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Elective Education 

Learning Beyond the Classroom

click to enlarge Meredith Rosier teaching “Drawing and Abstraction: Interpretation and Form” at the Woodstock School of Art.
  • Meredith Rosier teaching “Drawing and Abstraction: Interpretation and Form” at the Woodstock School of Art.

You may eventually fail to remember the correct spelling of Shawangunk, or neglect Kingston’s title as the first capital of New York, but the Hudson Valley backdrop is impossible to forget. The violet, peacock blue, fire-kiln hues of the sky, the commanding presence of the Hudson River, the rise of Smiley tower over Mohonk’s staggering foliage—these experiences are imperishable because they are inspirational. In a surrounding that fuels our imagination long after we’ve gone, how could we not, as curious beings, desire to investigate every microcosm while we’re here?

The many continuing education opportunities allow you to further develop a current interest or delve into something unexplored. Every class offers something more than a greater breadth of knowledge. “People come out of class feeling more in tune with All That Is,” says Philippe Garnier, who teaches sound healing workshops at the Sage Center for the Healing Arts in Woodstock. Interaction, both personal and social, will continuously prove to be rewarding. “While we are providing an educational venue for people, the other side of our purpose involves providing a community,” says Arzi McKeown, curriculum coordinator of Lifespring, an adult learning community in Saugerties. These are the days that will develop into memories—let’s expend all the inspiration we can.

Alpha to Omega
The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck is a global meeting place. The workshops attract learners from around the corner and across the country. Bobby McFerrin, Ani DiFranco, and Rick Jarow (author of Creating the Work You Love), are a few of the famous names to host workshops this year. The most attractive attribute of Omega remains its interest in your personal awareness. More than 200 workshops, conferences, and training courses will be offered in the next three months alone. Options include the Secrets of Kabbalah (August 10-12), Rain Garden Design (September 30-October 5), the August Memoir Festival with Malachy and Alphie McCourt (August 10-12), the Being Yoga Conference Retreat (August 17-19) with 20 instructors, and a two- or seven-day retreat titled the Art of Peace and Happiness (August 10-12, 10-17). The Women and Power conference series (September 21-23) will celebrate its 10th year with over 30 leading women including Eve Ensler, Sally Field, and Majora Carter to honor and further educate, as the Omega Institute explains, “women who are breaking leadership molds, boldly demonstrating that the way it’s always been is not the way it has to be.”
Eomega.org

The New School
Art has been a pivotal piece of Hudson Valley life since the Hudson River School’s promotion of the area’s landscape in the 1800s. The Center for Photography at Woodstock offers tutorials in Photoshop, reviews for completed portfolios, and a wide variety of classes with preeminent photographers like Mary Ellen Mark ("The World Observed," September 1-2). Poughkeepsie’s Barrett Art Center offers levels from beginning to master across any medium, from ceramics to pastels. Similarly intriguing classes, such as dollmaking, silk painting, and pet portraiture are all offered through November at the Wallkill River School in Montgomery. Through the output of the valley’s many artists, each change in season and century has been permanently captured. No transformation has added to the Hudson Valley landscape quite as inimitably as Bannerman Castle, however. Overnight (September 1) and daytime (September 29) photography workshops are offered on the island—an enviable opportunity; photos from the mainland do not compare to ducking dense foliage and easing along the island ebb for the perfect shot.

Abstract drawing courses taught at the Woodstock School of Art by the renowned and adored Meredith Rosier have developed a reputation of their own. Former students attest to her contagious passion for art and expansive repertoire; two coveted aspects that often leave her classes with an extensive waiting list. The Woodstock School of Art offers many other courses such as collage, monotype, lithography, and plein air painting that will also satisfy your craving to create.
Barrettartcenter.org; Bannermancastle.org; Cpw.org; Wallkillriverschool.com;
Woodstockschoolofart.org


