juniors. Tournament play features:
The US Open Tennis Championship draws tennis fans from around the world to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park to what has become a glitzy and elite affair, but the week before the US Open tournament starts, there is the US Open Qualifying Matches, and for New Yorkers, a fabulous festival of tennis when the gates are flung open for all to enjoy.
From August 22-25, there is free admission to watch the US Open Qualifying matches – thrilling high quality play when all is on the line – as well as opportunities to watch your favorite pros on the practice courts (they now post the practice schedule).
There is a festive atmosphere and an amazingly intimate quality to being able to watch the matches close up, from prime seats.
This year, you will see an amazing transformation underway – construction is still going on for what will be the completely new Armstrong stadium.
The grounds are impressive, despite the construction underway (and during the Qualifying rounds, you see all the preparations and set-up activity, as well), with gorgeous views of the iconic Unisphere, the centerpiece of the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow Park, and a Walk of Champions.
The Qualifying Matches, when more than 100 players from around the world fight for a coveted spot in the Open, are exciting to watch. If they make it through three rounds of the Qualifying tournament, they will earn their spot to play in the Open; 16 out of 128 will advance. The matches are fabulous, and what is more, you can see the players really up close, you can wander around from match to match. I love the match-ups of nations: China versus a Chinese-American player; Russia versus Italy, as well as seeing how the challengers do against seeded players.
In fact, the quality of the competition rivals for your time and attention from the opportunity to watch Tennis Royalty warming up in the new Grandstand, as well as the practice courts.
Here, too, you can see the greats from a perch you would never have during the actual tournament.
The four days of matches are free and the festival atmosphere is enhanced with special events including Children’s Day activities, musical presentations, and the excitement of seeing the world’s best players practicing. You never know who you will encounter.
The quality of play at the qualifying matches is superb, and Everyday Joes have front-row seats to the intense action. It’s particular fun to wander from match to match.
This year, the US TA is continuing the tradition of Community Day, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, when the gates are thrown open (for free admission) beginning at noon to watch some of the game’s biggest names in the professional, collegiate and wheelchair ranks, as well as the world’s top juniors. Tournament play features:
New York City experienced 75% partial solar eclipse during the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017.Still, the views were exciting, since the sky was mostly clear, except, ironically, for a sudden build-up of clouds during the period of totality. Still, the clouds cleared for some good shots. The experience provided an excellent warm-up for the next total eclipse April 8, 2024, when the path of totality crosses upstate New York
I was actually able to photograph the International Space Station crossing in front of the sun, with the moon on the waning side of its journey across.
Unlike Ema Ryan Yamazaki, the director of the new documentary “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” who became enchanted with Curious George as a child in Japan, I only became a fan of that impish monkey whose curiosity always gets him into trouble, when I saw an exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City that showed how his adventures actually mirrored the real-life adventures of its creators, the artist Hans Rey and his wife Margret, who made a harrowing escape from the Holocaust by bicycle, just steps ahead of the Nazi invasion.
Yamazaki’s documentary engagingly and cleverly incorporates animation that blends seamlessly into Rey’s own drawings along with traditional documentary techniques – newsreels, artifacts, interviews – to tell their story, which is on one level, a story about their devoted relationship and the creative process but also one of survival.
Newsreels show the context of Hans and Margret’s lives as German Jews born to upper middle class families in Germany, how dire and entrenched the economic depression became after World War I, a war that Hans, still a teenager, was recruited into as a medic. But most chilling were the images of the rise of Nazism in Germany as a response to rampant desperation, the bombing of Paris, the tanks rolling into the city, the storming of Nazi soldiers, and the long lines of people desperately trying to leave.
The film uses an animated images of the couple fleeing Paris on the bicycles that Hans built out of spare parts (because none were available), and traces their harrowing journey to get to a train, then a port in order to flee to Portugal, a neutral country, and ultimately the United States. You see them passing by the Statue of Liberty, and their words (from interviews) of reaction: that they were finally free, in a country where everything is possible, the Land of Opportunity.
Without being preachy or hitting you over the head, the scenes are chilling echoes of what is happening today, with the greatest flight of refugees from genocide, terrorism, violence, economic deprivation, and famine since World War II.
And yet, the scenes are done without horror and brutality; instead, there is emphasis on the strangers they would call upon to give them a place to sleep and food to eat on their journey.
During the Reys’ flight, they were able to carry out only what they could fit into a bicycle basket, but they brought out the completed manuscript of the first “Curious George” book ( the character was named Fifi then) and they had the check for an advance for future books, which financed their journey.
