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Stumbling Blocks to Democracy - Privilege

September 24, 2016 by activ60

Clarina Howard Nichols 1810 - 1885 Could a woman support herself and children by writing an article like this for the local newspaper today? NO. In fact, it is very difficult to get one’s viewpoint printed at all. Only if you are a celebrity or other notable do you get paid for writing.

Fortunately, Clarina’s parents encouraged her to get educated. From an early age she wrote prose and poetry. Her father Chapin Howard was a successful entrepreneur in Townsend, VT. As a child she witnessed interviews he had with local poor people as supervisor of the poor. This was the beginning of her awareness of women’s lack of property rights. Although her first husband had literary aspirations, her marriage crumbled when he was unable to support the family. Her father provided her with a dowry of $1500 of which her husband became “owner” as well as of her earnings from writing. She had three children, taught school, and worked for a newspaper.1 She started writing in Brockport, NY. She and her husband Justin Carpenter became involved in the Young Gentlemen and Ladies Temperance Society. He had difficulty supporting his family and they tried to regroup in New York City but that also failed. She ran a boarding house, took in sewing and millinery work.

She consoled herself with writing. As a Baptist she was plagued by moral failure and social disgrace. He absconded with the children and then she mobilized for their return and she moved back home to her parents in 1839. Her father’s stature as a selectman, former town representative and experienced justice of the peace gave him influence with legislators. In 1840 they initiated a bill to the Vermont legislature to allow for divorce even if a couple’s problems occurred outside of the state. This reform opened the way for Clarina to receive a divorce (with a three-year residency requirement). This was a lesson on how laws could be changed through political action. She lived with her parents during this time.

In 1840 she started submitting her poetry to a newspaper in Brattleboro using a byline of anonymity. Coupling romantic phraseology with reverence for God and earth she used her memory to write about domestic and historical topics. Her professional relationship with the paper’s owner and widower George Nichols blossomed into a marriage after her divorce in 1843. As his health declined Clarina became the editor. Although 25 years older he was the support she needed as she pursued political action. Local newspapers were partisan in those days, but there were more than one choice, not as today. Women were not allowed to speak publicly. She supported Horace Mann’s education reforms and temperance. In 1846-7 she evolved into supporting antislavery policy and the Free Soil Party. She then started occasional columns written by a pseudo-name, Deborah Van Winkle who would sit in a legislative gallery knitting and then write about the proceedings.

This was a time when petitions were effective. Women began attending political party rallies. In 1852 Clarina attended the Women’s Rights Convention in Syracuse, NY. She was a favorite for her heartfelt and earnest oratory. Here she met Susan B. Anthony and they became lifelong friends. 1852 was Clarina’s initial foray when she initiated a petition pleading for the right to vote in school meetings that was submitted to the Vermont legislature. She went door to door getting 200 signatures. The following year she submitted a petition for equal custody for mothers. She was even invited to speak for her cause; with great trepidation she spoke for an hour and a half. The Broome County legislature restricts to three minutes. “Even though she had ‘earned’ the dress she wore, she noted indignantly, her husband owned it, not because he wanted to, but because of a law passed by “bachelors and other women’s husbands.” “She challenged lawmakers’ manly sense of honor for tolerating committee chair Barrett’s taunts while having “legislated our skirts into their possession.” She claimed the respect due to a woman of refinement.2 Although the effort failed, she gained recognition of the New York Tribune. She went on to support the temperance movement.

Locally, in Broome County a grassroots-organized public hearing on public transportation was attended by 100 people but the BC administrator of transit was not allowed to attend. Six hundred people signed a petition to restore bus services that the legislature ignored. Take note of the Broome County Legislature - Rule 17 PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR Except as otherwise provided herein, no person shall be entitled to the privilege of the floor during a meeting of the Legislature unless, either a member of the Legislature requests said privilege on behalf of a person and the Legislature grants said privilege by a majority vote of the whole number of the members of the Legislature, or a special or standing committee grants said privilege by majority vote of the whole number of the members of the Committee on behalf of a person who has appeared before the Committee. The Chair of the Legislature may recognize and grant privilege of the floor to any County, State, Federal or municipal official. The granting of the privilege of the floor may be conditioned upon such terms of time and content as the Chair may impose. 1 – 2- Frontier Feminist, Clarina Howard Nichols. p.115

Seeking Artists and Crafty Types for VINES Auction

September 22, 2016 by pegjohnston

VINES is now accepting pieces for the 5th Annual Coffee Bag Silent Auction. This event is a chance for your art, craft, trade or business to be featured and up for bid at your favorite Court St businesses Laveggio Roasteria, Chroma Cafe & Bakery, Gennarelli's Flower Shop, and The Loft at 99. Your talents will raise funds for VINES gardens and youth employees.

