Folk Art in Wood

On view by reservation September 2 – October 15

Catskills Folk Connection presents an exhibit of local artists, “Folk Art in Wood,” on view by reservation at Hanford Mills Museum from Wednesday, September 2 through October 15. The exhibit features artists who work with wood in a wide variety of ways.

Joe Dibble carves decoys of water birds such as swans, geese, and ducks, plus wood carvings of trout and land birds. Gary Mead creates one-of-a-kind furniture from carefully selected wood, some of which he harvests and mills specifically for his projects. Kira Lendo creates pictures on wood, drawing wildlife and Catskills scenes with a wood burner. Joe Hewitt and Ken Etts know the secret of the “whistle stick”, a folk toy they make out of a notched stick and a small propeller, which reverses direction when they whistle. Dane Scudder and Chris Carey, both of whom play for the Tremperskill Boys square dance band, make banjos that feature local woods. Many of the artists have additional creations to show with their wooden art: pen and ink drawings and watercolors, artwork from the previous generation that inspired them, and poems that come from the same creative spirit as the carving. Also featured is the work of historic wood carvers, Lavern Kelley and Homer Benedict.

Trout carving by Joe Dibble

“We are delighted to showcase the work of these local artists,” says Liz Callahan, executive director of Hanford Mills Museum. “This collaboration with the Catskills Folk Connection dovetails perfectly with the history of the Mill and its past and present operations.”

Photo: Trout carved by Joe Dibble

“I was pleased to find so many artists in the Catskills making art with wood and I was surprised that they are creating such a wide variety of expressions, from wooden toys, pictures on wood, to one-of-a-kind furniture, and evocative, hand-carved decoys.  Folk art is alive and well in the Catskills,” says Ginny Scheer, folklorist at Catskills Folk Connection, an organization which fosters traditional arts and activities in the Catskills region.

Catskills Folk Connection interview with Gary Mead

Ms. Scheer is conducting “Meet the Folklorist” interviews with the artists featured in the exhibit:

Catskills Folk Lyceum Lecture on Lavern Kelley September 5

On Saturday, September 5, at 2 pm, Sydney L. Waller will offer a talk about Lavern Kelley.  Ms. Waller, a gallerist who manages the artistic estate of Lavern Kelley, will explore the career of this well-known Catskills carver. As a youth, Kelley began depicting farm scenes, first in pencil, and then in three-dimensional carvings which he painted in realistic colors. Carefully carved trucks, tractors, carts, and wagons, some in farm scenes with fences and barns, all take their place in his voluminous work that lasted decades. Ms. Waller is lending a number of his carvings for the exhibit.  Kelley’s work, along with works by Homer Benedict on loan from the Delaware County Historical Association, provide historical context for the work of present-day Catskills artists.

Reservations needed to view exhibit or attend talk; Both are free

The exhibit will be on view by reservation from September 2 through October 15, at Hanford Mills Museum, 51 County Route 12, East Meredith, NY.  Call Hanford Mills Museum at 607/274-5744 for tickets to the talk and/or exhibit. Guided tours of Hanford Mills are also available by reservation, Wednesdays-Sundays as well as on Labor Day and Columbus Day. Call 607/278-5744 to reserve your guided tour.   

About Catskills Folk Connection

Catskills Folk Connection logo

Catskills Folk Connection’s work to foster traditional arts in the Catskills includes offering square dances in four of the region’s counties, presentations about Catskills food traditions at festivals, biannual folk art exhibits such as this one, and an annual display about CFC’s progress studying stone architecture in Roxbury. The organization, which is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group,  has applied for designation as a non-profit and will soon be seeking Catskills residents and visitors who enjoy its programming to support the organization through memberships and volunteering. Catskills Folk Connection is funded in part by the NYS Council on the Arts Folk Art Program, by Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, by Action and Vision Grants from HumanitiesNY, and by the O’Connor Foundation. For more information about Catskills Folk Connection go to its blog, visit Catskills Folk Connection on Facebook, or contact Ginny Scheer 607/326-4206 or