In one scene, recreated in animation, they are stopped by thuggish police who go through their possessions, then, coming upon the book with the adorable monkey, they soften and let them pass through.
Curious George saves their lives.
And the character gave them new life in the United States.
They contact a sister who lives in Long Island who knows a book editor who turns out to be a refugee from Europe, as well, who knows their work, and immediately contracts for four books, with an advance of just $1000 (probably the best deal Houghton-Mifflin ever made).
The movie is absolutely charming and frank in describing the two different personalities, from interviews with the children, now Baby Boomer senior citizens themselves, who knew them from Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, where the couple spent summers.
An interesting note: the 1950s, we are reminded, was a period of intense anti-Semitism in the United States and Waterville Valley was not exactly welcoming to the German Jewish couple. But because of the children, who played and swam with Hans (he would play turtle with them) and watched Hans draw his character and were completely enchanted by him (Margret was described kindly as standoffish and severe, “to put it kindly”), the parents warmed up as well.
We get to know them – Margret as an independent minded, nontraditional, no-nonsense woman who was a calculating businessperson (she launched herself in advertising), who wrote the text for the books and was the “curious” one; and Hans, the “mischievous” one, who was good-humored, easy-going, and loved being with the children. He was the one who would feed squirrels (digging a tunnel so they could reach his house without crossing a road), who built a bird-feeder that the squirrels couldn’t get to and a squirrel-feeder the birds couldn’t get to. At one point, Lay Lee Ong, library executor of the Rey Estate, notes that their relationship was not based on love, and yet, they completed each other and were devoted to each other and indeed, the sum of the duo was greatly more than each one alone.
As Margret says, Curious George’s curiosity gets him into trouble, but his ingenuity gets him out of it.
Anyone who grew up loving Curious George, loves the process of making art and creating children’s books, would be fascinated, but it is also a study in relationships and a genuine drama, an adventure that resonates so strongly today.
Monkey Business is narrated by Sam Waterston (“Grace and Frankie,” “The Newsroom,” “Law And Order,” whose sister was one of the Reys’ neighbors in Waterville Valley) and is the directorial debut of filmmakerEma Ryan Yamazaki, and animated by Jacob Kafka.
At the screening as part of the ongoing Gold Coast Arts Center’s International Film Festival at the BowTie movie theater in Great Neck, Long Island, discussed the film in a Q&A.
Kafka, the son of a rabbi and a seismologist who has been making movies since he was five years old, in addition to making animated short films, developed the animation software for ROUGHANIMATOR for mobile devices which has been used by animators worldwide, was for a full year the only full-time animator.
Indeed, one of the most impressive aspects of the film biography is the animation, so novel for a documentary, but so appropriate for telling the Reys’ story. It is remarkable how Kafka was able to reproduce Hans Rey’s own style so seamlessly, literally animating Hans’ drawings.
“I tried as best I could to copy his style.” Indeed, the still characters take on movement and life because of his animation.
He said that the film utilizes some 15,000 individual drawings – each one hand-drawn (rather than computer-animated) – averaging 10 per second of film. Hans Rey would typically insert Margret and himself into the drawing, so he based his images of them on Hans’ own depictions.
“Each is hand-drawn, frame by frame. We ultimately had a team of 8-9 people – but only two were full time, and for the first year, it was just me. The background designer drew anything that doesn’t move; anything that moves, I drew. After a kickstarter campaign last year, we were able to bring on other animators.”
It was decided early on to use animation in the documentary because there was very little actual footage of the Reys. Though they did many television interviews in the 1960s and 1970s, at that time, nothing was saved.
Among the interesting elements that were discovered, was overturning the myth (which Hans enjoyed perpetuating) that while Hans was in Brazil, working for his brother-in-law’s import/export business, that he went up and down the Amazon River selling bathtubs. Though Hans traveled on the Amazon to see the jungle life (capturing images of monkeys, no doubt that figured into his Curious George creation), it wasn’t to sell bathtubs which would be absurd. That was a common truth that Hans indulged, and appears in many biographies, but was completely untrue, Kafka said, but only discovered well into making the film (there are scenes of Hans selling bathtubs to the tribal people along the Amazon).
But what they never uncovered was the origin of the character of the Man in the Yellow Hat.
Production on the documentary began three years ago and was finished in January. Asked whether the current refugee crisis figured into the making, he said it was coincidental timing, but became more and more relevant, especially because of director Ema Ryan Yamazaki, who grew up in Japan, had her own immigrant experience.
