Exhibition ran November 16-December 31, 2015
Valley Variety was pleased to present Echoes of the Borscht Belt, a series of photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld.
From the 1920s through the 1960s, the Catskill Mountains were a popular vacation destination for millions of Americans, many of them Jews. The resorts of Sullivan and Ulster County, often referred to as the Borscht Belt, combined family-oriented activities with nighttime entertainment, especially stand-up comedy, in the region’s theaters and showrooms. At its peak during the post-WW II era, the region sustained more than 1,000 resorts and hotels and over 800 bungalow colonies.
Growing up in Sullivan County, Scheinfeld visited the area’s resorts many times throughout her childhood. In 2010, she returned to the area to start her documentary photo project. “I feel a strong connection to the region and, as a photographer, I felt inclined to document its history, decline and what has come of it. I was drawn to the hotels because of their rich history but found unexpected beauty in their current, changing landscape.”
Echoes of the Borscht Belt presents a survey of this former era while reflecting upon the transformations of time on the built environment. The photographs show the structures, abandoned and forgotten within the mountainous landscape of their former pasts, lying in a state of exquisite and captivating entropy. In September of 2016, Cornell University Press will publish a monograph of Scheinfeld’s photographs on the Borscht Belt.
Click here to read a New York Times review of the show at the Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History, September 2014.
On Saturday, December 12, we hosted an Artist Talk and Dinner.
In addition to speaking about her process, Scheinfeld shared her personal collection of memorabilia from the region’s glory days—postcards, menus, hotel ashtrays and matchbooks—as well as images from her “re-photographic” series, in which she used vintage promotional shots of the resorts as inspiration for new photos showing the same settings as they look now.
Chef Michael Freeman of Savory Delicatessen food truck served fresh latkes and a modern take on borscht accompanied by wines selected by Hudson Wine Merchants.