Artists often work alone, but like everyone else, they can find strength in numbers.
This is the thinking behind a membership of artists, galleries, theatre and art related businesses in the greater Saranac Lake area, called ArtWorks. It’s not only a concept. It’s also a place!
Saranac Lake has a wonderful, walkable, downtown area which groups most of my favorite shops, restaurants, and galleries in one stroll-able spot. I visited on a gorgeous, sunny day, but there were so many scenes on offer I didn’t mind being inside.
The artists themselves volunteer to man, or woman, the clerking responsibilities. So on any given day you can wind up chatting about the light on the lake the day that watercolor happened, or how that tin-colored background was created for a study of a piano dissolving into the elements.
Art is so personal, both for the artist who creates it, and the appreciator who becomes involved in it. I so enjoy exploring this mysterious process of discovery. That water color can be created in a few hours, and enjoyed instantly. That sketch could have been created over a long period of time, and each time I circle the gallery, I see something new in it.
The exhibits at the gallery change every month or so. Adirondack scenery is prominent, but there’s also more conceptual works, such as the portrait studies where the viewer is challenged to match the heads, and the hands, of people telling stories about themselves.
With nature so abundant, we are used to seeing the sweep of a mountain range running over the horizon, or the expanse of a lake laid out before us. It’s wonderful to experience the bigness.
But it’s also good for us to look for the details, and some artists revel in the small. They can be small in frame, yet contain a whole mountain. They can be a small thing, like a single branch. It can be a small glimpse of a fantasy landscape.
For do-it-yourselfers, most of the artists offer matted prints or photographs, too. This lets us pick out favorites for even less cost. This option is not available for another favorite, though… the pottery. That comes as-is!
In fact, for my last birthday, I picked out something from potter Mary Lou Reid. She does wonderful nature shapes, from stained-glass-like ceramic pieces to “bone hieroglyphics" that I find hypnotically fascinating.
My first choice, a framed watercolor, was out of my budget range. That always seems to happen. But I’m just as happy with my second choice, which is a ceramic of the stacked rocks hikers make, to mark accomplishments.
I loved the color and the visual texture. It was also personal to me, because I’m working on my ‘6er badge. But I enjoy a hike through the woods, or a walk around the lake, just as much. Each destination offers its own advantages and disadvantages, from the effort required to what we get out of our arrival.
As we grow and change, those advantages and disadvantages grow and change, too. As Heraclitus wrote, “we never step in the same river twice.” So it is that we never take the same hike twice.
While I chose a three dimensional object which will take up space on a shelf, it has even more dimensions. It speaks of journeys, in progress or completed.
My birthday gift was shaped, painted, and fired over a stretch of time that I went about my life, unaware our paths would cross. Someone else could have come into the gallery right before my husband and I, fallen in love, and gotten it for their beloved, instead. That is why this piece, to me, is all about possibilities.
This particular work is finished, but its work, we might say, will never be done.