By Judy Garrison

   You’ve heard the term bandied about. You think: Are you kidding? Right here in Andes?

I’m here to say it’s not a brick building; neither is it merely a state of mind. It’s for real!

The Andes Academy of Art, mostly emanating out of the Streamside Yoga Building at 506 Main Street, is the brainchild of Peter Mayer, Erwin Karl and William Duke. It offers 4 prongs of experience.

One is the State of the Art broadsheet, a themed monthly replete with poetry, color photographs, short micro-fiction and excerpts, reviews, announcements and cartoons. The editors have drawn in a diverting panoply of often quirky regional talent. The “priceless,” that is free-of-charge, publication is distributed in eateries and shops well beyond Andes, and is financed through local ads. The “Call for Submissions!” indicates that new writers and illustrators are always sought.

Another offering is the well-established Figure Drawing session that takes place Wednesdays 4-7 pm, at 506 Main Street, this year through August. A $15 contribution for the model is requested. In preparation for writing this I decided to participate in a session, finding myself surrounded by many professional artists, some of whom I knew. The model struck a remarkable set of poses as we drew first a few one-minute and two-minute sketches, then moving on to 5-minute, 10-minute and 20-minute ones. Not an easy undertaking, especially given the physicality of the positions. I quickly gathered that the technique best applied to the fast sketches was different from the preferred approach to the lengthier ones. I had brought along colored markers; others were using pencils, pens and charcoal. The artists had a chance to chat with each other during the breaks, but I didn’t see them scrutinizing each other’s work. I was grateful that no one looked over my shoulder, though if I participate again, which I think I will, I’ll ask for tips.

The third prong of the Andes Academy is art exhibits. I have been to group show openings held at the Streamside Yoga space, extending over to the adjacent building Bill Duke recently acquired.  I found them a welcome opportunity to view stimulating art, some by noted artists, others by local people with talent. Given the inspiration of our glorious surroundings, it is no surprise that many folks in retirement have taken up landscape painting, honing their skills over time. A bonus to the guest at these openings is the conviviality that comes with it. Especially after the Covid restrictions, I’ve found it a delight to mix with people again, meanwhile nibbling on delicious finger food.

The fourth arm of the Academy offerings is the occasional lecture and workshop. I’ve heard that the recent metal-working workshop given by Peter Mayer was enormously popular.

And so, contrary to a conclusion to which you may have erroneously jumped, you can see that the Andes Academy of Art is no hyperbolic fantasy. It’s a vital, organically evolving cultural reality that almost anyone can find relatable.

I must add that, regretfully, I was unable to gain access to Morris Holliston III, the purported Editor-in-Chief of State of the Art, whose self-acknowledged brilliance has seemingly been compromised by his arrogant failure to self-examine. Letters from the public complain of his propensity for unwoke critiques of his Catskill neighbors. Would someone look into his identity for me? I sense there is dirt to be dug.~