Lay Lee Ong, library executor of the Rey Estate, has been successful in keeping alive and reviving Curious George – with movies, PBS, and a new generation of artists carrying on the tradition.
“Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” which had its Los Angeles premiere in June and has been making rounds of film festivals (has been an official selection of the Los Angeles Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, and Rooftop Film Series before coming to the 2017 Summer Gold Coast Cinema Series), will be available online and on demand August 15 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Comcast, TWC and others (see curiousgeorgedocumentary.com).
The 7th Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival will take place November 7-14, 2017 at venues across the town of North Hempstead, on Long Island’s fabled North Shore. (goldcoastfilmfestival.org).
Housed in what was Childs Frick’s natural history laboratory where he studied paleontology, the newly opened Manes Family Art & Education Center on the grounds of the Nassau County Museum of Art – Frick’s former estate – gives the museum a new dimension in arts education and appreciation.
The Manes Center, named in recognition of Museum Trustee Dr. Harvey Manes and the Manes Foundation’s $1 million gift, gives the museum the space to offer a dynamic and creative environment in which audiences of all ages and abilities can find creative engagement through a variety of activities, classes and projects. This includes new hands-on programs for children as young as 3, adults from beginners to skilled, and an ambitious curriculum for autistic individuals.
The environment is special: Childs Frick, the son of Henry Clay Frick, was a vertebrate paleontologist and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History. The center has repurposed Frick’s labs into art “labs,” each dedicated to a specific type of art learning, to address the multiple learning styles, interests and abilities of adults and children: Hands-On Studio Lab, Indoor/Outdoor Lab, Reading Resource Lab and Design Tech Lab, as well as additional exhibit space.
This means that for the first time, the Museum will be able to offer hands-on multi-day workshops across the visual arts disciplines.
“Family programs at the Manes Center provide children and the adults in their lives the opportunity to take time from their busy schedules to reconnect while talking about and making art together. Each week we offer projects that encourage curiosity and experimentation, and creative thinking through a variety of experiences and materials inspired by current exhibitions.”
“Before, we always scrambled for space in order to run programs at the museum,” commented NCMA Director Karl E. Willers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, August 3. “This facility allows us to enhance and expand all kinds of classes… Programs can be geared to exhibits as well as to open to the surrounding landscape. Many art programs integrate science and the natural world. It adds a new dimension to our educational offerings – extended hands-on workshops, more events going on simultaneously spanning age and ability groups, when before we were limited by the space availability in the mansion.”
The building, which was designed for Charles Frick’s paleontology research (the specimens he collected are now at the Museum of Natural History), is a series of laboratories that are being repurposed for making art in all its forms. The floors are finished to accommodate workshops and there are sinks!
“We can offer proper professional art spaces for people to look at and make art in contemporary studio facility,” said Reem Hussein, who was brought in to manage the center. We are bringing in technology – i-Pads to create art with technology. But we are mindful of people who want traditional art making.
“These are programs we don’t offer now. We will able to offer more series programs, rather than one-shots and lectures.”
She said that the rooms are called “labs” to pay homage to Frick.
The New American Garden Inaugural Exhibit
The public is invited to preview the Manes Center and take in its inaugural exhibit, “The New American Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Oehme, van Sweden.”
Organized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation, The New American Garden is a traveling photographic exhibition which chronicles the careers and influence of Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden who revolutionized landscape architecture with the creation of a type of garden characterized by large swaths of grasses and fields of perennials. The gardens are the penultimate merger of man and nature, and the ultimate in “installation” art’s ephemeral quality. Indeed, 10 of the gardens that are immortalized in the photographs are gone, and many others are in jeopardy.
During this introductory period, through September 7, admission to the Manes Center is free (free admission offer does not include the main building, the Saltzman Fine Art Building).
The building now looks as a low-level white box, but that will soon change. The pop/surrealist modern artist Kenny Scharf is being invited to paint the exterior. After that, it is anticipated that the landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden will create a new garden.
The focus on gardens for the inaugural exhibit at the Manes Center is also appropriate for this grand estate.
Most of the 145 acres originally belonged to poet, lawyer, conservationist, political activist, patron of the arts and preservationist William Cullen Bryant, who settled in Roslyn in 1843. The long-time editor of the New York Post built is home, Cedarmore, and founded Roslyn’s public library. In 1862, he built a cottage for his friend and fellow poet, Miss Jerusha Dewey (you can see the cottage when you explore the hiking trails on the grounds). In 1900, Lloyd Stephens Bryce purchased Bryant’s ‘Upland Farm’ and commissioned architect Ogden Codman, Jr. to design Bryce House, the present mansion. Henry Clay Frick, co-founder of US Steel Corporation purchased Bryce House in 1919 as a gift for his son, Childs Frick, a Princeton graduate who became a vertebrate paleontologist and naturalist.
