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Category Archives: art

A Quick Stop at the Art Gallery

I have been meaning for some time to make it to Cogar Gallery at Herkimer County Community College. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. when the college is open. Therefore, the best thing for me to do is go straight there after work. So I did.

The exhibit I saw was an alumni show, McCann and Ingerick, Photographer and Painter. Debbie Ruane Sullivan Ingerick graduated in 1979, Carolynn McCann Dufft in 1981. I had meant to go to the opening reception on Oct. 4, but alas, did not make it. However, sometimes it is easier to appreciate the art when one walks around the gallery alone.

The show features a variety of works from realistic to more abstract. As I have said before, I don’t know from art styles and I’m nobody’s art critic. I just like to look at pictures. I spent a while walking around and looking at the pictures before I perused the list of works. Then I went back to look again at some of the works whose titles that caught my eye.

My favorite was “We Are The Light in the Storms of Life” by Ingerick. It showed a lighthouse on a hill surrounded by water. I also enjoyed a series of six photographs by McCann called “Bette’s Bench.”

I may go back and look at the exhibit again. It is on display through Nov. 4. And I’ll watch for future exhibits to go see. I wonder if the college offers a course on art appreciation, so I can write more impressively about these things. I’ll have to go to www.herkimer.edu and see.

Adirondack Landscapes at MVCA

Full Disclosure: I’ve started this blog post three times and wasn’t happy with any of them. I’m going to go with my third first paragraph and reserve the right to write further posts on the subject.

Another note: I know protocol for news writing is to refer to someone by first and last name the first time you mention them, then by last name only. It did not feel write to talk about Wilcox. To me he is Frank and that is how I refer to him. I hope that’s OK.

I was disappointed that I could not find a friend to accompany me to the exhibit opening at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA) last Saturday. However, I did not want to miss the opening reception for Frank Wilcox’s “Landscapes Old and New.” I figured I would find people there to chat with and I hoped to hear Frank talk about his work. I was right on both counts.

As I walked around looking at the paintings, I chatted with a few people. One was another artist, Pamela Menotti. I mention her, because she gave me a card about her own exhibition, “All Aboard: Train Paintings in Pastel,” at the Kirkland Town Library in Clinton, NY from Nov. 1 to 30 with an opening reception Nov. 8 from 12 to 2 p.m. I carefully tucked the postcard into my notebook and returned to perusing Frank’s exhibit.

The exhibit features landscapes of the Adirondacks. Last fall at MVCA’s Annual Great Art Giveaway, Frank talked about the sense of place in his art. He wanted people to look at his paintings and say, “I’ve been there,” or somewhere like there. I like that idea, because one thing I love is to look at art and say, “I wish I was there.” Looking at the paintings Saturday, I said, “I’ve been somewhere like there,” several times, and “I wish I was there” about practically every work.

The new landscapes were the Adirondack Ikons, inspired by an ikon that was given to Frank, and by music by the British composer John Tavener. An ikon is a visual representation of a spiritual idea. Ikons traditionally use specific colors. Frank used these colors in his Adirondack Ikons. He talked about the colors and the inspiration of the music. He suggested we return when the gallery is less busy to study the paintings while listening to the music that inspired them.

After his talk, Frank answered questions, which I enjoyed very much. He talked about his work methods habits, his background and more. I didn’t ask any questions, but when I see him again I have one. Has he ever considered writing a book about his art?

The exhibition is on view at MVCA, 401 Canal Pl., Little Falls, NY through Nov. 22. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday 12 to 4 p.m. I encourage everybody to go check it out. For more information call 315-823-0808

Area Art

The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts’ Regional Art Show offers many of my favorite things: art, a local venue, area artists. The fact that they usually have pretty tasty refreshments at the opening was just an added bonus.

The center is located at 401 Canal Place in Little Falls, NY. My friend Phyllis and I arrived shortly after two last Saturday. I signed in and picked up a list of the works on display.

The only problem with exhibit openings is that they are usually so well attended that it is difficult to really look at and appreciate the art. However, this is offset by the chance to talk to fellow art lovers. As I like to say, you can’t have everything.