The challenge is to create an item that features burlap in some way. Burlap is a fantastic medium for creating art or crafts. You can sew it, paint it, upholster with it, put things in it, and more.

Here's how it works for participating artists:

Step 1: Sign up on our form by clicking HERE or visit Laveggio Roasteria, 101 Court St to sign up. Don’t know what you’re making – no problem! We just like to get an idea of who is participating each year.

Step 2: Purchase a $6 burlap coffee bag from Laveggio Roasteria or call VINES at 607-205-8108 to schedule a time to get one.

Step 3: Get those creative juices flowing! (pssst.. check out google or pinterest for ideas)

Step 4: Submit your piece by November 5th @ 1pm.  They may be delivered to the VINES office, 42 Chenango St, Monday–Friday 9am-5:30pm (call us at 607-205-8108 to confirm) or to Laveggio on Saturday November 5th between 9am-1pm.

Step 5: On the day of the event – November 12th 3-5:30pm – people will come and bid on your creation and raise money to support VINES’ gardens!!

Windsor Whip Works Art Center To Close

September 13, 2016 by imc-editor

Thank You for 11 fabulous years.

With heavy hearts, Bill and Johanne Pesce will be retiring from The Windsor Whip Works Art Center

After 11 years of successful operation, it is with great sadness and reluctance that we’ll be ceasing operations after our final exhibit closing on October 29, 2016. The Art Center’s final exhibit opened on Saturday, September 10th and will remain open until the closing date. It is an inspiring exhibit with five artists in mixed media, oil, and bronze with compelling commentary on exploring being human.

This has been the most difficult year physically to keep up with the many strenuous activities and programs that the Art Center offers.  Johanne and I have come to the realization that running the Art Center has become increasingly more difficult, leaving us little spare time to enjoy our four children and eight grandchildren.  Our plan is to finally create art ourselves and travel before our health makes it too difficult.  It is with a heavy heart that we have come to the decision that it’s time for a change and to move on to a new and less stressful phase of our lives.

The Windsor Whip Works Art Center has been a gratifying experience for my wife, Johanne, and me. We have met so many wonderful people who have become dear friends to us. We have been fortunate to have a dynamic, art-loving board of directors, including people like Bryna Silbert, our curator, who knows who’s who in the fine art business and has been responsible for choosing most of the 200+ artists who have shown at the gallery over its eleven years of operation and the many others who serve on our  board including Jean Matthiessen, Nikole Cappello, Brad Vickers, Joe Trapper,  David Yetter, Kit and  Dr. Mike Ashman, Sima Auerbach. Mina Smallacombe,  Richard Nolan, Richard Lynch, Joy McMicken, Kedron Hay, Sharon Warnock, Marc and Janis Schimsky, Fred Xlander, Lauren Floden, and Joanne Arnold.  To these and many others who have served over the years, we will always be grateful.

It is certainly sad and difficult to let go, but I’d like to share some of the happier, exciting times and talk a bit about what the Whip Works Art Center has accomplished, closing on a more positive note.

In 1999, anticipating retiring, serious thought was given to moving to our vacation home in Windsor. The fact that taxes were cheaper; the air and water cleaner and we would no longer endure bumper to bumper traffic was, indeed, appealing. While driving down Main Street in Windsor, one day, we noticed a “for sale” sign on a dilapidated building. Being a novice concerning what’s involved in renovating old buildings, I said to Johanne, “We can buy the building at a real bargain, fix it up and open an art gallery. It will be a great hobby; we could meet creative people and finally do the great painting I was waiting all my life to accomplish.”

