Building Community Through the Arts

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Dennis Lichtman and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton bringing 1920s blues, folk music to Spencertown Academy’s Roots & Shoots Concert Series

March 2, 2023 | The Berkshire Eagle

When multi-instrumentalists Jerron Paxton and Dennis Lichtman go out into the world together, they look to the past for inspiration.

Growing up on opposite coasts — Paxton in Los Angeles, Lichtman near Boston — each developed a love of music that brought them together in New York City, first as friends and colleagues, then as close collaborators.

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At 50, Spencertown Academy thrives in rural setting

August 30, 2022 | Times Union

When visitors step into the 175-year-old Greek Revival building known as Spencertown Academy, they often sense a certain presence, an echo of all the lives that have passed through this place—musicians who performed in the auditorium where legends like Odetta and Pete Seeger once took the stage, future teachers who studied Greek and Latin in one of the country’s first coed teacher-training programs, and a century’s worth of elementary school students, during the Academy’s years as a public grade school.

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Spencertown Academy Arts Center hosting free Community Day in celebration of two anniversaries

The Berkshire Eagle | Sunday, July 3, 2022

SPENCERTOWN, N.Y. — When the 50th anniversary of a beloved cultural institution falls in the same year as the 175th anniversary of the building it occupies, there’s double the reason to celebrate.

On Saturday, July 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Spencertown Academy Arts Center — located atop a hill near the Village Green in the Spencertown hamlet of rural Austerlitz, N.Y. — will host a free, festive Community Day for all ages. Music, performances, art and historical exhibits offering a glimpse at its storied past are scheduled throughout the day.

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BOOK REVIEW: Judy White Staber’s ‘Rise Above It, Darling’

The Berkshire Edge | March 22, 2022

It’s an odd thing, writing a biography of someone you know well, yet barely know at all. Judy White Staber has constructed a book about her actress mother, and she has done a great deal of research about her mother’s family background, her mother’s life, and her career. She has had to do the work of a researcher as her mother, Joan White, played a very small role in Staber’s formative years, having placed her in the Actors’ Orphanage when she was just a bit over four years old. In Staber’s first book, “Silverlands: Growing Up at the Actors’ Orphanage,” published in 2010, she recounted those years and experiences in great detail. This book, which discusses her childhood, is more about what happened to her in subsequent times.

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Spencertown Academy’s Festival of Books offers virtual author talks, book sale

The Berkshire Eagle | October 2, 2021

CHATHAM, N.Y. — Former U.N. staffer Jill Kalotay loves books. So do the 2,000 people and volunteers who attend Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s annual Festival of Books. Too many for the current climate, the 16th festival will spend a second year online.

Kalotay co-chairs the festival, her sixth, with David Highfill, executive editor at HarperCollins imprint William Morrow.

“I’m a reader and book lover,” said Kalotay during a phone interview. “Our family has always been that way. My daughter is a writer and my Hungarian husband is very bookish.”

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‘Whimsy’ an art exhibit meant for escaping troubled times | October 1, 2021

A few years ago, Barbara Lax Kranz, co-chair of the Spencertown Academy Curatorial Committee, had the idea to create an art show that offered a little break from all the bad news. She had no idea how badly people would need that by the time the exhibition finally went up. 

“Long before the pandemic, I decided to do a show on whimsy to give people an escape,” Lax Kranz said recently. “Times were troubling then—little did I know where we would be a year or so later.” 

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Spencertown Academy Meets Capital Campaign Goal | December 16, 2020

SPENCERTOWN — Spencertown Academy Arts Center announces the completion of its three-year $600,000 capital campaign. $500,000 is dedicated to the complete restoration of the outside of its building and $100,000 has been set aside to create a $100,000 reserve fund for the ongoing maintenance. Restoration projects include a new standing seam metal roof, repaired and restored cornice, chimney, clapboard, columns, windows, steps, and fence, along with a new patio and walkways.

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