The exhibit features a variety of styles from realistic to abstract. A lot of the paintings depict scenes from the area. I am particularly fond of pictures of old barns, but I admired many of the works.

I saw some chairs on the back porch, so Phyllis and I went out and sat for a few minutes. We talked about pictures we have on our walls at home. I said some of the pictures in the show would benefit from a larger space than is available at my house. Ah well, if I ever win the lottery, perhaps I could purchase a mansion with a gallery and see if I really have any artistic taste.

We said hello to a few people we knew and browsed around the Selective Eye shop. I hope to return to the exhibit and spend more time looking at the pieces. Perhaps I could write another blog post about it. It’s too bad I don’t have the equipment and expertise to add pictures. As I said, you can’t have everything.

For more information on the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts you can visit their website at mohwakvalleyarts.org.

I’ll Never Be an Art Critic

Full disclosure: I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks now. I just can’t think of the right things to say. I’m pretty sure that the stuff I’ve said so far is pretty dumb. However, it is late in the day on Saturday and I need a post. Let’s see what my editing skills are up to.

At the beginning of May, I went to the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in Little Falls, NY for the exhibit opening of “From the River to the Sea with David Burns.” Dr. Burns is an MD who took up painting and is very good at it. He says, “An artist could be anyone who is attentive to his surrounds; notices when a common scene becomes caught in an uncommon light.” I really liked the exhibit.

I confess that I feel kind of cool when I say to people, “I’m going to an exhibit opening at the arts center.” I don’t know why exactly. I’m not cultured; I’m barely housebroken. I don’t think I’m a snob. I mean, I’m not one to do things because they are “culture,” whatever that means. However, I do like looking at art. I like talking to other people who like looking at art. And sometimes they serve refreshments at these openings.

Ah well, I think the question of why I like saying I’m going to an exhibit opening is one best left for half-baked philosophy on Lame Post Friday. Right now, I would like to give a shout-out to Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts.

I walked around the gallery at least three times, admiring each painting, trying to decide which was my favorite. Of course I couldn’t decide, but I think I liked best the pictures of old buildings from the area. “Old Stone Schoolhouse” was a particular standout. I wish I knew some good art critic-y things to say like “beautifully observed” or… OK “beautifully observed” is the only one I can think of. This is kind of like when I taste wine and all I can think to say is “yummy.” These were some beautiful pictures.

I did enjoy the elegant refreshments. I would have liked to ask for the recipe for the scones but felt a little self-conscious doing so. Then I felt a little silly for enjoying the food when the point of the day was the art.

The exhibit runs through June 21. I plan to return return one afternoon to look at the pictures again, when there will probably be fewer people there. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday 12 to 3 p.m. For more information on the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts you can visit their website at www.MohawkValleyArts.org, and you can Like them on Facebook.

Mohawk Valley Art

Saturday afternoon I drove to Little Falls, NY, with my friend Tracy to attend an art opening at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA).

I’ve stopped in at MVCA before, most recently in September during the Garlic Festival. Regular readers may remember that I won two lovely pieces of art at the MVCA Art Giveaway in October. This is the first opening reception I’ve been to. I hope it will not be the last.

The exhibit was “People and Places in My Travels” by Deborah Rosato. I was enchanted by “Christmas in Old Forge,” which MVCA shared on its Facebook page. The other watercolors and pastels in the exhibit did not disappoint. Ms. Rosato was on hand to answer questions about her work. I didn’t have any questions; I just took it all in.

Tracy and I chatted up Kevin Mihaly, the executive director. He mentioned volunteer opportunities. I am interested in that, if it could work out. For one reason, I might get some blog posts out of it.

We also talked with Frank Wilcox, one of the artists who had donated work to October’s Art Giveaway. I also knew Mr. Wilcox because he was in the play Strike Story, which was presented in Little Falls’ Black Box Theatre and at Ilion Little Theatre.

I later noted in MVCA’s Calendar of Events, “Art Matters,” that he will be teaching a 10-week class in Mixed Media beginning in January. MVCA offers a number of art classes. I had said at the Art Giveaway that I was inspired to create something. Perhaps a class is in my future.

