Reported by Sarah Carpenter | Isabel Hochman | Isabella Joslin | Sean McAlindin | Mitch Rustad
So, when I first moved to this corner of the planet, I kept hearing cool, creative people being referred to as “makers.” Makers? Really? Aren’t they simply artists and designers and chefs and photographers and musicians and so on? Yes, but collectively, in this region, they’re proudly stamped with the “makers” moniker. When in Rome…
To inaugurate the now annual roster of celebrated makers in The Mountains—we’re calling it makers|23—we’ve assembled an impressive list of our most talented neighbors. To be clear, we’re not inferring that these particular people are the best or even among the best makers in our area, we’re just saying these 23 individuals are impossibly interesting and gifted and should be on the guest list for your next cocktail party.
We live in a ridiculously makers-rich environment. In fact, you can’t throw a rock 50 feet without hitting a legit world-class maker in these parts. These 23 folks are just the ones we chose to throw our rocks at this time around. Have a look. Doesn’t your guest list need a boost? Our makers|23 honorees can help.
I was thinking the other day what a loaded question that softest of softballs we all get hit with upon entering every cocktail party must be a toughie for one Chad Silver: “So, what do you do?” It must take him a full minute to gather his thoughts. Silver, for starters, is a Hudson-based interior muralist as well as a master woodworker, an accomplished photographer and inventive videographer who happens to be married to the sublime cookbook author (and former feature in these pages), Colu Henry. If there ever was a “maker” in our midst, I present you with Chad Silver, Exhibit A. But, the question must be asked, is Silver doing too much?
“Working on diverse projects is the key for me maintaining interest in my art and craft,” Silver says. “Whether executing the craft meticulously reproducing huge mural designs from blueprints passed down from museum design departments or grabbing a wood carving knife and seeing where the meditative process leads me, I cherish both kinds of art, craft and learning.”
I wonder about his creative environment and there, too, Silver hardly disappoints.
“What I love most about working in this region are the differences between the relatively close areas,” Silver says. “I’ve had workspaces from the Catskills to The Berkshires. It gets weird in the Catskills and quiet in the Berkshires and with almost 20 years of having a studio in Brooklyn, it took moving my studio to Hudson to find my first dead rat!”
C’mon, now…who doesn’t love some cat-and-mouse shenanigans to spice up the work day?
Lisa & Tom Motzer
“We’re both born and raised here in the Hudson Valley and watching it grow into thriving communities has been really exciting for us,” says Lisa Motzer, who with husband Tom operates The Lone Duck Farm, their family-owned farm specializing in pastured poultry and eggs, woodlot raised pork and fresh produce. “This is an incredibly supportive area for small farms, and we’ve been lucky to witness it first-hand.” Her vision for the future’s clear: “I dream of people working together to form community sufficient systems. Farming brings people together while rewarding you in so many ways.”
Before writing each morning, Nadia Conners walks through the forests nearby the restored hunting lodge on the border of Hillsdale and Austerlitz, NY where she lives with her husband, celebrated actor Walton Goggins. Best known for writing and directing environmental documentary The 11th Hour with Leonardo DiCaprio, Conners is releasing her first feature film, The Uninvited, in 2024. “It’s a story about self-absorbed people coming into consciousness when faced with their own mortality,” she says. “I’m very interested in this idea of dysfunctional denial.” Photo by Walton Goggins.
While no one seems to know exactly where Long Pond recording studio is, Swifties will tell you it’s about a mile from the Hudson River. Fans of indie rockers The National have loved Aaron Dessner since 1999, but he shot to superstardom after producing Taylor Swift’s Grammy-winning pandemic albums folklore and evermore. Maybe it’s because he’s a twin, but Dessner feels like he was born to collaborate—just, now with the world’s biggest pop stars. His most recent landmark project was Ed Sheeran’s Autumn Variations. Photo by Josh Goleman.
“The Hudson Valley is an inspiring place to be a cook and recipe developer,” says Lidey Heuck, who shares musings on home, entertaining and travel, along with easy, crowd-pleasing recipes on her website, LideyLikes.com. “There are so many people doing interesting things in food—from restaurateurs to farmers to food purveyors, and it’s invigorating to be a part of.” Looking forward, Heuck’s first cookbook, Cooking In Real Life (“a dream come true”) will be published in March 2024—and that’s just the beginning, she says. “At the moment, much of the work I do (and recipes I share) happens online, but one day I’d love to open a store that features the food and culture of our region.”
With a wide-ranging, inclusive and critical approach to art-making, the Hudson, NY-based queer indigenous artist Jeffrey Gibson has work featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. By fusing together American, Native American and queer perspectives, Gibson continues his aim to make the art world value Indigenous histories and artistic representations. “There’s this gap historically about these histories existing on the same level and being valued culturally,” he says. “My goal is to force them into the contemporary canon of what’s considered important.”
