Spring 2016 Feature Story: Art

A creative collaboration

Greg Lago, a sculptor with the Fibonacci 321 art gallery, patches holes in the walls while setting up  the space for the gallery’s opening. The gallery, 321 James St., Clayton, was scheduled to open May 6. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Greg Lago, a sculptor with the Fibonacci 321 art gallery, patches holes in the walls while setting up the space for the gallery’s opening. The gallery, 321 James St., Clayton, was scheduled to open May 6. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Fibonacci 321 brings 11 artists together in Clayton

By Gabrielle Hovendon, NNY Living

When Kari Zelson Robertson first came up with the idea for Clayton’s newest art gallery, she was thinking all in clay.

Ms. Robertson, a local potter and organizer of the Northern New York Art Trail, had wanted to establish a collaborative gallery with multiple artists paying the bills, staffing the exhibits and reaping the rewards of a common space. At first, she planned to include only clay artists, but she later decided that she — and the public — would be more interested in a variety of art media.

And so Fibonacci 321 was born. Opening May 6 at 321 James St. in Clayton, the gallery will feature finely crafted work in wood, metal, clay, textiles, glass, drawing and painting by 11 north country artists.

“I think this is going to be a unique offering because the variety of artists we have is really interesting,” said Ms. Robertson, who manages and is also an exhibiting artist at Fibonacci 321. “We have around two people for each medium, and they’re local artists who are very committed to their craft. These are people who have extensive experience in exhibiting their work. A few of them are or have been teachers, and they’re generally looking for a way, as I am, to stay in the north country. We like it here, we want to continue to live here, and we’re hoping it will make our work even more worthwhile.”

Greg Lago, a sculptor with the Fibonacci 321 gallery, Clayton, patches holes in  the walls while setting up space for the gallery’s opening. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Greg Lago, a sculptor with the Fibonacci 321 gallery, Clayton, patches holes in the walls while setting up space for the gallery’s opening. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Fibonacci 321 is organized democratically around the premise that the 11 participating artists will share equally in the running of the gallery. Although each artist will keep the proceeds from the sale of their own artwork, they will take turns staffing the gallery and divide up tasks like scheduling, website design and grounds upkeep.

Additionally, each artist is responsible for knowing about their fellows’ background, works and processes so that they can explain all the exhibited pieces to interested visitors. Ms. Robertson said she also envisions future collaborations between the artists, and she’s already had one of her clay “fossil” pieces mounted in a jewelry setting by one of the jewelers.

“What I was really looking for were people who were highly accomplished in their field and who were good team players and hard working,” she said about forming the gallery’s roster. “I’m glad for the chance to be able to do this and collaborate with some really interesting artists.”

One such artist, Mary Knapp, is a local quilter who incorporates mathematical patterns such as tessellations — and, fittingly, the Fibonacci series — into her precise, colorful quilts. She’s been quilting for many years, even having one of her designs grace the cover of a mathematics textbook, but she said she’s never been involved in a collaborative endeavor like Fibonacci 321.

“Part of the appeal of the gallery is that it’s a group of 11 different artists and we’re all bringing a little piece of ourselves into the gallery,” she said. “I think it’s just going to be a lot of fun. There’s nothing else like this gallery in Clayton or anyplace along the river. It’s going to be classy, it’s going to be unique, and it’s going to have items there that you can’t find anywhere else.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the visitors to the gallery,” she continued. “I was a teacher, and I love showing people how to do things, so I will really enjoy showing them how I work and how they can do this.”

Owned by the Thousand Islands Arts Center, the gallery’s James Street site has previously been home to a resident potter, arts classes and, most recently, gift shops. Now, it will continue in that tradition of arts education, at least informally: Ms. Robertson hopes to see not only customers shopping for a special gift but also families bringing in their children to show them handmade work. (To that end, the gallery is also planning to host some demonstrations and outdoor activities.)

According to Leslie Rowland, executive director of the Thousand Islands Arts Center, Fibonacci 321 is ideally situated for visitors: it’s both in a desirable commercial space in downtown Clayton and at the entrance to the TI Arts Center campus.

