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Nyack Sketch Log: Women of the Lenape Nation and Public Art Celebrated at River Hook

During a year when Upper Nyack commemorates 150 years as an incorporated village, an exhibit of work by Lisa Levart honoring the women of the Lenape Nation aptly takes the early stage.

Mayor Karen Tarapata will present Grandmother Clara Soaring Hawk, Ambassador of Ramapough Lenape Nation, a land dedication plaque at an opening reception on Saturday, June 18 at 4 p.m at River Hook: The Hester Haring Cason Preserve, 611 North Midland Avenue.

“Still Here: Women of the Ramapough Lenape Nation”, is an outdoor installation of photographic portraits of the women of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, descendants of the original people of the New York metropolitan area and the Hudson Valley.

“The goal of “Still Here” is to prompt visitors of River Hook to reflect upon and honor the Lenape people who have cared for and stewarded this land long before the Dutch and English settled on the Hudson shores, and remember that their ancestors still live amongst us,” said artist Lisa Levart.

“We have been present in these northeastern woodlands since time immemorial,” said Grandmother Clara Soaring Hawk. “Every woman shown in this installation has directly heard a call to honor our ancestral matriarchs. It is through the choice of every human who is willing to “walk a good path,” that will allow hearts to heal and new relationships to commence,” she continued.

Visitors to River Hook also will enjoy a sculpture path composed of work by six local artists exhibiting pieces integrated into the natural beauty of the Preserve.

“River Hook is a beautiful addition to the several sculpture sites found throughout Rockland County. Myself, along with Peter & Cassie Strasser, are excited to help Friends of River Hook get this inaugural sculpture path underway,” said sculptor Mark Attebery. The other sculptors with work on display are Janet Rutkowski, James Tyler and Sarah Haviland.

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“Supporting the arts is a core part of the mission of Friends of River Hook, particularly artists that celebrate the splendor of this land and the history of the people who have lived here. Lisa Levart’s “Still Here” and the artists of our inaugural sculpture path are perfect examples of the kind of work we will welcome here at River Hook,” said Friends of River Hook’s President, Paul Curley.

Still Here was made possible by funds from the Statewide Community Regrant, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor’s office and the New York State Legislature and administered by ArtsWestchester.

The event is sponsored by Friends of River Hook and Long Path Outfitters, located on South Broadway in Nyack. Refreshments will be served by Salonnière Coffee Bar.

About River Hook

The Village of Upper Nyack purchased the River Hook property, which had fallen into disrepair, in 2018, thereby ensuring access for generations to come. Conversations with the community sparked ideas for regeneration, reimagination and reinvention and led to the formation of the Friends of River Hook.

The preserve, located at 611 North Midland Avenue, is one of the largest remnants of the six farms that would become the Village of Upper Nyack. Since the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century, only two families called River Hook home. The Smith family, whose ancestor Col. James Smith fought for independence against the British, sold the property to the Haring family in 1934. The Preserve’s namesake Hester Haring lived on the land her whole life.

Visit riverhook.org to learn more and donate.

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For more about the history of the Hester Haring Cason Preserve check out these 2 installments of Mike Hay’s Nyack People and Places:

Nyack People & Places: River Hook Farm’s Winding Saga, Nov, 7. 2019
Nyack People & Places: Hooked on River Hook, June 11, 2020

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Women of the Lenape Nation and Public Art at River Hook” © 2022 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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