Meet Kelli Galloway, the incredibly talented florist who works her magic in the picturesque Hudson Valley region. With her floral expertise, she’s the go-to guru in Kingston for creating stunning arrangements that elevate weddings and other special events to a whole new level. She says she’s always loved this industry because of the way flowers become little messages, bringing people closer together. “We offer a way for people to communicate with one another, delivering flowers or hosting a party for loved ones,” she says. “To be able to send an artful gift to someone who needs you or is important to you is a real treat.”
Michael DePerno & Andrew Fry
Michael DePerno and Andrew Fry, co-owners of Plain Goods in New Preston, CT, have an impeccable sense of style and design, showcased at their boutique where they’ve curated a collection of home furnishings and décor, men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, antiques and plenty more. “Everything in my life has in some way been linked to being creative,” DePerno says. “It’s a constant; it always has been. I find ways to engage my creativity that are meaningful to me, so that it always feels inspiring and relevant. Plain Goods is the perfect platform to engage and share this process.” The inspiration behind the curation comes from the region itself. “The physical beauty of Litchfield County, the land, the architecture and our clientele,” he says, keeps them inspired and productive.
In 2020, at 19, Pastry Chef Claire Raposo opened The Lost Lamb, a French-Berkshire patisserie in Stockbridge, MA. What were you doing at 19? She graduated top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu Paris and has brought her passion, creativity and youth to the Berkshires. “I think the region is really everything to my craft because this is where I grew up and learned so much of what I put into the bakery. I love the access we have to fresh produce that is really amazing, and changes all the time,” Raposo says. In addition to her Instagram following (@lost_lamb_patisserie) she has grown her loyal customer base, focusing on seasonal ingredients that keep her customers coming back for their favorite pastries. “I don’t know if this is the most creative moment of my life, but I’ve never made more pastries before and that’s really changed how I see creativity. I have a practical need to streamline everything I do now that the bakery is doing so well. It’s really pushed me into making more delicious treats because I’ve gotten down to the heart of each pastry, trying to perfect each recipe so the batch sizes can increase, and we can sell more of everything.”
Gary Keegan, a fifth-generation master craftsman originally from Dublin, Ireland, now works at Livingston Farms, where his shop is surrounded by 145 acres of bucolic land. “Living and working in the Hudson Valley—being able to engage with other creative people and projects in a historic and picturesque part of the world—is truly a joy and pleasure.,” Keegan says. “Art is beautiful, but it’s hard work. Being creative is a long road of emotions, depth, understanding and love. To get out every day for decades and stand at the bench working with wood: lovely.”
Alejandra & Pauline Martínez
Alejandra and Pauline Martínez are sisters from Peru who’ve created a line of dogwear that’s sure to make even the most fashionable canine parent envious of their furbaby’s wardrobe. Alejandra moved to Kingston, NY in 2009 and launched Paco & Lucia there after quitting a job in Manhattan (and ditching the hellish daily commute), asking her sister Pauline to collaborate with her from Peru. The animal lovers source baby-soft Peruvian textiles for their high-end dog coat designs. “I wanted them to be pieces that we’d wear, so nothing kitschy—like a human coat but fitted for a dog,” Alejandra says. Pauline handles production and quality control from Peru, Alejandra handles sales and marketing here in our neck of the woods, and the two merge on design work. Because they live so far apart, collaborating on Paco & Lucia has only brought them closer together. “The best part for me is getting to work with my sister,” Alejandra says. Find some of their timeless pieces in local shops like Pause Dog Boutique in Rhinebeck, or shop directly from their online store at PacoAndLucia.com.
A creative visionary whose unique artwork and stunning printed textile patterns are lighting up the Hudson Valley, Helen Dealtry is nothing short of a multi-talented artist—and host of her Magnolia Network television show, Art In Bloom—who explores her craft through watercolors, inks and paint. Working professionally at her craft since 2000, Dealtry hails from Surrey, England. “My work is always inspired by the natural world, so moving to the Hudson Valley has profoundly influenced my practice and growth as a painter,” she says. “This area has always been a magnet for artists, and it’s easy to see why. The light here feels different to me.” Find dazzling prints, greeting cards, Dealtry scarves and original paintings on her popular online shop. Photo by Chad Silver.
Rock ’n’ roll harpist Mikaela Davis is on the road with her tightknit band, Southern Star, somewhere between Denver and Los Angeles. “We stayed in the desert in Utah last night,” she says. “It was really beautiful.” It’s all in a day’s work when you’re breaking musical ground. Davis’ timelessly imaginative psych-folk album, And Southern Star, was recorded at Old Soul Studios in her newfound hometown of Catskill, NY. “I like being surrounded by inspiring people, so it’s a cool place to be,” she says. Photo by WyndhamGarnett.
