Rye Town Park visitors, on June 13, were fortunate to hear artist Damien Vera talk about his shining sculpture <Cope>. The Rye Arts Center had the sculpture installed in the park last August under its public art initiative program and invited Vera for the occasion.

The 14-foot-high metal sculpture sits on a circular concrete base 12 feet in diameter. On first glance, it appears to be simply five three-sided, smooth-pointed towers of different heights, presenting a beautiful modern symmetrical group (like a hand’s five abstract fingers) reaching to the sky.

After listening to the sculptor, we realized it’s much more. The exterior of two sides of each tower is polished stainless steel, while the interior side is simple mild (low carbon, malleable) steel. The towers are hollow and visitors can walk between them. Each interior side has a small slit so you can look inside and – amazingly — see a human figure cast in winterstone.

<Cope> was created in 2012 under New York City’s Art Students League Model to Monument (M2M) program to create large-scale sculpture for outdoor public spaces. Initially situated in Manhattan’s Riverside Park South, it survived Hurricane Sandy without damage. The work is still owned by the League.

A Queens native, Vera earned a B.S. at RPI in 2007 and is now a technical instructor at the League. He explained that his concept for <Cope> started withthe idea of change” and “a hand”. It went through several models and a computer-aided design. It took nine months to construct, with help from a team at Serett Metalworks in Brooklyn.

The majority of art lovers who took part in a recent Rye Arts Center survey said they’d like <Cope> to remain in Rye Town Park.

Meanwhile, the Arts Center plans to expand its public art initiative.

  • Arthur Stampleman


Sculptor Damien Vera at Rye Town Park last month

In the Swim With Kristina Dorfman

By Denise Woodin

After volunteering with the Rye Y’s Parent-Child swim class for a decade, Kristina Dorfman has seen all kinds: babies who cry or won’t leave their mothers’ arms; excited toddlers proudly showing off their new bathing suits; the fearful; and the kids who show no fear at all.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Kristina and her husband Rob migrated to London and New York City before landing in Rye in 2006. With two young children —their third would be born two years later — the Dorfmans quickly found their way to the Rye Y. Not long after, Kristina found herself chatting with the Parent-Child instructor after her son’s class. “She mentioned that the Y needed additional swim teachers for that class and they would train them,” Kristina recalled during a recent conversation. “My husband said, ‘You should do it!’ And ten years later…”

Most of Kristina’s experience came from the swim classes she took with her own children: Reece, now 13, Seth, 11, and Lily, 8. However, she was no stranger to water. Though she considered herself more of a runner, she grew up with a pool in the backyard and competed on her high school swim team. She also ran, biked, and swam in “a few” triathlons while in her 20s and 30s.

“Swimming was definitely something I felt comfortable doing,” she said. The teaching part took a little longer to ease into. “For the first five years, I had laminated notes. It’s kind of daunting to be in front of your peers and feel confident even though you know what you’re doing.”

Held in the shallow end of the Y’s Pa Cope Pool, the Parent-Child swim classes engage babies and toddlers ages 6 to 36 months in games, song, and water acclimation. Kristina teaches three classes on Thursdays, two of which are Swim and Gym classes.

“It’s like being a music teacher in the water,” she laughed. “Sorry, I’m not Dawny Dew or Armelle. But they don’t mind.” As she sings, Kristina shows the children how to blow bubbles or kick their legs. “It’s play-based,” she noted. “We want to get them splashing with two hands so they can pull with two hands when they get a little older and realize that’s what’s going to propel them forward in the water. You give them the skills, the building blocks. And when they’re ready, they’ll do it.”

As Kristina has learned to adapt her lessons to the varied needs of the very young, she has also come to understand their parents. Some feel self-conscious when their child cries. Some can’t swim themselves. “That’s the most interesting,” she observed. “When you see a parent who obviously just wants their child to swim because it’s been an inhibitor in their life.”

And then there are the parents who perhaps expect just a little too much from their toddler’s time in the pool.

“You have to manage the expectations and the emotions of both the parents and the kids in the class,” she said. “Some turn into independent swimmers when they’re little, and some don’t. Their biggest milestone is when they’re ready to leave their parent and move on to the next swim class.”

Rye Y Aquatics Director Vickie Tsakmakis says, “ Kristina is a selfless volunteer who has helped change the lives of many. She has taken the typical sing-along parent/child swim class to a new level.”

