People and Projects
Eighty-seven-year-old artist Eleanor Dillaway Rowland ’41 recently faced a first-in-her-lifetime challenge: creating a large mural. The project was commissioned for the new visitors center in Lake George Village, New York.
When Rowland read over the proposal for the mural, it seemed “demanding and confining,” she says. “It had to be historical, tell a story, and be limited to the Southern Basin and village area of Lake George.” But Rowland, an Adirondack native who’s been painting scenes of Lake George for over forty years (“not masterpieces in oil, mostly ‘plein air’”), agreed to the project and enlisted two friends to help.
The trio, all members of the Guild of Adirondack Artists, started in May. “In the planning and early painting stages, it was an uneasy
effort to work as a team,” Rowland admits. “Each of us was in the habit of painting freely and alone. But our frustration dissolved when we concentrated on communicating and being a team. We learned to direct our passion
toward one goal and became totally focused.”
Working on a scale “cartoon” of the mural, Rowland says they “started by painting a realistic backdrop of sky, mountains, lake, and shoreline. The changing sky shows the passing of one day, from dawn to darkness. We designed the mural to also depict the passing of the centuries, by integrating images of historical scenes and events into the background or in collage format.”
By August the artists were two-thirds of the way done with the cartoon, which will be submitted to Adirondack Scenic (a nationally known company that specializes in large-scale projects) and transferred to a full-size canvas measuring nine feet by thirty-six feet, before being permanently applied to the designated space: a building on the corner of Beach Road and Canada Street in the Village of Lake George.
Producing the mural, Rowland says, was rewarding in that it allowed the artists to “delve into the history of this beautiful glacial Adirondack lake and be able to express our understanding of the story, from the age of the indigenous peoples who first discovered it.” —MTS
Tending to the spirtitual
After years in journalism and publishing, Penelope Ann Thoms ’68 had an “ah-ha!” moment. When her mother died after spending months in intensive care, Thoms got to know the hospital chaplain and “rediscovered the peace that liturgy and church community can offer when one is grieving.” When she heard about a thirty-hour course in volunteer chaplain training, she signed up. She was then assigned to a community hospital, “where my first day on the job I attended a woman named Flower,” Thoms says. “She was dying of complications of substance abuse and AIDS. She told me about her life, we prayed together, and after I hugged her good-bye a haiku came to me: Like petals falling/ gently into outstretched hands/ her name is Flower. I hadn’t written poetry for some time, and this little verse encouraged me to become a professional chaplain.”
At fifty, Thoms attended the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., obtaining a master’s of divinity and a master’s in spiritual direction (concentrating on Celtic spirituality). She studied bioethics at the University of Washington Medical School and spent the next ten years working as a chaplain in hospitals, hospices, and universities.
While exploring her Celtic roots on a trip to
Ireland, she was struck by the sense of being “in another century. I was standing in the doorway of time. It came to me that the work I do as a hospice chaplain holds just that metaphor: living between two worlds, between diagnosis and death.” Thoms decided to move to Ireland, to write a book. (Thin the Veil: Living and Dying within Celtic Spirituality was published in August.)
In 2004 she was ordained in the ecumenical Catholic Church. In the US she got mixed reactions, but in Ireland she was congratulated, Thoms says. “I often celebrate communion in our little church, and I always hear (even from old Catholic women), ‘How wonderful to see a woman presiding at the table.’
“My poetry, my spirituality, the land, and its people are interchangeable in my mind,” Thoms says. “I define spirituality as the way we relate to God and all God’s children; this could be at a religious service
or milking a cow. The Irish—especially Irish saints—found God everywhere and in everything, and so all of life becomes a prayer. As the Benedictines tell us, if you knead the bread with love, it too becomes a prayer.” —MTS
Marketing meds management
When a Boston Globe editor was killed by an accidental overdose in her chemotherapy in 1995, the tragedy made headlines. It revealed how oncologists routinely made complex calculations
on the razor’s edge of life and death. And it inspired Boston physician and software engineer Howard Silverman ’75 to develop a safeguard against catastrophic dosing errors.
With advice from other doctors, Silverman wrote a software package called IntelliDose, which tracks variables like patient allergies, double-checks drug interactions, weighs lab results and other factors—and even prints out legible medication orders. By 2000, with marketing help from Amgen Inc., IntelliDose was installed in clinics and hospitals across the US. Today it’s the most-used software in medical oncology, claiming 70 percent of the market.
And that’s just one of the products sold by IntrinsiQ Research, the firm Silverman founded and led as chief technology officer. Compiling data harvested from IntelliDose, IntrinsiQ supplies the pharmaceutical industry with a range of marketing statistics. Its IntelliView products summarize the clinical experience of thousands of cancer patients taking millions of chemo doses over time—data that help drug manufacturers monitor trends in physicians’ choices and patient preferences, plan the R&D of new products, and fine- tune their promotional campaigns.
