Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lake George, NY

I only got as far as the town of Lake George on this day of the roadtrip. I left Ithaca late, after lingering in the morning at Treman SP, making photos of the trillium and other wildflowers. Then I lingered further at a Border's on the north end of town, where I found a book on three generations of Wyeth painters; I plan to stop in at Chadds Ford, PA, at the Brandywine Museum, which is a central node of Andrew Wyeth's heritage. Then I stopped at Phoenix Used & Rare Books; not only was this an amazing used book store, but I found three or four hard-to-find literary treasures, and a hardcover edition of a Jung volume that helps complete my set of the Collected Works. After that, I headed across New York and into the Adirondacks. I stopped several times in the Adirondacks to make photographs, and shoot video footage. Late in the day, I stopped at the Sacandaga River for awhile. Then, a bit later, I crossed the upstate Hudson River, very beautiful in its scenic upstream settings.

I arrived at Lake George an hour before sunset, tired of driving and ready to stop for the day. After finding a fine hotel amongst this resort vacation town's multitude, many of which were not yet open for the season, I wandered down the main street to eat a delicious meal at a new Indian restaurant in town.

I had a pleasant chat with the owners, who had moved upstate a year ago from Queens, having visited and fallen in love with Lake George. This is probably the only Indian restaurant on this long route between New York City and Montreal. Then I went back to my hotel for a restful night. I used the hotel pool and spa to unwind, soaking in the hot-tub till it felt like all the kinks in my back had loosened, then doing laps in the pool for awhile.

In the morning, I lingered on the hotel's balcony, drinking my orange juice and doing some writing.. I had a room on the second floor, with its own sitting area with table and chairs. I good have lingered all day, to be honest. I felt at peace in the morning light, having slept well after a long previous day's drive.

The verandah runs the entire length of the hotel, and in the morning sunlight it was pleasant to enjoy sitting out as though one had the entire resort to oneself for the day.

White on white

Here's a still-life arrangement of discarded towels in my hotel bathroom, a chance arrangement that seemed formally perfect, and caught my attention.

I sat on the verandah for awhile, copying into my road journal the haiku and other momentary poems I'd written over the past couple of days. These were mostly written on scraps, some even written while driving, notepad held on knee under the wheel, and gathered together here to preserve them in one place. I'm a pretty good driver, and every so often, if it's an open road, not too much traffic, and not a lot of curves, I can chicken-scratch something done before I lose the moment, lose the idea; then transcribe it later into the journal, like this.

This all feeds into the arts & literature pilgrimage that this roadtrip has become. This day in early May, with few of the hotels open yet, with the weather still dominated by New England spring rains, I started to realize finally that my real purpose on this roadtrip was to do a pilgrimage to many of the places that were home to writers and artists whose work I have loved and respected. This became the main theme of this roadtrip, eventually. I made many good photographs nonetheless, and got enough good video, waterfall video in particular, to make a complete DVD of just waterfalls. A lot of this material will feed into an eventual Spring DVD from a planned Four Seasons series.

Stieglitz and O'Keeffe at Lake George

Of course, when in Lake George it's impossible not to think of Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe. They were summering and making their art here together a century ago, as attested by many of the photographs in the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O'Keeffe Archive at the Bienecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. A number of these special collections have been digitized and are available online. (I once visited the Bienecke in person some years ago, and was very impressed with the layout of the library, and its method of making even some its rarest books visible to ordinary passersby.)

lakeshore view from the Stieglitz cottage

the Stieglitz "cottage," more of a mansion really

The Stieglitz mansion at Lake George was a family property. It was not long after Stieglitz first met O'Keeffe that he invited her to summer with him at the "cottage."

Stieglitz writing on the cottage verandah

O'Keeffe at Lake George, photographed by Stieglitz

O'Keeffe made some of her earliest abstract landscapes here in the Adirondacks, years before her first trip and eventual move to New Mexico. O'Keeffe was always circling around abstraction, aware of pure form even in her most figurative work. One thing I find in O'Keeffe that I recognize in my awareness of form is a sensitivity to circular and spiral forms.

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Anonymous koe whitton-williams said...

Hi - I just saw your blog on Jim Murdoch's site and saw that you'd written about Lake George. The lake is stunning of course. . . the hotels, motels and restaurants are classics. if you have a chance take a trip up that mountain (French Mountain) that you can see across the lake from the Stieglitz cottage. The view north of the lake is unreal. My family used to vacation in LGNY when I was a baby - 50 years ago and I've taken my boys there as well. . . and played skeeball in the same arcade on the corner in the center of the village. There's also a train station in North Creek that is worth the trip.


What an excellent site you have. I enjoyed reading through the other posts as well.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read.

Nice, nice, very nice.

7:59 PM  
Blogger John Ettorre said...

I like that road journal. Kind of reminded me of Kerouac.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...


Thanks very much for the thoughts and comments. (I'm blogging a few weeks behind the actual visits, as a way of integrating the trip, so I'll take your recommendations for a future visit, and than you for them.) Glad you like the rest of it, too!


Hah. Kerouac. Well, he's been on my mind lately. I need to reread "The Dharma Bums," for one thing. Partly that's because I was in the mountains again last fall, and wandering through Snyder territory. The whole firewatch, poets on the peaks thing, was on my mind.

But any comparison of journals is most likely in his favor, and accidental on my part. I've kept a journal in one form or another for 30 years now, and it's always included jottings, multiple streams, and drawings (usually bad ones) in it. More lately than their used to be, it's true.

Thanks for the kind thoughts!

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Ellen Lowe said...

Hi...I just came upon your Lake Geaorge trip. If you haven't read" Stieglitz- A Memoir Biography" by Sue Davidson Lowe I highly recommend it. The author is my Mother and I worked on the book . I didn't have to say that it's very good, Time Magazine named it one of the five best non-fiction books of 1982. Enjoy!
Now that I have found your site I will check in again.
Ellen Lowe

1:11 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi, Ellen, thanks for the comment and for the recommendation. I've certainly seen your mother's (and yours) Stieglitz biography, although I haven't read it yet. Next time I encounter it, library or bookstore, I'll certainly read it avidly.

I appreciate the recommendation very much.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think i stayed at the "cottage" you posted this past summer. heres a more recent picture of it from august.. i dont know if it is the same house but im pretty sure!
if you need to contact me my email is

7:01 PM  

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