What’s in a name?

Leonardo Bonacci (1170 – 1250) — known as Fibonacci, and Leonardo of Pisa, Leonardo Pisano Bigollo, Leonardo Fibonacci—was an Italian mathematician, considered to be “the most talented Western mathematician of the Middle Ages.”

fib WEBFibonacci gave his name to a sequence of numbers whose proportions echo throughout the natural world. The Fibonacci sequence, which is formed by adding the previous two numbers in the sequence together (for example, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8), has been found in flower petals, pinecones, hurricanes, shell spirals and even galaxy patterns. The Fibonacci sequence is also the foundation for the “Golden Ratio” or “Divine Proportion,” which can be seen in ancient art and architecture.

“Essentially, the idea is that there’s a natural order and beauty that pervades math and art,” Kari Zelson Robertson said about the gallery’s name choice. “And 321 is a reverse Fibonacci number, so it seems to fit.”

“I think there’ll be an organic pass-through of people between our galleries,” Ms. Rowland said. “We always love to collaborate with fellow artists, and we’re really delighted to have this fine group of artisans located on our campus. I think it’s going to be a win-win for us, and I think it’s going to be really good for Clayton, too.”

Ms. Robertson agreed that the location was ideal, with the back of Fibonacci 321’s seven-room gallery adjacent to the TI Arts Center’s pottery studio. Like Ms. Rowland, she anticipates a good flow of visitors between the two sites.

“One of the things that is exciting about being in Clayton is the growth of activity in the creative sector,” Ms. Robertson said. “This synergy is something that our group appreciates and wants to be a part of. …There is enough arts and lifestyle activity going on there that the village has become an attraction. A visitor can eat a fine meal, go to a concert, watch a sunset, and take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art, all in one small village.”

The gallery will participate in the Memorial Day weekend River Open Studio Tour, and it will have its grand opening from 6 to 8 p.m. May 6, with free refreshments and classical guitar music by Gary Walts. That night, the artists will be on hand to discuss their work and show visitors around the space, hoping that people will not only purchase the art on display but also learn something about it.

“I think that when people know more about the arts, they’re more interested in owning a piece of art,” Ms. Robertson said. “A lot of times, people might not know what it takes to create something, and when you learn about the process, it makes you appreciate it more. Regardless of whether there’s a sale, we want to be the kind of place where people can come in and they can learn something, enjoy themselves, and have a nice conversation.”

Fibonacci 321 / Who’s who

Meet The Artists

The 11 artist-hosts of Fibonacci 321 are:
Dave Ciechanowski — clay
Peter Curtis — fine furniture
Foster Holcombe — glass
Ginny Hovendon — painting, drawing
Mary Knapp — quilts
Greg Lago — printmaking, sculpture
Brian Lister — painting
Claudia Loomis — textiles, jewelry
Suzan McDermott — photography
Kari Zelson Robertson — clay
Gina Wells — metals, jewelry.

To Learn More

For more information, visit the gallery’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/Fibonacci321 or contact Kari Zelson Robertson at fibart321@gmail.com or 777-0612.

Gabrielle Hovendon is a former Watertown Daily Times reporter and a freelance writer studying for her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, Athens. Contact her at ghovendon@gmail.com.

Spring 2015 Feature Story: North Country Quilting Guild

A stitch in time

North Country Quilting Guild members, from left, include Harriet McMillan, Laura Davis, Dot Foley-Persons, Patty Randall and Laura Little. The guild began in 1985 as a class at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown. Photo by Norm Johnston, NNY Living.

North Country Quilting Guild members, from left, include Harriet McMillan, Laura Davis, Dot Foley-Persons, Patty Randall and Laura Little. The guild began in 1985 as a class at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown. Photo by Norm Johnston, NNY Living.

North Country Quilting Guild marks 30-year anniversary

By Lorna Oppedisano, NNY Living 

Every quilt tells a story. Stitched into those three layers of fiber are the details of an artist’s life. [Read more…]

Winter 2015 Arts: Snow sculpting

On Mother Nature’s canvas

By Norah Machia

Titled "Family Ties," this elephant sculpture by Jerry Merrill was completed in Quebec in 2007. "The rear of the mom and baby holding tails is one of my favorites," Mr. Merrill said.

