by Bill Batson
When I started publishing a weekly sketch and short essay in August 2011, I thought I would run out of subjects before I ran out of stamina. Three years, later, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.
This week, I am publishing my first book, a collection of my favorite essays. As a whole, the collection is a narrative about preservation, of memories and of a place.
The premise behind Nyack Sketch Log is that the unexamined place is not worth inhabiting. I am fascinated with every building and every soul that dwells within the one-square mile of the village where I live. Each person’s story is a poem, screenplay, or song, that has yet to be written, seen or heard.
The idea for my composite visual and literary portrait of Nyack was ignited on June 18, 2011. Kris Burns invited me to an evening of flash mobs and pop-up projections honoring our hometown visual arts hero, Edward Hopper. Her event, Hoppers Happens, had a profound effect on me. Ironically, my first entry was in watercolor, not the pen and ink that has become my visual voice.
There was something about the projection of an Edward Hopper painting on the side of a brick wall that made the village that I had known all my life new again. Suddenly, every facade was as captivating as a distant, exotic locale. Vistas that I thought had become mundane, were now begging for my attention.
Nyack Sketch Log:
A compilation of 55 sketches and short essays
- Warts and All: 1884 Map (1/3/12)
- Liberty Street (8/23/11)
- St. Philip’s A.M.E. Zion (2/21/12)
- Congregation Sons of Israel (9/23/14)
- The Towt House (8/19/14)
- Underground Railroad (5/15/13)
- Scholar Puts History on Map (3/5/13)
- Mount Moor (4/8/14)
- Historical Society (10/9/12)
- Green House (1/31/12)
- Grace Church (12/13/11)
- Pilgrim Baptist Church (2/5/13)
- Nyack Library (3/6/12)
- Hopper House (8/7/12)
- Hopper Happens (8/14/12)
- Hip Hopper Hooray! (7/10/14)
- Hopper meets Hitchcock (2/7/12)
- A House Haunted by Art (8/26/14)
- Rockland Center for the Arts (9/18/12)
- Helen Hayes MacArthur (12/4/12)
- Tappan Zee Playhouse (9/24/13)
- Elmwood Playhouse (11/26/13)
- Nyack Village Theatre (4/17/12)
- The Trip To Bountiful (5/7/13)
- Carson McCullers (9/25/12)
- Yoga Reborn Here (9/3/13)
- Couch Court, (3/26/13)
- IOOF (2/5/13)
- The Office (6/5/12)
- Sam Waymon Lived Here (2/12/13)
- Brinks Robbery (10/18/11)
- O’Donoghue’s Tavern (6/24/14)
- Pickwick (12/20/11)
- Koblin’s Pharmacy (9/11/12)
- Maria Luisa (8/5/14)
- Mayor Jen Laird White (3/19/13)
- NAACP’s Frances Pratt (4/23/13)
- Fire Department (7/3/12)
- Hudson House (8/28/12)
- Maura’s Kitchen (3/20/12)
- Preston Powell’s Teagevity (2/4/14)
- Pie Lady… & Son (5/22/2012)
- Year Round Farmers’ Market (1o/20/12)
- Orchards of Concklin (7/17/12)
- It’s Bike Season, Be Safe (6/4/13)
- Boat Club (10/15/13)
- Best Western (9/17/13)
- 1 Poltergeist Place (10/30/12)
- Nyack Center (12/6/11)
- Brave New Normal (11/2/12)
- Gay Pride Rockland (6/3/14)
- Amazing Grace Circus (9/11/14)
- Mlk Jr.’s Dreamcatcher, (1/14/14)
- Two Row Wampum (7/3/13)
- Sketch Log Vs Google Maps (10/11/11)
That night, I met Dave Zornow, the publisher of NyackNewsAndViews. In the weeks after our meeting, Dave saw me sitting on curbs around town drawing buildings. He asked me to submit a drawing and a caption. My caption was 750 words. Nyack Sketch Log was born.
Nyack Sketch Log is my grown-up show and tell. Each week, I publish a sketch and short essay that explores a local person or place of interest. Since August 2011, I have made 169 sketch log entries. My column has over 100,000 page views. My book presents 55 of my favorites.
Boasting about the abundance of intriguing lives and locations in Nyack is not my only goal. I write to defend my community and my neighbors and to rally others to the cause. I am using my keyboard and my pen to promote preservation, cultural literacy, tolerance and community empowerment.
Art and literature that focus on the communities where we live can heighten people’s awareness of their surroundings. We can better appreciate the beauty of the built and natural environment; extraordinary life stories of people we pass everyday; the value of having public spaces and markets and town squares and the unique character of places that have been collectively constructed over generations. If we become more observant of our environment and our community, we might become more aware of her needs and more zealous in her defense.
So yes, I believe that any place becomes more habitable if examined. But the truth is, some places are more worthy of habitation than others. The people, the history, the culture, the small businesses, the natural features, the diversity make this place, in my mind, the most livable stretch of the Hudson. My sketches and short essays form my argument that there is no spot sweeter than Nyack.
You can order a signed copy of the limited first edition at BillBatsonArts.com. Copies will also be available after December 4 at my booth at the Nyack Farmers’ Market and at Pickwick Book Shop.
Without a long list of friends and colleagues, acknowledged in my book, I could not have produced a weekly sketch and short essay for the last three years. The work of creating this book was accomplished by a production team that included Sabrina Weld Feldman, Sponsor; James Hershberger, Project Manager; Loraine Machlin, Designer; Pat Jarden, Copy Editor and Nancy Eisen, Troubleshooter. Special thanks to Judy Martin, the earliest supporter for this project, who proofread every essay twice, once before online publication and again for the book.
My Nyack Sketch Log book is dedicated to the memory of my father, William Prime Batson.
Bill Batson & The Nyack Sketch Log video shot and edited by Ben Harwood. Special thanks to Village of Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White and Edward Hopper House Art Center Artist-in-Residence Kris Burns for their appearances.
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: The Book” © 2014 Bill Batson.