ucqc-logo-400.gif At the beginning of April, almost 400 years to the day when Henry Hudson set sail from Holland, Ulster County will kick off a multi-event arts and history extravaganza.

(Ulster County, March 17) At the beginning of April, almost 400 years to the day when Henry Hudson set sail from Holland, Ulster County will kick off a multi-event arts and history extravaganza. Located in the mid-Hudson Valley, 90 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River, the mostly rural county will bustle with activity from spring to fall. Thousands of tulips will burst into bloom, gorgeous banners designed and painted by area artists will hang over the streets of Kingston (a small historic city on the Hudson River), and 45 gaily artist-decorated carousel horses will embellish the sidewalks of Saugerties, a classic Main Street town. Exhibitions, lectures, and performances will explore the county's Dutch roots, the Native American people they encountered and the landscape, ecology and culture of the Hudson River. Details on the celebrations' dozens of events, maps, and general information are available at http://www.hudsonriver400.org/.

Visitors can tour heritage sailing vessels and Dutch stone houses dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. They can learn how to navigate a tugboat; step out onto a spectacular former railway bridge spanning the Hudson that's now a pedestrian walkway, offering spectacular views without the roar of traffic; ride out into the river in a rare restored World War II PT boat; and view documents in archaic Dutch dating from 1661 from the county archives. The abundance of creative talent in the area will transform the celebration into more than just a history lesson-it's also a playful, provocative interpretation of the many threads of meaning suggested by Hudson's voyage. (In 2007, the county seat of Kingston was included on the top-ten list of best places for artists in an article in Business Week.) Three of the numerous art exhibitions scheduled over the spring, summer and fall are in Woodstock, a thriving art colony decades before a rock concert made it a household name, including "Ahoy! Where Lies Henry Hudson?," an outdoor show of fanciful "memorials" to the navigator (whose body was never found) designed by architects at the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony. Nineteenth-century Hudson River School paintings, representing America's first school of landscape painting and on loan from the New-York Historical Society, will be displayed at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, at SUNY-New Paltz, while sculptures fashioned from natural and recyclable materials will grace the Kingston waterfront. Ulster County is also hosting ten artists from the Netherlands, who will temporarily live and work in the region. The Artist in Residence program, as it is called, will culminate in an exhibition in September at the community college in Stone Ridge. Some of the artists will also exhibit their work at the region's small galleries, intimate venues enabling visitors to meet the artists and mingle with the local community. Other highlights: the log of Robert Juet, first mate on Hudson's sailing vessel Half Moon, is the inspiration for a fresh re-telling of Hudson's arrival in a theater piece by Arm-of-the-Sea, which utilizes giant puppets, stunning visuals and original music. An exhibition on the 8,000-year-old history of the native Esopus peoples will be held at Historic Huguenot Street, a cluster of stone buildings in New Paltz dating from the 17th century, while Civil War re-enactors will set up their tents on the grounds of the Senate House, a historic stone building where the New York State legislature met during the Revolutionary War, in Kingston. This is an unprecedented opportunity to sample the rich history and exciting contemporary arts scene of Ulster County. For more information, visit www.hudsonriver400.org. ### Contact: Ulster County Quadricentennial Arts Committee; ulsterquadarts@gmail.com; (845) 331-2031; www.hudsonriver400.org/