Photos by David Gordon
The 35 lighthouses that graced Saugerties streets this summer, plus one that was on loan to Catskill, were auctioned on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory. The sale raises money for the Chamber of Commerce and Finger Emergency Fund, each of which receives one third of the proceeds. The artist who created the work receives the remaining third.
The Chamber has been raising money with art auctions since 2009, said Chamber President Mark Smith. The purpose is to attract visitors to Saugerties, showcase local artists and to raise money for worthwhile charities.
Guitarist John Doyle provided background music, playing a variety of styles on acoustic guitar during the viewing period, when hot and cold snacks were served.
The Finger Emergency Fund, which will receive a portion of the money raised by the sale, helps needy families with such necessities as heating oil, transportation, medical emergencies and the like. The fund is sponsored by the Saugerties Area Council of Churches.
“They are a group of people who help families,” said Smith. “This fund is very worthwhile and it’s very local. I’m very grateful that we can do this for them.”
Chamber co-chair Peggy Schwartz told the audience that the chamber welcomes suggestions from the public regarding possible charities to which the proceeds of future auctions could be donated.
“This factory was the F.L. Russell factory, and the Finger Home was the Russell Finger Home,” said Barbara Budik. “The organization that we’re dealing with tonight is the Finger Home, and decades ago they identified a need for women – whether single mothers or whatever. Mostly it was older women who were without any kind of an income. They had eight residents in that home for probably 50 years. That’s the fund that is still benefitting our people here.”
The fund has expanded to provide help for poor individuals with immediate pressing needs.
Cherwin described the organization today as “a kind of safety net.” It provides money for short-term emergencies, such as an electricity bill that a family can’t pay or a car breakdown.
The lighthouses were all constructed by furniture craftsman Gus Pedersen, who entered a lighthouse of his own in this year’s display. Pedersen’s lighthouse, radically altered from the original design, provides a light show narration and music when approached. The model sold for $900.
The audience also raised $4,000 for a charity that helps children with cancer in the name of Café Mezzaluna owner Mary Rosado, who is suffering from cancer.
Bob Siracusano, the owner of Sawyer Motors, bought a dozen pieces, then donated 11 back to be resold to increase the funds raised.
While a final figure for the amount raised was not yet available by press time, Smith said the lighthouses sold for a total of $24,000.