After A Long Winter, “Rejuvenation” Rejuvenates
The Adirondack Art Association (AAA) opened its gallery doors for the 2015 season with “Rejuvenation” on Friday May 29th with a wine and cheese reception from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
It was a perfect Adirondack spring evening: clear, warm with a refreshing breeze, no bugs. Flowering lilacs perfumed the air and chirping birds provided the soundtrack.
“It’s perfect. Today is the fifty-third anniversary of our first date,” said Rich Guglielmo, husband of local painter and AAA member/exhibitor Judy Guglielmo. She laughed. “Forget that it’s the first opening of our second year in this beautiful space.”
The property, the former Halpin residence on Main Street in historic Essex, New York backs onto Lake Champlain. The Lake Champlain ferry docks next door.
A bright blue Poco Mas Tacos taco truck with a queue was parked to the left of the front door. People stood or sat along the front porch, spilling over onto Main Street, talking and laughing, eating tacos and drinking wine.
The interior of the crayon-yellow building is charming. There are lots of nooks and windows. Every available space displays art, without clutter. A wood staircase climbs up a few steps to a windowed, stained-glass-hung landing, turns left and ascends to the second floor, and more art.
What a view from the large back windows! The lake glitters silver, shadows slate and gray, dapples and stretches east to Vermont and the Green Mountains, a contour line study along the horizon.
You might think that anything man or woman-made displayed against such a backdrop would fall short. Not so. The show amazes.
There is jewelry. Glass. Woodcraft. Pottery and ceramics. Photography. Oil, acrylic, pastel and watercolor painting. Sculpture. And new this year: floral design art, by newest AAA board member Renee Rosch Lewis.
Once an attorney and municipal judge, now a novelist (The P Word: Provence Traps and Initiates the Unwary) and accredited National Garden Club Flower Show Judge, her floral exhibits have won several top awards. Renee says: “The flowers are my paints. The presentation in the container, the painting.”
Molecular biologist Karen Parker, the second of four new board members, is a fiber and bead artist. “I saw a microscopic image of butterfly wing scales. They looked just like tiny seed beads. And… that’s how it all started,” she said of her evolving series of bead-woven butterfly jewelry: brooches, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. She was interviewed this year by internationally distributed Beadwork magazine.
Third new board member, former Clinton County District Attorney and Plattsburgh City Court Judge, now photographer Penelope Clute is exhibiting current work inspired by travel in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, New Zealand and Cuba. She has shown her photography throughout the Adirondack region, most recently the last weekend of May at The Depot Theatre in Westport, NY.
You can get used to beauty. Strange, but true. When there is something gorgeous to see everywhere you look, the danger of slipping into a This-Is-Normal Trance cannot be over-stated.
Thank goodness for “Eco Guardian,” a painting by Randy Boutilier. It was fascinating. “How did you make this?” I asked Randy. “Did it come to you in a dream?”
He shook his head. “No…. Painting is more like a Ouji board. You start and things just happen.” He shrugged, and smiled. Judy Guglielmo, standing next to him, nodded in agreement.
Randy’s got a solo show that opened on June 19th at The Depot Theatre. Twenty-seven of his imaginative/surrealistic paintings will be on display.
Studying Judy Guglielmo’s watercolor titled “Caribbean Sunset,” revealed it was actually a collage, made of several layers of painted paper. Judy pointed at it. “That has a story,” she said. “All my paintings have stories.” I raised an eyebrow: Do tell.
“I made a painting. I didn’t like the composition. But I loved the color. So, it hung around, you know? Finally, it came to me. I tore it up, and— Voila!” Judy laughed.
There are so many things in this world to photograph. How does photographer Eve Ticknor choose? “I like disturbed images of water,” she said. “Water disturbed by current, wind, movement of a boat, an animal. And in winter, ice.”
Joe Robinson’s medium is wood. “I describe my work as rustic art and woodworking. I come from a long line of artists and woodworkers.” His property, 30 acres on Long Pond, has been in the family for generations. From it, he harvests all the materials he needs.
“Shadow box mosaics have been a fascination for artists for many years. I just took the shadow box into a rustic format. I’m very pleased with it.” He chooses materials for pattern, texture, and color. Then he layers them: for contrast, shadows and interest.
Barn board, Lake Champlain driftwood, birch bark, cedar, maple, oak, “all manner of indigenous material: It’s wonderful when you can do that. Then it’s truly Adirondack, 100%.”
