Visitors to Greene County are often astonished by the vibrant Catskills arts and culture scene and its abundance of theater, art galleries, dance and other performing arts that rival the best in big cities.
Art lovers should start their visit in Catskill at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, which encompasses the residence and studio of Thomas Cole. As a young painter, Cole made this first trip up the Hudson River to Catskill in 1825 and launched the Hudson River School of Art with landscapes that created a sensation in the nascent New York art world. The site is also the starting point of the new Hudson River School Art Trail, which guides visitors to seven sites within 15 miles of each other that inspired America's first great landscape artists with their majestic scenery. Olana, the Persian-style villa of Cole's disciple Frederic Edwin Church, is certainly worth the trip across the Hudson River to Hudson.
With its strong tradition of inspiring artists, Greene County continues to attract legions of skilled artisans. Check out the bevy of galleries in Catskill, including Gallery 384, The Frameworks, Open Studio, M Gallery, and Greene County Council on the Arts. On the second Saturday of each month, art galleries, shops and restaurants on Main Street host the Second Saturday Stroll with special events and entertainment.
Art aficionados may also want to venture further a field to Freehold, where you can stop in at the Broderick Fine Arts Gallery upstairs at the popular Ruby's Restaurant or peruse the award-winning drawings, pastels, watercolors, lithographs at Stanley Maltzman's Four Corners Art Gallery. In Windham, both the Mountain Top Gallery and Windham Fine Arts present exhibits of local and regional artists. And if you'd like to dabble in art yourself, inquire about classes in everything from ceramics to jewelry- making at the Sugar Maples Center for Arts and Education.
On day two, pre-arrange for a visit to the Pleshakov Piano Museum on Route 23A in Hunter. The museum showcases an extraordinary collection of pianos ranging from an 1826 Tischner built for Russian royalty to a harpsichord from the Mozart era. Internationally celebrated concert pianists Vladimir Pleshakov and Elena Winther play the instruments and take visitors on a musical journey through time.
Several local foundations, arts organizations and theater ensembles also provide a steady stream of cultural offerings. The year-round performance schedule of the Catskill Mountain Foundation, for instance, includes everything from classical music, dance and theater to family-oriented entertainment. The foundation also sponsors the popular Mountain Cultural Festival on the second weekend of every July. The Windham Chamber Music Festival offers concerts January through Labor Day in the historic Windham Civic Center. The Altamura Center for Arts and Cultures in Round Top also offers festivals of opera, jazz, classical and Broadway music and is home of the Altamura E. Caruso International Voice Competition.
You may be in the country when you visit Greene County, but you're certainly not "in the sticks" when you have cultural offerings like these. Come discover Greene County.