When one thinks of Saugerties, does sculpture come to mind? Those in the know treasure Harvey Fite’s Opus 40, as monumental a work as anything created by man since Lascaux. And there is, of course, the annual street art display, usually of equine or lighthouse theme.
But there’s much more to be seen. This year, the town is throwing itself into International Sculpture Day— not just on the official day of April 24, but all month. The effort is being driven by Cross Contemporary Art’s Jen Dragon and Alan Goolman.
“Previous International Sculpture Days, which started in 2015, had local artists involved, and they wanted to increase it all,” Dragon said while busily attending to a pile of last-minute details in anticipation of this weekend’s opening events. “The town had set aside some money for what was being proposed but then everything got a bit overwhelming for those who’d done it before and I had coincidentally gotten a bigger gallery space and was looking for a show. It seemed like a good idea.”
Once on board, Dragon and her business partner Goolman got official backing from the village as well as town, and then tied into other village businesses. Emerge Gallery joined in the effort, and then 11 Jane, the former popup gallery that’s being transformed into an arts center. Next, restaurant Bella Luna offered its courtyard for an outdoor sculpture garden.
“We were getting worried about sculptures in store windows at one point and Bob Malkin, who had the store Think Big in SoHo for years, agreed to bring in some of his work,” Dragon said. “It’s definitely been a race to the big finish, but it’s all working out and looking to advance [International Sculpture Day’s] mission of advancing the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique, vital contribution to society.”
Among the many artists participating at the event’s three galleries, sculpture garden, and store window displays are Loel Barr, Ed Berkise, Colin Chase, Michael Ciccone, Shelley Davis, Stuart Farmery, Adrian Frost, Ruth Edwy, Robert George, William Greenwood, Alex Kveton, Iain Machell, Susan Mastrangelo, Debra Priestly, Amy Puccio, Christy Rupp, Draga Susanj, the estate of Jeffrey Schiller, Nadine Slowik, Fay Wood and “2 Nutty Artists.” Most have deep local connections; all are starting to look at Saugerties as the region’s next exciting arts center.
As for events and places, there’ll be a preview of everything in tandem with Saugerties’ First Friday on April 7 from 5–8 p.m., and joint receptions the same time the next day at Cross Contemporary Art (99 Partition St.), Emerge Gallery & Art Space (228 Main St.), 11 Jane St. and the Bella Luna Restaurant Courtyard (124 Partition St.).
“Look for a giant comb in the window of a barber shop, a huge wineglass in a local wine shop, a super-sized clothespin in a dry-cleaners and a gigantic champagne cork or martini glass in the window of a bar,” Dragon said.
Dragon is hoping there’ll be a map published by opening night so visitors can find all the locations.
“As I work this all together I keep thinking how the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice basically started with flashlights in a field,” Dragon said. “Next year we’re looking at more stone kinds of things, a tie-in to Opus 40… I think this is just the beginning.”