For museum-goers, the estate grounds also offer:
Sculpture Park: Approximately 30 works, many of them monumental in size, by renowned artists including Fernando Botero, Tom Otterness, George Rickey and Mark DiSuvero among others, are situated to interact with nature on the museum’s magnificent 145-acre property.
Walking Trails: The museum’s 145 acres include many marked nature trails through the woods, perfect for family hikes or independent exploration.
Gardens: From restored formal gardens of historic importance to quiet little nooks for dreaming away an afternoon, the museum’s 145 acre property features many lush examples of horticultural arts. Come view our expanded gardens and beautiful new path to the museum.
Today, Frick’s mansion is the Saltzman Fine Arts Building, home to the Nassau County Museum of Art, which has put on world-class exhibitions and has a notable collection, including 150 Tiffany paintings and drawings which were bequeathed to the museum.
Currently on exhibit in the Saltzman Fine Art Building (through November 5, 2017)
“New York, New York”: From its earliest years, New York City was the stage on which the transformation of America played out, reflecting economic and historic upheavals that led to the city’s place as the financial and art capital of the world. This exhibition, guest curated by Director Emerita Constance Schwartz, portrays the city’s grit and glamour, its excitement and bustle, the heartbeat of a great metropolis, through more than 140 works by artists such as John Sloan, Reginald Marsh, Childe Hassam, Red Grooms, Robert Henri, Fairfield Porter, Berenice Abbott, Milton Avery and Georgia O’Keeffe among many others.
“Glamour Icons: Marc Rosen”: Through the work of the award-winning designer Marc Rosen, Glamour Icons celebrates fragrance and cosmetic packaging as an art form. This retrospective spanning the designer’s 40-year career includes many of his most iconic designs as well as some vintage 20th-century perfume bottles from Rosen’s personal collection. The designer’s work has been recognized with many industry awards and is also in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Musée de La Mode in Paris.
Family Sundays – 1– 4 pm (free with admission): Be inspired by an exhibition based gallery conversation, then explore new art materials and learn new art-based vocabulary and ideas in the studio with our museum educator.
Super Family Sundays – 1-4 pm (admission plus $10 materials fee):
Families immerse themselves in artmaking and exploring the Museum, the grounds, and sculpture collection during Super Family Sundays. Multiple activities are offered in collaboration with teaching artists in a variety of media, from performance to monumental cardboard constructions. Themes connecting the artmaking activities are inspired by the art on view in our galleries, the Museum’s history or the changing seasons on display in its forests and gardens.
Preview of Educational Programs at Manes Center
Among the arts education programs that will be available at the Manes Center beginning this fall:
Early Childhood Programs: Programs for young children and their adult companions at the Manes Center are all about discovery. Both in the galleries and in the art studio, children find opportunity for self-expression, socialization, and experimentation, through creative play and exploration through open ended developmentally appropriate experiences. Looking at and talking about art fosters visual literacy in young children.
Story Time for 3 to 5 year olds, featuring gallery exploration and hands-on art activities.
Young Artists (ages 3-5) programs for children and their adult companions consist of hands-on activities designed to experiment and become familiar with art materials and processes.
An Outdoor Classroom program will offer guided and self-guided activities for children to encourage the exploration of the natural environment through experiences that make the connection between art and science. Activities are designed to encourage open air exploration and imaginative play.
A drawing class geared to children 8-11 years old, to learn the rules of traditional drawing by practicing line, shading, and perspective through drawing in the studio and gallery and using experimental materials.
A program tentatively titled “Imagine, Design & Build,” for children 11-15 to experience the design process through sketching and building as they dive deep into creative thinking and problem-solving to explore the connections between design, art, science, and technology.
A program for teens 13-17 is aimed at supporting high school students who are preparing portfolios as part of their college applications. Group and individual instruction focus on elements and principles of art and design through application to students’ own work and conversations about art work in the museum’s galleries. Student will have the opportunity for work with live models, critique sessions, and portfolio reviews.
Hands-on studio programs are being designed for adults of all levels of art making experience, taught by experienced artists. The programs focus on group and individual projects to help adults explore and learn art skills and processes, and have opportunities for personal expression. Adults will learn techniques of drawing & painting, sculpture, and printmaking and have opportunities to draw from live models.