Over the years, the building had deteriorated into an eyesore from years of neglect. That summer the structure was purchased; and after five years and more money than we had ever expected to invest, it was restored to its original architecture, turning it into an upscale art gallery and vibrant community art center.

 I was firmly committed, and would not listen to all the good advice everyone was telling me.

“Renovating that building and opening an art gallery in WINDSOR is a crazy idea.”

But, as it turned out, they were wrong. What we soon discovered was that an art gallery’s mission was not only selling and promoting the arts; in fact, it could be a driving force influencing community revitalization.

The Art Center is located in an 1872 Italianate building that faces the Village Green in Windsor, NY. The building was the home of the Windsor Whip Works factory from 1901 to 1951. Until the advent of the automobile, Windsor had been one of the leading manufacturers of buggy whips in America.

In 2008 the Windsor Whip Works Art Gallery became the Windsor Whip Works Art Center— a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, acting as a visual arts resource for all ages and levels of ability; serving Broome and Delaware Counties and northeastern Pennsylvania. 

In addition to the many opening receptions each year, which included a Windsor student art exhibit for grades K to 12, we also offered poetry recitals, Art Alliance seminars with guest speakers, various classes such as life drawing, printmaking and dozens of painting workshops, bus trips to museums and galleries and so much more.  The Art Center had become a place for artists and those who love the arts, to come together to learn, socialize, and grow.  It has always been the vision of the Art Center to increase the quality of life within our community, while drawing attention to the new vibrancy of Windsor and the surrounding area.

The biggest discovery was learning that our organization could play a leading role influencing community revitalization.

Statistics show that every time a village, town or city supports the growth of the arts, it sparks an economic revitalization.  The Windsor Whip Works Art Center has dedicated itself to helping create a robust cultural environment that has contributed to the economic development and quality of life in the community in which we live.

The Windsor Whip Works influenced several exciting local projects.  While serving as Vice President of the Windsor Partnership, a progressive organization responsible for innovative programs leading to Windsor’s revitalization, I had an integral part in developing and serving seven years as a board member helping to organize the highly successful Window on the Arts annual festival, chaired over the years by Dick Rehberg, Dave Yetter, Sue Rambo and Sharon Warnock.  We proudly celebrated First Knight at the gallery, painting portraits of the cutest youngsters you’ve ever seen, providing a cultural art exhibit, music and merriment for the community.  As president of the Eagle River Valley Cultural & Economic Corridor, an on-going initiative, we strategically linked the towns and villages of Hancock, Deposit and Windsor into a powerful marketing tool to attract tourists, homebuyers and investors.  My vision to turn a blighted Main Street building into an anchor to promote revitalization of our village Main Street sparked the formation of the non-profit organization, the Windsor Community Revitalization Organization.   I plan to continue as a board member to facilitate the highly motivated and skilled restoration project of the old Windsor Inn into an inn offering several period specific suites, a fine dining restaurant, tavern and gift shop.  The interior of the Inn will be designed to make visitors feel as though they stepped back in time to the inn’s glory days of 1832.

While we had all our art exhibits planned into 2017 as well as an 11th year Anniversary Dinner/Dance scheduled for this November’s First Friday at Atomic Tom’s, it saddens us to face the monumental task of dismantling the up-coming plans that took so long to develop. That said, we are pleased about the legacy we leave behind, the many friends we made over the years, and for the beautiful Art Gallery building that will continue to influence the growth and revitalization up and down Main Street in the Windsor community for years to come.

The big question is what’s going to happen to the Art Center?    We are hoping that a local will be interested in taking over Art Center, a non-profit, tax exempt organization. If you or anyone you know might be interested, please contact us.

What will we be doing from now on?  Well, maybe at last, we will finally get to dedicating time into creating art, enjoying our family, traveling, and continuing to be involved in the community Johanne and I have come to love so much.                                  

Join us in celebrating our eleventh-year anniversary/farewell fundraiser on Saturday, October 8, from 7 to 10 pm.  Suggested tax deductible donation $25.  There will be raffles for a chance to win artwork donated by many local artists.  We encourage all our friends to come enjoy wine, food, music, and a great time of being together sharing memories, hugs, and maybe even a few tears. 

