Inspired by local history, Nyack arts scene thrives
Among the apples, homemade cookies and coffee for sale at the Nyack Farmers Market, shoppers can also find original art. "There must be something in the soil, or something in the water around here because some of the greatest contributions to American art have taken place in Nyack," said artist Bill Batson, 49, who sells greeting card landscape sketches from a booth at the market. The farmers market is held at the Nyack Center on Thursdays until early May, when it moves outdoors.
Writer Carson McCullers, artist Edward Hopper and actress Helen Hayes are just some of the famous artists who have called the river community in Rockland County home. Hayes has a theater there named for her, and Hopper's childhood home is an arts center.
On a typical day, the farmers market might have 15 produce vendors and several artists, including one who sells sculpture made of driftwood. "Art is a part of a nutritious diet -- that's why they include art here at the farmers market," Batson said. Nyack Mayor Jen White, who has created a public arts commission, agreed as she admired one of Batson's ink drawings of McCullers' home.
Although Nyack doesn't have a dedicated train station, it attracts people who appreciate its proximity to Manhattan and the Hudson River. "Down by the Hudson, it's almost as if you're down by the sea," said Leann Mailly, 23, a classically trained pianist. "I guess the juxtaposition of urban and nature provides a cool blend."
The Hudson River is an important element in the work of many Nyack artists. "Living close to the water or to the Hudson River, the light is so wonderful," said Victor Zaldivar, an artist in his early 50s who paints in the style of the Old Masters. "The humidity helps get this sort of light -- it's like velvet, it surrounds the whole space."
At Vincent's Ear, a Nyack art supply store, owner Tracy Kachtick-Anders said that local artists working today seem to stick to a traditional style. "I think a lot of that is inspired by Hopper having lived here," she said. She offers weekly artist workshops and is a founding member of the Nyack Art Collective, a group that helps artists work and exhibit in town. "Also, the Hudson River and the architecture of the homes inspires people to do landscapes," she said.