Kristina’s involvement with the Rye Y extends beyond the water. In 2009, she joined the Y’s Auxiliary Committee and then in 2011, was elected to the Board of Directors, where she served on the Financial Development, Program/Membership, and Executive committees. She enjoyed helping with the Rye Derby and the March Madness benefits, which raised money for the Y Cares financial assistance program. She also coordinated the Y’s private swim lesson program until it was rolled into a staff position. Although she left the board in 2015, she continues to serve on the Program/Membership Committee.

Reflecting on her years as a volunteer swim teacher, Kristina said, “I definitely get more out of it some days than I give. When I knew I had the time, I wanted to use it for something that was meaningful. The parents are so appreciative…and it’s nice to be part of the Aquatics team.”

She added, “And I can’t imagine the community without the Y. You walk in, and there’s a smiling face. You go to the locker room and you overhear conversations between seniors who are going out for lunch or inviting people they’ve just met in a class to a holiday party.”

<The author is Director of Community Impact and Social Responsibility at the Rye YMCA.>

It is important to elect men and women of vision, determination, and good listening skills. Rye residents have been fortunate to have more than our fair share of such public servants over the years.

Four years ago, Republican Councilman Joe Sack ran for Mayor on a campaign to clear up the scandal at Rye Golf Club and restore trust. He did and deserves high marks for that.

But within weeks of Democratic Councilmembers Emily Hurd and Danielle Tagger-Epstein being elected to office in 2015, many residents were disconcerted to hear that they were “kept out of the loop” on City business. Early on, when Hurd tried to add discussion items to the agenda for upcoming Council meetings, her requests were ignored.

The first word the community heard about Crown Castle’s application, on behalf of Verizon to install 64 new pieces of wireless equipment throughout residential neighborhoods, was from Councilmember Hurd. Why wasn’t the plan put clearly forward to residents from the start? Did citizens need to petition, protest, and hire their own counsel to prevent a bad plan from just sliding through the approval process? What was the Mayor’s response during this yearlong period? Initially, he seemed surprised by the level of opposition, and at a number of Council meetings he positively bristled.

It’s odd because residents, both Republican and Democrat, were united in their protest of the Crown Castle plan on the grounds of impairment of property values, aesthetics, and quality of life. Throughout months of public discussion, not a single resident spoke publicly in favor of the plan.

When the community recently learned — once again from a handful of residents — of the plan favored by Mayor Sack to relocate most of the Department of Public Works to the State Thruway property across from Rye Country Day School, which would enable Rye Recreation to build more athletic fields at Disbrow Park, many members of the community were stunned, especially Rye Country Day board of trustees, who with the help of Assemblyman Steve Otis, a three-term Rye mayor, had applied to purchase the property and build recreation fields that, by law, must be shared with the public.

At the most recent of three public meetings on Disbrow at the Damiano Center at Rye Recreation, June 27, many in the packed room hoped to hear from Mayor Sack. He was absent, and instead, the consultant and Recreation Commission Chair Bart DiNardo had to field lots of tough questions from the community. The spokesman from Stantec consulting assured residents that the project — whether Plan A, B, C, C1, or Bare Bones D — would happen in phases, but that didn’t calm those doing the math and realizing that the capital cost could be anywhere from $13 million to $50 million, without known environmental remediation costs.

Former Councilman Gerry Seitz, a Republican, noted that a $13 million plan equates to $600,000 a year in debt service. “What Steve [Otis] has crafted, a bill passed both by the State Senate and Assembly [and now sitting on Gov. Cuomo’s desk], is a fine piece of legislation, and one that would take the cost of sports and lay it onto Rye Country Day.”

Carolyn Cunningham, a former City Councilwoman who currently serves on both the Planning and Conservation commissions, stressed that a plan such as the City’s current one “should not be done hastily, and that environmental assessments need to be included.” Further, she said, “I don’t think the DPW belongs in a gateway to Rye.” She reminded the audience that the Thruway property is a wildlife area, too.

The cost of not including the community in every decision, from the start, results in time and attention being diverted from all the other meaningful things on the City’s agenda. And it creates distrust.

When residents learn about big projects late, they will protest and they will expect their mayor to be listening.

— Robin Jovanovich

A Walk in the Park

Pepsico’s Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens

By Margot Clark-Junkins

For many years, PepsiCo’s world headquarters, on Anderson Hill Road opposite SUNY/Purchase College, was free and open year-round to the public. Visitors flowed quite freely in and out of their spacious parking lot, eager to spend a few carefree hours wandering through the famously beautiful Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens.

