Almanack Contributor Sandra Hildreth

Sandra Hildreth

Sandra Hildreth, who writes regularly about Adirondack arts and culture, grew up in rural Wisconsin and is a retired high school art teacher. She lives in Saranac Lake where she was spends much of her time hiking, paddling, skiing, and painting.

Today, Sandy can often be found outdoors Plein air painting - working directly from nature, and is an exhibiting member of the Adirondack Artists' Guild in Saranac Lake. She is also active in Saranac Lake ArtWorks.

Sandy’s work can be seen on her website sandrahildreth.com.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sandy Hildreth: Children and Art

"Breezy Lake Flower" by Samantha PahuckiSeveral weeks ago, during the Adirondack Plein Air Festival, Aug 15-18, several things occurred which were wonderful to witness. First of all the event was very successful: 75 artists from all over the northeast registered; over 200 plein air paintings were on display in the Town Hall in Saranac Lake on the final day of the event and half the artists sold at least 1 painting; 55 little donated 5×7 paintings were auctioned off; over $4000 in awards were given out, including a “People’s Choice” prize of $100.

A lot of people came out to watch the artists at work at the various venues over the course of the event, and I know some were children accompanying their parents. It was a nice opportunity for them to witness “real” artists out creating original works of art. When the silent auction of 55 5×7 “Paint the Town” paintings were on display, I saw some parents actually letting their children bid on their favorite pieces! What a wonderful way to instill in children the concept of “collecting art”. The idea that it is worthwhile to purchase unique, one-of-a-kind items for personal enjoyment. The auction was the perfect place to do this because the art was “kid-sized” and the minimum bid was only $40. The parents, of course, probably had to pay for them, but it was a nice experience to provide to their children. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Caution: Wet Paint! Adirondack Plein Air Festival

adirondack plein air festival, adirondack artThe 5th Annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival will be taking place Aug 15-18 in the Saranac Lake area. Be forewarned – there’s going to be a lot of “wet paint”! Here’s a quick rundown of the schedule:

Thursday Aug 15: 10-3 “Paint the Town” Day. Downtown Saranac Lake. Silent Auction starts at 4 pm. 3rd Thursday ArtWalk from 5-7:30.

Friday Aug 16: 9-5 “Paint the VIC” Day. All the artists will be out on the trails at the Paul Smith’s College VIC. From 5-7 there is the opening reception for the “Plein Air Invitational” – a show of plein air paintings previously done at the VIC.

Saturday Aug 17: 9-9 “Paint the Adirondacks” Day. Artists will be free to paint wherever they choose. Watch for them! » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Art Around the Adirondacks in August

donna foley, adirondack artists guild, weaving, adirondack artThe month of August brings a lot of great art to view in our region, but especially in the Saranac Lake area where there are six new exhibits opening plus the Adirondack Plein Air Festival, Aug 15-18.

Bluseed Studios, 24 Cedar St., starts off the month with “Paper Migration”. This is an international collaborative exchange between Bluseed and a cooperative of artists in Mazatlan, Mexico. Saranac Lake residents have had the pleasure of seeing one of the Mexican artists working outdoors on a large painting in Berkely Green. Bluseed always has exciting, cutting edge shows and this collaboration, between Adirondack artists and Mazatlan artists should prove to be another one. Learn more about it on the Bluseed website. The exhibit opens Thursday August 1 from 5 – 7 and will continue through September 15. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Wilmington Flume Trails: Fledging Herons

great blue herons, adirondacksI tried to document life in a Great Blue Heron nest last year and it ended abruptly when all three babies vanished in early July, most likely as dinner for a bald eagle or great horned owl family. I had somewhat better luck this year.

April 29, 2013 – I checked the heron nest I’d been watching in 2012 – the pond, still with some ice, appeared empty, no herons around. There was snow in sheltered places along the trail. According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab web site “Heron FAQ’s” page, their herons laid eggs between March 28 and April 6 in 2012. I tend to think that the northern Adirondacks are about 3 weeks ahead of the Ithaca area for fall colors – so perhaps three weeks or more behind for laying eggs – probably dependent upon weather conditions as well.

