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Grunberg remembered as ‘matriarch of the arts’ in Columbia County

Judy Grunberg at her photo show at TSL in Hudson in June 2019.
September 2, 2019 03:35 pm Updated: September 2, 2019 05:36 pm

By Amanda Purcell

Columbia-Greene Media

VALATIE – A conservationist. A philanthropist. An avid supporter of the arts. These were just a few of the hats worn by a woman famous for her contributions to Columbia County.

Judy Grunberg, of Valatie, well-known for her generosity to Columbia County, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. She was 86.

Most famously, Grunberg supported the county’s rich art culture. She is the founder of P21 performance space in Chatham, which played host to a number of films, dancers, and live performances of theater and music, from throughout the country.

“We want PS21 to bring people together and for the arts to become a part of their lives,” PS21 Board President Judy Grunberg said in a Register-Star article published Feb. 18, 2018.

Grunberg founded PS 21 in 1999 and served as board president up until her death. The first performances were presented in 2006 under a temporary tent venue in Chatham. For 12 seasons, the tent was host to classical music, modern dance, theater and film screenings, as well as workshops and free performances for kids.

In 2018, PS21 moved into a brand new state-of-the-art, 99-seat, black-box theater after it outgrew its tent space. During the summer months, the east wall of the black box is opened to make way for a pavilion theater that can seat 300.

“She [Grunberg] is a tremendous visionary in our community,” Columbia County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeffrey Hunt said. “At this year’s ‘Best Of Columbia County Awards,’ I called her the matriarch of our arts, culture and business community because she has given her soul to this community in terms of exposing the community to arts and culture and its creative side.”

Hunt called her a tremendous businesswoman who loved Chatham and the county. Grunberg started CABA, or the Chatham Area Business and Arts group, which is a coalition of individuals, businesses and organizations, working to promote the Chatham community. She was the owner of Blue Plate, a bistro in Chatham, and a big supporter of Art Omi and the Crandell Theatre.

“She will be missed, but her spirit lives on,” Hunt said. “She supported all things Chatham, Columbia County and the arts. She loved giving back to the kids. She was a wonderful person.”

In a statement Sunday, the Columbia County Land Conservancy called Grunberg “a champion of land conservation.”

Grunberg also served as a board member of Time & Space Limited, a nonprofit theater, film and arts space in Hudson. Members of the Time and Space Limited community grieved her loss Monday.

“Judy Grunberg joined the TSL [Time and Space Limited] board early in the 1990s the moment we met we fell in love with this amazing woman,” Time and Space Limited co-founder Linda Mussmann said Monday. “Judy believed in our mission and never once flagged in support of our work. We are heartbroken. Her contributions go far beyond her financial gifts. What she leaves us is her undying love for art and important causes – both big and small. A great and good woman has died and we all honor her.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.