It’s true that you never really know what you’ve got till it’s gone (thanks Joni Mitchell). The gardens were abruptly closed to the public in 2012, with several promises to re-open which never really came true. Some handwringing ensued in the arts community and among art and nature lovers.

And then suddenly, earlier this spring, without any fanfare, the public was invited back into the Garden of Eden. The good news is that everything looks very much as it always did: spectacular. The bad news is that visiting hours have been cut way back — Saturdays and Sundays, 10-4, from March 30-October 31 — and security is much tighter. A perimeter has been drawn around the offices, which were designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone in 1970, preventing visitors from enjoying David Wynne’s beloved <Girl with a Dolphin> (1973) in the fountain of the central courtyard.

On a positive note, school groups will be allowed to schedule tours during weekday hours. There is some ongoing construction that mars the left side of the building, but new garden beds are being carved and sculpted, dotted with small shrubs, perennials and young trees.

The land itself — once polo fields and before that said to be a landing strip for pilot Amelia Earhart (who lived in Rye in the 1930s) — was purchased under the leadership of Donald M. Kendall, PepsiCo CEO from 1965-86, who conceived the gardens. Once the building was dedicated, the grounds were laid out by E.D. Stone Jr. (son of the architect) in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, British landscape architect Russell Page (1906-85) was commissioned to create a formal design. It is worth noting that Page also designed the Frick Museum’s garden on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, recently saved from destruction thanks to significant public outcry.

Page’s lightly graveled “Golden Path” leads strollers through mini-forests and banks of deep-green rhododendrons and along a lake dotted with weeping willows. If you are inclined to follow the entire path, your patience will be rewarded by a latticed teak pavilion overlooking three consecutive water lily ponds, flanked on one side by a voluminous herbaceous border, and on the other side by several trained wisteria vines and a shady allée. Robert Davidson’s charming bronze <Frog> (1985), patinated a bright green, surveys the antics of real frogs with equanimity.

Certain views of the property will stop you in your tracks, and these are often punctuated by 46 monumental sculptures by many great artists of the mid-20th century, including Alexander Calder (<Hats Off>, 1971), Henry Moore (<Double Oval>, 1967), Arnaldo Pomodoro (<Triad>, ca. 1979), and Louise Nevelson (<Celebration II>, 1976).

There are two unexpected gems from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Auguste Rodin’s <Eve> (1881) and Aristide Maillol’s <Marie> (1931). A handful of works date from the 1980s, like Claes Oldenburg’s <Giant Trowel II> (1984).

According to a New York Times article by Suzanne DeChillo, Kendall continued to oversee the sculpture gardens into the 1990s. Their Art Program Director at that time, Katherine F. Niles, recounted that, “The building was dedicated in 1970 when eight works of art sculpture were put in a small garden, and people were excited about it. At the time Mr. Kendall said, ‘If everyone likes it this much, we’re going to keep this garden open forever.’”

Though we do not know who is selecting the art these days, PepsiCo’s most recent acquisition is also the most recently produced: Lenora Carrington’s <Music for the Deaf >(2007). Much of the later work in PepsiCo’s collection tends to be figurative, perhaps in an attempt to balance out Kendall’s typically mid-century leaning toward abstraction.

You can pick up a map at the Visitor’s Center next to the parking lot or add the more comprehensive “PepsiCo DMK Sculpture Garden App” to your cell phone (provides information about each sculpture).

Newly written rules suggest that one must stay on the path, but there were those who strode out across the perfectly manicured lawns, as was once the custom here. Indeed, one must leave the path to see many of the sculptures. Blissfully, there were no guards in evidence to shoo you away or tell you not to take pictures. Just the birds and the bees, groundsmen with lawnmowers, and an occasional jet from Westchester County Airport. Have fun!

< For more information, visit or call 253-3150 during normal business hours.>




Alexander Calder, <Hats Off>, 1971

Robert Davidson, <Frog>, 1985

Aristide Maillol’s <Marie>, 1931

Louise Nevelson, <Celebration II>, 1976


Auguste Rodin’s <Eve>, 1881


Arnaldo Pomodoro, <Triad>, c. 1979


David Wynne, < Grizzly Bear>, 1976

Cleaning up the Sound – One Paddle at a Time

By Gretchen Althoff Snyder


“If every Rye resident would pick up two or three pieces of garbage on the street or in our waters, imagine what we could do.”

