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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Barns of the Catskills a big hit at LM&AC

By Matt Shortall - staff writer

By: Matt Shortall | Democrat
“Barns of the Catskills” is a new exhibit at the LM&AC that runs through the end of July.
LIBERTY — Have you ever wondered why barns are usually painted red? Hundreds of years ago, farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is orange in color and derived from the seeds of flax plants. Farmers would often add ferrous oxide, or rust, to this oil because it was an excellent sealant and it killed fungi and mosses that might grow on their barns.
When paint became more available, many farmers chose red in honor of this tradition.
That's just one piece of history to be learned at “Barns of the Catskills,” a unique exhibit at the Liberty Museum and Arts Center (LM&AC).
The exhibit drew a large crowd on Main Street Sunday night. Food was served and drinks were poured as artists and visitors paid homage to the rich agrarian culture of the Catskills.

And the American band Little Sparrow was on hand for a live musical performance.
The exhibit includes the photography of Rich Klein, Jean Dermer, John and Michael Kocijanski, Nancy Isseks and Marcy Bernstein of the Roost Studio and Art Gallery in New Paltz. The 50-photograph project of Laverne Black documenting the barns of the Catskills is graciously on loan from the Time and the Valleys Museum in Grahamsville.
Also on display are barn-related watercolors by Tom Nickou, Lee Parks and Caroline Harrow, as well as an array of barn artifacts and historical photographs contributed by barn owners will also be on display.
“This is our heritage and it's disappearing in the blink of an eye,” said Black. “Like many people from around here, I grew up on a family farm. There's not many left to continue the culture of raising your own food, plowing your own land and supporting your family on it all.”
Window displays were designed by Michael Chojnicki of MJC, Architect, PC with the help of Joey Dipane, a barn restoration consultant.
“This exhibit is not only an artistic representation through watercolors and drawings, but also a historic representation through photographs and eye-witness accounts,” said Sharon Green, exhibit curator and member of the board of directors for the LM&AC.
“This is the story of our immigrant forefathers,” said Green.
The Barns of the Catskills exhibit coincides with The Liberty Museum and Arts Center's 20-year anniversary. Festivities in honor of that celebration will run throughout the month.
“I think around 90 percent of the people in the area didn't expect us to open, and 100 percent of them didn't think we'd make it 20 years,” joked LM&AC president Robert Dadras.
The LM&AC was built in 1894 as the The Poellman House, and was the first steam-heated hotel in the county. Since that time the building has gone through many reincarnations - from being the glass shop of a German immigrant to the home of Katz's Bake Shop.
“This building was falling apart. Nobody wanted it. They were going to tear it down to build a parking lot,” said Green.
Instead of a parking lot, Liberty now celebrates two decades of art and culture.
“Barns of the Catskills” run s through July 29 and is dedicated to the memory of Gene Louis Barbanti (1925-2017), the co-founder of what became the LM&AC. Barbanti will be formally honored at the 20th anniversary celebration on July 29 at 5 p.m.

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