Artful Living: Peter Wayne Yenawine

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A Fusion of Art And Spirit : Creating and teaching from within

Christine Tisa puts the finishing touches on a painting in her studio located in Clayton.

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Artful Living: The home of handweaving

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A Wedding in Redwood to Defy Tradition

Better Farm’s art barn, located in Redwood, NY, is captured during a starry summer evening.

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Artful Living Profile: Duane Smith

Duane Smith grows fig trees in his own backyard, he has been growing them for years and he liked to incorporate them in his art and in his cooking.

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50 Years STRONG: Thousand Islands Arts Center Celebrates Years of Creative Development

Thousand Islands Arts Center executive director Leslie Rowland.

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Nothing to Squawk At: NNY Artist presents two time Oscar nominee with award

JUSTIN SORENSEN / NNY LIVING Viggo Mortensen is presented a crow sculpture at the 2017 Snowtown Film Festival by local artist Will Salisbury.

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NNY Arts in the Winter


Kari Robertson

par•tic•i•pate: verb. take part in, engage in, join in, get involved in, share in, play a part/role in, be a participant in, partake in, have a hand in, be associated with *ART

While it has been said that we live in a cultural desert, there are many ways to pARTicipate in NNY that will keep you warm inside, help you connect with oTers, and simultaneously bring on the “cool.”

                In early January, Snowtown Film Festival President Mark Knapp told me with infectious smile, “It’s gonna be huge for our community!” 

                The event, held on Jan. 27 – 28 was, as he predicted, a sold out opening night full of enthusiastic people sporting smiles and dressed to impress for the “flannel red carpet.” The 2017 Snowtown Film Festival planning team narrowed an astounding 832 submissions to 26 for the short film competition. Several full length films were run as well.

                One of the fine moments of the Festival (and season) was the appearance of well-known artist and Watertown High School graduate, Viggo Mortensen. After the showing of his thought provoking movie, “Captain Fantastic”, the two-time Academy Award nominee took questions from the appreciative home town crowd. Then, Mr. Mortensen was presented with an original metal sculpture of a crow, entitled “Rascal”, by the sculptor Will Salisbury, (also see his large crows next to Interstate 81 near Alexandria Bay) for “his dedication to the North Country and contribution to the arts.” 

                Also in its third year is the Hammond Barn Quilt Trail. These original, professional looking artworks are popping up all over the north country. They are painted on large boards and affixed to barns, houses, businesses, government buildings. There are at least 50 completed and more to come. The colorful works are lovely year-round, but really stand out against the cool of winter.

                Take it to the next step by visiting the barn quilters’ studio, in the basement of the Hammond Free Library. It is open 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, and additional hours by request. The public is welcome to observe, chat, and create. Former art teacher Pam Winchester, along with the others in the group, are excited to help anyone who is interested. They offer “brushes, tools and camaraderie.” Alternatively, barn quilts may be purchased, which helps to defray costs of running the public art program.

                Jennifer McGregor recently finished and mounted her piece, “Scottish Pride” on her barn in Hammond. It was designed to reflect her heritage, blending the traditional thistle and tartan. “This is something that is brand new for me. I paint, but not artistically. I had lots of help by people here. There is always someone on hand to help if needed.”  As she prepared a board for a new painting, Jen said, “There is teamwork down here!”

                The Barn Quilters’ community spirit carries this project into new areas and activities each year. Pam Winchester is working on a piece themed around her mother’s tea set and will welcome the community to a unique kind of tea party upon completion. The group is planning a garden barn quilt project and a fairy house project for this summer. Mrs. Winchester says “You see a need in the community and you do it.” And accompanying artist Nancy Misenko continued, “We know how to get things done!”

                Continuing northeast, visit the Frederic Remington Museum, in Odgensburg, NY. It is located in the former home of one of the premier artists of the Westward Expansion.  Remington became famous for his action packed sculptures, illustrations and paintings. Melanie Flack, director of development, has been spinning off of the national trend in museums by offering high energy participatory events within the traditionally staid museum setting. One of the Remington galleries has been reconfigured to allow floor space for yoga amongst the art. This “draws people into the galleries and invites them to experience the Remington art in a new way, and they have such an amazing setting in which to enjoy their yoga,” says Executive Director Laura Foster. The Museum has also hosted “Tai Chi. Taste. Tie-Dye.” All of this is in addition to their regular repertoire of tours and lecture series about Remington’s work and life. While an internationally acclaimed collection, this is a particularly accessible art gallery experience for children and art neophytes.

