Artists find their way around the world differently than most people. This is clearly evident in “Mapping the Familiar: Artist Maps of Saranac Lake”, which opened last week at the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery in that village. The exhibit was curated by Jess Ackerson, a young artist, printmaker who lives and works in Saranac Lake. Each artist was invited to interpret the concept of the show in their own individual way – and all the pieces in the show are very unique.
When I find my way somewhere, I am inclined to rely upon visual “signposts” – usually natural landforms. Even in an urban environment, I find myself locating the sun, when possible, so I’ll know which way is north, and I might mark my course by remembering to turn at the big tree on the corner where the road goes uphill rather than the name of the street intersection. This might be evident when a viewer examines my piece in the exhibit because I have no map in it, but I do have many of the views that one sees when in Saranac Lake.
There are several pieces in the show which are clearly maps – but maps interpreted through what the individual artists found interesting. Diane Leifheit’s map is a detailed ink drawing/silkscreen print that depicts the course of the Saranac River and the various bridges within the community, along with hand-scripted anecdotal notations. Peter Seward’s “The Resettlement of Saranac Lake” is “a whimsical depiction of the challenges faced inhabiting a wilderness”. It is reminiscent of the fanciful maps of drawn by early explorers and even has an area identified as “terra incognito”.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who once boasted of some interest in the arts, was also invited to contribute a piece. His cartoon style drawing of a map of the community shows the pride he feels in the village and looks like something you might have seen in a 1950’s tourism brochure! It’s title was derived from the locally known Dew Drop Inn and Mr. Rabideau wrote in his artists statement “for many generations, thousands of people have, indeed, “dropped-in” to Saranac Lake and never left, making it their permanent home”.
Some of the other pieces in the show have more emphasis on the “art” and less on the “map” although the village map has worked it’s way into the individual images. Jess Ackerson’s three color reduction lino-cut, silkscreen and colored pencil piece combines the map with other bold images like a rainbow, a compass star and a labyrinth. In her statement Jess wrote “This map is actually a maze. It’s an attempt to describe what it takes to be present while we navigate the transition from past, where there were so many other paths we could have taken, to the future.” Eric Ackerson created a labyrinth of intertwining map and snake forms titled – “A Ransack Illegal Fovea” – which happens to be an anagram for Village of Saranac Lake.
In addition to the 10 artist creations, there is also a large, interactive “Community Map” where gallery visitors are invited to draw and write upon it their special spots or trails in the village.
Find your own way to this unique and thought provoking exhibit – the Adirondack Artists Guild is located on Main Street in Saranac Lake and the exhibit will be up through January 29.