Gala auction of artwork in Saugerties draws generous attendees

Sailboat models were lined up for viewing. (Photo by David Gordon)

Gus Pedersen’s original entry in Sailin’ Around Saugerties, “Invictus,” was badly damaged by a vandal. Rather than simply restoring the boat to its original condition, Pedersen had worked the damage into his sailboat model, and renamed it “Faith in Humanity.”

Several people had contributed in helping the police catch the vandal. An outpouring of sympathy from the public appeared almost immediately on Pedersen’s Facebook page. The entry has been shared 210 times, he reported.


Pedersen’s entry was one of 41 that appeared on village streets between Memorial Day and Labor Day. All the boats were auctioned off on Saturday, September 15 in the “Ahoy Maties Gala and Auction” at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory. The auction raised $22,000, with proceeds going to the artists and Chamber of Commerce. According to chamber vice-chair Peggy Schwartz, the chamber uses the money “to help fund various community events and a chosen local charity. We also give two $1000 scholarships to graduating Saugerties High School students.”

In addition to the sailboat models, some bidders could win auto detailing at Sawyer Motors, an offer owner Bob Siracusano made to reluctant bidders to keep the auction going. Siracusano and his sales manager, Ray Tucker, acted as auctioneer and master of ceremonies respectively.

Ze’ev Willie Neumann’s “Love Knotical,” originally displayed next to his love knot on the village parking lot, has a love knot built into what first appears to be a complex checkerboard pattern on the sail. In addition to Neumann, Kira Podmayersky and Lula Rappoport are listed as the artists.

The original love knots are displayed in both Saugerties and Woodstock, and the one in Woodstock is a center of attention, he said. “You wouldn’t believe it. People line up to take a picture of it.”

While most of the artists contributed a single model, Michael LaPeruta entered three entered entirely on his own or as collaborations. Mike’s is the only name on “Popeye.” Mike and Robin LaPeruta are listed for “Shipwrecked,” Another piece he collaborated on does not identify him as a creator. Anastasia and Robin LaPeruta are listed as the creators of “World of Dance.”

Former village police chief William Kimble’s “America” was inspired by a competitor in the America’s Cup. Kimble’s street sculpture entries always feature American flag themes.

Chamber of Commerce chair Mark Smith said that interest among artists had been so intense that the number of entries was increased. “Originally, we were going to have 35 boats, but so many artists were interested in doing this one that we ordered more. We have 41 this year.”

The street art is important because “it brings visitors to Saugerties to see what we’re doing,” said Smith. “The second thing is it shows off our local artists. And some are not so local. Some come from Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, Connecticut. The sponsors are so generous, and we really appreciate it.”

Saugerties is “an amazing, amazing, amazing community,” agreed chamber co-chair Peggy Schwartz. “We’re people that give our time, our money, our skills, and we all band together. Our political people are great, our arts community is great, our shopkeepers are great, and our car salespeople are great.” The reference to auctioneer Bob Siracusano of Sawyer Motors drew appreciative laughs from the crowd.

The village streets look barren without the decorative sailboats, Schwartz claimed. The auction showcases the area’s artists, and “with luck, it brings us money.” The money goes to the artists, the chamber of commerce and contributions to a local charity and scholarships for two Saugerties High School seniors. 

Schwartz also had praise for the Performing Arts Factory, the former F.L. Russell Corporation, which produced the well-known composition books with the black-and-white covers, as well as other paper products. “We have a venue here that is unrivalled,” she said. “You can have your wedding here, you can have your divorce here, you can have a great event like this or you can have your holiday party. It’s just an amazing thing.”

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Ian Flannigan provided music while attendees walked around and viewed the sculptures. Katie Fisher’s “Memory Adrift” drew the highest price, $2000. Pedersen’s “Faith in Humanity” placed second with $1600.