                One of the area’s best kept secrets is the Pottery Studio located behind and run by the TI Arts Center. Curriculum-based after school clay classes begin in March for grades K-8. The pottery studio is open year-round for adults who already have experience in clay, during designated hours. Adjacent, on John Street, the main building has a room full of weaving looms available for public use on Wednesdays. Upstairs is a surprisingly comprehensive library on all things related to fabric or textiles. The current show in the main building is called “Art of Winter.” This annual exhibit is traditionally inclusive, featuring work by a range of artists, from children to professional. The exhibit closes on April 1, 2017.

                Also in Clayton is the annual Fire and Ice Celebration, February 16-18, at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel. The celebration features 20,000 pounds of carved ice.  Sculptors from The Ice Farm in Auburn, NY, bring in the ice and will begin work on Wednesday, February 15, in the afternoon, finishing in time for the adult only evening event on Thursday. The public is welcome to stop over to watch the process. “I love watching them piece the sculptures together, to take large 300 pound pieces of ice, take a saw and a chisel to make something,” said Todd Buchko, General Manager for Harbor Hotel.

                This event is a fundraiser supporting North Country Troopers Assisting Troops. “We are here for a great cause, to get people moving around, see friends that they haven’t seen in a while. We are happy to do it,” said Buchko. The ice sculptures will continue to be on display for public viewing until Mother Nature has her way.

                The North Country Arts Council, on Public Square, Watertown, is a non-profit whose mission is to promote all art forms. The organization chartered in 1948 as the North Country Artists Guild, and is arguably the oldest art council in the United States. Today it is run entirely by volunteers. The NCAC works to offer a clearinghouse for arts opportunities, sell local art in the gallery, run educational programming, and produce a variety of events. Towards these goals, the NCAC welcomes anyone with interest in enhancing the cultural climate of Northern New York to join in. Meetings are open to the public.

                Participation in Northern New York crosses career paths, religious and political affiliation. It is a great way to celebrate beauty and ideas while building community. Few of us will become Academy Award winners, but for all of us, quality of life can be enriched by getting active at some level and in some aspect of the arts, warming us in this “cool” desert we call home.

Kari Zelson Robertson is a clay artist. Her studio is at 28279 state Route 126, Rutland Center. She makes sculpture to use, hand-built and wheel thrown serving bowls, vases and drinking vessels. Her studio is attached to her farmhouse. She runs a fair weather gallery next door, open by appointment in the fall and winter. Contact her at

‘Art of Winter’ inspiration found in forests to the kitchen

Jessica Phinney, curator at the Thousands Islands Art Center stands in the Winter Art Exhibit Friday in Clayton. The exhibit runs February 3 through March 17.

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5 Things Friday- December 9th

A Visit With Santa

1. Breakfast with Santa

When: 8 a.m. Saturday
Where: Antwerp Fire Hall, 2 Van Buren St.
What: Menu: pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage or bacon, juice and coffee. Children’s activities, basket raffles. Benefits Operation Restore Antwerp, Antwerp Old Home Day and Antwerp Fire Department.
Cost: $6; children 5 and younger, $3. Pictures with Santa, with own camera, free.

Saturday / Antwerp

2. Breakfast with Santa

When: 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Basset-Baxter American Legion Post 789, 415 West St.
What: Co-hosted by Church Street Diner. Menu: scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, pancakes, milk, orange juice, apple juice, coffee. Also included: gift from Santa and photo. Limited to first 35 children, 12 years old and younger. Call prior.
Cost: $15 per child 12 and younger; $5 per accompanying adults or children older than 12.
: 519-7459

Saturday / Carthage

3. Breakfast with Santa at the Zoo

When: 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, 1 Thompson Park
What: Enjoy breakfast at the Zoo while visiting with Santa.
Cost: $15; members, $10. Information
INFO: or 782-6180.

Saturday /Watertown

4. Santa’s Coming to Town

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Port Leyden Fire Hall, 3387 Douglas St.
What: For children 10 and younger, sponsored by ladies auxiliary, refreshments served, cookie decorating, Christmas card coloring, crafts.
Cost: Free
INFO: Eva Sessions,

Sunday / Port Leyden

5. A Santa Visit

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Port Leyden Fire Hall, 3387 Douglas St.
What: For children up to 12 years old. Sponsored by the ladies auxiliary. Refreshments. Cookie decorating, Christmas card coloring.
Cost: Free
INFO: Eva Sessions,

Sunday / Port Leyden


Celebrate the Holidays

1. Christmas in Croghan

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Croghan, Depot, 9781 Main St
What: Railway Historical Society of Northern N.Y. Museum open for Christmas in Croghan. Tours of depot, refreshments, gift shop. New drivable train simulator zone. Donations appreciated
Cost: Free
INFO: 346-6848 or

Friday / Croghan

2. Cape Vincent Christmas Parade

When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown Cape Vincent
What: Holiday Parade. Bring canned good for local food pantry and Salvation Army.
Cost: Free

