The Saugerties Chamber of Commerce is preparing for its 12th year of displayed street art from Memorial Day to Labor Day in the Town and Village of Saugerties. This year’s theme is the same as last: “fluttering around Saugerties.” Artwork from 35 local artists will be included in the display.
Every year, the theme is something related to Saugerties — like lighthouses and horses. Saugerties Chamber of Commerce Chair Mark Smith pitched the butterfly idea last year. Vice Chair, Peggy Schwartz, admits that while butterflies may have been a stretch, it is a perfect symbol of “optimism, hope, regeneration,” especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re one of the few communities who change our themes,” said Schwartz. “Port Ewen does tugboats, Catskill does cats. We’ve changed pretty much every two years.”
Throughout the years, some of the same artists stick with participating in the project. This year, artists like veterans Theresa Rowe Obert, Michael La Peruta, Patti Morrow are back for the fun, along with others like painter Jacquie Roland, sculptor and craftsman Gustav Pedersen and realistic and abstract artist Anne Marie Hoffstatter.
For the project to be made possible, it requires an equal number of sponsors as artists to fund the supplies, forms and other fees. The local sponsors include businesses from Josie’s Coffee Shoppe to the medical supply store Simulaids.
“Without the support of local businesses, we wouldn’t be able to get this done,” said Schwartz.
Year after year, the street art project “brightens people’s spirits,” and even attracts out-of-towners. The Saugerties Chamber of Commerce includes a special walking map so residents and visitors alike can learn more about the artists behind each piece.
While it fits as a perfect socially distant summer event, the Chamber did have to make some adjustments to the programming. At the end of each summer, there is a “party-like” ticketed auction for each of the pieces of art to be sold, with the proceeds divided between participating artists, a chosen local charity (they are welcoming ideas now), the Chamber of Commerce and a scholarship for a chosen Saugerties High School senior.
“In years past, pre-pandemic, we had it as a party with a really fun afternoon and evening,” said Smith. “We had them outside in front of the Kiersted House and at Saugerties Performing Arts Factory.”
However, last year, they had to go virtual with a prolonged auction from July to October. This year, it’s still up in the air as to what will happen.
“There’s something really great about people coming together for the auction,” said Schwartz. “It really creates a sense of community. But, we did really well when we did it online.”
The entire street art project is true community collaboration, from not only artists and sponsors being involved but the Department of Public Works as well, who help transport and install the art pieces.
Schwartz said while nobody knows where New York State will be at with Covid-19 come the end of the summer, they do hope it can be in person.
For more information about this year’s street art project, visit discoversaugerties.com.