Silverman says, “I found
success at the intersections
of knowledge. Know one thing
and you’re limited to a single dimension. Know two, A and B, and you
widen your field to three: A, B, and AB. Knowing three gets you seven, and four gets you twenty-five.” He’s at a four-way intersection, he says, citing his BA in chemistry, medical degree, law degree, and “self-taught software skills (first learned at Skidmore, writing Fortran programs
on a teletype).”
A fifth skill is sailing: having recently sold his controlling interest in IntrinsiQ, he’s spending his retirement on his boat. That’s a big change from the “24/7/365” work he did to build “a start-up tech company during the dot-com meltdown era,” he notes. But “I always believed I was going to succeed.” Along the way, he adds, “I enjoyed creating software (it’s technical and artistic at the same time). And seeing others actually use my creation was a thrill.” —SR
Force of Nature
When the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks
opened July 4 in Tupper Lake, N.Y., Senator Hillary Clinton and Governor George Pataki helped stock a pond with turtles and fish.
They were among the 5,000 people celebrating the new museum, nicknamed the Wild Center. It was a proud moment for
Betsy Lowe ’76, a former state Department
of Environmental Conservation regional planner who is now the museum’s vice president.
The whole idea of the Wild Center was Lowe’s, in fact. Keen on documenting the Adirondack Park’s natural history in a way that both educates and aids in its preservation, Lowe broached her ideas
among friends a decade ago. “My idea was
to build a combination zoo, aquarium, and science and nature center,” she says. The older Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake focuses on human and cultural aspects of the Adirondacks. But Lowe wanted to “tell the story of science and nature and help people understand the forces that shape this area.”
Support for her idea grew with public meetings, volunteer efforts, and upwards of 10,000 donations before a shovel had even broken ground. In 1999 New York’s Board of Regents granted the project official legal status. Then the village of Tupper Lake donated land on an oxbow of the Raquette River. Money started rolling in ($500,000 from the initial fundraising effort, a
letter campaign), and construction began in 2003.
Designed by the St. Louis firm that created
the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the $30 million Wild Center is expected to draw 100,000 visitors
a year. It aims to connect the interactive media and living exhibits of the museum, including a trout stream and an otter habitat with a twenty-foot waterfall, with the surrounding environment—a thirty-one-
acre site that features a pond and nature trails.
Creating a museum “set in the center of the subject it covers” means visitors can take what they learn from the exhibits and apply
it to understanding the natural world outside, Lowe says. “The only way we’re going to coexist with the rest of the natural world is to have more people know about how it works. Nature changes every day, and the museum
is designed to reflect and explore those changes.” For details, visit www.wildcenter.org. —MTS
Most of us are content to clothe ourselves
in synthetic fabrics, mass-produced on computerized factory looms. But Cecilia Fritelli ’80 sees yard goods quite differently: working with her husband, weaver-designer Richard Lockwood, she makes her living hand-weaving cloth and turning it into strikingly original garments and accessories.
Partners for the past twenty years, the two work together at big wooden floor looms in a studio in a former shirt factory in Glens Falls, N.Y., sending the yarn-laden shuttles flying and vigorously plying the foot pedals that create elaborate weaves.
Around the studio, tall metal racks hold their raw materials and finished products: luscious yarns (silk, chenille, and alpaca), bolts of fabric, stacks of sewn garments, and baskets of the scraps that Fritelli is using in her newest line, a “shaggy collection” whose coats, jackets, and shawls ($325 to $500) are made of tiny squares, cut on the bias and attached only at the corners, to create a fabric of artful tatters.
Says Fritelli, “We’re known for our pinwheel weave”—a swirling hound’s-tooth check—and for classic weaves updated with fancy designs executed within the traditional geometry of checks and plaids. Equally vibrant is what weavers call the “hand” of their cloth, meaning its feel, weight, texture, and drape. “The ‘hand’ of a hand-woven fabric is different,” Fritelli says simply. “People respond to that.” Indeed they do. The couple’s distinctive menswear, women’s clothing, and home furnishings, finished with chic black labels that read “Fritelli & Lockwood,” are sold at specialty shops, galleries, and high-end art shows across the country (and, in Saratoga Springs, at Beekman Artisans).
“No one told me in eighth grade, ‘You will grow up to be a weaver,’” muses Fritelli, a Skidmore theater-design major whose
favorite childhood toy was, tellingly, a homemade backstrap loom. “I like to tell art students, ‘Watch your hobbies—they might turn out to be what you do.’” —BAM
Hailing a hybrid
When Evgeny (Gene) Freidman ’92 and his family immigrated to the US from Russia in 1976, his father drove a cab and had a small fleet. After finishing law school and working
as an attorney and in venture capital, Freidman says he “saw a lot of opportunity and growth in the NYC taxi industry.” (And lest you think he
is the only Skiddie to pursue such an interest,
he is quick to point out another NYC fleet manager, Ted Strauel ’86.)