May 8 – Sneaking in to view the nest from my hiding spot, there was a single adult heron standing on it. Was this the male hoping to attract a female?

May 13 – This time there was a heron down on the nest – all I could see was the head and beak. This is a pretty good sign that there are eggs. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

An Amazing Adirondack Music Opportunity

songstokeepIn a recent Mountain Lake PBS e-newsletter, something caught my eye. Like many, I suppose, I get too many emails and often give many nothing more than a quick scan, if that, before hitting the delete button. But there was a little, green, Adirondack summer image with the words “Songs to Keep” superimposed. What’s this?

The teaser text read “The story of a woman who traveled the Adirondacks collecting rare folk songs that are being rediscovered and rerecorded 60 years later. Help make this project happen by investing in it!”. It hooked me and I clicked. Not only am I very glad that I did, but I wanted to share it with Almanack readers because it is definitely worth your attention. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Sandy Hildreth: The Adirondacks Inspire Art

plein air at the VIC

Living in the Adirondacks is all I need – I’m inspired by the landscape I see and often by the kind and friendly people I interact with as well. This past week I experienced a different kind of inspiration – more like an immense gratitude for this special place on the planet.

One hundred artists attended the Publisher’s Invitational Paint Out hosted at Paul Smith’s College. I wrote about my experiences at the 2012 event, because I was inspired then too, but this year’s event merits additional attention.

Eric Rhoads, who publishes Plein Air Magazine, has done this for 3 years now – extending an open invitation to plein air painters, throughout the world, to come paint the Adirondacks. Eric understands the magic of this place too. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Watching Wildlife: Herons Out, Lady’s Slippers In

Heron in a white pine tree.The story of my heron nest may have come to a premature ending for 2013. I think the nest has been abandoned.

I don’t know if it was the days and days of cold, hard rain or some other natural cause, but the nest in the dead tree appears to be empty. When I hiked in the first day the rain let up and the sun started to come out, I spotted a lone heron sitting in a tall white pine along the shore of the pond – but none in the nest. Prior to all this rain, I’d quietly watched the nest from several different vantage points and had been able to see just the head of a heron on the nest. Sometimes I sat and watched for an hour and the bird never moved – ever alert. Then I hiked in the day after Memorial Day and no herons were around at all. From what I’ve read, it is possible that a mated pair will lay a second batch of eggs if something happens to the first batch, so I guess there is still something to hope for – if they haven’t totally given up on this little pond. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Art and Nature: Returning To the Heron Nest

Heron on nest, 2013If you’ve been reading the Adirondack Almanack for a while, you may recall my emotional writing about the heron nest I found in the spring of 2012, and the three charming youngsters that were about half-grown when nature intervened and they became dinner for some predator like a large owl or a bald eagle. I was devastated as I’d been quietly visiting the nest site for weeks, observing and photographing the heron family. You can see a YouTube video of one of the parents feeding the three youngsters here.

I’m happy to say, the herons are back on the nest. Or more accurately, according to what I’ve read, a male heron, perhaps the same one, returned to this nest site, made sure the nest was in tip-top shape, and then courted a female (who may not be the same one as last year) and convinced her to join him for mating season. I trust those close friends who know where this pond is will keep it quiet and not disturb this nesting pair. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Four Great Art Events in Saranac Lake Friday

IGallery openingt may be due to some weird alignment of the stars, or a movement to start “Cinco de Mayo”  early, but Friday May 3 there are four great art events in Saranac Lake.

With good timing, it could be possible for one to make all four events, but it’s more likely choices will have to be made. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sandy Hildreth: Hiking Before The Leaves Emerge

Chapel PondI’ve been gone for 10 days visiting family and so upon returning to the Adirondacks and waking up to blue skies and sun (and 21 degrees in April!), I decided to get out in the woods and check out one of my favorite little trails and see how far along spring actually was. I was especially interested in seeing the heron nest I’d found last spring, just about this same time, to see if the herons were back. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Arts and Artists in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake

Cris WintersThe ides of March spawned a remarkable confluence of art and artists in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Two exceptional exhibits opened that evening that were marveled at by crowds of fascinated people, in spite of occasional white-out blizzard conditions.