“The Creative Process” dovetails with every changing exhibition in the Manes Center’s contemporary art gallery: visitors are invited to create in response to the art on view through hands on activities that focus on artists’ themes, processes, and materials. Projects are designed to pique curiosity and inspire creativity, and gain new insights into the creative process.
Life drawing at the Manes Center will present the opportunity to draw from a live model through gesture sketches and longer duration poses under the guidance of a teaching artist.
Adults can learn the basics of drawing and painting and explore materials such as graphite, charcoal, and conté crayon, watercolor and acrylic paint. Projects will be inspired by art history and current gallery exhibitions.
The center will also offer programs in using digital arttools to create traditional and experimental works of art.
Art Talksfor adults invited scholars, academics and exhibiting artists to introduce and discuss topics in the field of art with visitors in an intimate salon style setting.
Programs for Special Needs
Art education programs are also being designed for children, teens and adults with special needs.
One program invites families affected by autism into the galleries and art studio to talk about and make art. Throughout the course of this program parents and caregivers will gain skills in behavioral methods that they can employ when bringing their child into a community setting. Families will join the Art Educator trained in Art Therapy in fun interactive gallery experiences that provide opportunities for everyone to look at and talk about art in a group setting. Then off to the studio for hands on art making activities that encourage experimentation with new materials, processes and creative play.
Another workshop is aimed at building social and vocational skills for teens and young adults with autism through arts-based workshops. During this workshop series, teens will receive hands on training in basic artistic processes that can be translated into practical job skills. Based on current exhibitions in the galleries at Nassau County Museum of Art, these workshops will encourage participants to explore different methods of art making and design and how a museum can be a resource for creative inspiration. Students with autism will have the opportunity to apply their artistic skills and functional academic learning in a real world setting.
Explore picture & art books and related resources about art history and museum exhibitions. This space is equipped with manipulatives and simple drawing materials for young children.
The Manes Center will also be available for birthday parties, with appropriate art project activities. Party bookings are available on Saturdays 12:30 – 2 pm.
Nassau County Museum of Art, consisting of the Saltzman Fine Art Building and The Manes Family Art & Education Center, is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor, just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road. The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and above) and $4 for students and children (4 to12). During the August 3-September 10 preview of the Manes Center, there is no admission fee (this does not include admission to the Saltzman Fine Art Building). Members are admitted free. Docent-led tours of the exhibition are offered at 2 p.m. each day; tours of the mansion are offered each Saturday at 1 p.m.; meet in the lobby, no reservations needed. Tours are free with museum admission. Family art activities and family tours are offered Sundays from 1 pm; free with museum admission. Call (516) 484-9338, ext. 12 to inquire about group tours. The Museum Store is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 516-484-9338 for current exhibitions, events, days/times and directions or log onto nassaumuseum.org.
With just one full day to explore Saratoga Springs, I am still able to take in the high points that distinguish this town, which has been so popular a place for visitors going back to the 14th century, when its mineral springs were first discovered by Native Americans. Later, it became a major center for organized horse racing, a tradition which remains today, and draws the biggest crowds during the six-weeks of racing season. But Saratoga Springs, owing to the millionaires and elites and then the colleges including Skidmore, has also become a cultural mecca, especially for dance. The Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center is the summer home for the New York City Ballet and now the home of the National Museum of Dance.
National Museum of Dance
During my one full day in Saratoga Springs, after thoroughly exploring its horse-racing traditions at the race track and the National Museum of Racing, I next visit the National Museum of Dance, which is located just at the entrance to the Saratoga Spa State Park in what had been the historic Washington Bathhouse (there is still an exhibit to the historic spa). This is such a surprise.
It exquisitely reflects the visual as well as the athletics and art of dance; surprised at seeing video going back to 1895 of dance. All the dance legends are represented with stunning photos, videos, costumes.
Established in 1986, the National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame is the only museum of its kind in the nation and one of only a few in the world dedicated to the art of dance (which is why they claim the name, “National.”)
It is set in the former Washington Bathhouse, a 1918 Arts & Crafts style building in the Saratoga Spa State Park which provided health spa treatments (there are rooms you can visit from that time).
The Museum’s archives house a growing collection of photographs, videos, costumes, documents, biographies and artifacts that honor all forms of dance throughout history.
The museum’s galleries feature rotating exhibits and three permanent exhibits including the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame.
