The Rural We: Jeff Neumann
Jeff Neumann really knows our region. In his 20 years in the area he has lived in Lenox, West Stockbridge and currently makes his home over the border in Copake. After working in the paper industry and then teaching, he knew the career he was destined for was art and opened Neumann Fine Art on Cold Water Street in Hillsdale in 2009. He is pleased to be contributing to the Hamlet’s recent growth of commercial enterprises making the rural town a destination for high quality shopping and recreational amenities.
In addition to its obvious natural beauty, one of the things I like best about this area is its interesting mix of longtime local residents and second home owners. When I moved to the Berkshires twenty years ago I made friends instantly with lots of musicians and other creative types and felt very much at home in the “scene” based around Great Barrington. Since moving to rural New York State, I feel like I’m a part of the local Hillsdale scene. I really appreciate the more agrarian nature of the landscape. Because there are still working family farms and more open space, the landscape and the population here has a distinctly different character, which appeals to me greatly. Perhaps because I spent my formative years in New Mexico, I have always loved being able to see long distances. New York State has a bit more of that than the Berkshires, which can feel somewhat closed in.
Volunteering as the Chair of the Roeliff Jansen Community Library Visual Arts Committee, which puts on exhibitions and organizes semi-annual artist studio tours has also enabled me to meet lots of great people. There are a lot of talented artists living in these hills. One of the joys of operating the only art gallery in the area is that it allows me to showcase some of that local talent and to meet people who are interested in art.
One cannot help but have an attitude of gratitude when living in such a special place. Whether I want to go for a gorgeous bike ride, go downhill or cross country skiing, paddle my kayak or canoe, or go hunting or fishing, all of these options are at my doorstep. Perhaps because I’m a studio painter; when I’m not working on my art I like to get outdoors as much as possible. I feel extremely privileged to be living in a recreational paradise, one where I can go down to Dad’s Copake Diner for breakfast and I know the waitress, her kids, and the folks in the next booth. It definitely feels like home.