Billy Jack Paul
Billy Jack Paul, arguably the most popular mixologist in Great Barrington holds court at Moon Cloud and is known for his unique style and thought process in cocktail making. “Creativity ebbs and flows,” Paul says. It takes a lot of experience to be able to channel creativity. He says he’s come up with a name for the place in his mind when he’s able to focus on mixology: The Lab. Here, he says, “I go in my head and play with ingredients, recipes, themes and incorporate flavors in an effort to come up with something altogether new.” Something he loves about working in this region is collaborating with the small businesses. “Collaboration is community,” Paul says.
“The Hudson Valley is a highly dynamic and creative region. I have both a studio in the city and in the country and I find the different energies feed into what I’m doing,” says Warwick, NY-based artist/painter Timothy Hull, whose work’s been featured and reviewed in The New York Times, Artforum, Interview and The Los Angeles Times. “Sometimes I really need the drumbeat of the city and other times the solitude and quiet of the country. Growing up in the Hudson Valley has always made it truly home for me and where I feel a true sense of place.”
Ellen Ann Kafkalas & Rita Kogler Carver
Sisters by choice Ellen Ann Kafkalas and Rita Kogler Carver are the founders of the Green Womxn and use their creativity to make canned goods out of perfectly edible parts of plants that normally get tossed out. It’s a second career for both women, so they’ve been able to combine their past skills and spark new creativity to concoct scrumptious relishes and sauces with a positive environmental impact. They say this region is the perfect place for their plant-based venture. “The combination of rural and city areas helps us get our product out to people through festivals and farmers markets, where we offer tastings of our products.”
With a group of gifted artisans, Michael Robbins works as a designer and craftsperson to create impressive modern furniture pieces and other wares from an evolving collection. “Having spent the last decade building a brand and growing a small business, I’m now in the position to look around and appreciate the growth we’ve achieved. The culture and landscape of our region is integral to how we work and offers us an avenue to realize our vision—whether it be through material, architecture, nature or the incredibly versatile community that surrounds us.”
Growing up in the impoverished outskirts of Moscow, talismanic troubadour Dmitry Wild says he owned only three vinyl LPs: The Beatles’ White Album, Soviet protest punks Kino’s Black Album and Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line. Get symbolic much? And after the USSR collapsed, Wild immigrated to Queens at age 14. His latest single “Rock-n-Roll is my Business” is a saxophone-drenched, garage-psych romp through 21st-century materialism and transcendence. “If you ain’t got that thing that makes you rock ’n’ roll, you ain’t got it,” he says. Photo by Shannon Greer.
Being in a Doron Gild photo is like stepping into a strange, compelling work of art. His “extravagant family photos” infuse everyday people into weird, wild fantasies, both quirky and deep in meaning—otherworldly, yet totally accessible moments in time. “I’m an art photographer who makes family portraits,” Gild says. “I go in a family’s home and find these little moments. It becomes my art and the way I see it. When I get an opportunity to form ideas, it’s everything to me.”
“We’re really trying to keep farmers farming,” says Dan Horan, CEO of Five Acre Farms, which he founded with the mission of making high-quality, local food more broadly available throughout the Hudson Valley region and beyond. “When you pick up a bottle of buttermilk, kefir or any food product with the Five Acre Farms label on it, we also include exactly whose local farm that product’s from. This allows the consumer to reach out directly to them and learn more about where their food’s coming from.”
Among the companies that’ve featured this Hudson Valley resident’s vivid and colorful illustrations internationally are Gap, Ikea and American Express. But Jason O’Malley’s work out of The Rural Modernist studio includes bespoke modern ceramics, wallpaper and art prints so you can bring his eye-popping, fabulous and at times, camp, illustrations into your home. “Being a part of this vibrant midtown Kingston arts community has really changed everything. I’m an illustrator and graphic designer by trade but being here in the Hudson Valley has provided so many opportunities for creative exploration.” Check out his fabulous work at the Kingston Design Connection Showcase where he will be signing copies of his new coloring book All My Divas.
The work of this exceptional ceramic artist from Middletown, NY isn’t just visually charming but also highly functional. She’s keen on making pottery that serves a purpose, aligning with the growing trend of mindful consumption. In her own words, “In a world where there is a clear shift of focus happening towards consuming less, usefulness and purpose are qualities I deeply value and infuse into my creations.”
“The Hudson Valley truly has an amazing community of fellow makers here,” says Sarah Omura, founder and maker of SO Handmade in Woodstock, NY, who creates eco-friendly toys that are portable and practical for families on the go. “I’m committed to continuing to develop products that can truly be lifesaving for parents. As a busy parent myself, I know how important it is to have smart and useful play mats and toys for our little ones.”