When Rye resident Kassandra Souply took up paddle boarding a few years ago, she noticed that every time she went out on Long Island Sound, she saw garbage floating in the water and caught along the shoreline. Souply decided to kill two birds with one stone, and began bringing trash bags every time she hit the water. Since then, she and her friends have made a year-round concerted effort to clean up the sound while enjoying its beauty at the same time.

“We’ve collected dozens of bags full of garbage from the sound and brook over the years – every trip out, we return with a board full,” says Souply. On June 8, in conjunction with World Oceans Day, the group navigated their paddleboards down Blind Brook at high tide. They launched from Rye Nature Center, which kindly outfitted them with gloves, garbage bags, garbage pincers, and nets. What was originally supposed to be a short trip to the marina turned into a four-hour paddle – “just paddling from the Nature Center to Pine Lane took over two hours – there was so much garbage in the brook,” reports Souply.

The women pulled out over 30 lacrosse balls, as well as lots of plastic bottles and bags. They also found orange pylons, construction equipment, Styrofoam packaging, balloons, pipes, hubcaps, pieces of rubber and metal, and even local fundraiser signs. In addition, they were quite unsettled to find a significant number of plastic bags filled with dog poop.

The statistics regarding the amount of trash, particularly plastic, in our waters are disturbing: Globally, around 8 million tons of plastic washes into our oceans every year. In fact, researchers estimate that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans will increase ten-fold by 2020. At this rate, our oceans could contain more plastics than fish by 2050 ( Alarmingly, plastic has been found in 62% of all sea birds and in 100% of sea turtle species (

Souply notes that some of the pollution in our area is unintentional – recycling and trash can blow out of containers and eventually end up in the water. However, she stresses that, “If every Rye resident would pick up two or three pieces of garbage on the street or in our waters, imagine what we could do. We are a waterfront community, people love living in Rye for that very reason, so we need to be accountable.”

In addition to Souply’s group, several others in our area are getting involved in the efforts to clean up the sound and brook. Paddle Adventure Camp, offered by the Rye Nature Center, will have a few days this summer where campers on kayaks will paddle through Blind Brook and pick up garbage along the way. On August 20, SUP Westchester is sponsoring Paddle Across the Sound, a seven nautical mile paddleboard event to benefit a cleaner, healthier Long Island Sound.

Finally, for the fifth straight year, Rye Nature Center will participate in the International Coastal Cleanup on September 16. Taro Ietaka, Director of Conservation at RNC, says, “Our location makes us an important pre-emptive force – we can catch a lot of the trash that goes into storm drains or is thrown out of car windows and keep it from entering Blink Brook and then Long Island Sound.” To volunteer for this important event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Kassandra Souply cleaning up the Sound

Robin Azer cleaning up Blind Brook

Plastics and other garbage collected from Long Island Sound

Hitting the Trails, Thanks to the Vision of a Special Few

By Jana Seitz

<“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead

Walk with me if you will in an “It’s a Wonderful Life” way to what Upper Westchester County could have been if some of our George Baileys had never lived. New York is a British colony. The Jersey Palisades and Hudson Highlands have been removed by quarry companies. A maximum-security prison is at Bear Mountain. There is no inn, no park, no bridge, no nothing.

Now, let’s insert the heroes who circumvented these near disasters, changing the direction of history. Firstly and most obviously, General George Washington under whose command two forts were built on the west side of the Hudson at the base of Bear Mountain to protect an upward surge by river of the British forces during the Revolution. Forts Clinton and Montgomery were connected by footbridge across a small tributary creek, and can still be walked through today. Washington’s action saved our young country on October 6, 1777, when the British got tricky and came by land rather than by ship in a “divide and conquer” tactic, rendering our chain across the river useless. The 700 American troops lost, but the battle detained the British troops just long enough for them to miss (and lose) the battle at Saratoga, a major turning point for us.

Secondly and least conspicuously, The Englewood Women’s Club of New Jersey, a small group of civic-minded, environmentally-concerned, tenacious ladies (like the Rye Garden Club) which began a movement to save the Palisades from being blasted to Kingdom Come. Their action led to the creation of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) with a mission “to preserve land and to provide opportunities for outdoor recreation accessible to all.” The year was 1896.