Origins of the Adirondack Art Association
The Adirondack Art Association was formed in the late 1950’s as an informal social and support club by established professional artists Sid Couchey, Ruth Rumney and Patrician Reynolds, and a few others.
Sid Couchey (1919-2012) was a cartoonist, world famous for developing the Harvey cartoon characters Richie Rich, Little Lotta and Little Dot. Locally he’s known for his cartoons of Champ, Lake Champlain’s equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. “He was also a fabulous painter,” says Bill Amadon, painter and 2015 Board Chair.
Ruth Rumney (1922-2012), painter, is noted for the spiritual quality of her nature studies and landscapes of the Adirondacks, especially winterscapes and dreamscapes.
Patricia Reynolds (1934- February 2015), watercolorist, is known internationally for her Adirondack landscapes and visions of distant places, feelings and dreams.
Today, painter Florence Winn is the Association member of longest standing who continues to make and exhibit new work. Other Association artists include Ann Pember, Helen Goetz, Jean-Jacque Duval, Janice Koenig (Gallery Director), Susan Britain (Vice Chairman of the Board), Wendy Miller, and Bill Amadon (2015 Board Chair), among many others. For a comprehensive list and links to individual artist’s websites, go to www.adirondackartassociation.com.
Bill Amadon interviewed Sid Couchey in 2010. In those very early days, Couchey said there was no gallery. The artists hung their paintings on the snow fence fronting the street!
In 1963, the “Big Three” set up the Adirondack Art Association as a 501K not-for-profit gallery and community organization. The AAA encourages friendship among artists and art enthusiasts alike, and supports community creativity by providing social activities including gallery openings, educational workshops and lectures.
For fifty-two years, the AAA has been in continuous existence, year round, housed in various venues: homes, barns, and rented spaces along the Essex Main Street waterfront.
For ten years, the AAA occupied the original Essex School House (built in 1867 after the Civil War; used as a school till 1907), now the Essex Heritage Center. To “keep going” during the winter season, artist members gave lectures and “little talks” around the area.
For decades, the gallery was open only between July 4th and Labor Day. The current Board asked itself: Why be confined by the timetable of summer-only residents? Why not enjoy the season as long as possible?
If you notice, “Rejuvenate” opened the weekend after Memorial Day. The gallery will close sometime after Columbus Day.
In his new function as Board Chair, Bill Amadon browsed through many years of Board meeting notes. “There was always talk of finding a permanent home for the AAA. But the conclusion inevitably drawn by the Board was that they couldn’t afford it.”
However, the dream lives. The Board would love to buy the building the AAA is now leasing, and has committed to making it happen. Donations accepted. Go the website www.adirondackartassociation.com, and click on the “Get Involved” link for further details.
On my way out, I spoke with Amy Guglielmo, the fourth new board member. She said, “It’s been a great opening for our second season at this location. We consider ourselves the heart of Essex and love that all of Essex turns out to support us at our openings.”
Yes, Amy is Judy Guglielmo’s daughter. Also, co-author of the popular Touch the Art children’s book series, award-winning painter and printmaker, freelance writer for various publications, including Adirondack Life, gallery director of The Depot Theatre Gallery, and advisor to the board for the Saranac Review literary magazine.
“I usually do very Adirondack-y work. But I admit that living half the year in Costa Rica is affecting my painting. I’m painting bigger and bolder.” She grinned, “And having fun.” Matisse and the Fauve movement painters of the early 1900’s, a.k.a. the Wild Beasts, “have heavily influenced my work,” Amy said. “Also kindergarteners. Especially kindergarteners. Totally.”
It was 8:30, the sun was dropping behind the Adirondack Mountains to the west, and still people lingered on the street and along the porch, reluctant to go.
Kate Moss, an English professor at Plattsburgh State, bustled out of the gallery, shopping bags in each hand. “I relocated to the area from San Francisco,” she said, “because the per capita creativity level here is really high. Plus, everyone is so nice!” Smiling, we dispersed to our cars and drove off into the sunset.
What You Need To Know To Go
May 29th – June 23rd
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Sunday
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Adirondack Art Association is located on Main Street (next door to the Champlain Ferry dock) in Essex, New York.
- Lake Champlain from Beggs Park by Edwin Douglas (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Frozen Lake Photos of Essex (rosslynredux.com)
- The Art of Lake Champlain: Inspiring Landscape (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Whallons Bay Painting by Barbara Irish Smith (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Tom Warner’s Essex Gas Station (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)