Sunday, November 27, 2016

Artist Alliance in Sag Harbor

Visitors to Marine Park are normally drawn to the water view.
Instead, the view towards Bay Street, across from the marina, is memorialized in paint by Russian artist Victor Butko, one of four Russian artists painting in the United States for the first time currently featured at Grenning Gallery.
Marine Park by Victor Butko
oil on canvas 23.75 x 31.5" 
Grenning Gallery's current exhibition, the Russian-American Painting Alliance, showcases weeks of work painting en plein air in Maine and Sag Harbor by a circle of artist friends that originally became acquainted in Russia. The artists produced 15 - 50 paintings each of Maine and Sag Harbor scenes. In order to display this daunting number of works fresh off their easels, Laura Grenning leased additional gallery space on Madison Street to showcase the incredible group of paintings. The Sag Harbor pieces I've chosen to feature here are a small selection of an amazingly fruitful painting collaboration.
In 2013 the Museum of Landscape in Plyos, Russia invited Italy to their annual plein air painting exhibition and cultural exchange. The Russians reached out to the Florence Academy for Italian artists. It turned out that most of the plein air artists at the Florence Academy were Americans. These Americans and a few Italians travelled to Plyos, a town that was made famous by the Russian artist Isaak Levitan, to paint. The artists bonded over painting, bad weather and possibly vodka. With Ben Fenske's urging and guidance, four of the Russian artists travelled here this fall. The culmination of the Russian-American Painting Alliance's first U.S. collaboration is currently on view at Grenning Gallery.
The Civil War Monument, is passed by mostly unremarked at the crossroads of Madison and Main Streets. Oleg Zhuralev captures the scene with fresh perspective in lively colors. 
Sag Harbor, Civil War Monument by Oleg Zhuralev
oil 18" x 24"
Il Cappuccino by Irina Rybakova
oil on canvas 25.5 x 35.5"
Irina Rybakova, Victor Butko, Ben Fenske
Main Street Morning by Tim McGuire
oil on canvas 28 x 24" 
Tim McGuire
photo by Lynn Park Charveriat via
Ben Fenske
Main Street by Ben Fenske
 oil on canvas 31.5 x 25.5" image via
Ben Fenske, Victor Butko, Tim McGuire
Sag Harbor Cinema by Carl Brezke
oil 11 x 14" image via
The Russians
The Americans
Stapleton Kearns
Jesse Powell
Exhibition details here
To read more about the artists's painting trip in Maine and how the original painting trip to Russia came about, see the links below by Leo Mancini-Hresko and Marc Dalessio. Amazing!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trout in Trout Pond?

