Howard Orenstein

category: Visual,

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Artist Statement

Weathered Structures Seen Through A New Lens

These weathered structures from the now vanished Borscht Belt, an area within the Catskill Mountains of New York, are sentinels guarding the remains of a once vibrant culture that thrived there. This culture was made up of Eastern European Jews, who during the summers from the 1920’s to the 1980’s, celebrated their traditional way of life. Borscht is a soup they made from beets.

I spent five summers of my childhood living in a bungalow colony in the Borscht Belt. My nostalgia for those summers runs deep within me. It beckons me to return often to photograph the structures that I know to be from, and others that by all appearances are from, that era. As I prepare to photograph an abandoned bungalow’s kitchen or bedroom I imagine what may await me inside. Will a ghost sitting at the edge of a bed look up at me quizzically? Is there silverware or flatware in the kitchen needing my touch?

My aural memory can hear the squeek of time-battered screen doors open and close in the morning as children scamper to their playtime in the day camp. The crickets scratched songs for us at night while my family breathed in the cool, fresh, sans city-worn air.

These structures are from an era that has long passed. May they remain until replaced by a different and contemporary play land.

Educational Background

B.A., M.A., M.P.A.


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