Friday, August 21, 2020

Meet the Folk Artists: 1. Gary Mead

 In its continuing series featuring the folk artists from the exhibit "Folk Art in Wood,"  Catskills Folk Connection presents Meet the Folk Artists: Gary Mead, Furniture.  It can be found on Catskills Folk Connection's YouTube channel or at the link below.  Gary composes his works in wood to create one-of-a-kind tables, shelves, stools, and sculptures.  In this video he describes the vision he had for a free-standing pantry - too large for the exhibit - that he made from a hollow log.  Called "Mother & Child" it contains a unique solution that balances the natural aesthetic of the wood with the practical purpose of the pantry.  Gary's presentation includes reciting two poems he composed while completing the Mother & Child Pantry that give insight into his creative process.

For more information about the exhibit, "Folk Art in Wood", visit Catskills Folk Connection's FaceBook page and for free reservations (required) call Hanford Mills Museum 607-2785744.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Meet the Folk Musicians: 2. Amy Lieberman, Bass

Amy Lieberman and her bass, with fellow Tremperskillian, Chris Carey, banjo.

In this folklore field interview, done through Zoom, Amy Lieberman discusses her musical journey, from elementary band through nearly a decade with the Tremperskill Boys, playing for square dances, weddings and concerts.  Along the way she has learned to play a variety of instruments, some of which she plays in other local music groups.  The link below will take you to Amy's interview on YouTube:

If clicking the link does not work, try selecting it and copying it into a new search window for your browser - where URLs usually go.  Hit enter and you should go to Youtube directly to the video.   

If you still can't see it or encounter any other problems, please notify Ginny Scheer, at or 607-326-4206.  Also, let us know what you think of folklore interviews like this one.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

CFC on WIOX Thursday August 6: Racism 2

Tonight CFC folklorist Ginny Scheer joins WIOX host Harry Anifantakis at  6 p.m. on his regular program, "Winging It" on 91.3 FM or, for a special show devoted to the history of white race riots in the United States, especially the one in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921, when an entire black neighborhood was leveled, many residents murdered, and thousands displaced.  Surprisingly, little or nothing was known among whites about the Tulsa riot until close to the end of the 20th century.  We hope you can join us tonight to hear the story of  Greenwood, as the neighborhood in Tulsa was called, and what it was like for Ginny and Harry to discover its history. .  

For additional information, here are some suggested resources. 



1.Greenwood Cultural Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

2. John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, Tulsa, Oklahoma

3. June, 2020, 60 Minutes Program about the Greenwood Massacre

Article and link to video 020-06-14/ 60 minutes episode

Video only 60 minutes episode

4. What a White-Supremacist Coup Looks Like by Caleb Crain

April 27 2020 New Yorker Article about 1898 Wilmington, NC race riot:


5. "Tulsa Race Riot: A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921”

The report on the Tulsa race riot to the Oklahoma legislature, ordered in 1997. 200 pages with photos.  Can be obtained from Wikipedia, in footnote 2 under Tulsa Reparations Coalition

6. Oral History accounts by survivors and their descendants.  

Easiest access to examples can be found at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation ( under Curriculum Resources.

7. Scott Ellsworth, 1982, Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

Basic history.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Meet the Folk Musicians: 1. Chris Carey, Banjo

In his own words, Chris Carey describes his life in music, how he got started, his development as a musician, and what it is like to play for Catskills square dances.  Click the link below.  It will go to DropBox then without further clicking to the video until you see and click the "play" arrow in the center of the screen..
[note: link has ceased to function.  Correction underway.]

If the link does not work after a few tries, please inform Catskills Folk Connection by e-mail at or, or call Ginny Scheer at 607-3326-4206.

Enjoy getting to know Chris Carey.  Later there will be an on-line demonstration of Chris and his banjos.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Catskills Folk Connection on Racism

Catskills Folk Connection’s mission is to conserve and celebrate the expressions of everyday life of all people in the Catskill Mountain region. The mission is founded on an underlying belief in cultural equity. Our focus on folklore, folk art, and folklife provides a way toward an inclusive society made up of diverse groups, communities and individuals, whose ways of life are significant and are deserving of equal support and respect.

Therefore Catskills Folk Connection, in solidarity with communities of color throughout the United States, and with other folklorists and their organizations in New York State and beyond, offers our support of the Black Lives Matter movement in its quest for justice for people of color and for the eradication of institutional racism. We deplore the nationwide ongoing violence against communities of color and recognize that now is the time for us, all of us, to engage in difficult conversations with family, friends, colleagues, and others within our communities.

