Going to the chapel...

by - Thursday, August 29, 2019

That weekend in July was a scorcher. Luckily, we escaped bustling Bergen county for a couple days of respite. Ninety-minutes away in upstate New York, I secured reservations at an uncommon bed and breakfast I found online. As we drove up the block arriving in the Rondout section of Kingston, we realized we were surrounded by churches. The Georgian-style steeple peaked amid the trees as we pulled up and parked in front of the gated portal of the renovated 1859 Baptist church.

Passing hydrangeas, climbing greenery, the music of a gentle water fountain, and pots of colorful petunias, we gingerly approaching a massive but welcoming set of arched wood doors and rang the bell. Though I had no idea what to expect, I knew what we discovered behind those doors would affect something special.


Church des Artistes is the large renovated church hall home to painter/poet Julie Hedrick and composer/musician Peter Wetzler. It is located in the Rondout section of Kingston, a short walk from restaurants, art galleries, quaint shops, river cruises, and boating. Situated on the Hudson River, Rondout had initially been a separate maritime village established by the Dutch in the seventeenth century as an Indian trading post. Rondout derives from the word redoubt, the fort that was erected near the mouth of the creek, a word meaning "stronghold." Befitting is the area name, for this church renovated by artists is also a stronghold filled with beautiful contemporary paintings and sculpture.


"Both artists distill their work to essential properties of harmony, emotion, movement, layering, beauty, and contemplation." ~ Linda O'Keeffe, Upstate Home Magazine


Each of the rooms is named. We stayed in the Library room - perfect for this trio of book lovers. A sweet and soothing aroma of pressed linen infused the niche. I appreciate that touch so much, I was in heaven! Not to mention the air-conditioning for the humid days we selected so the suite could remain cozy and crisp. Fresh flowers, rose water for the bath, and fluffy white towels really set this boutique bed and breakfast apart from the rest. The accommodations were supremely refreshing and relaxing, especially when combined with Julie and Peter's excellent hospitality.


Breakfast was served in the Great Hall continental-style. Fresh-brewed organic coffee and tea, warm flakey croissants with butter and jam, homemade granola, fresh fruit, yogurt, and soy-marinated eggs with sesame gave us the perfect jumpstart for our day. We spent our weekend stay exploring the neighborhood shops, perused the Kingston farmers' market, and even took a ferry ride up and down the historic Hudson River. We enjoyed Mexican and seafood fare when our bellies commanded attention, then retired to our temporary sanctuary back at the Church.


Each room at Church des Artistes features Julie's artwork. Her canvases large and small, in suits and solo, are layered works of luminous color and texture. All the oil paintings are complemented gracefully by the natural light that pours into the space. Her epic narratives are vibrant and abstract, with an ethereal quality, perfectly positioned, creating a large shrine of contemporary expression.

Yes, we would be back to this magical place. I decided it was here we would photograph A little something new.


Before we left that weekend, I made sure to capture some recollections of the space so I might plan ahead for styling and maximized use of time. It would be a quick overnight stay, and we would photograph several different looks for my upcoming lookbook, marketing, and promotions.


Colors abound in the canvases teeming with a delicate dreamlike rendering. Each room and reading nook welcomes and inspires. The juxtaposition of antiquity amid modern composition feels very familiar to me. It's as if it echoes the heart of my own creative spirit - a union of old and new artfully combined in seamless expression



"Growing up, there was a casual emphasis on the visual; it was the language we spoke... I like the mish-mosh of funky, old things and contemporary art. " ~ Julie Hedrick


Even outside, details speak volumes. The stained glass window veiled in lush vines of green, the filigree circle in ebony inserted in a new wood fence, all add to the charm and magic of this beautiful home. I was determined to make use of it all. 


After a little bit of schedule juggling, Brenna and I set a weekday reservation for the on-location photoshoot. Venturing out of our eBay-background-family-room-studio, this would prove to be a challenge for my amateur photography skills. But that didn't matter to me because I knew this was where we were supposed to be. Though I planned ahead of the ensembles to capture, I left the outcome of the day to my intuitive guidance.


We snapped over fourteen-hundred photos, so I guess you can say it was a successful venture! The pictures were mostly inside since the overcast sky opened up to a passing shower, but we quickly captured some sets outdoors once clouds began to clear. Brenna did a fabulous job with make-up as always. She is a natural in front of the camera, but she was pleased to spend some affectionate moments with Henry, Julie and Peter's fury family, once we finished. 


Here is a sampling of the accomplished photos taken of A little something jewelry at the Church des Artistes. Art inspiring art.








Now each time I catch glimpses of the sky, the profusion of nuanced color mingled with a breath of clouds remind me of Julie's artwork. When I long for the chapel, all I have to do is look up... xoxo-Sonya

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