Saturday, December 6, 2008

Horse Hockey

For the first time in the 15 years I have lived in this area, I fulfilled my small-towner's obligation to be a curmudgeon and wrote a cranky letter to the editor of the local paper. The project in question is called: "Hors'n Around Saugerties," HITS is a summer horse camp for the very rich that has made its home in Saugerties, Saugerties is located on the western shore of the Hudson River, 100 miles north of NYC, the rest is obvious. Herewith is my rant:

To the Editor:

The upcoming quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's historic voyage up the Hudson is being celebrated by Saugerties with a display of painted fiberglass carousel horses. A call has gone out to local artists to donate their talent and time to this display. With great regret I have decided to not participate in this event despite my great fondness for the village and town. Up until recently I had resided for 15 years in the Township. During that time I participated in the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour, the Little Dutch Barn Auction, and painted 4 panels for the mural in the clerk's office. I was happy to learn that no longer living in Saugerties would not be a barrier to participating.

Then I downloaded the specifications. The transfer of copyright agreement was obviously written without any input from or collaboration with someone representing artists. While it is not as horrible as it could have been, it is still a terribly one-sided document that saddles the artists with a tax burden if their work sells for more than the $50 stipend for materials; transfers all rights to the original piece and all derivative rights to the Chamber; and finally transfers all rights to even the preparatory materials to the Chamber. There are many ways this agreement could have been made fairer to artists without harming the Chamber or the Village or Town. The excuse that the boilerplate was lifted wholesale from the Catskill display? As mothers through the ages have replied: "if your friends all jumped off a cliff would you do it too?"

Then there is the total lack of any connection between carousel horses and Henry Hudson, the Half Moon or the Hudson River itself. The reason why it is carousel horses: HITS has thrown its weight around to get something to promote itself at the expense of history. (And shame on you, Senator Schumer for supporting this cowtowing to corporate interests.) We can only be thankful that an arms company is not the economic heavyweight in town, otherwise I assume we'd be asked to decorate M-1 tanks or howitzers; or a pharmaceutical company- imagine gigantic pills on every corner painted with scenes of the Half Moon sailing up the great river...

Besides the egregious disregard for history- the very thing the quadricentennial is supposed to be celebrating- the use of carousel horses hamstrings the artists who do choose to go through with this exercise because they are already covered with raised decorations. It is in fact not a blank canvas, there is no room for an artist's expression.

So, despite my fondness for Saugerties and my desire to be part of the Hudson celebrations, I will not be hors'n around Saugerties; I hope some other, more relevant, fairer and respectful opportunities present themselves.

1 comment:

loelbarr said...

Thank you for that letter. I've had very mixed feelings about participating in this silliness, and now I feel justified in passing it up.