Saugerties art tour ramps up

Robert Sherman with one of his works. (Photos by Christina Coulter)

Two women check out some paintings.

The Saugerties Artists Studio Tour, now in its 16th year, portrays the heart of Saugerties, its most recognizable streets and antiqued structures, and of course emanations of its soul. Prominently placed shops and boutiques cleared space in their display windows last week for local artists’ depictions of the world around them.

This was the initial stage in a six-week long series of events. On July 12, each artist chose one exemplary work to be shown in the Saugerties Historical Society’s Dutch barn, carefully outfitted with spotlights by event coordinator Barbara Bravo. A series of onlookers browsed though the art works.

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Initially, the studio tours took place over two days, and featured only eleven artists. Now, 45 artists from the Glasco Turnpike to West Camp open their studios for two days in August, and also display their work over months of exhibition.

“It started in 2002, headed up by Nancy Campbell. been the coordinator for the last 15 years,” recalled Bravo. “Initially, it was just open studios for two days, but I saw many more opportunities to bring attention to art in Saugerties and the artists who maintain studios here.”
Her own studio, numbered 15 on the list, will feature sculpture, pottery and collage. “Over time, the tour has give opportunity to over 140 artists to show their work in their private studios.”

The project has been made possible with funds from the decentralization regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts administered by Arts Mid-Hudson.

Along with notoriety within Saugerties and the county, Bravo says she is contacted throughout the year by out-of-towners interested in attending the tour. Other communities seek her insights on how to produce such an event. The big reward for her of organizing the event has been the development of a more cohesive community for artists in Saugerties, Bravo says.

“It changes in mood when you open the door. I like playing with light,” said artist Tara Bach, showing onlookers the way that waxing and waning light created by opening and closing a barn door affects the mood of her work.

Marjorie Block, historical society president and champion of the Dutch barn, has overseen its usage by private parties and nonprofits. She says a gallery is an ideal use of the space. Block has partnered with Bravo for the past dozen years. The tour is the only organization allowed to take up the entirety of the barn in this fashion.

Bach lays a canvas on concrete and dangling over it, dripping a homemade fluid paint mix until it is marbled. The thick pooled paint had settled in a way that caught the eye. A simplistic owl form appeared in the top right quadrant of the piece. Another grouping of shapes diagonal to it resembled a face. The tour’s program describes Bach’s work as “enchanting ethereal abstract painting.” Her studio on Route 212 numbered 44 in the lineup. 

In the program, Marck Webster’s artistic style is just denoted with “You Should See What I See.” His preferred media were colored and graphite pencils. A print of a psychedelic scene taking place outside the windshield of a car whose rearview mirror was adorned with an blue pine-tree air freshener marked “unscented,” depicted, according to the artist, a representation of what a driver might experience while motoring under the influence of LSD (“which you should never do”).

Vince Curry, #21, hung a hand-made bow sheathed in snakeskin in his allotted space in the barn. He says that he will only sell bows to those who are capable of using them. “I don’t just want to see them on the wall,” said Curry. “When you go through a process to make sure it’s shootable, you can’t justify someone hanging it on the wall.”

An archer, Curry learned to make his own equipment. Rather than selling specific bows, each piece he makes is measured specifically for the prospective hunter using measurements drawn from outstretched, palm-to-palm hands. He crafts all of his pieces, he says, with hand tools like hatchets and spoke shaves.

“I thought it would be good to get involved in the community for a little bit, meet other artists, and not be so isolated,” said furniture maker Robert Sherman of studio #14, admiring his own work as craftsmen are wont to do. After breaking a mirror slated for placement on a wooden wall-mounted hat rack, he filled the space with paintbrush strokes, a pointillist scene of a clear spring nestled in flowering spring trees. 

“The artist tour is interesting in that it has such a wide range of mediums,” said Gustav Pederson, who manages the online presence of the tour, markets events via live Facebook videos and is the other furniture maker featured. His studio, #13 in the lineup, will feature studio furniture and wooden sculptures. Coincidentally, this is his thirteenth year of participation.

Should you visit his studio, Pederson promised, you will wholly understand the difference between marquetry and parquetry. “We’ve had structures and things that are questionably art. We only ask that they’re serious about it and have a studio that is safe.”

The window displays in the village will be viewable until August 12. The chosen paintings of each artist will remain in the Dutch barn until July 29, accessible on Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and on Sundays between 1 and 5 p.m.

Another showing of participants’ art will take place at Opus 40 sculpture park on Fite Road from August 10 until September 9, open to the public on Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The tours themselves will take place on August 11 and 12. Artists’ work can be previewed at www.saugertiesarttour.com, and a free tour map is available by emailing events@saugertiesarttour.com.

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