From the Field Mohawk Valley

From the Field Mohawk Valley

This From the Field Feature is courtesy of New York Folkore Staff Folklorist – Anne Rappaport Berliner. Since late 2021 she has been working with beekeepers in the Mohawk Valley.

The Mohawk Valley has a rich history of beekeeping.  Moses Quinby, an important figure in beekeeping history, lived and worked in the valley.  Today there are Mohawk Valley beekeepers carrying on the legacy.  Many are members of the Southern Adirondack Beekeeper Association,  an important group in the area.  However, anyone who is anyone will tell you that Carl Jurica was the center of a tight knit beekeeping community.

A smoker filled with hay

The hive smoker was invented by Moses Quinby in 1873.

Carl was a lifelong beekeeper in Johnstown, NY.  He passed away just a few weeks after I interviewed him in October 2021.  His legacy lives on through his mentees, students, friends, and of course his bees. In addition to Carl’s community, I recently started interviewing beekeepers in other parts of the Capital Region, “BEE” they backyard or commercial keepers.  I have learned about bees themselves and of course, tried lots of honey.  The dark honey – called wildflower, produced by bees in the fall is my favorite.

A beekeeper locks up his beeyard, his dog by his side

Scott Hart locks up his beeyard.

If you spend more than a few minutes talking to a beekeeper, you will hear them talk about their “girls” AKA the bees!  Most bees in a hive are female – no matter their job, nursing, gathering, or building.  It is unlikely you will find a keeper who doesn’t talk to their “girls.”  Experienced beekeepers can tell how the hives feel based on their sound and behavior.  Conversation between the bees and their keepers are common!

When a bee leaves their hive in search of food, it returns to its hive by recognizing the visual attributes of its home.  Because of this, beekeepers often paint their hives bright colors.  I have seen rainbows of hives as well as individual images.  One of my favorite hives is in the keeper’s home.  The bees naturally found their way into the house, and the keeper fitted the hive with glass cover so it can be viewed from the inside!

I’m hoping to continue expanding my interviews past the Mohawk Valley and into the greater Capital Region.  I have been asked by many of the folks I meet if I’ll ever keep bees, and though I’m not ready yet, I get the feeling it is just a matter of time.  I do love honey!

Are you a New York State folklorist or community scholar? We would love to publish your “From the Field.” Email Anne, [email protected] to “BEE” featured.

The featured photo is a painted beehive by Carl Jurica

37th Annual Folk Arts RoundTable

37th Annual Folk Arts RoundTable

At our 37th annual New York Folklore Arts Roundtable, we did things “new” in an old-fashioned way!  A new and old hotel, a new and old format, and new and familiar faces!  We excitedly welcomed Roundtablers who   attended last year and colleagues like George Ward and Ruby Marcotte, who joined us for the first time in many years.

Monday morning, we gathered in the recently refurbished Queensbury Hotel – first opened in the 1920’s. “What You’re Working On Presentations” harkened back to the first years of the Roundtable – devoid of audio visual materials. In just 5-minutes participants presented on their current projects and solicited feedback for the breakout discussions that followed. The format was well accepted, letting each person the hear what everyone else was working on. Those with an affinity for technology, created short videos in lieu of an oral presentation. The videos were an excellent way to end our second day, before turning the Roundtable attendees loose to further explore the city of Glens Falls.

Monday and Tuesday morning gave Roundtablers the chance to explore downtown and the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library. Todd DeGarmo Center director, welcomed us to learn about the archiving, programming, exhibiting and other productions. We heard briefly about the Farm 2 Library by Comfort Food Community. The project brings fresh produce and food to those in need.

Comfort Food Community Food Recovery Manger, Zach Bain, joined us as a guest to discuss Land Stewardship, Agriculture and Food Sovereignty. Along with Zach we welcomed Jinah Ahn of Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen and Peter Jemison and Angel Jimerson of the White Corn Project at Ganondagan State Historic Site.

