A Penny For Your Thoughts

This past weekend, June 15-17, despite the heat, the village of Nyack was filled with mysterious historical figures interacting with the 13th annual Art Walk’s audience. Art Walk is when Nyack’s storefronts turn into miniature art galleries for the weekend, and the artists stick with their work to answer the questions of curious passerbys. This year, ArtsWestchester bestowed a New York Council for the Art’s Decentralization Grant for Rockland County to Diana Green, the director behind Palisades’ acclaimed Children’s Shakespeare Theater and the Strange Bedfellows Troupe. Green had submitted a proposal for an immersive theatre act that would bring famous and unusual characters from Rockland County to life.

This year’s Art Walk theme “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” was inspired by the event’s poster artist, Cristina Biaggi, whose “Suffrage Coin” piece honors the efforts of women activists of the past, present and future. Hence, Diana Green’s theatrical component included the actors handing out pennies to the public.

“We get a new roll of pennies each morning,” laughed James Sarna, whose character “the Great Om,” was the founder of the Clarkstown Country Club in Nyack, and is also the man accredited to bringing yoga to America.

Paulette Ross, ArtWalk Founder and Curator spoke about the addition of actors interacting with the public. “It encourages human-to-human interaction at a time when people are feeling isolated.” One of the actors was dressed as Nora Stanton Blatch, granddaughter of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the first U.S. woman to earn a degree in Civil Engineering. In 1916, Blatch took the American Society of Civil Engineers to the Supreme Court when they denied to admit her as a full member, even though she met all of the requirements. She lost the case but was admitted posthumously in 2015.  At the Art Walk kick-off event, Nyack Mayor Don Hammond presented a proclamation to Blacht’s granddaughter who was present in the crowd, declaring that the third Saturday in June will now be in Blacht’s name. Thanks to the arts, history wasn’t just acted out, it was made.

Megan Thomson Connor is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at ArtsWestchester. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in English and minored in Creative Writing and Theater.

About ArtsWestchester

For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest private not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to create an equitable, inclusive, vibrant and sustainable Westchester County in which the arts are integral to and integrated into every facet of life. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue. artsw.org

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