We refer to Saranac Lake as decidedly different for a reason. We are very proud to be a hub of eccentricity in the Adirondacks. Because of this, the town is also known for its vibrant local arts scene. For generations it has attracted artists and other creative types, leading it to become the arts haven it is today. Downtown Saranac Lake has several galleries that feature and celebrate local artists. One of the best times to catch all this artistic glory is during the monthly Art Walk that happens every first Friday of the month during the winter season and third Thursdays of the month during the warmer seasons.
Gallery hopping is what the Art Walk requires. Each gallery has its own distinctive feel, featuring not just a range of art, but also a range of food and drink. And of course, it's all free. I spent the last Friday in January gallery hopping during Art Walk. This was a special time because it was also during Saranac Lake’s annual Winter Carnival, which brings out an especially festive spirit in the town. Even strangers will wish you “Happy Carnival” as you walk the streets.
My first stop of the evening was NorthWind Gallery on Woodruff. Usually during Art Walk each gallery will feature one artist while showcasing others. NorthWind decided to feature many artists whose art explored "Prehistoric Park," the theme of this year’s Winter Carnival.
I spoke with Kristina Mueller, a jewelry maker and NorthWind gallery member, about why she appreciates the art scene in Saranac Lake. She explained to me that here in the Adirondacks, nature is integral to the art she makes and it frees her mind. She couldn’t imagine not having this freedom that inspires so much of what she creates, and she loves the community she is part of. Kristina’s jewelry plays with geometric shapes and sometimes features a single gemstone. She also has an all-silver line. Each item is handcrafted and elegantly simple.
After NorthWind, I hopped over to Small Fortune Gallery right on Main Street. Tim Fortune is the force behind this gallery, which is quaint but surprisingly spacious and filled with dazzling color. He also has a showroom above the gallery. Tim paints natural landscapes in watercolor, as of 2007 when he switched from using oils. The paintings are remarkable in their beautiful richness, reflecting the abundant nature in the Adirondacks. Some are more abstract than others, and they come in all sizes and moods. In one painting, featuring a view of the mountains from a field, he captures the subtle undertones of sunlight on a gray Adirondack day, while another features the reflection of the forest on water bursting with bright rays of golden sunlight. Tim’s art is stunning just like the Adirondacks that he depicts.
My next and final stop was the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery, also on Main Street. The Artists Guild is special because of the amount of space and the range of art. In the center of the room was a table set with a series of pottery in all natural colors found within the Adirondacks. One wall was covered in assemblages, sculptures made from found items including old dolls and springs from various machines.
The featured artist of the night was Georgeanne Gaffney, who paints natural landscapes with a variety of mediums and textures. The exhibit was called “Lush Lands,” and featured paintings of just what the title describes. She captured the mud, the crystalline blue water, and the verdant lushness integral to the region’s landscape. When you are looking at Gaffney’s paintings you feel inside of it, you feel right there among the tall weeds, the wildflowers, and the trees hovering above.
Saranac Lake is a special place for artists, and we all get to benefit from this. The Art Walk is a great time to see the town in all its decidedly different glory. Expect a night filled with art, some elbow-tipping, and great conversation. There are many other galleries I have not included here. For example, BluSeed Studios is a must-see on your visit. This gallery often hosts live music and other performances. Regardless, wherever you go, you will feel the warmth and creativity so integral to this community.
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