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Co-directors, Bill & Johanne Pesce

Paint at Mural Fest at Cheri Lindsey Park September 17th

September 11, 2016 by pegjohnston

Photo: Outlining the Mural Design on the Pool House

            The Dept. of Public Art and reBOLD  Binghamton are sponsoring the third annual Mural Fest at Cheri Lindsey Park September 17th from 11 am- 4 pm and will paint three buildings and many smaller panels to be placed in the community. “MuralFest 2016 will bring local creativity to improve the Park and to bring attention to the Northside,” said Mark Bowers a spokesperson for the event. Bruce Greig, a master muralist, will also paint a mural design by Amy Panella on the rear wall of the Binghamton Plaza. Panella, an art teacher, won a design contest with her mural that shows the rooftops of local landmarks with a sky that includes hot air balloons and the word “Binghamton” that will be visible from across the river.

            The pool house at Cheri Lindsey Park will be getting a new mural designed by local artist Zach Wilson, and local artists may volunteer to help paint that large mural. Another building at the park will get new murals on three sides of the park by artists who actively use the park and have painted murals there previously.

            At least 15 local artists will also paint original designs on wooden and fabric panels to be posted in the community. This is a continuation of the Blight mitigation project in which the Dept. of Public Art placed mural panels on 11 boarded up buildings. Other activities for children and adults will include upcycling projects, such as making kaleidoscopes out of cardboard containers, creating animal figures out of corrugated cardboard, a Box City, and other interactive activities. Tabling opportunities are available for artists and organizations.

            Support for MuralFest and the permanent murals it will leave behind has received support from many sources: Chenango Co Arts Council - NYS Decentralization grant with support from Governor Cuomo and the NUS Legislature and the Hoyt Foundation; the Community Foundation of South Central NY; the Tourism Fund of Broome County; the Mayor’s Office, City of Binghamton; Visions Credit Union; Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams Paint; Wegman’s; Daniels Paint and other businesses.   The public is being encouraged to support local artists at the event by donating to Mural Fest through the DPA via PayPal at  For more information or to volunteer, contact the

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September 7, 2016 by activ60

STATE: “May we now safely prophesy justice, liberty, equality for our daughters ere another centennial birthday shall dawn upon us.”EC Stanton
Gage: “A proper self-respect cannot inhere in any person under governmental control of others. Unless the person so governed constantly maintains a system of rebellion in thought or deed, the soul gradually becomes debased and the finest principles of human nature suffer a rapid process of disintegration.”
Oh, how history repeats itself. We now in 2016 just witnessed the death of the lead conservative woman Phyllis Schlafly who attacked the ERA, Equal Rights Amendment, to the US Constitution in the 70s.
Matilda Joslyn Gage, Fayetteville, NY and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s, Seneca Falls, NY institutional analysis of oppression of women in the 1850s was based on the four-fold bondage of woman—Church, State, Capital and Society.
CHURCH: Stanton: “Every form of religion that has breathed upon the earth has degraded women.”
Gage: “the laws, civil and social, each equally burdensome, are of church origin, and not until the church is destroyed will women be freed.” (This was when women were not allowed to speak in church or public.)
CAPITAL: Stanton: “Married women are upper servants without wages. . .. It is impossible to have ‘equal rights for all’ under our present competitive system…The few have no right to the luxuries of life, while the many are denied its necessities.”
Gage: “ In European countries and in the US we find her everywhere receiving less pay than man for the same kind and quality of work…the church teaching that woman was made for man still exerts its poisonous influence, still destroys woman…not alone employers and male laborers oppress woman but legislation is frequently invoked to prevent her entering certain occupations.”
SOCIETY: Stanton: “Society as organized today under the man power is one grand rape of womanhood.”
Gage: “Although our country makes great professions in regard to general liberty, yet the right to particular liberty, natural equality, and personal independence, of two great portions of this country, is treated, from custom, with the greatest contempt; and color in the one instance, and sex in the other; are brought as reasons why they should be so derided; and the mere mention of such natural rights is frowned upon, as tending to promote sedition and anarchy.”
All quotes from Sisters in Spirit by historian Sally Roesch Wagner.

