Tucson-based Jewelry Maker Reflects on Her Time at New Paltz During the Golden Age

Written by Matt Warshaw 

Packaged and Edited by The Little Rebellion

Students in Professor Lindsay Lennon’s Feature Writing class were assigned interviews with New Paltz artists who were featured in Wired Gallery’s “Golden Age of New Paltz” exhibition. Here’s what they found:

Rosalind “Roz” Zarr creates wearable art. Her jewelry is the only of its medium featured in the “Golden Age of New Paltz,” a testament of her prolific experience at the university in the late ’60s.

Rosalind “Roz” Zarr’s family encouraged her to pursue her love of art from a young age.  Zarr has carried that support with her throughout her life from New Paltz to now in Tucson, Arizona. A SUNY New Paltz alumna, Zarr attended the university from August 1966 to January 1971 This time was a prolific time for growth of art education within the community. Zarr’s a master of jewelry, putting a unique spin on an old craft. Finding herself far from her roots, the friendly and nostalgic Zarr reminisced about her time at SUNY New Paltz and how it influenced her perception of art. Zarr’s jewelry is the only of its medium featured in the Golden Age of New Paltz exhibit.

Were you interested in art from a young age?

For as long as I can remember. I always loved to draw and my mother, who was a portrait artist, encouraged me to express myself. Growing up in New York City, I took full advantage of my access to some of the finest museums and art galleries.

Whether it be jewelry or any other art, what is your main inspiration while creating art?

My inspiration is to create something unique that will intrigue others.

How did your time as a student at New Paltz affect your art career?

As an art student, I was able to learn studio techniques in various art forms, to study the great works of art throughout history and have an ongoing exchange of ideas with other artists.

How was the transition from New York (Brooklyn and New Paltz) to New Mexico?

When I moved from Brooklyn to New Paltz, I thought I died and went to heaven. Taos, New Mexico was a western version of New Paltz where the transition was easy and the weather was better.

What made your time at New Paltz so special?

It was exciting for me to be away from home, on my own, doing what I loved most and meeting people from all over. I’m sure this is true for most college students. The art majors were a tightly knit group and the feedback and critiques were always valuable. I was lucky to be chosen for a tour of New York’s trending artists which was a rare opportunity. New Paltz, at the time, had a huge budget for entertainment. I think it was something students paid into and we had some of the best free concerts, in the gym, and outdoors at the Tripping Fields.

Did any of your professors influence your art career?

All of my professors influenced me. Dale Stein, who taught design, was perhaps the most influential. Bob Schuler, Ben Wigfall, Harry Hurwitz—check out the amazing film called “The Projectionist,” filmed locally by him—and Dan McCormack, who taught filmmaking, were all memorable and instrumental in my development as an artist.

What was significant about the “Golden Age” years of 1968-1971 at New Paltz?

The quality of our art professors, the enthusiasm of my fellow art students and the general freedom to experiment in all art forms were all significant. Those years were politically significant, but aren’t they all?  The college started a BFA program. A good number of students became politically active during the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings. There were protests and demonstrations. Many students joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Professors became involved as well.  On a lighter note, a few hours were added when men could visit women in the dorms and regulations were loosened up a bit during my time in New Paltz.

Read about other #GoldenAge artists here:

Jack Murphy offers a snapshot of what it was like to be an artist in New Paltz during the “Golden Age,” and his inspiration behind curating the exhibition.

Fern T. Apfel is a text-based illustrative artist who constructs collages using various mediums. An alumna of SUNY New Paltz, Apfel reflects on her growth, inspirations and favorite artists.

Jo-Ellen Trilling is an artist from the era of protest art in 1968 to 1971 who intertwines magical realism with art to reflect life within the political climate at the time.

Bruce Pileggi is an alumnus of SUNY New Paltz who delves into his past and explores themes that motivated him to pursue a career in art.

Jerry Vis is an architectural designer who, at 79 years old, still remains creatively curious when it comes to making art.

Ed Samuels began drawing early in his childhood after being influenced by his family of artists. He found his niche during the ‘60s and ‘70s after seeing the beauty in all environments, from New York City streets to Sante Fe’s cliffs and beaches.

Jon Ellis Stevens is an award-winning photographer and New Paltz alumnus. He discusses his desire to show that photography is more than capturing still images and how the radical times of the ‘60s inspires his artwork.

Sevan Melikyan is a native from Turkey who journeyed with the dream of becoming an artist to America, where he became enthralled with the rich artistic history of New Paltz.

Eileen Cowin is a multi-medium artist from New York who creates politically charged work inspired by the 1970s and today and connects them in abstract ways.

Shelley Davis is a woman of many art forms, including a style she created herself as a graduate student. Her groundbreaking “photo fusion” art has travelled the globe, featured in galleries across Europe and the United States.

Robert Crimi is an artist from the Bronx who is inspired by jazz music and creates colorful oil paintings with techniques his muralist uncle taught him.

Rosalie Rossi, an alumna of SUNY New Paltz, has taught art to students from preschool to the college level. She believes every student she teaches should do a self portrait.

Michael Velkovich, an alumnus of SUNY New Paltz, uses printmaking to express his artistic vision. He reflects on his journey as an artist, how he faced critics and how he has given back to the arts community.

Aletta Vett is a costume designer who defied rules and honed her craft at New Paltz. Her art designs prove just how creative and talented she has been over her decades-long career.

Win Bottum-Morgan took a drawing class hoping to learn the mechanics of art but was instead taught how to see the world in a different light. This perspective ignited his passion for painting. He continues to pursue art while practicing as a clinical psychologist in Corte Madera, California.

Larry Audette, not only an artist but a Jazz musician, talks about his memorable time at New Paltz with an array of artists who felt like family to him.

Rosalind “Roz” Zarr creates wearable art. Her jewelry is the only of its medium featured in the “Golden Age of New Paltz,” a testament of her prolific experience at the university in the late ’60s.

Matt Warshaw

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