Posts Tagged ‘Arts’

Monday, June 26, 2017

Neil Litchfield, Lewis County’s Master Comedian (Part 3)

In early 1897, Neil and Stella Litchfield continued touring in the North Country, appearing at Canton, Chase Mills, Edwards, Lisbon Center, Oxbow, Massena, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Waddington, and other sites. For the next two years, they toured and performed while developing a new act for the future, a comedy sketch titled Down at Brook Farm. Ostensibly, it was loosely based on Brook Farm, a failed Utopian community founded in 1841 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The most popular characters Neil had portrayed during the past two decades — uneducated, pure-hearted rural folks — became the nucleus of the new act. Down at Brook Farm was inspired by the popularity of other plays and sketches with “uncle” characters in the title — usually Uncle Josh, at the time featured in shows as Uncle Josh Jenkins, Uncle Josh Simpkins, and Uncle Josh Weathersby. Neil himself gained great praise for portraying the lead role in Uncle Josh Spruceby, playing alongside Stella, who nabbed the second-leading role of Aunt Jerutha. Together they made the show a top hit while touring theaters and opera houses in New York City, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Sometimes they covered a venue for three consecutive nights, and at other times appeared in three or four different towns or cities during the same week. It was an exhausting schedule but provided great publicity, and allowed time to refine the rural characters for the new act. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Neil Litchfield, Lewis County’s Master Comedian (Part 2)

By 1893, Neil Litchfield and his wife Hattie had resumed touring with other companies that billed Neil as “The Man of Many Faces.” After spending the year with the Vivian De Monto Company, they joined the Reno and Ford Company for the first half of 1894. In August they began touring the eastern and midwestern states with the Prima Donna Company, during which time Neil began to stand out noticeably from his fellow performers. Reviews in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania agreed with the Syracuse Evening Herald’s assessment that, despite great work by the show’s star, Eva Mecusker, “The most enjoyable thing of the evening was the recitation work of Neil Litchfield, whose ability as a comedian is large and could be employed more than it is with advantage.” A reporter for the Youngstown Daily Telegram wrote, “Neil Litchfield, as the ruralist, was the star of the show. His work was clever, and the reception he got was deserved.”

Late in the year, he performed with James B. Mackie’s company, The Side Show, and received rave reviews. As a budding star, he no longer needed to jump at the next offer, and instead began advertising his services to the highest bidder. In 1895, Litchfield announced his availability in major trade magazines and the entertainment sections of New York City newspapers. That summer, he toured coast to coast with Heywood’s Celebrities company, which provided ample opportunity to test new characters and refine other bits. A few months later, he joined another group, the Alhambra Vaudevilles. As reported in the New York Dramatic Mirror, “Carter, the magician, and Neil Litchfield, the character impersonator, are the leading people in the company.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hal Smith, Alias Otis Campbell, Massena’s Shining Star (conclusion)

In 1964, plans were made to celebrate the success of Massena’s nationally famous friend with a special event: Hal Smith Day. Virtually every business and every family in town became involved in the planning, with such crowds expected that tickets and reservations for many events were in hot demand.

Included in the festivities were a group breakfast, lunch, and dinner; a royal welcome that featured a crown made of (what else?) aluminum from the local plant; a visit to the hospital, where he entertained patients; an autograph session at a vacant store transformed by area merchants into a replica of the Mayberry jail; all-day limousine service; band music at several venues; the theater playing movies that Hal appeared in, and autographs for each attendee; a reunion with old schoolmates; induction as a member of the St. Regis Indians; and at the Highland Hotel that night, Hal appeared in the floor show. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

North Country’s Hal Smith, Mayberry’s Affable Town Drunk

For millions of people, holidays are all about going home, returning to one’s roots of family and friends. That concept was epitomized by a North Country man who attained great fame in Hollywood, but to his great credit never forgot the home folks — and to their credit, the home folks never forgot him. Whenever he returned to the North Country, or old friends visited him in California, there was always an exchange of love, admiration, and deep appreciation.

He was born in northern Michigan in 1916 as Harold John Smith, about as anonymous a name as one can imagine, and likely one that stirs no sense of recognition. But if Otis Campbell were mentioned, many would instantly recall Mayberry’s affable town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Students To Compete In North Country History Day

History-Day-2014-550x437Thirty students from across the North Country will compete in the regional New York State History Day contest held at Fort Ticonderoga on Saturday, March 5, 2016. Students placing first and second in their categories will advance to the New York State History Day Contest in Cooperstown on April 18.

Each year two million students across the country participate in the National History Day program according to Rich Strum, Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Education and North Country History Day Regional Coordinator. Students research history topics of their choice related to an annual theme and create exhibits, documentaries, performances, research papers, and website designs.

Students may enter in competition at the regional, state, and national level. Participants include students in grades 6-8 in the Junior Division and grades 9-12 in the Senior Division. National History Day also provides educational services to students and teachers, including a summer internship program, curricular materials, internet resources, and annual teacher workshops and training institutes. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TED-axe: Science, Arts, and Music Event Saturday

SAM fest paul smithsPaul Smith’s College and TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) will hold a daylong festival of music, art and TED-style talks Saturday, April 26, at the Paul Smith’s College VIC.

