Nyack Record Shop Project
During the span of Edward Hopper's life (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967), the African American community in Nyack, NY experienced many extreme reversals of fortune.
Kimberly Redmond, Published 6:00 a.m. ET Jan. 12, 2018 | Updated Jan. 12, 2018 https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/rockland/2018/01/12/nyack-voices-african-american-history/1012265001/
When King was assassinated 50 years ago this April “it wasn’t just an attempt to silence him,” Batson said, but also to silence an entire population and “the voices of many men and woman who endured and overthrew the Jim Crow tradition of racial discrimination in our country.” Now, he said, “Their voices may go silent. Not from the infamous act, but from our own failure to record their life stories.” Documenting the hardships, heartbreaks and highlights is a way to reverse that, he said. "There are too many stories and not enough storytellers," Batson said. "The only way to address this imbalance is to train more people to collect oral histories and encourage more people to share their life experiences with the underrepresented communities.
- Bill Batson, The Journal News, Jan. 15, 2018
The end of this period of progress was precipitous. In the 1970s, an urban renewal program condemned and demolished much of the black middle class neighborhood in Nyack. Members of a community that had co-existed and thrived alongside their white neighbors since the Tappan Patent in 1687 were banished to surrounding towns like Spring Valley and Nanuet or public housing developments like Waldron Terrace and Nyack Plaza. Hopper and his family would have been witnesses to this tectonic shift. It is only fitting that a project sponsored by the Edward Hopper House record this turbulent history.
CARRIE MAE WEEMS is the 2017 recipient of the Edward Hopper Citation of Merit in the Visual Arts.
This award is presented by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Council on the Arts in recognition of her significant artistic contributions to the state of New York. For this series of photographs, Carrie Mae Weems documented the changing landscape and culture of Beacon, NY, during her three-year artist residency there beginning in 2002. Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Weems is celebrated for her photography, films, and videos that address social themes focusing on race, gender, and class. She has exhibited at major institutions throughout the world, and she is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the MacArthur “Genius” grant, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Prix de Roma, and many more. She lives and works in Syracuse, NY. The exhibition "Carrie Mae Weems: Beacon" is on view November 10, 2017 - February 25, 2018 at the Edward Hopper House.
BILL BATSON is the director of the Nyack Record Shop Project.
Batson is a member of a family that were founding members of St. Philips, African Methodist Episcopalian Church. His grandmother was a civic leader and his aunt became the first African American Deputy Village Clerk of Nyack in the 1965. Through his Nyack Sketch Log, Batson has become one of Nyack’s archivists, chronicling the history of the village through his illustrations and essays weekly since 2011. He has a weekly column on a hyper local, NyackNewsandViews.com, is an author, artist, Trustee of the Historical Society of the Nyacks, artist-in- residence for the Nyack Farmers’ Market and the chair of the committee that brought a Toni Morrison Bench by the Road monument to Memorial Park in Nyack honoring Cynthia Hesdra.
Batson will help shape, promote and populate the Nyack Record Shop project that will be held in the window of Kiam Record Store on Main Street in Nyack. Kiam is the brick and mortar presence of Kiam Records, an indie label owned by recording artists Jennifer O'Connor and Amy Bezunartea. Bill will also work to ensure that the material gathered in the Nyack Record Shop Project will be properly collected, preserved, archived and made accessible. Material gathered during this project will be made available to the Historical Society of the Nyacks for an exhibit in their museum and in display cases in the Nyack Library in 2018. Collaborative Partners List in formation.
photos by Ray Wright
Historical Society of the Nyacks
Historical Society of Rockland County
Win and Betty Perry
Clare and Bill Sheridan
Betty and Winston Perry
Alex Cabraie, Planet Wings
African American Historical Society of Rockland County
Nyack Branch, NAACP
Pilgrim Baptist Church
Grace Episcopal Church
95 1/2 Main Street
South Mountain Studio
New City Library