To be forever wild: A movie about the Catskills

To be forever wild crew
To be forever wild crew

This summer a good filmmaker friend of mine David Becker, received an artist residency in the Catskill mountains to work on his documentary “To be Forever Wild“.  The residency was in the Platte Clove cabin, a rustic two story cabin, with no running water indoors, but a beautiful waterfall just steps behind the cabin.

David invited a number of filmmakers, musicians, and artists to stay at the cabin over the course of 3 weeks, where he filmed us at the cabin, as well as the culture and events of the Catskills. I was invited along as the “artist in residence’s artist in residence” where I was painting in between helping the film crew.

Thomas Cole Window
Thomas Cole Window. Watercolor on rough paper 21" x 33" XI.2010

It was incredible, hiking up Kaaterskill Falls, with all of our film equipment and painting materials, and to be able to paint the same scenery made famous by Thomas Cole.

During the art residency we were definitely re-united with nature. Our morning showers were in the local waterfall. Our recycling program was overseen by a large brown bear (who I found just 10 feet from me, scary). My skills at foraging for mushrooms provided a dinner meal for the film crew, who wouldn’t eat until after they saw me NOT get sick. We harvested some of our meals from a local anarchist farm collective, where I also got to milk my first goat.

One of the strangest things that happened was at Fawn’s Leap, a local cliff diving spot. A cliff diver jumped off with our waterproof camera attached to his wrist.  The impact of the water caused the band to break, and the camera fell to the bottom.  The locals immediately started to dive down to the bottom (about 15 feet below the falls), and search for the lost camera.  After about 5 minutes of searching, someone popped up with a saxophone in his hand, but still no camera.  After 5 minutes more, and defying probability, a diver came up with the neck of the saxophone.  In the end, the camera was found, and unbelievably still filming!

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