It’s surprising how much a person who isn’t a student can find to do at SUNY New Paltz. A few Thursdays ago, my significant other and I reserved free tickets online for an astronomy show at the college’s planetarium. These 45-minute, early evening shows are open to the public, kid friendly, and take place on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month throughout each semester.
Once in, we cozied up in the round room and passed the time until the lights came down, ogling the domed ceiling while enjoying a very impressive sound system. Then we travelled through time, learned to site a few constellations, saw planets spinning in their orbits and watched comets. Afterwards, we strolled through the darkness, across campus to the pond, and looked up. Here’s the link for reservations: www.newpaltz.edu/planetarium/shows.html
Two weeks before that, I’d taken myself to the Dorsky Museum, and was immensely impressed by the Contemporary Tibetan show. It always surprises me how sophisticated and varied the exhibits are. During the last few years, I’ve seen historic quilts, Hudson Valley painters, Warhol’s photography, and some crazy 70’s retrospective. I’m sure there was much more to see. I’ve also gone to several student shows. If you catch any of the openings, there’s wine and snacks and, of course, people-watching to do along with viewing the art.
This semester the museum will feature three exhibitions: the work of New York Realist Eugene Speicher; Mary Reid Kelley’s “visually rich, intellectually stimulating and humorous” work with objects and video; and an 80’s Image and Style exhibit. Here’s a link for more information: www.newpaltz.edu/museum/exhibitions/future.html
It makes good sense to purchase a subscription to the Theater Department’s productions, but even if you don’t, it’s $18 for a ticket. Considering the quality of these performances, this is a very reasonable investment. This year, so far, I especially liked the department’s handling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” The set was beautiful. Professor Connie Rotunda was cast as Prospero (Prospera for this production) and putting a female in the role changed the feel of the story, turning a not-so-nice wizard whose transition and triumph I’d never cared about into a loving maternal figure whose eventual success made for a satisfying ending. This spring will feature Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” and “On the Verge” by Eric Overmyer. This link will get you to a calendar for theater events: www.newpaltz.edu/artsnews.
There’s a minimum of three, and up to six, musical performances per month on campus this semester. These are also very reasonably priced, at $8 for general admission, and $6 for seniors. Many are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at eight, but there are additional days and times. This spring’s theme is “Love, Jealousy and Despair in Music.” You can cover lots of territory with that. Medieval, classical, choral and jazz are some of the included styles. Go to www.newpaltz.edu/music/concertseries.html.
There are also frequent lectures to attend on campus. Many are community generated lectures that the college hosts. Important issues are regularly evaluated and discussed. Recently, I went to see an update on the ongoing consequences stemming from the Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan. The room was packed with concerned citizens. I am shaken and overwhelmed by such issues, and feel blessed to live in a community of so many dedicated activists. Lectures can be found in the Almanac section of The New Paltz Times.
The college is also one of the primary hosts of the Lifetime Learning Institute, which offers inexpensive classes geared to locals 55 and up (though you can also join if you’re younger). Topics are quite varied, including ancient, contemporary and local history, painting, singing, writing, literature, science, fairy tales, dancing and more. The longest classes are eight sessions; some are four or fewer. If you have any interest in checking out their catalogue or joining, here’s how to find information: www.newpaltz.edu/lifetime/lli_catalog_2013.pdf.
And then there’s the pool; community members are welcome to join for $200 per year and there are hours every day. You’re also welcome to walk on the track when there isn’t a game. If you haven’t ever done this, try it on a warm spring afternoon. It’s a crazy pretty color blue, it’s springy to step on and there’s a smell you’ll catch there on a hot day that reminds me of Coney Island’s boardwalk. This might have something to do with tar, but darned if I can figure that out. Let me know if you know what that smell is!