Saturday / Cape Vincent

3. Children’s Christmas Party

When: 3 to 5  p.m. Sunday
Where: Don Rounds American Legion Post 586, 10 S. Main St.
What: Children’s Christmas party. Canned or box food donations accepted at door to benefit local food pantry. Craft-making, desserts. Special guest: Santa.
Cost: Free
INFO: 232-2715

Sunday / Adams

4. Tree Lighting

When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Henderson Harbor Performing Arts Association field, 12469 County Route 123
What: Winners of Christmas home decoration contest announced following tree lighting. Hayride, 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

Sunday / Henderson

5. 7th Annual Lights on the River

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lisbon Beach and Campground, 9975 Route 37
:  Donations accepted to benefit local food pantries. View holiday lights displays along the river.
Cost: Free
INFO: Bob Santamoor, 250-6141

Saturday through Sunday / Ogdensburg


Holiday Sales

1. Christmas Tree Sale

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: McIntosh home in Pierrepont center, at the Best Western parking lot in Canton.
What: The Pierrepont Volunteer Fire Department will be selling 7′ – 8′ Fraser Fir Christmas Trees. Proceeds will benefit the Pierrepont Volunteer Fire Department.
Cost: Cost of tree

Saturday and Sunday / Canton

2. Holiday Cookie and Candy Sale

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 5457 Shady Ave.
What: Cookies and candy available for purchase.
Cost: Free
INFO: 376-6662

Saturday /Lowville

3. 2016 Holiday Bazaar

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Macsherry Parish Center, Trinity Episcopal Church, 227 Sherman St.
What: Assortment of hand-made gifts, white elephant treasures, Christmas decorations, baked goods. Admission: non-perishable food item or cash donation to Watertown Urban Mission.
Cost: Free
INFO: 788-6290

Saturday / Watertown

4. Christmas Craft Show

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Clayton Fire Department, 855 Graves St.
What: Food, raffles, free admission, Santa from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: Free
INFO: Sherry, 482-3322

Sunday / Clayton

5. Alpaca Holiday Bazaar

When: 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Home Again Alpaca Farm, 37098 Schell Road
What: 10% of sales to benefit Theresa Food Pantry.
Cost: Free

Saturday and Sunday / Theresa

Leisure, Learning and More!

1. 23rd annual Victorian Faire

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jefferson County Historical Society, 228 Washington St.
What: Visit the Historical Society during the holidays. Children’s crafts.
Cost: Free
INFO: Jean 782-0272

Saturday / Watertown

2. Boater Safety Class

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St.
What: Learn how to navigate and operate a boat safely.
Cost:  Free
INFO: 686-4104, ext. 235. Registration:

Saturday / Clayton

3. Holiday Dinner Festival

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Carthage Elks Lodge 1762, 511 Fulton St.
What: Cocktails, 6:30 p.m.; dinner, 7 p.m. Dinner choices: apple and cranberry stuffed pork loin with smashed potatoes; roast beef with smashed potatoes; haddock scampi over linguine. Vegetarian option, also. Entertainment by Carthage High School Camerata Singers and Instrumentalists.
Cost: $25
INFO: Tickets must be purchased in advance: Kinney Drugs, 401 State St.; Carthage High School main office, 36500 State Route 26; and from select fine arts students. Sponsored by Carthage Central Fine Arts Booster Club.

Saturday / Carthage

4. Dance to the Nelson Brothers

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6912, 7752 W. State St.
What: Dance to the Nelson Brothers Band.
Cost: $5

Saturday / Lowville

5. Meditation Sunday

When: 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Arts on the Square, Franklin Building, 52 Public Square
What: Group meditation.
Cost: $10
INFO: 661-6361

Sunday / Watertown

Creative Activities

1. Holiday Card Making for Kids

When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Lyme Free Library, 12165 Route 12E
What: Make your own holiday cards.
Cost: Free
INFO: 649-5454

Friday / Chaumont

2. Ceramics exhibit

When: Friday through Sunday
Where: Fibonacci 321 Art Gallery, 321 James St.
What: With artist Cathie Ellsworth, native of Watertown, on display through Friday, Dec. 23
Cost: Free

Friday to Sunday / Clayton

3. Holiday concert

When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: United Presbyterian Church, 101 S. Broad St.
What: Featuring Sackets Harbor Community Chorus and Community Chimers
Cost: Free

Sunday / Sackets Harbor

4. Shoulder Season

When: Friday through Sunday
Where: Thousand Islands Arts Center, 314 John St
What: Exhibit of cashmere paisley shawls, on display through January.
Cost: Free
Info: 686-4123

Friday through Sunday / Clayton

5. Lowville Village Band concert

When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: South Lewis Central School, 4624 East Road.
What: Enjoy holiday songs with the Lowville Village Band
Cost: Free

Sunday / Turin