Once a year, for 10 years now, the artists of the annual Saugerties Artists Studio Tour have welcomed the community into their studios on the second weekend of August. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the artists’ work in the environment it was made in and to meet the person who made it.
The tour has grown in size and scope every year, from 11 artists in 2002 to around 40 in recent years. Altogether, some 85 artists have been involved over the last decade, says artist Barbara Bravo, tour coordinator.
Artistic fellowship has become a fixture of the summer season in Saugerties, but what about the rest of the year? Many of the artists want to maintain a year-round presence in the community. To that end, 21 of the tour artists have mounted a group exhibition of their work at the Saugerties Public Library. The exhibit will remain on view through March 31.
Each artist in the show is represented by a single work executed in a variety of media. There are watercolors, oils on canvas, pencil drawings, altered photos, mixed media and assemblage pieces, linocuts and sculptural works. The participating artists are Anita Barbour, Loel Barr, Ana Bergen, Barbara Bravo, Allen Bryan, Michael Ciccone, Steve Crohn, Angela Gaffney-Smith, Alex Kveton, Polly M. Law, Ulf Loven, Brian Lynch, Hugh Morris, Ze’ev Willy Neumann, Gus Pedersen, Ellen Perantoni, Susan Sammis Goldson, Jeffrey Schiller, Prue See, Viorica Stan and Carol Zaloom.
It’s not the first time the artists of the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour have exhibited together. Last year there were four separate exhibits mounted in association with the tour: “Neighbor to Neighbor” at the Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) in July; “Ten,” last August at the Kiersted House, just prior to the tour weekend; an opening reception at Opus 40 the night before the first day of the tour with an exhibit mounted through September; and a tenth anniversary exhibit that remained on view through September on the walls of Café Mezzaluna.
Those four exhibits were all held around the time of the tour, however: the show at the library is the first time that members of the group have exhibited together during the winter, and Bravo says they’ll be looking for more opportunities like this to bring year-round recognition of the artists of Saugerties.
And the artists are a real community, says Bravo. “We genuinely like each other,” she says, laughing. According to Bravo, many of the artists have bonded with one another, and even help each other out with creative solutions, like the barn-wood frame that Gus Pedersen made for her tile work in the show and her assist with the ceramic leaf insert on his “Intarsied Door” panel of knotty pine.
A well-attended opening reception for the exhibit was held at the library on Saturday, Jan. 5, with many of the participating artists present. Supervisor Kelly Myers and her husband Will also attended the opening, where Myers confirmed to Bravo that she and the Town Board will once again contribute financially to backing the studio tour this summer, continuing the tradition established by former Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, who supported the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour from its beginning, Bravo says. The financing comes from the town’s economic development/tourism funds.
The backing of the Town Board is a deserved recognition, says Bravo, as the studio tour gets the word out about Saugerties and brings culture to the community, and “makes it a very welcoming place.” The tour also receives marketing support from a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grant, administered by the Dutchess County Arts Council; the tour being one of a limited number of applicants from both Dutchess and Ulster counties to receive the grant, says Bravo, and the fourth year they will receive the award.
The show at the library is the first of four exhibitions of work by local artists that will be featured there this year. Each exhibit will remain on view for three months. The next show will be of paintings and metal wall reliefs by Jim McElrath, on display from April through June.
Exhibits at the library are presented in conjunction with the Art & Exhibits Committee of the Saugerties Public Library. The committee was created by former library board member Steve Crohn, not long after he was elected to the Saugerties Public Library Board of Trustees in 2006, at which time he also arranged for the appraisal and restoration of art works owned by the library.
The purpose of the Art & Exhibits Committee, he says, is to enrich the experience of library patrons and to increase exposure of local and regional artists, and to increase community appreciation of the arts through presenting a variety of exhibitions by artists in the visual arts as well as exhibits of an educational and/or historical significance.
Although he is no longer on the library board, Crohn is still a member of the Art & Exhibits Committee, and he’s a participating artist on the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour. Crohn says he would like to see more recognition of the library as a public art gallery for both the library’s holdings and revolving exhibits. Now that the committee at the library has scheduled two years of upcoming exhibits, he says, they’re able to be listed with the Art Along the Hudson organization, a popular marketing tool that brings awareness about cultural events to visitors to the Hudson Valley. Crohn also serves as curator of works on display at Town Hall, which he hopes to see blossom into another viable exhibition space in Saugerties.
This year’s Saugerties Artists Studio Tour will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11, with an opening reception at Opus 40 on Friday, August 9. For more information, visit http://www.saugertiesarttour.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saugerties-Artists-Studio-Tour/162929647859.