Fresh from the Forge
Greek mythology has Hephaestus. Roman mythology has Vulcan. The Hudson Valley has the Center for Metal Arts (CMA). The work of those mythological deities of fire and crafts are imitated at the Orange County center in Florida. “Our teaching program is based on artistic and technical knowledge,” says the center's Rhoda Mack. The CMA offers beginner and advanced workshops in topics such as Basics of Blacksmithing, Toolmaking for the Small Studio, and Freeform Forging with the Power Hammer. “Intro classes are ideal for someone with a nine-to-five job who wants to experience hands-on work,” says Mack. “Our class size is always kept small, to give each student full access to a well-tooled anvil and workspace, and one-on-one time to engage with a master instructor.” At its annual conference (August 3-6), the CMA will welcome Charles Lewton-Brain, a 1986 graduate of SUNY New Paltz, and inventor of the revolutionary technique of foldforming. The Ashokan Center in Olivebridge hosts annual conferences for the New England Bladesmith Guild (September 14-16) and Northeast Blacksmith Association (September 28-30). Jonathan Nedbor, president of the National Blacksmith Association, expects well over 50 attendees at the latter conference, where a tool-swap and Viking Axe demonstration will take place.
Ashokancenter.org; Ashokanknifeseminar.com; Centerformetalarts.com;
Northeastblacksmiths.org


The Tune Up
Hudson Valley musicians weild significant influence in their respective genres: Pete Seeger and folk music, Sonny Rollins’s jazz saxophone, Natalie Merchant’s variation of pop. Workshops offered at Beacon Music Factory and Full Moon Resort aim to add to the impact. “It’s surprising and just plain awesome to discover how many adults make a concerted effort to have music making be part of their everyday lives,” says Stephen Clair, guitar expert, songwriter, founder of music website Local 845, and teacher at the Beacon Music Factory. In addition to workshops for children and private lessons, the Beacon Music Factory offers Jazz Ensemble with trumpet-player Larry Moses, Chamber Group for Strings with Kathleen Patrick, the new Community Choir for Adults led by Tina Cody, Group Harmonica for the People with Michael Farkas, and Group Guitar for the People. In greatest demand, however, is Rock Band Boot Camp for Adults. “People try out instruments that are completely new to them. Everyone sings, everyone plays,” Clair explains. “I have never seen such ear-to-ear smiles. It’s difficult for me to interrupt them when class time is up, so I often let them keep going. They’re having so much fun.” On the other side of the river, Full Moon Resort in Big Indian offers multiple large music workshops throughout the summer in what Full Moon hopes “bridges the gap between the artist and their audience.” Musicians from Umphrey’s McGee (August 6-10) and King Crimson (August 20-24), as well as Kaki King (August 27-31) and Mickey Hart (September 3-6) are scheduled to appear.
Beaconmusicfactory.com; Fullmoonresort.com

Between the Lines
Discussions of contemporary Hudson Valley art are incomplete without mentioning the community of writers. Here, writers meet; while publication isn’t guaranteed, solidarity is. “We don’t believe anyone can tell you how to write,” says Marta Szabo of Authentic Writing Workshops (AWW). “We think of our workshops as a place where artists come together, where anyone who has the sincere interest to discover themselves as a writer has the freedom and support to do so.” Like AWW, Wallkill Valley Writers, Albany Poets, and the Hudson Valley Writers Guild offer writing workshops and readings throughout the year in retreat centers, bookstores, and living rooms—an act of the deep trust between area writers. The Millay Colony for the Arts, in the former Austerlitz residence of Pulitzer-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, houses workshops and residencies for writers. In August it will host the Generating Sound in Poetry retreat with Tracie Morris. Lifespring of Saugerties will offer a course on local authors such as Tony Robinson and Sandy Gardner in the fall.
Albanypoets.com; Authenticwriting.com; Hvwg.org; Lifespringsaugerties.com;

Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral

The Hudson Valley boasts fields of crops and plump orchards. Surrounded by such plentiful and delicious eats, it’s no wonder Hyde Park was selected as home to one of the four stunning campuses of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). “Much of the produce from our classes is regionally sourced,” says Jay Blotcher of the CIA. “People enjoy working with food that comes from our farmers in the Valley.” The CIA hosts Boot Camps, Culinary Weekends, and smaller cooking classes. Artisan Breads at Home, Bistros and Brasseries, and Under the Sea are just a few of the options, in addition to vegetarian and gluten-free instruction. At Catskill Animal Sanctuary, vegan cooking is the only option; the Compassionate Cuisine series aims to educate about how the vegan lifestyle can be maintained and enjoyed. Classes are ongoing and include special features in Mediterranean cuisine. For private classes, Jennifer Clair of Home Cooking New York offers two-hour sessions in Beacon and Manhattan. “Manhattan loves the Basics classes while the more comforting classes, like Winter Soups, are popular up here,” Clair says. Clair’s menu is expansive, from regional (Cooking from the Fall Farmers’ Market) to global (Thai Cooking) and basic (How to Cook Fish) to classic (French Bistro). Clair will also instruct the Indian Cooking Class and Spice Workshop at the gorgeous Olana State Historic Site in Hudson (November 3). If you’re not yet set to sauté, Olana also plans to offer canning classes this month. A savory instructive (August 12) will use boiling water to preserve seasonal vegetables, while a sweet canning class (August 19) will focus on utilizing pectin to minimize sugar amounts in jam. Canning techniques are also taught by the Cornell University Cooperative Extension in Kingston; pressure canning (August 16, October 25, 27), vegetable canning (September 20), and chutney and fruit butter canning (November 15, 17) are scheduled this season.
Casanctuary.org; Cceulster.org; Ciachef.edu/enthusiasts; Homecookingny.com; Olana.org

