Recently Marlborough artists Barbara Masterson and Sydney Cash were honored at Arts Mid-Hudson’s 10th Annual Ulster County Executive’s Art Awards Ceremony.
Masterson was recognized in the category of ‘Artivism,’ meaning activism in the visual arts. In recent years, she has been creating large portraits of members of the migrant farm community who work in the fields of her hometown.
“Migrant workers toil in the Hudson Valley doing jobs most Americans won’t, earning modest wages [and] sometimes risking deportation. Hard at work, they summon our attention and invite us to come closer, to see their labor and their humanity,” she explained.
Masterson believes most people don’t even see them, rendering them ‘invisible’, with little attention paid to their working conditions, their health care, the pesticides they have to deal with, housing conditions and their lack of ability to get their own food.
Masterson hopes her art, “can expand our perceptions of these workers. If only by their images in my paintings, the viewer will come to see these persons for the vital role they have in our lives.”
In an interview Masterson said artists and organizations are nominated for their role in the Arts in Ulster County. She said she was ‘honored and humbled’ upon learning that she would be receiving an award.
Masterson said through her art, “I just want everyone to know who they are and see them as humanity.”
Artist & Sculptor Sydney Cash was honored in the category of “Individual Artist.” His biography states he has worked with glass, metal, paper, many kinds of paint and light. Much of his work has involved patterns and/or portraiture...He regularly invents surprising and sometimes strange new ways to use ordinary materials and is currently making wire structures from hardware cloth and then dipping the structures into vats of paint, multiple times, with fascinating results.
Cash, at 81, says he is an ‘old artist’ and is being honored, “for all I’ve done, locally, nationally and internationally, so that’s what the recognition is for, a lifetime.”
Cash said he has been active in the Arts Mid Hudson in different ways by showing and donating some of his works and by teaching art classes, “and I know a lot of artists because of that.”
Cash said his art is constantly changing.
“I invent things that people have never made before and then I make them. My soul is this maker that wants to be creative and follow the creative dynamism wherever it leads me. I’m a sculptor, I’m a painter but it’s probably the most interesting thing is that I have such an inventive vision and inspiration happens all the time. I want to be inspired, I want to be challenged, I want to be excited and I feel that’s what I offer to a lot of people. It doesn’t always mean that the world loves what I do, but I do. I’ve had a lucky, great life as an artist and I’m thrilled.”
Cash is currently writing his memoir, entitled ‘Material Witness, My Life As A Maker’
“I have real intimacy with materials and that’s how I discover stuff,” he said. “I make great mistakes but I have good intuition about maybe this will happen, let me try it this way or that way and then something happens and I say oh my, I never imagined that would happen and I’m off to the races in that direction.”
As the Master of Ceremony, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said he had the best role of the evening.
“I get to honor and thank great people that have, in the past few years of the pandemic, brought some joy and some life and positivity to our community through performance and the arts,” he said. “I get to give out the awards and tell the stories of the folks we’re honoring tonight.”
Alyson Pou, Executive Director of Arts Mid-Hudson, said the organization is very involved in the county throughout the year.
“One of them is grant making for artists and arts organizations and that’s a big part of our mission,” she said. “We also do advocacy for education in the arts because we believe access to the arts should start when we’re very, very young and be able to continue thorough our whole lifetime. Access to the arts makes a huge difference in the community.”
Pou said Arts Mid-Hudson helps artists, “build their capacity, to sustain their careers and to raise money for their work and also to learn life management skills so they can be sustainable as artists.”
The Arts Mid Hudson also honored the Vanaver Caravan, the Ashokan Center, Maggie Inge the Development Director of TRANSART and Cultural Services, the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce, art teacher Jill Obrig and volunteer Joe Gonzalez.