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Winner of MuralFest Design Contest Announced

August 28, 2016 by pegjohnston

Amy Panella won the design contest for a mural to be painted on the rear of the Binghamton Plaza during MuralFest 2016. Included in the design are the rooftops of several Binghamton landmarks as well as two special hot air balloons that have significance for Amy and her family.
65 designs were received by the Dept. of Public Art.  The review committee for the initial round included member(s) of Dept of Public Art, Northside Assembly, City Council, Boys and Girls Club, Broome County Department of Planning, Binghamton University, and local artists. The committee reviewed the designs without knowing who the artists were and ultimately narrowed the field to 8 finalists. The criteria were designs bold enough to be seen from across the river and yet interesting to look at from the closer perspective of the Chenango River Trail. "It was a tough process because there were so many great ideas and showed so much pride of place," commented Peg Johnston of the DPA.

The finalists were forwarded to the Mayor's Office, which contributed an additional $750 to the design award. The owner of the Binghamton Plaza, Michael Galesi, in consultation with Bob Murphy, Economic Development Director of the City, chose the winning design. Everyone in the process hopes that other sites can be found for some of the incredibly creative designs. DPA thanks all who contributed their time and talent to the contest. Congratulations to Amy Panella, a local high school art teacher.
Mural Fest is an all-inclusive event for residents, youth, students, and artists working together to spread public art throughout the area.  This year community members will accompany artists to paint murals throughout Cheri Lindsey Park and on the back of the Binghamton Plaza.  The event will also bring fun interactive art activities for all ages, demo painting and crafting by local artists, vendors, and music to heighten your creative experience throughout the day.

You can get there by car or bus, but consider a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a skateboard trip down the Chenango River Trail.  Come pick up a brush with your friends and families and paint with us at Cheri Lindsey Park on Saturday, September 17th from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
For more information check out the Department of Public Art Facebook page or contact us via email at

A Good Walk to Mural Fest 2016

August 21, 2016 by pegjohnston

This year MuralFest is along the Chenango River Trail at Cheri Lindsey Park on the Northside of Binghamton. Early in the planning there was some grousing  from some folks who wanted Mural Fest to stay downtown, but if you are painting murals you have to go where you can paint—in this case, the rear of the Binghamton Plaza and the buildings at Cheri Lindsey Park. And, organizers of the Mural Fest felt that the Northside neighborhood deserved some attention. Much of the ongoing blight project, where original mural art on panels are placed on boarded up properties, were placed on buildings on the Northside.

There are several routes to get to Cheri Lindsey Park, going behind Binghamton Plaza, down Truesdell St. off Chenango St., or… taking a walk down the Chenango River Trail. This route will delight long term Binghamton residents and newcomers alike. The River Trail technically starts on the Southside at the Park Diner to the Washington St. Bridge but its real beauty is revealed at the Confluence as it follows the Chenango River, past Court Street, along the MLK Promenade to the East Clinton St. Bridge. Then it takes a jog down Water St. past Tech Works (a museum that preserves our industrial heritage) to a parking area along the flood wall.

From here it is a beautiful 10 minute walk to Cheri Lindsey Park and the Bark Park for dogs. On a recent walk along the trail, we saw an elegant white egret, a Great Blue Heron, and of course the usual charming gaggle of geese in the river. The Chenango widens at this point and a giant oak spreads out over the edge of the water. Wild flowers are abundant, Mullein, Joe Pye Weed, and a variety of Monarda that even my naturalist guide/pal had never seen.

The scene on the riverside is bucolic and enchanting in a way that is unexpected in the city; the opposite side, that backside of businesses and the Binghamton Plaza is less than inspiring, which is why the mural project for one of these walls is so important. But, even on this side, there have been some landscaping efforts that distract from the urban sprawl. Trees, bushes, and walkways create a pleasant walk which will only get better over time as the plantings mature. (DPA’s own Mark Bowers had a big hand in this Trail when he was a planner at the Dept. of Transportation.)

Mural Fest 2016 is Saturday, September 17th 11 am- 4 pm and there will be murals to be painted, as well as other art activities for all ages. You can get there by car or bus, but consider a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a skateboard trip down the Chenango River Trail. You won’t regret it.

--Peg Johnston

Photo: Monarda Citriodora


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