There’s a new long distance trail taking shape in the Adirondacks, only it is taking many shapes. There is no set mileage and no final destination. And you better do it by car! This is the new Adirondack Regional Art Trail and you can find it online here.
I got the idea while driving from Northville to Saranac Lake a couple of years ago, thinking first about a Northville-Placid Art Trail, like the hiking trail, but soon realizing there are so many wonderful artists and craftspeople in all the corners of the Adirondack North Country region, that we couldn’t possibly just have a single trail. It would look more like a spider web of trails! How would people ever find out about it and use it?
After another hour of driving, enjoying the mountain vistas, lakes, and scraggly white pines along the way, I had it figured out. The Art Trail needed to be in cyberspace! There had to be a way to get all the artists in the area to sign up for it and then mark their locations using some kind of online map system that would allow people to plot their own trails. Put artist info on a website and make it free and easily accessible. If one was driving from Northville to Saranac Lake, one could find out the locations of all the artists studios and galleries along the way! Another traveler might decide they want to go camping in Long Lake, but would like to find out where nearby artists and craft studios are. Maybe someone else is only interested in ceramics – they could find out where all the pottery studios are located and plan a trip! With my mind focused on the highway and ever alert for deer, it seemed like I’d come up with a good plan.
Then the problems popped up. Most artists work at home and they don’t all necessarily want visitors just popping in at any time. Solution: list artists by their community, without a street address and indicate they are only open by appointment. Provide phone numbers so potential customers can call.
Next problem – who would build this? Since the goal is to bring business to regional artists and galleries, it seemed like it would be a perfect economic development project and therefore perhaps qualify for funding through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. I ended up taking my idea to the Adirondack North Country Association, ANCA, whose office is in Saranac Lake. Look ANCA up if you don’t know what they are. “Building resilient local economies in the Adirondack North Country” is their tagline. ANCA put together a partnership with Saranac Lake ArtWorks, BluSeed Studios , and TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate NY) for the grant. The project team applied for and was awarded two rounds of funding from the New York State Council on the Arts through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council process. Those funds allowed us to conduct outreach and focus groups with artists and arts organizations around the region, to build and test the website and coordinate a marketing campaign, which will kick off this spring and continue through the summer. ANCA built the Art Trail website, constructing it as a component of their own site.
What’s on the Art Trail? Lots of amazing art and artists. Jewelers, potters, sculptors, painters, barn tours, plein air festivals, galleries, art centers and more.
How will we get the word out about the Art Trail? Like this! Press releases. Ads in regional publications and websites. Rack cards. Banners and stickers. Email announcements and you. Word of mouth. Tell your friends. If you know any artists, see if they’re on the site. If not, make sure they know about it. The Art Trail covers the entire northern part of the state, St. Lawrence Valley to Champlain Valley, down to Lake George and Glens Falls, across to Tug Hill and up to Watertown, all of the Adirondacks and more. It’s a work in progress and will probably continuously evolve. Give it a try and see what you discover. We know we have world class outdoor recreational opportunities here, but find out what else the region has to offer. Bring a piece of the Adirondack North Country home with you. Thank you! I’m on it, look me up.