“The Past Through the Eyes of the Present” opened at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and will be on display through April 12. I’m not sure who initially had the idea for this, but I know artists Parmalee Tolkan and Tim Fortune sent out the letters that invited artists to participate. The subtitle of the show is “Barry Collection Photos Re-Imagined by Modern Artists”. The story behind the show is that in the early 70’s, Dr. George Hart, who was present at the exhibit opening, was at the town dump when someone was about to dispose of a large number of old glass plate negatives.

Over 8,000 of them were rescued and most had been created by photographers involved with the Lake Placid Club. Now known as the Barry Collection, the images range from sports and family activities to wildlife, people in costume, x-rays, and even bodies in coffins! The Collection had been gifted to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and they passed it along to the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saranac Lake: Charlie Green’s Market

Oil painting by Nancy BrossardA man from England, who came to Saranac Lake to cure a respiratory illness in 1922, and ended up operating a grocery store for 60 years has turned out to be a well loved and fondly remembered citizen of the village – and the subject of an art exhibit!

The Adirondack Artists Guild, of which I am one of 14 members, has a gallery at 52 Main Street in Saranac Lake. It’s an old, three story building from the last century, situated between the Sears parking lot and the Waterhole. We knew all along that prior to being used as an art gallery that it had been a bike shop, maybe another short-lived business or 2, and before that a grocery store. The old striped awning on the front of the building, replaced a couple of years ago, had “Greens Market” on it in white letters. So a year ago, when we were planning our 2013 schedule, someone suggested we should do a special exhibit in honor of Charlie Green – the man who operated the grocery store. I wasn’t too excited about it. I had not lived here then – I knew nothing about the man or the store.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photography: Thoughts on Digital Technology

I have been traveling for most of the summer and fall, hiking and painting in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks and visiting family in Atlanta, so have not written much for the Almanack. I have literally taken thousands of digital photographs. Dealing with all those photos has prompted me to think about how our use of images and technology is evolving.

First, all of us with digital cameras have learned that we can now take unlimited numbers of photos. Up close, far away, every possible angle, multiple views – only then we end up with huge numbers of images, like I did, and it becomes an immense task to do something with them. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Adirondacks: A Place to Dream

View from High RockSept 7 – 9 there will be a congregation of artists, scholars, historians, and writers in Lake Placid for an exploration of Adirondack cultural heritage (more info). Free and open to the public, it should prove to be enjoyable and informative to all who love this place. I was thinking about this event as I paddled with a group of friends on the Oswegatchie River, in the Five Ponds Wilderness. Our objective was High Rock – not a terribly difficult or long paddle, although it was challenging in places because the water levels were pretty low and rocks were exposed. Having recently returned from almost four weeks in Glacier National Park – where the “big sky” glacier carved landscapes are truly magnificent – I couldn’t get over the fact that I was still moved by the scenery flowing past me along the Oswegatchie.

Orange brown rocks just beneath the surface, covered with colorful paint swatches from all the boats that have scraped across them for more than a century. Massive white pines that probably were too scrawny to harvest during the logging booms of the 1900’s, were now towering over the river. The tag alder filled flood plain that this wild river was meandering through. The Five Ponds Wilderness is a prime example of how this amazing place can inspire. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Artists & Nature: The Adirondack Plein Air Festival

When people go out for a hike, paddle, or ski, there are a number of different ways they experience the environment. They are likely to be observant, but the hiker may be focused on the route and watching for trail markers; the paddler watching for rocks, rapids, and where the carries are; and the skier alert to obstacles and those pesky trees at the bottom of hills where there is a sharp turn. A photographer looks for composition, lighting, texture. A birder will listen and look for movement in the trees.

The plein air artist has an entirely different outdoor experience. » Continue Reading.


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