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Nyack Sketch Log Turns 100

Nyack Sketch Log 100 featured image

Nyack Sketch Log Exhibit Invite from Nyack Mayor Jen White

Bill Batson has managed, in each and every drawing, to cherish Nyack history, piece by piece. He reminds us every week what is so special about the village now and the village of days past. He opens our eyes to things we never knew. What an extraordinary gift to us all and how wonderful it will be to see some of his Nyack Sketch Logs as mounted panels in Village Hall. As we gather for public meetings and conduct the business of the village, they will remind us of where we have come from and keep us mindful and protective of our shared history as we move forward.

Nyack Sketch Log 100 will be on display at Village Hall starting on First Friday, September 6, 2013.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Jen White, Mayor, Village of Nyack

by Bill Batson

About one hundred weeks ago, Dave Zornow offered to publish one of my drawings on NyackNewsAndViews. He then requested that I  caption the image. That “caption” became an essay and the Nyack Sketch Log was born.

I could not have published a sketch and short essay a week for almost two years without the support of many: my editor and publishing partner Dave Zornow, my friend, Judy Martin, who patiently proofreads each column, my sponsor Hal Parker, proprietor of The Corner Frame Shop, and everyone who has shared their story with me.

This week, Nyack Sketch Log goes back to the beginning, reposting my first entry: Liberty Street is Aptly Named (originally published August 23, 2011)  I have also provided the title, date and a link to the subsequent 99 sketches and essays.

My drawing method has changed and I think that the discipline of the deadline has improved my writing. But the purpose and premise of Nyack Sketch Log remains the same. Even though our village is only one square mile in area, there are way too many stories for one person to tell in one life time, let alone one hundred drawings and essays. But that is no reason not to try!

See you next week for entry 101.

Nyack Sketch Log: Liberty Street is Aptly Named

Local artist Bill Batson thinks Nyack is a sketchy place — literally.  Inspired by Hopper Happens, a series of public art events organized by Kris Burns, he has spent the last two months sketching the village.

Nyack Sketch Log 100This house and this street are the remnants of Nyack’s oldest middle class black neighborhood. In the early twentieth century, when Edward Hopper was a teenager, a group of African American families bought homes in Nyack. Homeownership by blacks in Nyack was a stunning achievement when you consider the fact that merely fifty years earlier blacks owned nothing: blacks were owned.

