November 30, 2012

Mystery at the Katonah Museum of Art

No, this is not the title of an Agatha Christie thriller, or even an episode “Scooby-Doo.” The truth is, mysteries at the art museum are best left for the interpretation of the art on its walls.

However, we are witnessing a surprising turn of events at the Katonah Museum of Art and, at this point, answers don’t seem to be forthcoming. Last week — the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — board trustee Rochelle Rosenberg issued a terse statement that executive director Neil Watson would be leaving his post, which he has held since 2005.

Contrast this to the warm farewell to Mr. Watson’s predecessor at the KMA, Susan Edwards, or the hosannas that executive director Michael Barrett received upon his departure last year from nearby Caramoor.

Last week, museum communications manager Sarah Marshall provided no information as to what led to the decision, instead referring email queries to Ms. Rosenberg, who said that there was nothing to add beyond the statement. The museum’s publicist, Marcia Clark, declined to comment. Mr. Watson added little more, saying, “I’ve resigned, I’m moving on,” after the announcement. He said he did not know where he was headed next.

Mr. Watson has a B.F.A. degree in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. Mr. Watson’s wife, Jude, is a renowned children’s author, and they have one daughter, Cleo.

Mr. Watson brought in numerous highly-regarded — and positively reviewed — exhibits, most notably this past year’s superb “Rising Dragon,” 85 photographs by 36 Chinese artists that spanned a 12-year period, allowing viewers to see the country’s reconstruction over a fast-paced and changing decade. “With humor, technological smarts and a profound loyalty to the greater community of people, not to ideology, these photographers celebrate their thousands of years of shared traditional art,” wrote Charles Flowers of the exhibit in The Record-Review.

Mr. Watson initiated the museum’s “Crosstalk” series, bringing panelists of diverse expertise together onstage, launched John Scofield’s “Shades of Jazz” music series, and worked with local groups like Neighbors Link in cross-cultural endeavors, as well as shepherded numerous programs for children at the museum.

We will miss Mr. Watson, his creative guidance, his imagination and his vision for the museum. He was truly a wizard at pulling together a wide audience of all ages and backgrounds.

At the time of his hiring, museum board member Yvonne Pollack said, “He is just exactly right for us, a perfect fit. He’s collegial, collaborative, innovative, and he’s going to be fun to work with.”

What happened between then and now?

All this leads us to speculation — never a good thing when about a nonprofit organization struggling for money and trust in the community. Maybe this, maybe that — well, your imagination is probably more fertile than ours. We shouldn’t have to rely on innuendo, gossip or rumor when dealing with institutions of important and lasting cultural value.

For the museum to maintain the public trust in a time of economic uncertainty and even peril, they will have to work a little harder to communicate more effectively.

Top 10 reasons to shop locally

Last weekend was Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In-between there was “Small Business Saturday.” “Shop local” is the mantra of this day, and for us it is the mantra of the entire holiday shopping season. What better way to get to know and support your community?

Here are 10 reasons we love shopping in our towns:

• Shopkeepers provide the backbone of our community.

• A thriving business district attracts visitors and new faces, bolstering the region’s appeal.

• Dollars in = dollars out. Local businesses spend and hire within our towns.

• Unique merchandise. You might be able to find the kind of quirky, fun stuff available locally online — or you might not.

• You can look before you buy. Can’t touch it, see it live or sniff it on the Internet.

• Save. Find local bargains, coupons and specials, save on shipping, handling and returns.

• Freshness and quality. For gourmet food items, meat and produce, there are an abundance of markets that provide healthy food options and local, farm-grown produce and meat. Once it’s wrapped and shipped, it’s not quite the same.

• Window shopping. What’s better than strolling down the street at holiday time peering into shop windows and checking out the decorations?

• Meet your neighbors. (Or are you going to wait for the next hurricane?)

• Support the little guy. Our “city fathers” have done a great job at keeping our communities free of big chain stores. Let’s support the small businessmen and women who are the lifeblood of America’s economy.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York



Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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