As always, we ended the Roundtable with an overview of the work done by New York Folklore. Remember you can always find information about Mentoring and Technical Assistance on our website at https://nyfolklore.org/mentoring-professional-development/

Pysanky For Peace Supports Ukrainian Relief Efforts

Pysanky For Peace Supports Ukrainian Relief Efforts

New York’s Capital Region is home to a large community of Ukrainian people. Many are the children of immigrants who came during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These communities grew in towns like Watervliet, Cohoes, Troy, and others across the state.

This is where the story of Sarah Bachinger begins. Growing up between Cohoes and Herkimer, she learned the traditional arts of the Ukrainian Lemko (an ethnic group of Ukrainians who lived in western Ukraine/Eastern Poland).

“ We would visit her [grandmother] for two or three weeks in the summer, during vacation and almost every summer while she was still alive and she would teach me the Ukrainian cross stitch with all the traditional patterns… I learned that from her and the Pysanky making as well.”

The traditional knowledge and project idea have long been part of Bachinger consciousness. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the idea was given life in the form of the Pysanky for Peace Project.

According to the Pysanky for Peace website:

We aim to create and collect 100,000 pysanky for the purpose of raising funds to help the ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, and to bring awareness and share this important cultural tradition of the Ukrainian People. We are currently working to gather partners who would be interested in donating goods and to exhibit the work of contributing pysanky artists/writers and eventually, we would like to see pysanky from this project delivered to the people of Ukraine after peace finds its way back to our homeland.

hands tracing a design on an egg

A workshop attendee traces beeswax on an egg.

As part of the project Sarah has begun hosting Pysanky workshops in the Capital Region. Most recently at Refuge Event Space in Troy, NY.

The workshop begins with a short mediation by Refuge proprietor, Tara, followed by an introduction by Sarah, to the Psyanky for Peace Project, and a short folk tale.

“Hutsuls, which are an ethnic group from the Carpathians believe that pysanky making is important because there is a monster that is chained to the mountains, who keeps track of how many pysanky are made each year and if not enough pysanky are made than his chains loosens and evil is able to take over, but if enough pysanka are made then those chains tighten and peace remains on earth.”

The story is followed by an explanation of how Pysanky are made, usually around the Easter season. Small pieces of beeswax are melted into a tool called kistka, which are used to trace designs on an egg. After the design is complete the eggs are dipped in dye, more beeswax is applied, and the egg is dipped again in a different color. Once this is complete the wax is melted off to reveal a multicolored design.

Artist demonstrate Pysanky to a group

Sarah demonstrates to attendees.

The workshop is attended by a mix of people; some are of Ukrainian descent and are familiar with Pysanky making, others are attending in solidarity with their neighbors and friends. The conversation varies but often turns to the experience of growing up Ukrainian in the Capital Region. Topics like; parish preferences, where to get pysanky supplies, and did you know so and so?” are discussed over the Ukrainian music playing in the room, interrupted occasionally with a triumphant “Look!” and presentation of an egg or a question about the process for Sarah.

The project will have their first exhibit opening in April at the Wenham Museum in Wenham, MA.

You can find more information about the Pysanky for Peace Project at https://pysankyforpeace.com/

To learn more about aid efforts for Ukraine in the Capital Region you visit the 518 Ukrainians Facebook Group.

Capital Region Artists Receive Community Grants

Capital Region Artists Receive Community Grants

Congratulations to New York Folklore-supported artists who received a Statewide Community Regrant (SCR). These grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, are distributed by community arts partners. In the Capital Region, we are happy to work with the Arts Center of Capital Region.

At a ceremony at the Arts Center, seven folk and traditional artists accepted a combined total of $16,000. The grants will fund workshops, demonstrations, and performances for each artist in their communities and the general public.

Artists worked with New York Folklore’s Edgar Betelu to complete grant applications at the end of 2021. New York Folklore had identified these talented traditional artists as part of the 2021 Upstate Regional Project.