The event, called SAM Fest – for science, art and music – will feature musical performances by North Country musicians; presentations on Adirondack climate by faculty and students; exhibits of traditional folk and visual arts; maple syrup and refreshments; and a showing of “Green Fire,” an award-winning documentary on Aldo Leopold. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Watertown’s Show-Biz Pioneer: Charles Giblyn (Part 3)

3A CGiblynAdIn 1920, Charles Giblyn produced his first film for William Fox. (If the name sounds familiar, William founded Fox Film Corporation in 1915, the forerunner of today’s Fox TV and movie units.) The film, Tiger’s Cub, allowed Giblyn a homecoming of sorts. With his lead actress, Pearl White, who reportedly had the widest following of any star worldwide at the time, he came north for filming in Port Henry, about an hour south of Plattsburgh, where he once lived.

After producing a few more movies, Charles was sent to the West Coast on behalf of Fox, where he continued working. For a brief period, he assumed leadership of the Motion Picture Directors’ Association, but when Fox re-assigned him to more movie projects back East, he surrendered the top spot with the MPDA and headed for New York. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Artists Celebrating Historic Saranac Lake With Benefit

unnamed(5)Members of the Adirondack Artists Guild and Historic Saranac Lake will celebrate Saranac Lake history on Friday, Feb. 7, from 5 – 7 pm, with the opening reception for “Our Kinda Town” an exhibit and silent auction which will run through March 2.

Each year the Artists Guild selects a local not-for-profit for the February show and creates works of art that relate to the theme or mission of the organization. Founded in 1980, Historic Saranac Lake is a not-for-profit architectural preservation organization that captures and presents local history from their center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum. Built in 1894, the Saranac Laboratory was the first laboratory built for the study of tuberculosis in the United Sates.  Historic Saranac Lake operates a local history website of over 5,000 pages of at www.localwiki.net/hsl. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adirondack Family Activities: Pendragon’s Summer Season

fleurdisliscoverMy family enjoys going to the theatre as much as we enjoy hitting the trails. Thankfully because of the many wonderful Adirondack seasonal theatre companies we never have too far to travel to get our summer theatre fix. There is no need to drive to the ends of the Park in the other months thanks to Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake. As the Adirondack’s only year-round professional theatre, Pendragon has been bringing live theatre to the Adirondacks for over 30 years.  This year Pendragon Theatre has chosen the theme of “Saints and Sinners” for the upcoming 2013 season.

Pendragon’s new Executive/Artist Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham  says, “This is the first season that I’ve chosen the plays. The theme began with the fact that A Street Car Named Desire was the first play Pendragon produced. I wanted this to be a tribute to Bob and Susan. Everything else came together and followed the Saints and Sinners theme.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Performing Arts History: Helen Redmond (Part Two)

Redmond 2ACelebrities always seem to have some kooky thing happening to them, and Helen Redmond’s best story was a doozy. There’s nothing funny about someone being stalked, and there’s nothing new about it either. Helen’s adventure describes something funny that happened because of a stalker, one who so resembled Redmond physically that she was often referred to as Helen’s double. The woman became obsessed with Redmond and even followed her performances on tour.

When The Ameer was performed in New York, Helen’s double booked a room in the same place where Redmond was staying. She sat in the front row for each show, and apparently began to believe that she was actually Helen Redmond. This behavior had long been of great annoyance and concern to Helen, but it now escalated to the point where the woman showed up at rehearsal as the show’s star, demanding that she be allowed to sing (her voice bore no resemblance to that of the prima donna’s). » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Port Henry’s Helen Redmond on Broadway

Redmond 1A We are the Adirondacks, with a rich history of mountain lore, guide stories, Great Camps, and Olympic glory. But our mountain history tends to overshadow elements of the past that can serve as great attractions for both locals and tourists alike: fame and achievements by regional natives and residents in non-mountain endeavors. Among the dozens of examples I could cite, how many of us knew that one of the most popular songs ever written was penned by a native of the North Creek-Wevertown area? Or that two world-champions―a beloved cyclist, and one of the greatest of all North Country athletes―were both based in the Glens Falls area?

Learning about the unusual talents and accomplishments of locals is highly entertaining, which makes it virtual gold for local museums. But so many of these stories are overlooked. Take for instance, Port Henry’s Helen Redmond. Though you’ve never heard of her, her talents were once celebrated from coast to coast. » 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.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Adirondack Family Activities: Long Lake Ice Carving

Ice Sculptor Stan Kolonko will be in Long Lake for the second year as part of the Long Lake/Raquette Lake Ice Fest January 11-12 and bringing a special brand of art to area businesses.

According to Long Lake Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Alexandra Roalsvig, Stan Kolonko is providing just one part to the many activities over the course of the two-day event. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Remembering Italian-Adirondack Artist Silvia Provera

Surrounded by wilderness, woods, and waters, Adirondackers are often reminded how solitary the world can sometimes be.  Living in the Adirondack Park can sometimes feel like walking a long and lonely trail. Arriving at a remote pond the view may be ours alone on that day, but  it’s shared by millions across the world.  We feebly tend our six million-acre Adirondack garden for the world, with small hopes of inspiring others to build their own gardens of similar design.

Today we take an opportunity to remember Italian artist Silvia Provera, who passed away a year ago, as one of us – hoping to inspire Adirondack gardens in her own corner of the world. She was a well-known designer and an accomplished artisan carpenter in Europe who became fascinated with the Adirondack region after spotting Adirondack chairs in a garden by the Orbetello Lagoon, in Tuscany. » Continue Reading.


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