The Art of Artifice: A Photographic Exploration of the Catskill Fly Tyer’s Craft
Opening Reception to be announced
On the banks of the historic Willowemoc Creek and a stone's throw from the waters of the Beaverkill, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, is located in the heart of the storied Beaverkill Valley. Home to luminaries of the sport, like Theodore Gordon, George LeBranche and Lee and Joan Wulff, the area is known as the birthplace of American Fly Fishing. Nearby, the legendary Dette and Darbee families set the standard for the “Catskill Style” of fly tying with patterns that are still used to this day. Fittingly, this fall, the Center is pleased to present “Catskill Fly Tying: The Art of Artifice,” featuring photography by Mark Loete. Curated by Tina Bromberg, this important exhibit explores the artistry behind the “Catskill Style” and the making of beautiful objects, both functional and artistic, by hand.
The artificial lure, or “fly,” is an artifice — a clever deception. It is the tenuous connection between us and that elusive, watery creature — the trout. Fur, feather, and sometimes man-made materials are lashed to steel with thread in such a fashion as to mimic the size, shape, color, and natural behavior of the aquatic insects that trout depend on for food. Certain furs and feathers behave differently when cast upon the water. Some remain stiff and high-floating. Others become slinky and sinuous when soaked. The selection, manner and method in which these materials are deployed on the hook — the fly “pattern” — draws upon a deep body of generational wisdom, regional diversity and folk art. Some patterns are deceptively simple to tie and fish. Others are complex architectural constructs built to exacting specifications. When these beautiful miniature sculptures are photographed at high resolution and enlarged to poster size, the art behind the artifice is revealed.
The exhibit spotlights professional photographer and fly fishing guide Mark Loete’s large, macro photographs of the work of fourteen master fly tyers who excel in the Catskill style and tradition. Each tyer has had some personal history or connection to the area. Some of the patterns are specific to the Esopus Creek, and little known beyond the Catskills; others are fished worldwide. Each artificial fly was meticulously photographed in the photo studio in the manner of fine jewelry. In addition to images of the flies themselves, the exhibit features Loete’s striking black & white photographs of the individual master tyers (both living & deceased).
Whether you are new to fly tying, a seasoned fly crafter or simply an interested observer, Mark Loete’s meticulous, breathtaking close-up color photographs of artificial flies will captivate and astonish you. The photographs are both artistically beautiful and serve as an informational matrix. The actual flies are on exhibit at the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection at the Phoenicia Library in Phoenicia, New York — well worth a visit for its extensive collection of books, video, and memorabilia associated with fly fishing pertaining to the Catskills.
When the sport of fly fishing gained popularity in the latter years of the 19th Century, the abundant Catskill streams provided a crucible of innovation for the sport. Out of these fast-flowing waters evolved a characteristic design, style and strategy of fly fishing for trout — the Catskill Style. Through the photographs of “The Art of Artifice,” the viewer can experience the powerful beauty in deception that is the “Catskill Style.”
About the Artist, Photographer and Fishing Guide Mark Loete
Mark Loete is a professional fine art and corporate photographer with over thirty years experience shooting a wide range of subjects, such as landscapes, architecture, jewelry, products and people. Most of those years were spent in New York City, creating commercial, and advertising imagery for clients like Sony, IBM, Avon, Harper-Collins, and the United Nations. In 2002, Mark moved his home, family, and photography business to the Catskill Mountains, settling in the historic hamlet of Chichester. The move allowed him to indulge his dual passions for photography and fly fishing the streams and rivers of the Catskill Mountains.
Growing up in Illinois, Mark cut his angling teeth fishing the bass ponds of the Midwest, and hooking an occasional catfish in the Mississippi River. Moving to the East Coast after college, he discovered the fly rod and immersed himself in learning all aspects of the sport — including fly tying. In 2014, Mark founded Catskill Mountain Angler, a fly fishing guiding and instruction service. Of late, Mark spends much of his time with a fly rod or a camera in hand, and often finds himself holding both at the same time.
“Catskill Fly Tying: The Art of Artifice” draws upon Mark’s background and extraordinary skill at photographing fine jewelry and his extensive knowledge of the fly tyer’s craft. Through these unique, larger-than-life images and the tiny details they reveal, we can truly appreciate the beauty and artistry that is the Catskill Style.
The Photographs…a Tour
Sponsorships in the form of small or large donations are most welcome. Funding will be used for basic production costs such as wall text, printed material, a brochure, and the matting and framing of photographs. As a sponsor or donor, credit will appear on digital and printed material, press releases, etc. sent out by the artist and the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum.
As a special offer, in exchange for any of the following monetary donations, a donor can receive a photo of his/her choice in designated sizes as shown below from the full collection of artificial fly photographs by Mark Loete:
Donation value and what you'll receive
$200: 18”w x 12 ½”h fly image of donor’s choice on 22”w x 17”h paper, not matted, unframed
$300: A triptych of three 6 ½”w x 4 ½”h fly images, window-cut matted and framed in 25 ½” x 10 ½”h frame
$400: 18”w x 12 ½”h fly image, matted and framed
$500: 20”w x 14”h fly image, matted and framed
$600: Folio of six (6) 18”w x 12 ½”h fly images, on 20”w x 16”h paper, unframed
For more information on sponsorship, please contact Mark Loete at 845-688-5400 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank the following sponsors and contributors for their generous support: Ashokan-Pepacton Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Ashokan Dreams Bed & Breakfast, Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, Doris Bartlett, Tina Bromberg, The Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection at the Phoenicia Library, Esopus Creek Conservancy, Joan M. Clancy, Joan and Michael Loete, Ricarda O’Conner and Michael Ottavi, The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, and Jonathan Vossburgh. Special thanks to Nick Lyons.
Location and Contact Information
Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum from October 17 through November 30, 2016.
Location: 1031 Old Rte 17, Livingston Manor, NY 12758, 845-439-4810 / email@example.com
Museum hours: October: 10AM to 4PM daily. November: 10AM to 4PM Tuesday through Saturday.
For more information on the exhibition, please contact Photographer Mark Loete or the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum.
After the exhibition at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center, The Art of Artifice can be seen at the Erpf Gallery at the Catskill Center from January 28 to March 18, 2017, in Arkville, NY.