After looking at the exhibit and enjoying some of the refreshments, Tracy and I went into the retail section, The Selective Eye. Art, jewelry, clothing, postcards and more are available for purchase. I bought some postcards when I was there in September. They didn’t have any new ones this time.

I was really happy I had made it to the art opening. I was also pleased I had picked up the Art Matters Calendar of Events, so that I can take advantage of other events. For more information on MVCA, you can call 315-823-0808, visit their website at www.MohawkValleyArts.org, or Like their Facebook page.

Supporting the Arts

Friday night Steven and I supported the arts in the Mohawk Valley.

Doesn’t that sound fancy? It was a little fancier than our usual Friday night activities (sit around in sweatpants and order pizza is our favorite). We attended the Annual Art Giveaway of the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA).

I recently Liked MVCA on Facebook, which is how we found out about the giveaway. The center posted a beautiful picture, and I started making immediate plans to try to win it. Unfortunately, Steven had to work till 6:30, and the event began at 6. I could have made my way to the arts center in Little Falls, NY, to look at the art and purchase tickets, but did not manage it for one reason or another. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that I didn’t even have my act together to look at works online and do things by mail or over the phone.

So I went to Francesca’s Banquet in Ilion, NY by myself, with Steven promising to join me as soon as possible. I gave my $5 donation to get in, spent another $5 on 50/50 tickets, made my usual lame joke about how the ticket doesn’t tell you how long to “Keep This Coupon,” then went on to look at the art.

I purchased a book of ten tickets for $30. It was set up like a Chinese auction; you put your ticket into a bag next to the piece you liked. Thirty-five works of art were offered. I figured if there weren’t ten I liked, I could put in multiple tickets for my favorites, like I do at regular Chinese auctions. Of course there were more than ten I liked, but I do have to watch my budget, so I put in for my ten favorites.

Then I realized I had missed a gorgeous soft-sculpture frog at the very end. Steven collects frogs. A few years ago, we had purchased a raffle ticket for such a frog at the arts center in Little Falls, but alas, did not win. I went back to where they were selling tickets and bought just one more ticket.

I saw a few people there I knew. I chatted them up as well as a few new people. There was a table of light refreshments and a cash bar. I indulged in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and nibbled some cheese and vegetables.

Soon they began to draw for the artwork. Some of the artists were present and said a few words before the ticket for their piece was drawn. They spoke about their views of art in general or their method of working or the story behind that particular piece. I was fascinated. I kept telling people I was inspired and was going to take up an art so I could donate a piece next year. People were very gracious about it; nobody said anything like, “Yeah, like you’re going to be as good as that in a year or less!”

I ended up winning two very beautiful pieces. I was so excited! Steven will have to re-arrange some things on our walls to make good places for them. In the meantime, I’m watching the MVCA Facebook page for their next fundraiser.

For more information on the arts center, visit their website at www.mohawkvalleyarts.org/.

Bringing a Friend to the Farmer’s Market

Saturday our friend Tracy visited. Steven had to work during the day, but Tracy was sure that I would drag her along to Mohawk Valley things (that is how Steven said she put it when he talked to her). I was happy to oblige.

I’m always delighted to introduce people to the Ilion Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm, Otsego Street, Ilion, NY. I especially looked forward to bringing Tracy there, because I knew she would enjoy it.

She loved the old barn that houses the market. As soon as we walked in we noticed two young pigs. Somebody told us that last week they had goats (oh sure, the one week I don’t go!). The live animals were a new thing for me. The kids were really enjoying them, but I like to see them too.

My main reason for going to the Farmer’s Market was to purchase a couple of fancy handkerchiefs from the antique booth. I thought my character in Harvey might carry just such a handkerchief, as opposed to the plain white or army brown ones I carry myself. I chatted with the lady at the booth about Ilion Little Theatre and the play (I did say I was going to make this blog All Harvey All The Time for the next two weeks, didn’t I?). After much deliberation I selected a pink handkerchief with embroidery and a white one with scalloped lavender trim. I thought it would be a good idea to get two, for ease of laundering. The lady gave me a discount, because it was for Ilion Little Theatre. One great thing about this area: people really support community endeavors.

