Shout Out Saugerties, a month-long exhibition of local art and ideas, began last weekend with a proclamation from mayor Bill Murphy and the unveiling of a community wall where residents can write suggestions for bettering the community. Each weekend for the next three weeks, 35 events will be staged within the village, including art installations, lectures, creative workshops and performances. will be staged within the village. The events have primarily been funded through the generosity of local groups, including Sawyer Motors and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The village board of trustees do hereby proclaim October as National Arts and Humanities month in the village … and call upon our citizens to celebrate the arts and culture in our nation and specifically encourage the greater participation by those said citizens in taking action for the arts and humanities in their village,” read deputy mayor Jeff Helmuth at a recent village board meeting. “The arts and humanities play a unique role in the lives of our families, our communities and our country.”
Local resident Suzanne Bennett spearheaded the initiative. Reflecting on the arts industry during an Indivisible Saugerties meeting, she wondered what might be done to revitalize it on a local level. “I was looking for a way that we could come together and celebrate in a creative way in these troubled times,” explained Bennett. “The community wall came about because we wanted a way for people to voice wishes and dreams about Saugerties.”
After chamber of commerce president Mark Smith cut the ribbon at the suggestion wall outside Lucky’s Chocolates, suggestions were written on it at its unveiling. They included installation of a local pool, establishing bike lanes throughout the village, starting a board where local job listings could be posted, an assortment of green suggestions, and the addition of ping-pong tables to the local senior center. Citizens are welcome to add suggestions throughout the month. As a measure to prevent defacement and profanity, though, potential contributors must retrieve sticks of chalk from employees inside Lucky’s.
The introductory events of the initiative included a presentation of images of Saugerties’ history from an arts perspective, a performance by the Arm-of-the-Sea, art openings at Emerge Gallery and the Partition Street Wine Shop, and the installation of a mural painted by local youths on the side of the Odd Fellows building on Main Street.
“I was interested in doing something that would bring the community together in a positive way,” said Kelli Bickman, local artist and director of the youth mural arts program responsible for the prominent artwork. “I call it grassroots community-engaged art,” Bickman said.
In conjunction with local artists Erin Fritts and Andrew Kaminski, Bickman hosted a group of ten students from the surrounding area over an eight-session series of 90-minute painting and instructional meetings. Many of the young artists and their parents were present to see the mural installed in a previously blank space of the Odd Fellows building with the help of J&J Tree Works’ cranes.
“I love seeing kids’ art in the middle of the street. It gives them a platform for creation,” said Bickman. “[Public art] energizes public spaces, creates beauty where there was nothing, and allows community-building.”
On Friday, Saugertiesians can look forward to a culinary travel writing workshop at the public library led by Richard Frisbie at 12:30 p.m., a pop-up gallery including paintings by Elin Menzies and Diane Dwyer, and a photographic history of the Arm-of-the-Sea Theater.
On Saturday, a “Forbidden Narrative” focused writing workshop will be hosted at the library at 10:30 a.m. A screenplay-writing workshop will also take place there at 2:30 p.m. There will be a performance by musician Scott Grower on the second floor of Bella Luna at 9 p.m.
On Sunday, The Harmonic Brass of Munich will play at the United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. A poetry reading will take place at The Pig Bar and Grill at 4:30 p.m.
In one in a series of community discussions over the ensuing month, Saugertiesians can meet at the Emerge Gallery at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday to talk about supporting and funding local artists.
At the end of the festival, on October 29 at 4 p.m., residents will come together to discuss how Saugerties can “be more cool” and review the entries on the community wall. For event schedules and more information, visit www.shoutoutsaugerties.org or follow its page on Facebook.