Saturday, December 24, 2011

Adirondack Carousel: A Moveable Feast

When the Adirondack Carousel is completed it’s going to be a moveable feast for the eyes. Kids (and adults) will love to take a ride on it and surely will pick out their favorite animal. (I always had a favorite horse on the carousel I rode as a child at the Wisconsin State Fair). But besides the traditional thrill of the ride, this carousel is going to be an amazing work of moveable art.

First of all, the carved wooden animals are all unique and all native to the Adirondacks, rather than the traditional leaping horses. Talented wood carvers from all over the country have donated their time to create these animals.
Some of the carvers also painted their animals, others were done by a number of different artists, yours truly having volunteered to do the Otter, the Bald Eagle, and the Black Bear. It was so much fun to step away from my landscape painting and concentrate on a life-size animal, that was 3-dimensional and wearing ornamental saddles and harnesses! There are additional carved and hand-painted decorative elements on all the animals, ranging from chipmunks to wild flowers to Native American symbols. Plus – every animal has a hidden ladybug for the kids to find.

Elementary students in the Saranac Lake School district had the honor of naming all the animals. When the carousel formally opens visitors will be able to meet and ride Flipper (Bass), Paws (Bear), Chuck (Beaver), Bug-Eye (Blackfly), Bubbles (Great Blue Heron), Moonlight (Bobcat), John (Deer), Thunder (Draft Horse), Soarin (Eagle), Flames (Fox), Lily (Frog), Harry (Hare), Lucy (Loon), Beethoven (Moose), Oliver (Otter), Spike (Porcupine), Ranger (Raccoon), Red Storm (Red Squirrel), Wiggly (Salamander), Spencer (Skunk), Twitter (Thrush), Buck (Toad) and Shelly (Turtle).

The carousel itself is being ornamented with many custom designed and painted decorative pieces. Large wooden medallions, each painted with a different Adirondack wildflower, will alternate with large wooden panels – rounding boards – that serve to hide the mechanical parts of the carousel from view.

The 10 rounding boards will each be painted with a regional landscape scene by 10 Adirondack artists. Other design elements are in the works that will all add to the unique personality of this carousel.

Then there is the building to house the carousel, nearing completion in William Morris Park, near the historic Saranac Lake Train Depot. With volunteers again doing much of the work, it’s graceful shape and cupola match the shape of the carousel itself, which will be visible through it’s many windows. An adjoining hall and room will provide additional exhibit and community space within the building. Crowning the top of the cupola will be a wonderful hand-forged weather vane created by local blacksmith, David Woodward.

To learn all about the Adirondack Carousel, volunteer, or donate visit

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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

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