Liberty builds an artsy image
LIBERTY — Can the Village of Liberty become the new cultural hub of the Catskills?
The former Sullivan County resort mecca may have a few empty storefronts.
But this village flanked by the green Catskill mountains also has a colorful palette of two-story shops offering everything from Mexican, Chinese, Italian and health foods to gourmet coffee and cutting-edge art.
“Why not Liberty?” said Ellie Ohiso, publisher of another thing Liberty has — Green Door magazine, which calls itself “A Journal of Comfortable Living.”
“Liberty has the potential to be like a Saugerties, with its mom-and-pop shops and art. It can be anything it wants to be,” Ohiso said.
Ohiso and a group of business owners calling themselves ArtLib hope this village of some 4,400 residents takes a major step in that direction at 6 p.m. Sunday, when it unveils a giant sculpture that’s sure to attract lots of attention.
It’s called “Ed” and it’s a 10-foot-tall fabricated, welded steel rendition of a big guy with a giant head made of such found objects as an ax and a bicycle tire.
The sculpture is the product of another thing Liberty and Sullivan have — talented artists like Zac Shavrick, a Liberty High School graduate who has shown his steel sculptures in galleries ranging from Chelsea to California.
Shavrick, 26, knows that the open spaces of Sullivan have become a hub for artists who’ve shown everywhere from the Museum of Modern Art to the Smithsonian — especially artists from New York City who need open spaces like the Catskills provide.
“It’s not easy to fit all this art (in a space) in the city,” he said, gesturing to sculptures like a larger-than-life version of 7-foot-6-inch basketball great Yao Ming on the 15 acres in Ferndale where he lives with his father, Barry, also a sculptor of welded steel.
“The city’s moving up this way, too.”
“Ed” will be unveiled next to another member of ArtLib, Floyd and Bobo’s Bakery and Snack Palace, on a tiny slice of the Main Street lawn of the Town of Liberty government center — itself unique since the building is an old home set on a tree-lined lawn.
And when you ask Floyd and Bobo’s co-owner, Louie Petraglia, if he thinks Liberty can become the next cultural hub of the Catskills, he answers with the same question Ohiso asks: