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Community Salon Draws Enthusiastic Crowd at Popular Cafe

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Artist Linda Winters shows her work at last week’s Salon at the BeanRunner Café in Peekskill. The popular monthly Salon has returned after a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Joining Winters, left, were artists Dorothy Robinson, Bonnie Peritz and Athena LaTocha.

Celebrating the return of the popular BeanRunner Café Salon in Peekskill last week was a packed house of those eager to hear four women artists speak about their work.

This was the first monthly salon held in four years. The artists were originally scheduled for March 2020, which was canceled due to the onset of the pandemic.

Peekskill artist Carla Rae Johnson founded the monthly event in 2010, then called “First Monday’s Salon,” which featured a variety of artists, performers, writers and poets who presented and discussed their work in the café’s friendly setting.

The Salon was always well-attended by community members and the Peekskill arts community.

Since the BeanRunner Café is now closed on Mondays, going forward the Salon will be “First Tuesday’s Salon.”

Last week “Women Painters…Unrestrained” featured artists known for their abstract art. Presenting and discussing their work were Bonnie Peritz, Athena LaTocha, Dorothy Robinson and Linda Winters. Images of their artwork were projected on a screen. Each spoke articulately and personally about the materials they used and what inspired them.

Peritz, who moderated the presentation, welcomed everyone.

Each artist sought to unravel the mystique of abstract art by explaining their concepts and ideas and how they are ultimately expressed using color, line, shape, texture and a variety of materials.

Winters started the program by showing her spirited, mixed media collages of geometric and amorphous shapes bisected by lyrical lines and textures using water-based paints, oils, gouache, acrylics, tissue paper on canvas, paper and wood. Winters, who has shown her work locally for the last few years, said she began incorporating collage in her paintings in 2020.

“That included painting, gluing down, cutting and drawing with different materials for a more layered effect,” she said.

LaTocha said her work was site responsive and she showed photographs of various places she felt drawn to. She explained how different locations became springboards to creating some of her large mixed-media abstract work.

“A lot of my work has evolved over the last 10 to 15 years and involves going to particular locations, trying to learn from those places and understand how sites influence the way we think and how we experience our human place in the world. I’m curious how that can manifest in someone’s work,” LaTocha said.

Her creative process assumes a three-dimensional mindset as she incorporates dirt, scrap metal, reclaimed tire shreds and disintegrating building materials, silt from a Garrison stream, Mississippi River mud and Hudson Highlands mica into her work. Her work is in collections nationwide.

The particular environment where one lives can directly impact one’s mood that can ultimately govern the expression of a painting, a tenet that directly influences Robinson’s art.

Before she moved to New York City from California, where she was born, Robinson said her work was influenced by extreme weather events coupled with her fear of living on top of an earthquake fault.

“At that time, I also became aware of the climate change and started making work using florescent red paint,” she said.

Robinson invites the viewer to immerse in a plethora of shifting, painterly gestures, blending in recognizable forms. When she moved to Peekskill in 2015, she said the mood of her work changed and her paintings “were calm and had more structure.”

Then, during COVID, her work changed again.

“The images started to implode, everything was breaking apart and my pallet became very dark,” Robinson recalled. “Forms were moving towards (a sense of) decay. One painting was noisy with a lot of small detail using greens and yellowy mustards.”

Location also plays a role in Peritz’s art, mixed media that includes painting, collage and printmaking. Vivid colors and layered forms create a multidimensional aesthetic.

Peritz said her creative process involves trying to construct a certain place, either remembered or imagined.

“The act of creating art I think absolutely has everything to do with who we are, where we are, what we do and where we come from,” Peritz said. “We are constantly evolving. The total environment continues to shape us.”

A lively question-and-answer session followed the presentations, which was topped off by free cake made by the Red Door Baking Company in Montrose to celebrate the return of the Salon.

The next First Tuesday’s Salon at the BeanRunner Café is on Apr. 2 and will showcase Barbara Korean, owner of Retake/Remake, the Peekskill arts and crafts supplier who will speak about how she started the business, how she keeps it going and the impact of recycling in the arts.

The BeanRunner Café is located at 201 S. Division St. in Peekskill. For more information, call 914-737-1701 or visit


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