100 Nyack Sketch Logs

  1. Liberty Street (8/23/11)
  2. Wet and Wild Rogue Elephants (8/30/11)
  3. The Lights Are Back On.  (9/6/11)
  4. I Remember John Perry (9/11/11)
  5. Jen White For Mayor (9/12/11)
  6. Alien Archeologists (9/20/11)
  7. Straight Lines Ruin Everything (9/27/11)
  8. The Bull of Wall Street (10/4/11)
  9. NSL Vs. Google Maps (10/11/11)
  10. Brinks Robbery (10/18/11)
  11. The Tappan Zee Bridge (10/25/11)
  12. #RipVanWinkle (11/1/11)
  13. A “Dirty Rat” of Route 59 (11/8/11)
  14. To 10960 With Love (11/15/11)
  15. Post Occupied Wall Street (11/22/11)
  16. Soup Lines to Soup Angels (11/ 29/11)
  17. Nyack Center (12/6/11)
  18. Amazing Grace Church (12/13/11)
  19. Pickwick (12/20/11)
  20. Village Hall (12/28/11)
  21. Warts and All: 1884 Map (1/3/12)
  22. Vincent’s Ear (1/10/12)
  23. Fellowship of Reconciliation (1/17/12)
  24. Couch Court (1/23/12)
  25. Save our Green House (1/31/12)
  26. Hoppermania (2/7/12)
  27. Pilgrim Baptist Church (2/14/12)
  28. St. Philip’s A.M.E. Zion (2/21/12)
  29. Nyack Water (2/28/12)
  30. Nyack Library Part I (3/6/12)
  31. Nyack Library Part II (3/13/12)
  32. Maura’s Kitchen (3/20/12)
  33. Nyack’s Little Schoolhouse (3/27/12)
  34. The Rotary Clock (4/3/12)
  35. Flash Sketch Mob (4/10/12)
  36. Nyack Village Theatre (4/17/12)
  37. Versus Walgreens (4/24/12)
  38. Wright Bros. Real Estate (5/1/12)
  39. Hacienda (5/8/12)
  40. Underground Railroad (5/15/12)
  41. Pie Lady… & Son (5/22/12)
  42. Streamstudios (5/29/12)
  43. The Office (6/5/12)
  44. Hook Mountain Yacht Club (6/12/12)
  45. Came, Saw, Sketched (6/19/12)
  46. Flash Sketch Mob Finale (6/26/12)
  47. Fire Department (7/3/12)
  48. The Corner Frame Shop (7/10/12)
  49. The Orchards of Concklin (7/17/12)
  50. The YMCA (7/24/12)
  51. Hollingsworth Memorial (7/31/12)
  52. Hopper House (8/ 7/12)
  53. Hopper Happens (8/14/12)
  54. One-Year Anniversary (8/21/12)
  55. Hudson House (8/28/12)
  56. Elmwood Playhouse (9/4/12)
  57. Koblin’s Pharmacy (9/11/12)
  58. Rockland Center for the Arts (9/18/12)
  59. Carson McCuller’s (9/25/12)
  60. Amazing Grace Circus (10/2/12)
  61. Historical Society of the Nyacks (10/9/12)
  62. Art Café (10/16/12)
  63. William Prime Batson (10/23/12)
  64. 1 Poltergeist Place, Nyack NY (10/30/12)
  65. Brave New Normal (11/6/12)
  66. Vets Rock (11/13/12)
  67. Year Round Farmers’ Market (11/20/12)
  68. Main Street Revival (11/27/12)
  69. Helen Hayes MacCarthur (12/4/12)
  70. The Folk Art of John Rossi (12/11/12)
  71. Hickory Dickory Dock (12/ 18/12)
  72. 25 Days Since Newtown (1/8/13)
  73. Dr. King and Guns (1/15/13)
  74. Health Care Reform (1/22/13)
  75. Last Armoire Standing (1/913)
  76. Int’l Order of Odd Fellows (2/5/13)
  77. Sam Waymon Lived Here (2/12/13)
  78. Kenya on the Hudson (2/19/13)
  79. Anderson and the SS Columbia (2/26/13)
  80. Local History on Map (3/5/13)
  81. Fracking Finds Fresh Foe (3/12/13)
  82. Mayor Jen White (3/19/2013)
  83. Couch Court (3/26/13)
  84. Planning for New Playgrounds (4/2/13)
  85. Towering Treasures (4/9/13)
  86. Postcard From Antarctica (4/16/13)
  87. Frances Pratt and the NAACP (4/22/13)
  88. Oak Hill Cemetery (4/29/13)
  89. Stop on The Trip To Bountiful (5/7/13)
  90. S. Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow (5/14/13)
  91. Art Puts Nyack on the Map (5/21/13)
  92. Community Agriculture (5/28/13)
  93. It’s Bike Season, Be Safe (6/4/13)
  94. Strawtown Studio (6/11/13)
  95. Mandela Meditation (6/ 18/13)
  96. Amazing Grace Circus (6/25/13)
  97. Vincent’s Ear (7/2/13)
  98. Piermont a la Paris (7/9/13)
  99. Requiem for a Barn & Barge (7/16/13)
  100. NSL Turns 100 (7/23/13)

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Turns 100“ © 2013 Bill Batson 

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored by The Corner Frame Shop at 40 South Franklin Street in Nyack, NY.




The speed of this reversal of fortunes is hard to comprehend. In historic terms, fifty years is a tiny interval. Fifty years ago was 1961.  Imagine a family advancing from slavery to home ownership in the time span that America went from black and white TV to digital cable. My 60’s reference is purposeful irony. It was urban renewal; a phenomenon of that era that destroyed the middle class black community that many refer to as Jackson Avenue. Almost obliterated, that is, except for this house on Liberty Street.

My great grandparents purchased the house on Jackson Avenue. My grandmother used the meager sum that she got through the condemnation process of the eminent domain debacle to buy another home. The only saving grace is that this site now holds much needed affordable housing and a senior citizen development.

As I sat on the ground in front of this modest structure and sketched, a parking enforcement officer walked toward me. I asked him if he was going to ticket me for squatting in a parking space. He laughed and said if that was the case, he would have written me up weeks ago; having seen me numerous times perched on the curb side drawing. I think he chose this moment to say hello because he approved of my subject matter. It turns out that he knew my aunt, Frances Adeline Batson, who was once the Deputy Village Clerk and who grew up on Jackson Avenue.

I was then approached by a local artist who told me she admires, but avoids representational drawings. She is an abstract painter, which I told her I envy. She lamented the demands of linear perspective, telling me how she would throw in the towel after the first line went astray. Watching my imprecise and quivering depiction, she thought aloud that if she could have forgiven herself  the occasional errant mark, she would have seen that the whole is greater than the sum of its imperfect parts.

Because I draw free hand with black ink on white paper, I confront the fear of failure with every pen stroke. Yet I persist and complete each drawing, motivated by my attachment to the village and enriched by my random interactions with the villagers. That someone who loves Nyack and making art would consider drawing from life after meeting me on this special site was invigorating. During this encounter, I could feel the freedom that my ancestors must have felt on this spot. As humble as this home appears, its very existence and hidden history is profound and I am pleased to have archived it. The cartographers got this one right. Liberty Street is aptly named.

NSL 100 1-20NSL 100 21-40NSL 100 41-60NSL 100 61-80

NSL 100 81 - 100

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