Portraits and Stories

Artist Reception—You are invited!

Portraits and Stories is part of Catskill Waters, an outreach project originally conceived for encouraging land stewardship of the New York City watershed, located 100 miles north of the city in the Catskill Mountains. Initiated by Karen Rauter, a forward-thinking coordinator of Rondout Neversink Stream Program, we focused on the humanscape within the natural landscape.

Land management cannot be accomplished without dealing with landowners. One of Karen’s jobs is to get to know the streamside landowners and see if they would allow stream work for repairs and improvement. This is a very delicate process, because people have a lot of emotional and financial stakes in their land.

This is why Catskill Waters was started. We began by listening to and recording the stories of the people who live, work, and play on the land, and we’re using the power of art to take the connection deeper and bring the stories to the people who depend on our water, and beyond.


Portraits and Stories is one of the three artist-driven projects of Catskill Waters. Throughout the summer of 2018, artist Jenny Lee Fowler and coordinator Keiko Sono hosted events in various locations through the Rondout Neversink area. In these sessions, Jenny would first cut out the profile portraits of the participants, before Sono conducted interviews with them. Besides attracting more participation, the portrait session somehow helped the sitters relax and connect with us, leading to meaningful conversations.

Each interview was minimally edited and uploaded as one episode in our podcast. They are a collection of oral history told by members of the community.

We are hosting an exhibition of Jenny’s portraits and original work, with a reception on Saturday, August 3rd. All of the portraits created from this project will be on view at Neversink General Store. All are welcome. The reception begins at five.