No Strings Attached
While the Hudson Valley may not be dominated by smog or skyscrapers, it is hardly immune from the technological revolution that has us tied up in wireless and rapid-fire communication. “The need is for people to disengage from the very loud, very fast-paced world all around them,” says Brother James Michael Dowd of Holy Cross Monastery. Holy Cross is an Anglican Benedictine community in West Park that offers numerous retreats throughout the year. One of its special opportunities is the Deep Silence Retreat—24 hours of complete silence on the Guest House grounds. Six Deep Silence Retreats will be held through December. “We have been adding more because of the many requests we have for them,” Brother James says. “The listening we need to do in order to have any type of spiritual life is becoming almost impossible in a world that is cluttered with so much noise.” If you’re not ready to face the silence alone just yet, Rhinebeck’s Linwood Spiritual Center holds Eight-Day Directed Retreats (August 3-10, 17-24) in the Catholic tradition, as well as personal retreats and labyrinth walks. The Garrison Institute hosts personal retreats (August 3-5, October 19-21), the annual Focusing Institute Summer School (August 18-23) for developing “emotional muscle,” and an exploration of the Four Boundless States (November 29-December 2). Upcoming retreats such as Living Unto Death: Dying into Life (August 24-26), the Cosmic Love of Christ & Buddha (August 28-September 2), and Occupy Wellness (October 11-14) will take place at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia.

Zen Mountain Monastery offers its own expansive catalog in the Zen Buddhist tradition. Introductory retreats to Zen training are offered, as are Kyudo: Zen Archery Intensive (August 7-12) and Being the Bowl: One Total Activity in Clay with Raku Firing (August 8-12). At Zen Mountain Monastery, the Zen tradition informs daily life as well as spiritual practice.
Garrisoninstitute.org; Holycrossmonastery.com; Linwoodspiritual.org;
Menlamountain.org; Mro.org/zmm


Listening for Wellness
As new studies dictate different habits for health nearly every day, we search for true paths to wellness. The Sage Center for the Healing Arts in Saugerties focuses mainly on sound energy and the cellular level. “The pure tone of crystal reveals barely audible frequencies,” explains Philippe Garnier, co-founder of the Sage Center. “Because the sound is attached to a healing intention, we are encoding thought and heart frequencies. People come out of the class feeling more balanced and in alignment with their true self.” Wurtsboro’s Crystals and Well-Being Center offers instruction on cleansing and healing in a five-hour Master Crystals Intensive workshop (August 19). Mirabai of Woodstock holds private energy healing and soul readings through August, in addition to the workshops Manifest with the Spirit (August 4) and Picking up the Pieces Through Soul Retrieval (August 19).
Crystalconnectioncenter.com; Mirabai.com; Sagehealingcenter.org

Into Pandora’s Box
Many shops offer classes to help with demystification of the beautiful ambiguity of the skies. For stargazers, the Awareness Shop in New Paltz offers a six-week astrology course (August 2-September 6). The class will cover the basics of planets, signs, houses, decadants, natal charts, astrological vocabulary, transits, chart reading, and horoscope writing. The Awareness Shop also offers a three-series course in shamanism (September 13-27) to contact empowering guides, and online consultation for a single question or full reading. Tarot classes are taught once per season in Rhinebeck by Rachel Pollack, whose expertise has given her the honor of key speaker from the United States at the United Kingdom Tarot Conference in London this October. The Dreaming Goddess of Poughkeepsie offers courses in Reiki for healing (August 7), Frame Drum Making (August 26), Munay-Ki Rites to learn about personal divinity (September 5) and Shamanism (September 9).
Awarenessshop.com; Dreaminggoddess.com; Rachelpollack.com

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