What sets Freidman’s cabs apart from your average yellow Ford Crown Victoria is what fuels them. His hybrid gas-and-electric taxis—Ford
Escape SUVs displaying big green stickers—were the first in NYC. Other companies are “simply putting off the obvious,” he says, estimating that within ten years all the city’s taxis will run on some kind of alternative fuel. Hybrid cab drivers “are saving about $30
a shift on gas, so there is a great demand for these vehicles,” he says.
By late September, Freidman had close to ninety hybrids—about 12 percent of his fleet of 750—
on the road. And that’s garnered him worldwide publicity. While “San Francisco was the first to put hybrid taxis on the road, no one makes a splash like NYC. We have the largest and most progressive taxi industry in the world.”
Initial expenses and maintenance are costlier with hybrids, Freidman says, but in the end he’ll come out ahead. “Passengers are happy about the environmental advantages and less dependence on foreign fuel; drivers are happy because they save or make money and can work fewer hours or less aggressively (which also
has a direct effect on accidents, insurance claims, and wear and tear on the vehicle). And if
I have a happy public and happy drivers,
I am a happy fleet manager.”
Even if Freidman wasn’t motivated by “save
the environment” thoughts at the outset, is he
a biggesr fan of hybrids now? “I tell everyone
a businessman first and an environmentalist second,” he says. “But in
this situation it’s easy being ‘green’ because it makes sense and you make more ‘green’!
Taking a positive step for the environment is simply very good business.” —MTS
Last March Wine Enthusiast magazine gave V-One Vodka a Superb 90–95 points (the same rating that Grey Goose vodka received in 2002). In April V-One was awarded a silver medal at the World Spirit Competition in San Francisco. So what? This particular vodka happens to be the baby of Paul Kozub ’98.
Kozub lives in Hadley, Mass., where Valley Vodka Inc. is based. As he tells the story, his company was founded in tribute to his entrepreneurial father (who died shortly after Kozub graduated from Skidmore) and his
Polish grandfather, who produced his own vodka
in a neighboring Massachusetts town during Prohibition. Intrigued with his grandfather’s stories—and inspired perhaps
by the plethora of potatoes grown in the
region—Kozub scoured the Internet to learn whatever he could about vodka. He spent months in his basement with a still he bought from Canada, experimenting with dozens of recipes (“You take this mash that looks like
junk and distill it into this pure liquid”), and then traveled to Poland, where he met with the master distiller at Polmos Lublin, a century-old manufacturer of vodka.
After trying various combinations of potato, wheat, and rye, Kozub (who meanwhile quit his job as a loan officer for TD Banknorth) settled on a recipe that uses “luxury wheat,” a variety that dates back to 5000 BC. Being 100 percent wheat makes his vodka “one of the world’s most drinkable,” Kozub claims. Although he considered building a distillery in Hadley, his
favored process requires huge quantities of water, which could prove problematic. So he opted to have his vodka distilled to his specifications in Poland. Handcrafted in small batches, it is then shipped to the US.
Kozub launched V-One about a year ago. It’s now sold in more than 300 restaurants, bars, and liquor stores (a 750ml bottle sells for about $25) in Massachusetts, and he plans to bring it to Saratoga Springs soon (for info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Eventually, he hopes to have it distributed nationally. —MTS
In the line of fire
As coordinator of student services at Empire State College’s center for international programs, Francesca Cichello ’02 travels around the world to be on-site with those college’s international students who remain abroad while earning their degrees. The college has partner institutions in the Czech Republic, Greece, Albania, and Lebanon. In July her assignment in Lebanon was to “facilitate the final-term residency for graduating seniors and to coordinate a large graduation ceremony.”
Cichello had spent two weeks in Lebanon in March, so she was somewhat familiar with
the area. But this time, fighting in southern Lebanon began the day after she and her colleagues arrived in Beirut, and the airport
was bombed the next day. Cichello and the others “watched as the sea outside our hotel filled with Israeli warships blockading the coast, and we heard and saw the explosions
After much discussion, they agreed to cut short their program plans and make their escape by bus to the Syrian border. There the group received visas to enter Syria, but found no flights available at the airport. Continuing by car to
the Turkish border, they again got through the passport control and visa process. After several more hours of driving, they caught a flight to Istanbul and eventually returned home, via London.
“Returning to the US was extremely emotional,” Cichello says. “I had been in contact with my fiancée (Adam Daily ’03) and my parents through the whole ordeal. Though it was necessary to leave, we fled Lebanon with heavy hearts, knowing that the country we love and the people we respect so much would have to endure more suffering. Lebanon is a spectacular place with unmatched natural beauty.
The Lebanese are an amazingly warm people who have always welcomed us with uncommon sincerity. Our students are extraordinarily proud of their country and all it has to offer, while always being mindful of the historical context in which they live. It was very difficult for us to watch the destruction from afar.” —MTS