Best of Hudson Valley 2010


(page 6 of 6)

levon helmRock royalty: Woodstock’s Levon Helm gets the nod for best local musician

Photograph by Paul Le Raia


Faux Painter
Muriel Calderon at Down Under Faux

Red Hook
Australian faux-finish artist Muriel Calderon is a master at making an ordinary flat surface look like marble or linen or old Tuscan plaster. She recently helped jazz up the CIA’s swanky Escoffier restaurant, last renovated in 1985 — and the result may have the old-fashioned chef turning in his grave. “Escoffier believed his restaurants should be pink to appeal to women,” Calderon says. “It was bloody awful, like someone’s grandmother’s house, with pink rose wallpaper. Now it’s very cool” (if she does say so herself). Calderon’s trademark hand-brushed and hand-troweled plaster finishes and glazes left the dining room and grill looking sleekly sophisticated in parchment, camel and espresso tones, while the library walls got a tissue-paper-and-plaster treatment that resembles bamboo. “Such a transformation!” Calderon says. • 845-758-1040;

Garden Blog
A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach

On the last day of 2007, Margaret Roach did what many weekenders dream of doing: she left her high-powered job in Manhattan (in her case as editorial director of Martha Stewart Living) and moved to her weekend house in Columbia County to tend her beloved garden full-time — and blog about it. The well-designed site she created and named after her 1989 prize-winning book is overflowing with information, tips, wisdom, and enviable pictures of her lovely property, but it’s Roach’s delightful writing about plants, her “frogboys,” Jack the Demon Cat, and her wonder at the marvels of nature that make it irresistible. Roach says gardening is “healing, relaxing and fulfilling.” Her inspiring blog suggests it’s a lot of fun, too. The New York Times calls it the best garden blog around — and so do we. •

our lady of lourdes high school crew teamRapid rowers: Members of the Our Lady of Lourdes Junior Varsity 4 boat

High School Sports Team
Our Lady of Lourdes Girls Crew

In the world of scholastic crew, winning the state title is great. Coming out on top in the national event is even greater. But placing first in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia — the oldest and largest scholastic rowing competition — is akin to winning the Super Bowl and the World Series combined. Last spring, the girls Junior Varsity 4 boat from Our Lady of Lourdes High School won all three of these regattas; to capture the Stotesbury Cup, they beat out 68 other boats, moving from fifth to first place over the final 1,000 meters of the race to win. “I have never seen a Lourdes crew compete at this high a level,” says Erik Haight, the school’s proud varsity coach. “This boat is worthy of any and all accolades.” • 845-463-0400;

Community-focused Restaurant
Union Restaurant & Bar Latino

This Rockland County restaurant is already well-known for filling our bellies with mouthwatering meals; now, it fills our hearts. Owners Paulo Feteira and Chef David Martinez — not satisfied with just dishing out hot plates — established the “We Care” Foundation, which provides free meals to community members in need. Organizations big and small also benefit from Union’s generosity, from festivities to support the Haverstraw Fire Department to fund-raisers for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Nyack Hospital during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Its latest project — a rooftop garden — is a collaboration with Rockland BOCES students, who help maintain it, while unused produce is donated to local food pantries. If that’s not community spirit, we don’t know what is. • 845-429-4354;

franc palaia

Friend to the Poughkeepsie Arts
Franc Palaia

A Hudson Valley city, once an industrial boom town, bottoms out after decades of economic decline, only to ascend after reinventing itself as a haven for the arts. It happened in Beacon. It happened in Hudson. And if Franc Palaia has anything to say about it — and he does — the next reclamation-through-commitment-to-the-arts project will be the Valley’s unofficial capital: Poughkeepsie.
“You’ve got to have an identity,” says Palaia, a versatile artist and Poughkeepsie resident whose media include painting, sculpture, photography, murals, film, lamp design, and sign-making. “Beacon has Dia. Hudson has antiques. Poughkeepsie has nothing.”
But, says Palaia, “Poughkeepsie is an important historical city. People should realize that and build on it. It’s the biggest city between New York and Albany. It has four colleges. It has two bridges. It has the Walkway, which is a world-class attraction.”
Poughkeepsie also boasts a staggering 100 works of public art, “more by a mile than anywhere else in the Hudson Valley,” including murals, paintings, sculptures, and monuments. That’s why Palaia conducts a downtown public-art walking tour. “This is what Poughkeepsie already has. Let’s make it the mural capital of New York State. That makes us different. That makes us a tourist destination.” Philadelphia, he notes, has 3,000 murals, which that city’s mayor is quick to trumpet. “People come to see the murals. They eat in a restaurant. They stay overnight. They buy things.”
Palaia, who hails from Jersey City, would like to see the same result in the town he’s called home since 2002. And he’s not sitting on his hands waiting for things to happen. If he’s not showing a film he made with Salvador Dali, he’s installing a sculpture at the Ulster County Transportation Center. If he’s not hosting Arts Focus on cable TV, he’s busy curating local exhibits. If he’s not painting banners for an Italian-American festival that he helped organize, he’s painting a mural on a formerly blah city wall. If he’s not putting together arts festivals, he’s exhibiting his own work. The man is busy. “I go at the Jersey RPM,” he says. And much of his energy is dedicated to making Poughkeepsie realize its potential as a center for the arts. “People here have waited way too long.”

Readers' Picks:

James Earl Jones

Actress (tie):
Mary Tyler Moore Millbrook Melissa Leo

Stone Ridge
Peggy Catherine-Choate

James Patterson

A Newburgh native

thieves and villains

Readers voted young musicmakers Thieves and Villains this year’s “Best New Band”

Photograph by Jesse DeFlorio

New Band:
Thieves and Villains

You might recognize the music made by this Orange County-based pop-rock band from its play on a number of TV shows, including Gossip Girl and The Real World. However, they’ve been rocking audiences throughout the Valley since 2007. This past August, they released their second album, South America, an eclectic, uptempo mix of songs with creative instrumentation and honest, heartfelt lyrics. Check them out at
Marcus Guiliano at Aroma Thyme Bistro

Ellenville. 845-647-3000;
Golf Pro:
Rhett Myers at Vassar Golf Course

Poughkeepsie. 914-204-7304;
Local Musician:
Levon Helm

Massage Therapist:
Natasha Althouse of Prashanti

Ellenville. 845-853-3590;
Morning Show Personality:
Mark Bolger
(Star 93.3)
Poughkeepsie. 845-471-2300;
U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey

Middletown. 845-344-3211;

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