Saugerties public art project goes with butterflies for 2020

(Photo by Will Dendis)

Butterflies, brought to life by the imaginative decorations of local artists, will line Main and Partition streets in the village come May. Chamber of Commerce head Mark Smith said that convincing the rest of the chamber to use butterflies for the object of the 11th annual Art in the Village exhibition was a “hard sell.”

“Well, that’s what they said, what has it got to do with Saugerties? Butterflies are symbolic of longevity, and to push a little friendliness in friendly Saugerties,” said Smith, when asked for the reasoning behind his lepidopteran choice. “They’re also pollinators, and we have the Esopus Creek and things like that. The tie-in is loose, but they’ll look smashing on the street.”

The chamber is soliciting applications for “Fluttering Around Saugerties” from both artists and sponsors for the project; 35 total butterflies will be bedecked and displayed. Artists will use a two-dimensional butterfly on paper to demonstrate their concept design. The butterflies’ bodies will be made from fiberglass, while the plywood wings will be fashioned by local artist Gus Pederson, who will also fashion his own butterfly.


“We’re looking for creativity, a compelling design that’s going to look good on the street and, you know, there’s some things that are frowned on like using logos or branding, but other things,” said Smith. “The sky’s the limit. Some artists didn’t use the sails or made their own sails, for example. They tell us when they give us the sketch if they’re going to use everything or not.”

After accepting applications, the chamber will host an event, matching artists with sponsors. All of the concept designs will be displayed, and sponsors will choose a number — the lower the number, the earlier the sponsor can pick from the wall. Artists will receive their materials in the beginning of March, and the butterflies will flutter onto the street in May. The chamber auctions off the finished products, after they have been displayed on the street for a period, at a gala; a third of the proceeds go to the artist, and another third goes to a local charity of the chamber’s choosing.

Artists and sponsors can find applications for the initiative at; applications are due on Feb. 14.