Tracy and I sampled some fudge, cheese and wine. The wine was from Domnhall Winery in Herkimer. They intend to open a tasting room sometime this year. You can bet Mohawk Valley Girl will be there.

We got into a conversation with one lady about farming, fresh eggs, and quilting. Tracy had a lengthy discussion with Jim Parker about the Amish. Jim Parker is, as I have no doubt mentioned before, the folk artist who runs the Farmer’s Market. Steven and I often chat him up when we are there. Jim teaches art to Amish children, among others. He mentioned the different venues where he has taught, but of course I neglected to write them all down. I’ll have to go back with my notebook and do a real write up about it.

We talked about art as therapy and about the diversity of some of his classes and how valuable that was to the students. Jim also told us some stories about some Amish children who deliver goods to the Farmer’s Market. Tracy was especially interested in the Amish stories, because she is involved in a project with TAUNY making a display about the Amish in New York State. I mean to find out more about that (including what TAUNY stands for). I think it is an excellent topic for Mohawk Valley Girl.

We had a great time at the Farmer’s Market. I left with a bottle of wine, two handkerchiefs and several ideas for future blog posts. Tracy left with plans to return. That’s how I get my friends to visit more than once.

Historic Christmas Present

For the last Christmas present for my husband, Steven, I made my way to one of my all time favorite places to shop: the Ilion Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street.

I’ve blogged about the Farmer’s Market many times and will no doubt do so again. It is run by folk artist Jim Parker, which is why I needed to shop there Friday. I wanted to give Steven a Parker print. Steven has a real knack for decorating, and he especially loves to hang nice things on the wall. A nice print which we can get framed seemed a perfect gift.

I decided on a picture of Herkimer which Parker designed for the village’s bicentennial in 2007. It shows an aerial view of the village with a few close ups in bubbles, most notably of my beloved Historic Four Corners. It’s matted, so we can hang it right away, while we search for a frame. Or we may decide to take it somewhere, perhaps the Frame Place in Mohawk. That might make another good blog post.

At another vendor, I purchased a handmade pin of a sleigh with Santa painted on it. Very pretty. I tried a sample of their delicious fudge, but resisted the temptation to buy any of that.

Thousand Islands Winery was there, much to my delight. I’ve been at Thousand Islands Winery several times. In fact, every time I visit some friends who live in Theresa, NY, I ask to go to the winery. I got into quite a conversation with the man there, while I sampled a few of his wines. He was especially grateful when I asked to sample the Cabernet Sauvignon, because he had to open a new bottle. He had been wanting to sip a little of that himself. I bought a bottle, to contribute to my own merry Christmas. I’ll bring it to my parents’ house and share.

While I was tasting and chatting, Jim Parker came over and said hello. I showed him my purchase (the print, not the wine), and told him how I almost never come to the Farmer’s Market without my husband but made the special trip to get the present. Jim mentioned that he had designed the print for Herkimer’s bicentennial and told me he was working on a design for the upcoming bicentennial of the War of 1812. We talked a little bit about that war (not that I know much about it), and I mentioned the book I recently read about The Battle of Oriskany by Alan Foote (and blogged about it, if you happened to catch that post). I knew I had read something about the War of 1812, but the only American history I could recall reading was the Foote book. Jim told me about a man who was a boy during the Battle of Oriskany, went on to play a role in the War of 1812, and built Clapsaddle Farm. Jim is currently reading a book about the War of 1812 which he checked out of the Ilion Library. I said I would go to the library in two weeks and ask for “the book Jim Parker just checked out.”

I just love the Ilion Farmer’s Market. And Steven loved his print. I made him open it Friday night. For one thing, when he saw the pin and bottle of wine, he would have known I went to the Farmer’s Market. Why would I go to the Farmer’s Market December 23 if not to buy my hubby a present?

From Artsy to Elegant

Fountain Elms is a beautiful Victorian home located next to the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute (MWPAI). It is the ancestral home of the institute’s founders, and it is open to the public as a museum. You can get to Fountain Elms from MWPAI by way of a basement hallway, which is what Steven and I did last Saturday.