Dancers in Film, a delightful ongoing exhibition, celebrates the relationship between dancers and film, and features both well-known dance stars and our favorite actors who have had world famous dance roles on the silver screen. Highlighted in the exhibit are Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients Ann-Margret (2010), John Travolta (2014), and Chita Rivera (2015). You will love sitting and watching the fast-changing videos. I am frankly amazed to see some of the oldest ones, even from 1895 (at the very dawn of movie-making).
Sparked by an abundant discourse both age-old and current, The Dancing Athlete is an innovative exhibition that explores the inherent connections between dance and sports, and dancers and athletes, and the influence and confluence of these forms throughout history. Through costumes, photographs, video, objects, and archival materials, the exhibit examines these relationships within several themes such as cross training and physiological impact, shared movement vocabularies, and sports-inspired choreography, among others. A select group of athletes and dancers including Lynn Swann, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Edward Villella are showcased as well as several choreographic works including Gene Kelly’s stunning “A Man’s Game”. By highlighting the athletic prowess of dancers and injecting popular sports and athletes, boys, especially, will better appreciate dance.
Opened in 1987, the Dance Hall of Fame honors dance pioneers of all types whether they are choreographers, composers, writers, dancers, or patrons; there are more than 50 who are so far included in the Hall of Fame. Among them: Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Agnes deMille, Rudolph Nureyev, Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Busby Berkeley, Jerome Robbins, Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, The Nicholas Brothers, Bob Fosse, Marge Champion, Tommy Tune, Edward Villella and Michael Jackson and the newest inductees, Gregory Hines and Patricia Wilde who are featured in special exhibits devoted to their careers (see a complete list of the inductees, http://dancemuseum.org/exhibits/hof.html).
The Museum campus also includes the Lewis A. Swyer Studios, a building constructed specifically for the purpose of keeping live dance as part of the Museum’s offerings. The Swyer Studios welcome frequent master classes, lecture/demonstrations, residencies, and other programs, as well as the Museum’s very own dance school, the School of the Arts, which offers dance classes to all ages, levels, and interests. The Museum also offers a wide selection of special programs, events, and workshops throughout the year.
Twist! Jump! Play! Dance! The Alfred Z. Solomon Children’s Wing is an interactive space just for kids, with a video library, reading corner, movement and balance toys, and stage area. A Kids’ Gallery showcases rotating exhibits of children’s artwork and is where visitors can create their own masterpieces.
The museum also offers a Resource Room with thousands of books, periodicals, and print items for dance research available to the public.
When I visit, I notice young girls, their hair tied back in the bun typical of dancers, looking on with adoration. This is their Cooperstown.
National Museum of Dance, 99 South Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, 518-584-2225, dancemuseum.org, email@example.com
There is a very good reason for the National Museum of Dance to be set at Saratoga Spa State Park: Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), a stunning amphitheater, is set in the heart of The Spa State Park and is the summer residence of the New York City Ballet as well as the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. Surrounded by 2,400 acres of green hills, geysers, natural mineral springs and hiking trails, you can enjoy jazz, pop and classical concerts. (108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, spac.org).
I didn’t get a chance to really explore the Saratoga Spa State Park, but it has a score of attractions contained within it, in addition to the National Museum of Dance and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It also has the Saratoga Automobile Museum, which this year is featuring as its main exhibit, “The Gavel: Cars of the Saratoga Auto Auction” which gives an insider look at the workings of the classic and collector automobile auctions that have become so popular with television viewers. Vehicles on display range from a 1931 Ford Model A Woody to a very rare 1957 Chrysler 300C standard shift, a 1957 Ford Thunderbird and a 1957 Continental Mark II. Imports represented include a 2003 Maserati Spyder convertible and a 2013 Lotus Exige Factory Cup on display. These cars, along with hundreds of others, are on display until September 17, when they are all headed for the auction block in September at the Saratoga Auto Auction. (110 Ave of the Pines, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 , 518-587-1935, www.saratogaautomuseum.org, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm).
Saratoga Spa State Park, distinguished by its classical architecture and listed as a National Historic Landmark, is noted for its diverse cultural, aesthetic and recreational resources. In addition to the nationally-known Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Spa Little Theater, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths and Spa, Spa Golf Courses, the park offers a pool complex including slide complex and historic Victoria Pool surrounded by arched promenades; hiking and walking trails, running courses, picnic areas; winter activities include cross-country skiing on approximately 12 miles of trails, ice skating, ice hockey, and two golf courses.
