Driving west on NYS Route 23 toward Windham NY, travelers ascend into the splendor of the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County. The panoramic, five-state view falls away to the north east, and with the rise in altitude, everything just seems brighter. The Blue Pearl rests on the rising face of Windham High Peak (just west of Point Lookout) and can be easily missed by those focused on their destination, not their journey.
World-renown artist Ulla Darni’s journey began in Post-WWII Denmark as an apprentice to Royal Copenhagen Porcelain where masters have trained young painters in their discipline since 1775. There she practiced, one single brush-stroke at a time, until her the fine motor skills of her hand and eye could create 1,000 identical, perfect strokes. Only then, was she allowed two strokes.
Ulla’s journey continued, stroke by stroke, painting on porcelain, canvas and glass – creating enchantment in each medium she touched. Her reputation led to commissions from antique brokers to recreate reverse-painted glass lamp shades for discerning customers. Upon discovery that her work was being represented by brokers as genuine Handel pieces (highly valuable and highly collectable), Ulla launched Ulla Originals and ceased fulfilling commissions from brokers. Today, the Ulla Darni Studio employs highly skilled artists that produce her Multiple Originals – pieces designed and realized by Ulla, and replicated by her team.
Ulla Darni’s life’s work is Illumination, and upon the first step into the Blue Pearl, that illumination becomes realized. Here, she and her Creative Team have built a totally immersive space that serves as both gallery and gathering place for those seeking light.
Her prolific works on pane glass, hand-blown glass, bent glass, cut glass and mirrors surround visitors and guests with vibrant color and depth. The décor confirms the spiritual aspect of the artwork created (in Ulla’s words) “Not by me, but through me”. Originally opened as a Café in 2001, The Blue Pearl closed in 2008, victim to the economic downturn and ‘great recession’.
With the expansion of visitors to Greene County Mountain Towns in recent years, the property was repurposed and extensively renovated beginning in 2014, and re-opened to the public in 2015 as a place to explore, discover, and experience.
General Manager Lawry Swidler (a renowned hot-glass artist in his own right, and Ulla’s husband) sees the Blue Pearl as a place where light meets life through inspiration. Stepping into this Ulla-verse, visitors find not only painting on glass, but one-of-a kind, hand-felted wearable art and affordable reproduction prints and cards.
On Saturdays, beginning at 5PM, the artist herself engages with visitors through Ulla’s Conversations with The Artists – an interactive experience in the philosophies and messages of great Ascended artists.
Ulla Darni’s Blue Pearl is located at 7751 NYS Route 23 in East Windham the town of Durham, NY. Visitors are welcomed on Weekends or by appointment and on special occasions. Call 518.622.3566 for details.