Artists/Intellectuals of South

Mountain Road: A Panel Discussion

When: Saturday, February 8, 1:00 pm
Where: Rockland Center for the Arts, 27 South Greenbush Road, West Nyack
Price: $FREE (but reservations are strongly suggested and can be made by calling ROCA at 845-358-0877)

In the early twentieth century, a group of prominent artists, designers, and writers became attracted to the environs of South Mountain Road. Many were introduced to the area by John and Mary Mowbray-Clarke, artists and political activists who lived there since 1907 at the home they dubbed The Brocken. John, a sculptor, was a co-founder with the painter Arthur B. Davies of the 1913 Armory Show, the famed New York City avant-garde exhibition that introduced the modernist style to America. Davies lived on a farm just six miles away, in Congers, which his descendants continue to operate today.

Eventually, a growing assemblage of artists followed the Mowbray-Clarkes in purchasing property on South Mountain Road—many largely due to the relationships forged at Mary’s Manhattan bookshop, The Sunwise Turn. Among the first to relocate included were the sculptor Hugo Robus; the ceramacist and painter Henry Varnum Poor; the actor Rollo Peters and his longtime companion, the poet Amy Murray; the playwright Maxwell Anderson; and the writer Frank Ernest Hill.

Over the next three decades they would be followed by luminaries such as the photographer Marjorie Content and her husband, the writer Harold Loeb; the sculptor and painter Carroll French; the textile artist Ruth Reeves; the painters Morris Kantor and Martha Ryther; the cartoonists Milton Caniff and Bill Mauldin; the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner; and the actors John Houseman and Burgess Meredith. Some were emigres and refugees from the political turmoil and persecutions in Europe—notably, the composer Kurt Weill and his wife, the actress Lotte Lenya.

This panel discussion will explore the impact these artists and intellectuals had on one another, the community of Rockland, and the larger world.

Moderator: 
Clare Bowes Sheridan, producer, writer and host of “Crossroads of Rockland History,” the award-winning radio show presented by the Historical Society of Rockland County (HSRC). Her previous roles at the HSRC have been interim executive director, president and trustee. Before joining the Historical Society of Rockland County, she was senior vice president and business director at Sotheby’s. Ms. Sheridan graduated from the Colorado College with a degree in art history.

Panelists:

  • Richard Connolly, writer, editor, publisher, and producer. Mr. Connolly has fifty-two years of professional experience as a full-time college teacher. For fifteen years (1998-2012), he was chair of the Communication Media Arts Program at SUNY-Rockland Community College, where he teaches courses in writing, digital media production, media history and critical thinking.
  • Justin Duerr, self-taught artist, musician, and art history researcher. Mr. Duerr’s artwork has been featured in gallery and museum exhibits across the country, and he has toured as a musician throughout most of the continental United States. His research work can be seen in the documentary film Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, which won the award for best director at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. His first book, The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Works and Worlds of Herbert Crowley, was published by Beehive Books. Mr. Duerr is currently researching and writing a biography/art book centered on the multifaceted artist and counterculture maven Mary Mowbray-Clarke.
  • Jonathan O’Hea, independent art and antiques dealer and researcher. Mr. O’Hea holds a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Mary Washington. His interest in the artists of Rockland County and South Mountain Road began approximately twenty years ago with the discovery of a table made by Carroll French. Mr. O’Hea’s interests include American studio furniture, pottery, craft, and modernist textiles. In 2019, he discovered a rare drinking fountain designed by the Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, which he sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His ongoing research projects include the pottery of Design-Technics, the furniture of Carroll French, and the paintings of Hudson River School artist Robert Walter Weir.
  • Leontine Temsky, arts educator and lecturer. With a thorough grounding in the history and cultural life of Rockland and Westchester counties, Ms. Temsky was a founding member of the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center in Nyack. She is a retired professor of art history at SUNY Empire State College and has lectured on art and architecture at the Hopper House, Nyack Library, and other libraries in Rockland and Westchester. She is currently vice president of the Historical Society of the Nyacks and has curated exhibits for the organization that include “Nyack during World War I”; “Nyack Business (1920–1950)”; and “Nyack Business 1960s.” Ms. Temsky also curated the first South Mountain Road exhibit at ROCA in the 1970s.
  • Mark Waller, co-owner of Gallery Moderne–Le Style Lalique in Piermont. Mr. Waller relocated from London to New York in the late 1990s and undertook a period of extensive academic research into Rockland County artists while continuing to work in his renowned field of twentieth-century decorative art and the art of Rene Lalique. In 2003 he and Stephanie Arvey reopened Gallery Moderne–Le Style Lalique, which jumpstarted Mr. Waller’s research into the deeper aspects of Lalique’s formative years in relation to the global art movements and cultivated in him a deeper awareness and appreciation of late nineteenth- and early twentiety-century Rockland County artists. Mr. Waller has produced, curated and lent objects to multiple exhibitions showcasing Rockland’s artistic heritage, including “The Armory Show at 100—Modern Art and Revolution” at the New York Historical Society, and exhibitions at the Art Gallery at Rockefeller State Park Preserve and at the Hopper House in Nyack. Mr. Waller has given talks at many Rockland County venues on the importance of history to the local artistic community.

This panel discussion is part of the 2019-2020 “Influencers” program, a partnership of the Rockland Center for the Arts and Historical Society of Rockland County celebrating Rockland County’s artistic heritage and legacy. Seating is limited, and RSVPs are recommended. Call 845-358-0877 to reserve a seat.

For more information, visit www.rocklandartcenter.org.