Today, the pond across from Mill Creek Marina is a quiet spot. A path just under a mile loops around; making for a beautiful stroll on a fall afternoon. In summer, no beach pass is necessary, enticing swimmers to the pond's cool spring-fed water. I've never seen anyone fishing here. I wondered; how did it get the name Trout Pond? 
Before there was a pond at the site, a creek called Noyack River flowed through the area into the bay. This creek gave the area its name. In 1668 a Fulling Mill was established at the site to process wool cloth. Eventually a dam was built forming the mill pond. Various types of mills continued to operate at the site. The pond continued to be called Mill pond and the creek began taking the names of the millers, such as Rugg Creek, Budd's Creek, etc. But who knows, people probably said, lets go over and swim in Budd's Pond too. At any rate, the name change to the familiar one that we know now occured after an ambitious man from California by the name of George W. Thompson got involved.
In searching for information on Thompson, I found a reference in the a New York Commission of Fisheries report. Yes, I am insane! What was I doing reading an 1882 fisheries report? I love a history mystery and fell into the google vortex. The fisheries men were thorough. They  listed all of the fish spawn they sent to ponds all over New York and how well the fisheries were doing. Thompson's property was listed in a correspondence (see below) as a possible fishery site. The letter also notes that Henry Chadwick of the NY Sun is the current Mill owner. 
Letter from Fred Mather
New York State Assembly 105th Session April 24, 1882
Twelfth Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries via
Thompson opened a resort called Oak Grove Trout Ponds; the story below from the Corrector from July 1, 1882, details its wonders. The inference that Trout Ponds would be a nice escape from the Hamptons made me smile.
The Sag Harbor Corrector
  Elsewhere will be found that the announcement that the reserve known as Oak Grove Trout Ponds at Noyac, three miles from this village is now opened for the season to the public by the general proprietor, Geo. W. Thompson. This beautiful sylvan resort has become justly celebrated, and there is no where on the East End of Long Island more lovely natural attractions to which have been added many artificial comforts and opportunities for recreation and amusement.
  The beautiful Groves, interspersed with luxuriant vegetation and flowers, the clear waters rippling from the side hills or lying in translucent streams and ponds, peopled with myriads of gamey trout, the cool breezes from the deep blue waters of the larger pond, or the glimpses of Peconic Bay beyond are always present to charm the visitor. The sense of absolute quiet and repose is also grateful far beyond that offered in more busy resorts.
  Advantages for private picnic parties are also supplied, which makes the place unexelled in this vicinity. Then there is a good bowling alley and opportunities for out of door sports.
  The drive to Trout Ponds is a pleasant one, over a much improved road from this village, with ever varying land and waterscapes. And the newly worked Mill Stone Road makes it a beautiful summer drive from the Hamptons. It is continuously shaded and Mr. Thompson has with commendable  energy given his personal attention and labor in loaming and claying the road bed and widening it in many places so as to make it safe and comfortable. This road comes out into the Scuttle Hole Road and leads direct into Mr. Thompson's premises. Plenty of shed room has been supplied and stalls provided for horses. 
  At the Trout Ponds also dinners will be served on short notice to persons desiring the same, and the proprietor will guarantee that the cuisine will be unexceptionable. The prices are graded according to the desires of the visitor from one dollar upwards.
  The Oak Grove Trout Ponds ought to be one of the most popular and frequented drives on this branch of the Island.
The Long Island Railroad extended track to Sag Harbor in 1870, enabling easier journeys to the East End of Long Island. Oak Grove Trout Ponds became a popular destination. 
The Southampton Historical Society had a special exhibit on Trout Pond's history in 2008 which I missed. The exhibit included sketches by Annie Cooper Boyd . I was disappointed that I missed this, but serendipity intervened. On Saturday I walked past Annie Cooper Boyd house and I saw through the front screen door that the inner door was open. I knocked and peeked inside. Jean Held from the Historical Society was there working and kindly allowed me to photograph Annie Cooper Boyd's Trout Pond sketches from the exhibit.
Annie Cooper Boyd (1864-1944) captured the heartbeat of her era with numerous drawings of daily life. Her sketches of the area around "Thompson's Trout Ponds" offer us a glimpse of time past.
Trout Pond June 8th 1894 by Annie Cooper Boyd
Southampton Historical Society Collection
To read the The Corrector from June 9, 1894 click here
Annie and "Jenny"
Sag Harbor Historical Society Collection
I picture Annie riding her horse Jenny the three miles from town to Thompson's Trout Ponds for a picnic or croquet. Trout Ponds became the destination for small and large celebrations alike; many of them catalogued in the local news. In the spring of 1894, the celebration of the cornerstone laying for the new St. Philomena's R.C. Church in Easthampton (now called Most Holy Trinity) was at Trout Ponds "where host Thompson served them a fine supper".
Mill at Oak Grove Trout Pond by Annie Cooper Boyd 
Sag Harbor Historical Society Collection
Mill photo by Annie Cooper Boyd 1893
Sag Harbor Historical Society Collection
Noyack Road Near Trout Pond by Annie Cooper Boyd
Southampton Historical Society Collection
Thompson's Trout Ponds was a major resort. According to the fisheries letter there was an entrance off Mill Stone Road, which makes the resort area quite a bit larger than Trout Pond Park is today. The Corrector from October 17, 1891 describes a pitfall of being the owner of a large resort. The Thomas M. Nolan Association of Brooklyn arranged for 250-300 of its members to journey out to Oak Grove Trout Ponds, but due to bad weather only 155 showed up. When it was time to settle up for their dinners, Mr. Nolan was only willing to pay for the number who ate, not the number that were prepared. Unbelievably, the newspaper sided with Mr. Nolan on this one. Cancellation policies have certainly changed over time! I can't imagine 250-300 people at Trout Pond today. The area must have been buzzing! At some point there was a die off of all of the trout stock, which may or may not have been from foul play. Mr. Thompson's success may have rubbed his neighbors the wrong way. Annie's sketches give us a piece of the history puzzle. If only we could sit down to tea with her and ask what really happened over at Trout Pond.
So, to answer the question, "Are there still trout in Trout Pond?"
Highly unlikely.
Trout Pond 1890 by Annie Cooper Boyd
Southampton Historical Society Collection
An interesting history book could be written about this one pond. This is just a starter kit.
Annie Cooper Boyd House Sag Harbor Historical Society
27East: Rich History of Trout Pond Revealed here
Sag Harbor Express: Exhibit Explores Trout Pond here
Trout Pond by Tony Garro here
Sag Harbor, The Story of an American Beauty by Dorthy Ingersoll Zaykowki
History of Long Island Vol. 2 by Peter Ross, William Smith Pelleteau here

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Trout Pond Reflections

Trout Pond glows with the color of changing leaves. 
Reflected and floating leaves, visual counterpoint.
A solitary place of contemplation.
To pray that health will be restored to one that I love. 
To pray with gratitude that a diagnosis was made early.
To pray for strength to withstand the trials of treatment. 
To be grateful for this day and take comfort in God's creation.