Catskills Folk Connection affirms its commitment to be part of the societal change that will alleviate racism in all its forms, that will counter stereotyping and scapegoating among our region’s residents, and that will promote equal rights and equal access to cultural and economic prosperity for all. We pledge to seek diverse leadership for Catskills Folk Connection, to continue efforts to expand our programs with marginalized groups in the Catskills, and to increase our support for local and community scholars.

--- Ginny Scheer, Folklorist

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

_____ Meet the Folk Artists 4 _____

A new bi-weekly feature

Ken Etts and Joe Hewitt
Whistle Stick

Ken Etts lives on the acreage his grandfather farmed in Montgomery Hollow, Roxbury NY.  He and his wife Toni run a successful dog kennel and grooming service as a retirement business.   Ken, known locally as "Chub",  made a living in car body repair and had a reputation for being able to shape metal and bondo so sensitively that his work was commonly called "artistic."

Ken's contribution to the exhibit "Folk Art in Wood", to take place in September, is neither metal nor bondo.  By chance, I had my cell phone when I encountered Chub at the convenience store and somehow the conversation came around to the whistle stick.  He quickly retrieved one from his truck and demonstrated it for me. [Please forgive my un-huhs and clucks during the recording!]  The wood carving - notches taken out of edges of a square "dowel"- is a technique that characterizes some folk creations called "tramp art" that are often included in exhibitions of Outsider Art.  In the whistle stick the notches are more functional than artistic.  Watch the video and see if you can detect what makes the propeller turn.  Then watch again to see what makes it reverse direction.  Can you hear the whistle that happens at the same time?

Ken Etts demonstrating the whistle stick, December, 2019

Ken has made several whistle sticks.  He says he learned to make them and to operate them from Joe Hewitt, the legendary state trooper and tradition bearer originally from Denver NY and now living in  New Kingston.  Joe is well-known as a keeper of bees, a student of Native American traditions, and a deep well of local knowledege and skills.  He remembers teaching Chub to make whistle sticks, but said he hadn't made one in a long time, until now.  Joe learned to make whistle sticks from Freddy Hammond, a fellow state trooper who was from Ithaca, "the best friend I ever had in the state police," Joe says.

Joe Hewitt demonstrating his newly made whistle stick, January 2020.

The folk process is usually assumed to be oral transmission from one generation to the next.  But in the case of the whistle stick it seems to be from one adult male to another.  Perhaps this is just a happen-so, because another wood skill Freddy Hammond knew - making a whistle from striped maple bark - Joe had already learned as a child from Ralph Felter Sr., a carpenter who was working at Joe's Dad's farm.  And still in the generational pattern, Joe remembers showing his kids how to make striped maple whistles.  He realizes now that he needs to show his grandchildren how to make and use whistle sticks, passing on both the creation and mystery. 

You will be able to view a whistle stick, and perhaps a demonstration, this September at Catskills Folk Connection's exhibit, "Folk Art in Wood" at Hanford Mills Museum.  It will run through September and end with the Museum's Woodsmen's Festival in early October.  Should we not be able to present the exhibit for in-person viewing, there will be an on-line exhibit at Catskills Folk Connection's new website, now being designed.

Ginny Scheer, Folklorist, Catskills Folk Connection

Monday, June 1, 2020

______Meet the Folklorists 3 _____

A new  bi-weekly feature 

Kira Lendo

Creator of Pictures in Wood

Kira makes pictures in wood using a woodburner.  The varying textures and wood tones look like layers of different wood, but instead come from choices of tips for the woodburner.  “There is no layering... if you touch one of the pictures you will feel the indentations – some of them deeper than others -  [of] the pen – it’s not really a pen but the woodburner – burning itself into the wood.”

She uses color on a few of her works, but most of them are in the colors of the wood itself.  For the natural colored ones she uses  "... different tips ... it looks almost like a pen, and the tip is different.   And the one I use has different wires on it and some of them make better .. curves, some may shade better.  … I have a tendency to use the same one that I like over and over again ..."

Kira is inspired by her mother who was an accomplished artist in pencil and watercolor.  As she found her creative spirit grow Kira tried many different media, settling on wood-burned pictures, supported by her husband who clear coats the pictures, builds frames and encourages her with select tools.  Kira is clear that doing art is her time for herself, for her self-expression.  Nevertheless, she participates in a few craft shows each year where she sells her work.

You will be able to view some of Kira's creations this September at Catskills Folk Connection's exhibit, "Folk Art in Wood" at Hanford Mills Museum.  It will run through September and end with the Museum's Woodsmen's Festival in early October.  Should we not be able to present the exhibit for in-person viewing, there will be an on-line exhibit at Catskills Folk Connection's new website, now being designed.