Titled “Family Ties,” this elephant sculpture by Jerry Merrill was completed in Quebec in 2007. “The rear of the mom and baby holding tails is one of my favorites,” Mr. Merrill said.

Snow sculptors have traveled the world to carve art

Klaus Ebeling and Jerry Merrill just can’t seem to slow down when it comes to the art of snow sculpting. [Read more…]

Five Things Friday – October 17

5thingsfriday-logoREDHappy Friday! With only two weeks left until Halloween, and winter lingering somewhere around the corner, the north country has a few last fair weather hurrahs in store for us this weekend. If you’ve already had enough of the cool weather for the season (it’s OK to admit it – we already miss summer too!), we’ve got a handful of indoor happenings as well! There’s something for everyone this weekend. And don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page and take a look at the map of what’s going on! Check it out… [Read more…]

Five Things Friday – Oct. 3

Happy Friday! Happy October! We’re more than a week into autumn, and it’s really starting to feel like it. The leaves are changing, and starting to fall. Pumpkin spice is everywhere. And people are starting to celebrate the season… [Read more…]

Saturday’s jazz concert to help fund Lyric Theater’s move

Hannah Bajakian paints a sign for the Witch’s Castle while doing set work for the Watertown Lyric Theater youth program’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

Hannah Bajakian paints a sign for the Witch’s Castle while doing set work for the Watertown Lyric Theater youth program’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

The show must go — somewhere.

Watertown Lyric Theater finds itself in the same situation as Little Theatre of Watertown: in a search for a place it can call home.

The popular local community theater group also must find a new venue to host performances after leaving the Black River Valley Club, whose Washington Street building downtown is expected to be sold to Purcell Construction Co.

Kevin R. Kitto, Lyric Theater’s business manager, said the group needs to find a place to call home. Like its counterpart, Lyric Theater — which specializes in musicals — no longer will be able to use the Black River Valley Club for smaller shows, rehearsals, a basement to build its stage sets and space for storage.

And Lyric Theater will need to finance the move.

That’s where Garrett L. McCarthy, who’s been involved in saving the old Masonic Temple on Washington Street, comes in. Mr. McCarthy, a Henderson muralist and artist, has organized a fundraising concert for Saturday.

“Garrett just came along and said he wanted to help,” Mr. Kitto said. “He’s a big supporter of the local arts.”

Billed as a “Night of Jazz,” the concert, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Asbury United Methodist Church, 327 Franklin St., will feature New York City jazz singer James Rich, a Syracuse University alumnus who has toured as a backup singer with Harry Belafonte and was a lead in the national touring company of “Rent.” [Read more…]

Capt. Honk breaks the ice Pillar Point resident finally gets to display his fish art at Florida museum

Thomas E. Bintz, aka Capt. Honk, stands in his sleeping cabin next to Lake Ontario on Pillar Point. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

Thomas E. Bintz, aka Capt. Honk, stands in his sleeping cabin next to Lake Ontario on Pillar Point. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

For many years, Thomas E. Bintz was told that the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) would not approve his ice fishing artworks for display at its museum in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Mr. Bintz — aka Capt. Honk — makes fish out of items he finds washed up along the many bodies of water he frequents. He lives on the Suwannee River in Flordia, enjoys the shores of Mexico and has also found plenty of inspiration and material on the water in his hometown of Watertown.

The 1969 graduate of Watertown High School and owner of a summer cottage at Pillar Point last exhibited his artwork at the IGFA museum over a decade ago. His “Lost and Found Fish” exhibit in 2003 featured dozens of fish.

The IGFA is the largest organization of game fishing records in the world, setting ethical angling rules and creating a consistency in game fishing.

Inspired by his hometown, plenty of Mr. Bintz’s artwork and paintings dipict ice fishing and Northern fish. But ice fishing is not sanctioned by the IGFA, which is why, according to Museum Manager Gail Morchower, the IGFA has not previously displayed Mr. Bintz’s ice fishing artwork.