Congratulations to:

Pinya Aung, Karen Harpist

Ehsue Klay Aung, Karen Dancer

Latifa Ali Mohammad, Afghan Embroidery

Jordan Taylor Hill, African Drumming and Dance

Seth Tagoe Traore, Ghanian Drumming and Dance

Shaman Raphel, Pakistani  Harmonium and Singing

Aurelius John, Pakistani Percussion and Flute

 

 

2022 Folk Arts Graduate Internship Program Announced

2022 Folk Arts Graduate Internship Program Announced

Applications are now being accepted for this paid opportunity, supported through the Internship program of New York Folklore and the New York State Council on the Arts. The Folklore Graduate Student Folk Arts Internship provides opportunities for graduate students in folklore to learn first-hand about public folk arts programming and field research while completing a project that will benefit both the host organization and the folklorist intern.

Any student enrolled in a masters or doctoral graduate folklore program may apply. Folklorists who graduated from a graduate folklore program in the past two years may also apply.

Interns will be expected to undertake a special project linked to their learning program for graduate study which will also benefit the host organization. This year one internship is available, to be hosted by GLOW Traditions, located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. GLOW Traditions is a shared program with the Arts Council for Wyoming County, the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts, and the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council which is directed by Karen Canning. GLOW Traditions is located in a predominantly rural area of western New York between Rochester and Buffalo, with a service area encompassing around 2200 square miles.
The duration of this internship is 8 weeks, 30-35 hours per week. It will occur from late May through August, 2022.

How to Apply: 

A driver’s license and use of an automobile is required. A dedicated office at the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts in Mt. Morris, NY will be made available for the intern. Karen Canning will assist in securing housing in a centralized location, possibly in Geneseo, NY. A stipend of $5000 will be provided to the intern.
To apply, submit a resume’ or CV and a letter describing the potential benefits of the internship for the applicant’s career goals as a public folklorist. For current graduate students, please reflect on the internship’s relationship to your graduate learning program. The application letter should also indicate how previous experiences in programming, field research and/or administration would contribute to the organization hosting the internship. Following the internship, the intern and the host organization are both required to submit a report evaluating the internship.

Applications must be received by midnight on Sunday, March 13th and decisions about the successful candidates will be made by March 28. Applications must be submitted electronically to Laurie Longfield at New York Folklore [email protected] (please do not contact GLOW Traditions for information about these internships). Additional information can be obtained by contacting Ellen McHale, Executive Director of New York Folklore, [email protected]

Internship Description

Stories That Cook: Art, Memories and Recipes

This is a two-year project, recently funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, that will include a series of arts workshops, an exhibit, and a cookbook created by artists, farmworkers and their families in western New York. It is a collaboration between GLOW Traditions and another GVCA program, Creative Artists Migrant Program Service (CAMPS). CAMPS was founded in 1975 at the Geneseo Migrant Center, with a mission to offer free art workshops to migrant farmworkers and families in Western New York, who are currently predominantly Hispanic. GLOW Traditions has consistently worked with these communities for more than 15 years to document and present traditional arts, music, dance, foodways, and celebrations such as the Día de Muertos and Tres Reyes. This project will spotlight and honor the rich cultural gifts that reside in our agricultural community, from generational farm families to newer farmworkers, and celebrate points of connection among diverse cultures in the region. The intern will assist GLOW Traditions staff with interviews of farmers and farmworkers to gather foodways and family histories, and work with ongoing data entry of recipes and contextual materials for the book preparation.

A history of GLOW Traditions:

The folk arts program was established in 1985, one of the first in New York state. Dr. Bruce Buckley, a noted scholar and folklorist who had retired from the folklore program at Cooperstown/SUNY Oneonta, came to Wyoming County and began his second career in public folk arts documentation and programming. His work forms the basis of our archive of traditional arts, which contains interviews and slides of more than 200 artisans in our region from 1985 to the present day. Folklorist Kathy Kimiciek led the program from 1988-1990, and in 1996 Karen Canning became the staff folklorist for the region encompassing Wyoming, Livingston, Genesee and Orleans (GLOW) Counties. In 2013, the program was officially renamed, GLOW Traditions, to further emphasize the connection between partnering arts councils in surrounding counties: ACWC, Livingston Arts and the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.