The Saranac Lake Art Walks are a popular summer activity. Every third Thursday evening, from June to September, our historic downtown area becomes a sidewalk art festival. In addition, there’s many kinds of music, craft vendors, and other fun activities with plenty of Adirondack friendliness and hospitality.
Since it was a gorgeous day, we started with an early dinner. We got to watch the artists and musicians set up. They ducked under the many awnings during the fifteen minute “mountain shower,” which was fortunately before the official start of the event at 5:00. Then, it was a gorgeous day again. My companion remarked on how cheerful and attractive the street looked with its festive displays and the full sidewalks. It all combined into a carnival air.
Galleries set out signs and tables to mark their participation. Every shop seemed to have something going on in front of it. The Art Walks have a relaxed, informal, atmosphere which allows the artists to discuss their work with those interested. This photographer enjoyed choosing, and sometimes creating, a frame that would most compliment his work. Our abundant Adirondack scenery offers a lot of good subject matter, too.
For over ten years the monthly Art Walk has been a summer favorite for visitors and residents alike. It's a self-guided wander through downtown, which is a great place to wander anytime, but is especially appealing when so much local talent has assembled itself along the route. There are more than 30 venues (look for the balloons) which offer a map & schedule to help everyone find their favorite parts of the Walk.
It covers a lot of territory, too. From Riverside Park all the way to Bloomingdale Avenue, across to the Adirondack Carousel, and back down Church Street, where the Laboratory Museum is open with free admission during the Art Walk event.
Art galleries make a point of having their artists available, sketching or visiting or enjoying the music which is indoors, as well as out. Often, special shows debut on these nights, such as Ursula Trudeau, who is currently showing "New Works" and artwork connected to the Pendragon Theatre show, "Reds," with works by Diane Leifheit. There's the work of Italo Clemente in his show, "The Media & Moods" at BluSeed Studios.
BluSeed Studios is not part of downtown, but their complex is only a few minutes away by car if one of their displays catches a person's attention. This is an enjoyable way of expanding the Walk with further explorations. Pendragon Theatre's gallery often coordinates with the Art Walk. It's easy to stroll down River Street and take in a play after the Walk, which takes place during their busy summer season.
One enterprising young man was writing poetry to order, using a manual typewriter for instant gratification. There was jewelry, kitting, and fabric art. We had a master whittler who loved to chat while he created.
The Art Walk is a way for many local businesses, or causes, to be seen and distribute literature. As seen below, papermakers from Bluseed Studios are making paper from the leftover mash from a local brewery. They want to raise awareness of how easily paper can be made from substances other than wood, and how well it lends itself to art and craft projects.
The venues include dining establishments, retail stores, both bandshells (Riverside Park and Berkeley Green) and the Saranac Lake Free Library. Street musicians, both established artists and up & comers, provide as much diversity as the painters, photographers, fabric artists, glass workers, and hand crafters.
Green spaces are part of the Art Walk. There's Riverside Park, Berkeley Green, the playground at the Carousel, and the Vest Pocket Park next to the library. Running along the river, parallel to downtown, is the RiverWalk, a walk along the Saranac River with a system of paved paths, bridges, benches, observation points, and informational signboards. It's a wonderful continuation of Riverside Park reached by crossing the street with the bridge, going behind the police station, and taking the same route back, only along the River. It ends back in downtown again.
This evening, there was an accordion player playing for dinner guests at the Left Bank Cafe; Mike "Shep" Shepard sang with acoustic guitar at the Downhill Grill; singer/songwriter Keith Gorgas was in front of the Eco-Living clothing store; singer/guitarist "Barb Darring & Friends" worked in front of the library; and local duo "Easy Street" took the bandshell in Riverside Park to provide a backdrop for the children's Fun Run.
Everyone was a winner at this event for children, because the prize was popsicles. This park is a favorite for watching the water go by, as it has many benches and is surrounded on two sides by Lake Flower. A local Massage Therapist had set up a tent and was demonstrating some relaxation techniques. Many dogs on leashes made new friends... and watched the popsicles. Clumsy children are a dog's best friend.
Many of the artists either have their own galleries or work with one of our many retail outlets. So feel free to inquire about their work, and figure out where to see more of their creations. That's one of the things the Art Walk is about. These days, with cell phones and other web-based systems, most artists will take varied forms of payment. But we might want to bring some cash, too, to tip the musicians with open instrument cases.
Every few steps created a new experience. The music changed, the art changed, the crowd changed. Even so, there were plenty of opportunities for sitting down, enjoying an entire song, or catching up with someone before rejoining the event again. The leisurely pace and relaxed atmosphere makes it a surprise when the magical evening comes to an end.
But there's always next month.
Make your reservations to ensure your visit coincides with the Third Thursday of the month, from June to September. The Art Walk hours are 5 to 7:30 pm. While enjoying the Art Walk, be sure to enjoy our dining and shopping, too!