A lady was showing some other visitors around, telling them things about the rooms and the family that lived there. We did not take advantage of the guide this visit, but we have on previous visits. The people that work there are very knowledgeable and patient about answering questions.

The downstairs rooms are furnished and decorated as they would have been in the 1850s. You can only walk into them so far, which is a good thing, because the decorating style of the time was a bit crowded. I probably would have fit right in, because I tend to fill my rooms with a lot of stuff, too. Of course, my stuff is not elegant, but different times, different stuff.

Upstairs there are paintings, accessories and artifacts behind glass, and a beautiful vintage doll house. I think I sent a post card of the doll house to my sister, when she was at home recuperating from an operation.

I was quite interested in the paintings, which included portraits painted at various times. Some were identified, some not. What struck me was the different levels of realism. How can I put it? Some of the artists had the proportions wrong, or the figures looked stiff and unnatural. Others from similar years looked as if they might turn and speak to you. I really ought to take an art class, so I would know more about these things. Was the stiffness the style of the time or of that particular artist? I know portraits are usually commissioned works, bought and paid for the way we pay professional photographers for family portraits today (well, Steven and I have never done such a thing). And I remember reading in period fiction how people wanted to hire the fashionable painter of the time to do their portrait. But I don’t know why you wouldn’t hire somebody that made you look real. Or is that a silly thing to say, and readers who know about art history are rolling their eyes. Oh well, I’ve been rolled at before.

We enjoyed our visit to Fountain Elm. We went back through MWPAI and made our way to our car, to once again brave the Genesee Street detour, in search of further Mohawk Valley adventures.

Artsy Me

My real Mohawk Valley bloggable activity Saturday was to go to the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute (MWPAI), 310 Genesee St., Utica. The select few who read every post know I blogged about a restaurant and two craft stores I went to Saturday, but these were merely en route. I really wanted to blog about the art museum.

I remember in Basic Training one of my drill sergeants speaking disparagingly about “culture” as something his wife forced him to do. It was then that I realized, I like culture. I like museums, libraries, plays and symphony concerts. I think they are fun. Sometimes I imagine I should be more of a hoity toity person than I am. I should eat and drink with one pinky in the air. I should make scholarly observations such as, “I thought the adaptation was more literary than cinematic” (that was a line from a movie which I believe was intended to show the speaker as pretentious). Well I’m not and I don’t. I went to the museum because I like to look at the pictures.

We had a little adventure getting there, because there was a detour on Genesee Street. Luckily Steven was driving. We were soon parking and ready to view some art.

The regular exhibit at MWPAI is a good mix of styles. I would say more about this if I had ever taken an art class and knew how to properly apply the labels: modern, abstract, surrealism. This goes back to what I said earlier about scholarly observations. I got nothing.

When I was admiring a large Jackson Pollock, I remembered a conversation I overheard years ago with Roland Gibson and a college student. Roland Gibson was a prominent art collector who allowed many of his pieces to be displayed at SUNY Potsdam. By all accounts he was a shrewd judge of these things, and his collection was quite valuable. I was working in the dining hall when Mr. Gibson came in with a college student (I’m guessing) helping him carry a painting to be hung. The student was apparently not an art student, because he confessed to not understanding the attraction of abstract art.

“I mean, I could do that,” he said, repeating the cliche criticism that has been leveled against non-realistic paintings for many years.

Mr. Gibson told him that when we view a piece of art, we are viewing “the inspiration of the artist.”

“You say you could do that. I say, ‘But you didn’t.'”

I’m probably paraphrasing, but I’ve always remembered the sentiment. I didn’t think to splatter paint on canvas. Pollock thought of it. I don’t always like the results of the inspiration of the artist, and I’m sure there are artists who in fact are trying to get away with something. I like to think most of them have inspiration. If I don’t like the results, well it didn’t hurt me to look.

We made a quick stop at the gift shop before we left. I bought a few postcards. I think I’ll send one to a soldier I know in Afghanistan. He could use a little culture.