The action is already underway, with the ongoing exhibition of Currier & Ives prints scheduled to stay up right through the end of October. Then, this Saturday, October 2 from 1 to 7 p.m., the Senate House will play host to its second annual celebration of African American history and culture in the Hudson Valley, this year themed “Music as the Pulse of Life.” The literal pulse will be supplied in a hands-on 10 a.m. workshop with master drummer Maxwell Kofi Donkor and Sankofa, and the Center for Creative Education’s youth drumming ensemble the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston, a/k/a POOK, will naturally be on hand as well. Also at 10 a.m., professor A. J. Williams-Myers, doyen of the Black Studies Department at SUNY-New Paltz, will give a lecture on the on the influence of Africans on the Hudson Valley tradition of Pinkster – originally a European celebration marking Pentecost and the arrival of spring.
Other featured performers throughout the day will include Capital District folk/gospel mainstays Kim and Reggie Harris, dramatist Michael Monasterial, the Ulster County Community Choir and the Readnex Poetry Squad. Especially exciting for those who remember the fermenting down-county music scene of the 1970s is the news that jazz saxophonist and cosmic philosopher Hugh Brodie – a longtime star of the New Paltz club circuit who went on to join Illinois Jacquet’s band in the 1980s – is back and boppin’ and will be on the African American Culture & History Festival lineup this Saturday! That’s reason enough to attend, by itself – not to mention the fact that the whole day’s offerings, including Senate House tours, are free of charge.
Then, next Saturday, October 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Revolutionary War reenactors from the Third Ulster Militia will be back at the Senate House for their fall Living History Encampment, demonstrating the realities of 18th-century life during wartime as well as domestic activities and trades. This is always a fun event for anyone who discerns a bit of romance and adventure in the doings of centuries past, and it too is free.
Later in the month, the focus turns to Kingston’s favorite son in the art world, early-19th-century portraitist John Vanderlyn. Appraiser Leigh Keno, a regular on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow, will join a panel of regional art experts for a day of talks and object evaluations to learn about Hudson Valley art and history, the Vanderlyn family of painters and strategies for evaluating objects to understand their significance and value. The Arts Forum titled “Appraising Art/Reappraising Vanderlyn” runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 23 at the Senate House, which houses the world’s largest collection of Vanderlyn paintings, documents and ephemera. Tickets are $10.
Keynote speaker Keno will share tales of his antiques discoveries, including the auction of early Kingston native Anna Brodhead Oliver’s portrait for $1.1 million. The Forum will introduce the Vanderlyn Catalogue Raisonné Project to document John Vanderlyn (1775-1852), painter of six US presidents, protégé of vice president Aaron Burr and the first American painter to receive a gold medal from Napoleon Bonaparte for his art. Presentations will include talks on Pieter Vanderlyn and John Vanderlyn contemporaries, and paintings and antiques from audience members will be evaluated by Leigh Keno and other art experts during the afternoon session. Persons with Vanderlyn family art or letters to submit for evaluation are invited to call (845) 338-2786.
An evening reception with Keno and other arts experts will follow the Forum from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Senate House Museum’s Vanderlyn Gallery. The $50 ticket price includes period French wine, hors d’oeuvres, 19th-century chamber music and “artful conviviality.” For more information and to reserve tickets, please call (845) 338-2786.
The Senate House State Historic Site is located at 296 Fair Street in Uptown Kingston. Part of the system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events at the Senate House, please call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at