Alvaré and I zip across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge to Cedar Grove, Cole’s attractive yellow house in Catskill, and stroll through its garden. The large outbuilding was Cole’s workroom, and it’s billed as the very first artist’s studio in America. Then we drive to Olana, Church’s Moorish 19thcentury fantasy high above the river.
The view is transcendent, chastening conversationalists into silence, at least for a minute. The sun is sinking into a golden cushion of cloud and absorbs our attention until it drops out of sight. We return to Hudson, a bit wistful that we aren’t painters. Back on Warren Street, I settle into the elegant apartment above Alvaré’s shop, which he rents to weekend visitors. Evening plans are loose: dinner at Swoon Kitchenbar (a local favorite), a look in at Red Dot bar and restaurant, and then a leisurely walk through the night streets. This proves more intriguing than anticipated, once you get away from Warren’s glaring orange sodium lamps. Side streets are dimmer and more mysterious, the sound of voices and laughter deepening the effect. Silent Federal or Victorian façades emerge from the gloom, and I notice one frame house set off by itself, lit by a single lamp, as though Magritte had painted it. A black cat darts along the foundation stones of a large Hudson River Bracketed structure flush with the sidewalk, and, at a remove of several miles, an eerie train whistle makes itself heard, a nostalgic sound pulling the mind across the night and back to an earlier century.
Alfred Corn has written for the New York Times and Grand Street.