“I’ve been trying for more than 10 years to get them to reconsider,” Mr. Bintz said. “A lot of people in Florida are from Michigan, Minnesota and New York, and would enjoy ice fishing artwork.”

Now, after years of fighting, Mr. Bintz has finally won over the IGFA, which agrees the ice fishing artwork will interest game fish enthusiasts from northern states. [Read more…]

Paintings of Viva Hoffmann on exhibit at Thousand Islands Arts Center

Viva Hoffmann works at an easel on the California coast. She has painted many scenes along the coast over the years. Another of her favorite locations is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, Calif. COURTESY OF THOUSAND ISLANDS ART CENTER

Viva Hoffmann works at an easel on the California coast. She has painted many scenes along the coast over the years. Another of her favorite locations is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, Calif. COURTESY OF THOUSAND ISLANDS ART CENTER

Whether it was as a member of Andy Warhol’s “Factory Gang,” making movies or writing books, Viva Hoffmannn has always savored a creative life.

An aspect of that creativity that she rediscovered as a young adult will be on display at the Thousand Islands Arts Center, 314 John St., beginning Thursday when the center hosts an opening reception for the exhibit “Viva, Viva! Landscapes and Seascapes East to West.”

Ms. Hoffmann, 75, was born in Syracuse and is noted for her landscape paintings, which can sell for several thousand dollars. Her family used to have an estate on Wellesley Island, where Ms. Hoffmann documented the natural world on and around the island with her vibrant paintings.That property was sold about seven years ago.

“It was the view from the dock, the reflections in the water, the trees like the white birch, the water lilies and the autumn leaves that helped to inspire me,” Ms. Hoffmann said last week in a phone interview from her Syracuse-area childhood home, now owned by one of her eight younger sisters.

Ms. Hoffmann now resides in Palm Springs, Calif., but is back in the area for the art exhibit and plans to be at Thursday’s opening reception.

She said she agreed to have her work exhibited at the arts center exhibit after several requests to do so were made by Steven Taylor, owner of Steve Taylor Builder Inc., Thousand Island Park. Mr. Taylor has been designing and building homes for nearly 40 years and owns several of Ms. Hoffmann’s paintings, which will be in the show.

“He kept begging me to do this, and I kept saying, ‘No, it’s too much of a hassle,’” Ms. Hoffmann said. “But finally, he hassled me into saying yes.”

“I pushed it because I felt that she was worthy of the attention the show will bring,” Mr. Taylor said. “And the larger community, not just a few collectors, should be aware of her talents as well.”

Nicole Heath, events coordinator at the arts center, said 30 pieces by Ms. Hoffmann have been loaned for the exhibit. It also will include a dozen of Ms. Hoffmann’s new paintings, which will be for sale.

Ms. Hoffmann said she has painted and drawn her entire life. She had an unconventional beginning in the craft at the age of 5 as a sketch artist.

“My father used to take me to the courthouse to draw everybody,” she said.

Her father, Wilfred E. Hoffmann, was a well-known criminal defense lawyer. She said he sent her to Everson Museum of Art School in Syracuse to study. She later studied art in New York City and Paris.

It was a passion that was sidelined for a while, due to Ms. Hoffmann’s association with artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol. His New York City studio, The Factory, became a hangout for artists interested in pushing creative boundaries. Ms. Hoffmann met Mr. Warhol in the mid-1960s and she performed in several of his movies.

She recalled a comment made to her by Paul Morrissey, a film director and another member of Mr. Warhol’s “Factory Gang,” that caused her to stop painting for years.

“He said, ‘Why are you painting? It’s a dead art. You are a performing genius.’ I was too dumb to say, ‘Why is Andy still painting if it’s so dead?”

Ms. Hoffmann, born Janet Susan Mary, credited Mr. Morrisey with dubbing her “Viva.”

“He said, ‘We’ve got to go to a party at Shelley Winters’s place and you need another name,” Ms. Hoffmann said. “So he came up with that name.”

Several years later, after she gave birth to two children and took up a writing career, she decided to return to painting when she saw someone exiting New York City’s Central Park.