My walking tours from the Inn at Saratoga take me passed and through Congress Park, where in 1792, New Hampshire Congressman John Gilman discovered a mineral spring. (I also take note of a free cutey-pie trolley that operates up Broadway, but I prefer to walk). In 1822, Dr. John Clarke purchased Congress Spring and surrounding land, drained the swamp and built a park where he offered concerts. He built his impressive Greek Revival home overlooking the park, as well as a bottling plant. In 1876, Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park, designed the gardens. The Park today harbors a visitor center (built in 1915 as a trolley station); the Casino (a gaming house for men built in 1870 by prize fighter, former Congressman and gambling entrepreneur who developed Saratoga horse racing, John Morrissey, which today houses the Saratoga Springs History Museum), Italian Gardens, Congress Park Carousel, and some wonderful sculptures, fountains and monuments.
At the visitor center you can pick up some wonderful self-guided tours, such as North Broadway, “a neighborhood of exceptional residential architecture”; West Side Neighborhood (“The City’s first prime residential location, where many of the people who owned, supported and worked in the bustling resort industry lived.:”and East Side Neighborhood, once home to Skidmore College, rich in history and spectacular architecture, including stunning examples of Greek Revival, Victorian, Gothic, Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne styles.
On the Friday night I am in Saratoga Springs, I have a plethora of choices: watching harness racing, polo matches, a performance of the New York City Ballet, and any number of live music venues, including Caffe Lena.
I wander over to Caffè Lena, a famous folk-music venue which the New York times in 2013 called “Folk Music Heaven, was sporting a $2 million renovation, its first since opening in the 1960, and had people lined up out the door hoping to get through a wait-list for that evening’s performance. It actually offers a range of styles – folk, jazz, poetry night, open-mike night – and still retains the intimacy of a small room and small stage, so you are mere feet away from the performer. “Opened in a former woodworking shop in 1960, the café has helped launch many of America’s best loved songwriters, ranging from Bob Dylan in 1961 to Sawyer Fredericks in 2014, with an dazzling Who’s Who list in between. When founder Lena Spencer passed away in 1989, Caffè Lena was converted to a non-profit institution supported by concert revenue, private and corporate donors, grants and bequests, and an ever-evolving team of volunteers.” (Caffè Lena, 47 Phila Street, 518-583-0022, Tickets: 800-838-3006, email:firstname.lastname@example.org. caffelena.org.)
For more information or to help plan your visit, Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau, 60 Railroad Place, 855-424-6073, 518-584-1531, https://discoversaratoga.org/.
Tucked just above Albany, New York, small-town Saratoga Springs’ fortunes have been tied to tourism since forever. Its mineral springs has been drawing visitors since the 14th century, when Native Americans first discovered the healing properties of the springs, and were the first lure to America’s earliest tourists. But along the way, the village also developed organized horseracing, which brought the elites, and later on, a rich cultural menu. And all of these come together during the six weeks of summer when racing is underway at the historic track, though Saratoga Springs is very much a four-season destination.
Saratoga Springs seems to have grown up around the Inn at Saratoga, which dates from 1843 and staying here gives you a sense of place. (The Inn at Saratoga, 231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, 518-583-1890, 800-274-3573, theinnatsaratoga.com.)
It’s just a very short walk from the inn down Broadway to the heart of the culturally vibrant community decorated with painted horses (evoking its historic racing tradition) and ballet shoes (a tip of the hat to its cultural heritage) and banners – a stunning streetscape lined with Victorian buildings, where I go the night I arrive. It is late but there are still some live music venues, pubs, pizza places (open til 3 am), and plenty of people out and about.
A marker in front of the historic Adelphi Hotel, which dates from 1877, makes you appreciate all the more the work underway ($30 million worth) to reopen the hotel , which has been closed for five years. It is where the colorful Irish-born prize-fighter, gambling entrepreneur credited with establishing the Saratoga Race Course , New York State Senator and Tammany Hall enforcer John Morrissey, a regular of the hotel, died in 1878.
Indeed, the immediate impression is that Saratoga Springs is a combination of Louisville, Kentucky with its strong racing tradition, and Lenox, Massachusetts, with its superlative cultural offerings, with mineral springs and health spa thrown in for good measure.
The next morning, after a delectable breakfast at the inn, I walk through Congress Park, passed the Morrissey Fountain and the Casino, the gaming house for men which Morrissey built (now home to the Saratoga Springs History Museum) to Union Street, where Skidmore College was once located (today there is the Empire College and absolutely stunning Victorian houses, several of which are bed-and-breakfast inns), to Saratoga’s historic racetrack. Passing by for the moment the National Museum of Racing, I stroll over to the track where riders are finishing up their morning workouts. The six-week racing season will begin in just a couple of weeks (July 21 this year), but there is already harness racing and polo underway.
