By Dan Hust
HURLEYVILLE July 10, 2001 History itself is now reflecting history.
Formed in the bowels of the earth eons ago, a Kenoza Lake bluestone has found a fitting home as the centerpiece sign on the front lawn at the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville, and museum workers hope it will have the same longevity aboveground.
On Friday, stonecutting artist Greg Wood of Narrowsburg was joined by local artists John and LaVerne Black, and Richard Rulli, along with Legislady Leni Binder, museum and SC Historical Society representatives Bill and Pat Burns, and Catskill Art Society Director Carol Smith not for an unveiling, but for the sweat- and strength-intense job of setting up the signposts and then maneuvering the 400-pound rock into place.
It wasnt an easy time, but the joyfully tired faces and raucous cheering of participants illustrated well the general mood when all was complete.
Its going to change the face of the museum, said Smith as glasses of champagne were handed out. Were changing its image . . . [because] the county is becoming much more aware of itself as an artistic place.
Indeed, while the original wooden sign served its purpose, it has nothing on the carved letters and Sullivan County seal present on the new bluestone sign. Even the posts are designed to turn a silvery shade of blue as they age (matching the rocks color).
And besides, said Smith, the new sign faces both directions of traffic along Hurleyvilles Main Street (County Route 104), instead of the old ones parallel stance.
I think its very art nouveau, added LaVerne Black, a local professional photographer who was visually documenting the installation. Its a very important direction to head in. For people to live, we need art.
I think the people in the town wanted it, said Pat Burns, who oversees the museum. Sullivan County shouldnt be flourescent lights. People who come up here come up for the nature.
Binder agreed that the sign is beautiful, but to her, the more important fact was that it was made possible through the efforts of Hurleyville residents involved in Sullivan Renaissance, which gave a $1,000 grant to make the museum sign and another wooden one welcoming people into Hurleyville via Columbia Hill.
I think the new residents have joined with the old for the first time, she remarked. I get a great sense of satisfaction [from that]. If we can at least plant the seed, then things take a life of their own and grow.
For Wood, who bills himself as an industrial artist, the 58-inch-wide, two-foot-high sign was an honor to create and a means of advertising his work to thousands of museum visitors every year which is why he did it at a cost in the hundreds of dollars instead of the typical thousands.
For a signmaker in Sullivan County, thats a prestigemaker. Its a high-profile job, he explained. This is free advertising, and eventually, you give one away and people come back [to buy more].
Originally from Jersey City, NJ (where he still maintains a studio), Wood is an energetic man who can ply his talents on stained glass, wood, stone and renovation design and decoration. Indeed, his ambitions extend far beyond the museum, as he hopes someday to help renovate an entire downtown district.
And he has to be incredibly ambitious, as it took him 1 1/2 hours to carve out each letter in the signs words: Sullivan County Museum.
Somewhere inside, he said with a smile, Ive got a reincarnated Roman!