“This guy was walking out of the park with one of those wooden easels on his back with a really nice painting of grass,” Ms. Hoffmann said. “I asked myself why I wasn’t painting; I can come right up here to the park. So I did.”

After moving to California, her favorite subjects were the coastline and the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster.

But it’s her paintings of the St. Lawrence that hold appeal to local art lovers.

“I don’t know of another painter that paints water as well as she does,” Mr. Taylor said. “It’s sort of alive with a sort of a dancing to it. It’s magic what she can do.”

Mr. Taylor said the late Paul H. Malo, architect, author and educator who researched and documented the region for over 50 years, also thought highly of Ms. Hoffmann’s works.

In the September 2008 edition of the online Thousand Islands Life, Mr. Malo wrote: “She is inspired not merely by the visual scene, but by the whole environmental quality — breeze, smell, the total river ambiance. Viva’s paintings seem alive, pulsating with her jazzy brush strokes. They are not mere pictures of attractive subjects — they are live music.”

By Chris Brock, Times Staff Writer

 

The details

WHAT: “Viva, Viva! Landscapes, Seascapes East to West”

WHEN: Opening reception is 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Thousand Islands Arts Center, 314 John St., Clayton. The exhibit runs through Aug. 29 during museum hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

COST: $75 for the opening reception for Arts Center members and $100 for non-members. The reception will feature wine, and hors d’oeuvres by the Farm House Kitchen.

MORE INFO: Call the arts center at 686-4123 or visit its website at www.tiartscenter.org

 

Theatrical revival: Old Kallet movie house in Pulaski renovated and ready to rock

Kallet manager Steven J. York points out items in the theater’s history room. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

Kallet manager Steven J. York points out items in the theater’s history room. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

The Kallet Theater hopes to become a central attraction for tourists passing through the village.

The theater celebrated its grand opening in November after undergoing several months of renovations led by owners Vincent G. Lobdell Sr. and son Vincent Jr.

Mr. Lobdell Sr. is founder and president of HealthWay Home Products Inc., an air purification manufacturer based in Pulaski.

Karen R. Hurd, operations manager at the Kallet, said Mr. Lobdell has always been an active community member.

“He lives right here, and he wants to benefit and bring jobs to the community,” said Mrs. Hurd. “He and his son come to every show they can.”

With the support of many community members and local contractors, the father-son team brought the Kallet Theater back to life. Today, it sits revitalized — a reflection of 20th century charm. [Read more…]

Stained-glass work of master craftsman Harry Horwood restored for St. Philip’s Church in Norwood

Edward Dehors, Martville, stands Sunday in front of a Stained Glass Annunciation Window at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Norwood. Mr. Dehors is the artist responsible for the restoration of the historic window made up of thousands of pieces of glass that is now back at the church. Jason Hunter / NNY Living

Edward Dehors, Martville, stands Sunday in front of a Stained Glass Annunciation Window at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Norwood. Mr. Dehors is the artist responsible for the restoration of the historic window made up of thousands of pieces of glass that is now back at the church. Jason Hunter / NNY Living

Through the glow of the afternoon light, the history of generations can be seen in each piece of newly restored 118-year-old glass.

The Stained Glass Annunciation Window sits high above the doorway of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Norwood and is a one-of-a-kind work by master craftsman Harry Horwood, an English artist who settled in Ogdensburg in 1881.

During a rededication for the recently restored window, the Rev. Kathyrn M. Boswell, rector of the church, stood in front of her congregation and, as she held a service, looked up at the window depicting the day the angel Gabriel came down from Heaven to tell the Virgin Mary that she would give birth.

Installed in 1906, the Rev. Ms. Boswell said for the three and a half years she has been holding services at St. Philip’s she never noticed how much detail had been hidden behind the dirt and grime.

“Even before it was restored, it was beautiful,” the Rev. Ms. Boswell said. “I just love that window, it is just lovely, but there was so much detail I couldn’t even see that I didn’t realize how much was there. And just the late afternoon sun, the way it comes through is just beautiful.”

Restoration of the window began in May 2013 and the window was returned to its home above the church’s entrance way in December. [Read more…]