Thoroughbred racing did not actually begin in Saratoga Springs – the legacy heralds back to colonial days, 1665, with the establishment of the Newmarket course in Salisbury, New York, a section of what is now known as the Hempstead Plains of Long Island (attractive because it was flat), in the Westbury/East Garden City section of Nassau County. (Today, Belmont Park, the third leg of the prestigious Triple Crown races, is close to where the original track would have been. As I subsequently learn at the National Museum of Racing, August Belmont originally owned, Man o’War, one of the most famous horses in all of racing, who is heralded at the museum.
The Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, one of the most famous horseracing tracks in the world, boasts being America’s oldest sporting venue of any kind. In 1863, the former undefeated bare-knuckle boxing champion John Morrissey staged the first organized thoroughbred meeting here at an old trotting course. In 1864, the racetrack hosted the Travers Stakes, named for William Travers, making it the oldest major thoroughbred horse race in America.
The racetrack grew to prominence for hosting The Travers, nicknamed the Midsummer Derby, which brings together the greatest three-year-old horses to the race course to compete for the $1.25 million purse, and the track enjoyed prosperity, expanding in 1891-92. Millionaires moved in, including the DuPonts and the Whitneys.
By 1890, there were 314 tracks operating in the United States. And in 1893, there was the Great Panic that led to an economic depression on the scale of the 1930s. The Saratoga race course was forced to close in 1896 because of financial hardship.
But the track regained renown with the dramatic match-up between Man o’ War and appropriately named Upset in the 1919 Sanford Stakes, in which Man o’ War suffered his only career defeat (Man o’ War won the 1920 Travers). .
When Triple Crown victor Gallant Fox was defeated by a horse (Jim Dandy) with 100-1 odds in 1930, Saratoga became known by an ominous nickname “The Graveyard of Champions.”
Saratoga has drawn the top names in thoroughbred racing – Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Rachel Alexandra, Curlin, Gallant Fox, the mighty Man o’ War, and American Pharoah.
One of the delightful aspects of the Saratoga race course is that horses walk right through the crowd, on a white-fenced path, to get to the paddock for their races so you get to see them up close. (I also find that you can come out around 5:30 am, and watch the horses being exercised from outside the fence.)
The course is stunning – with architectural majesty on par with Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky – and it is interesting that it is here, rather than at one of the Triple Crown venues, that the Hall of Fame for thoroughbred horsing racing is located, honoring the most notable horses, jockeys, owners and trainers.
(Saratoga Race Course, 267 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866; info about upcoming races at nyra.com.)
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
Even if you are not particularly engaged in horse racing (and especially so), you will be fascinated to tour the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, which opened in 1950 (located directly across the boulevard from the Saratoga Race Course) and has been expanded and improved since. You see in paintings, documents, artifacts, that show how engrained horse racing is in American culture, America’s first major organized sport going back to colonial times. Early presidents including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison up through Ulysses S. Grant were avid race-goers. Andrew Jackson’s passion for horse racing and gambling was well known and he reputedly once fought a duel over a wager; Jackson also bred racehorses at the Hermitage and operated a racing stable from the White House during his presidency.
You get to see the lineage of the hall of fame horses (they all trace back to just a couple of horses). You can even try your hand on a racing simulator – a mechanical horse synchronized to move with jockey cam videos, so you experience a race from the jockey’s point of view, racing for the finish (this is actually much harder than you would think, and some riding experience is necessary). Horse racing is visually stunning, as much as it is dramatic, and this comes through in the exhibits.
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s honorees include horses such as Man o’ War (1957), Seabiscuit (1958) and jockeys like Willie Shoemaker (1958), and you can also watch videos of the Hall of Famers. On view this year is a special exhibit for Man o’ War at 100 (through 2018). The museum also hosts Oklahoma training track tours from June-October; reservations required. (191 Union Avenue, 518-584-0400, www.racingmuseum.org)
While thoroughbred racing had not yet started this season, harness racing and polo matches were already underway.
Saratoga Polo Matches are held every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday night starting at 5:30 pm during the Saratoga Polo season, which runs from July 10 to Labor Day. Tickets may be purchased at the gate beginning at 4 pm the day of the match. Casual chic is the recommended attire at the highly social polo match gatherings. (Saratoga Polo Association, 2 Bloomfield Road, Greenfield Center, NY 12833, saratogapolo.com)
For more information or to help plan your visit, Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau, 60 Railroad Place, 855-424-6073, 518-584-1531, https://discoversaratoga.org/.