You’ve probably been to fund-raising events where artwork has been donated. This is a tradition that many artists feel is an important way to show their support for an organization or cause. Sometimes art is also used as a publicity tool, with pieces created specifically for a purpose or cause. Many historians have credited Frederick Church, and other 19th century artists, with helping promote the creation of the National Park system, through their paintings of places like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Hudson River School painters shared with the world the beauty of the Adirondack and Catskill regions.
AdkAction just hosted the first Keeseville Plein Air Festival, to draw attention to the historic community, the beautiful Ausable River, and flourishing area farms, and to raise funds for a downtown revitalization project. It was very successful.
This August, during the 2017 Adirondack Plein Air Festival (August 14-19), there is a new cause that we will be drawing attention to through art. The Friends of Eagle Island, who now own the beautiful and historic camp on Eagle Island, in Upper Saranac Lake, have big dreams and a huge renovation/restoration task ahead of them.
Some history from the EagleIsland.org website: In 1903, former U.S. Vice President and Governor of New York, Levi Morton built the Adirondack Great Camp on Eagle Island. The buildings were designed by preeminent Great Camp architect William L. Coulter.
In 1910 Morton sold Eagle Island to Henry Graves, Jr. an industrialist from Orange, New Jersey. The Graves family enjoyed spending summers at Eagle Island for many years until two sons were tragically killed in car accidents. They generously gifted Eagle Island to the New Jersey Girl Scouts of the Oranges and Maplewood in memory of their sons with the wish that Eagle Island would be a place to keep the spirit of childhood alive.
The Girl Scout Camp opened in 1938, was was designated a “National Historic Landmark” in 2004, and operated until 2009, when the Girl Scouts of New Jersey made the decision to sell it. In November of 2015 the Friends of Eagle Island, Inc. acquired Eagle Island through the generosity of an anonymous donor, ensuring that “children may always play” on Eagle Island.
A small group of painters that are taking part in the Plein Air Festival will be transported by boat to Eagle Island on Wednesday Aug 16. Besides the beautiful historic architecture, the rocky Island is dominated by huge white pines and has interesting views up and down Upper Saranac Lake. Whatever inspires the artists will become the subject matter for their plein air paintings. Those paintings will have a special display area in the Show & Sale that will be set up in the Harrietstown Town Hall. There is a Special Preview Party from 6 to 9 pm on Friday Aug 18, and awards will be announced at 8 pm. The Show & Sale will also be open, with no admission charge, from noon until 5 pm on Saturday August 19. Part of the proceeds of any Eagle Island paintings sold will be donated to the Friends of Eagle Island. It is their hope to get the facilities ready to operate as a children’s camp as soon as possible.
In addition to helping support Eagle Island, for a number of years the Plein Air Festival has also held a special Silent Auction which is used to make a donation to the art program of the Saranac Lake Central School District. On Thursday, Aug 17, it’s “Paint the Town” day. Artists will be painting all over the Village of Saranac Lake – along the Riverwalk, or lakeshore, in our parks and downtown. People, historic buildings, views – there’s no telling what will become subject matter. Musicians at The Waterhole have made it into paintings in the past. The “Paint the Town” Silent Auction will be set up in the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery, at 52 Main St., Saranac
Lake, in time for the 3rd Thursday ArtWalk, which begins at 5 pm. Stop in to place a bid, you might win a unique piece of original art and help support the art program in the schools. The Silent Auction will be moved to the Town Hall, to join the Show & Sale, on Friday and will end at 4 pm on Saturday Aug 19. Winning bidders do not need to be present.
A couple of other local “art for a cause” events involve local fire towers. As part of the Poke-O- Moonshine Fire Tower Centennial (1917-2017), this summer, The Friends of Poke-O- Moonshine, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), and Ausable Brewing Company will be hosting a Silent Auction of artwork related to the mountain, its human and natural history, and its fire tower. The auction will be held from 7 to 9 pm on July 28 at the AARCH offices at 1745 Main Street, Keeseville, and on July 30 during the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower Centennial Celebration at Ausable Brewing Company, 765 Mace Chasm Road, Keeseville, from 4:30 to 8 pm. The exhibition will benefit both the artists and the work of the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, which is dedicated to the preservation of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain and its fire tower, improving and maintaining its trails, and interpreting the natural and cultural history of the mountain.
The Azure Mountain Friends will have a Centennial Celebration in 2018, but are kicking it off with a year of fund-raising. Yours truly has been involved since the original restoration of the fire tower in 2002, and has donated an original oil painting of the summit. Raffle tickets are available through their website. The Azure Mountain Friends are raising funds to support their Summit Steward program and other educational and interpretive activities, the annual Scholarships they give to local high school/college students who volunteer on the summit, and tower and trail maintenance. Both fire tower friends group work in partnership with the DEC.
Watch for other “art for a cause” events and maybe you too can help out a needy organization and obtain an original work of art!
Photos from above: Camp Building on Eagle Island, courtesy Sandra Hildreth; “Painting the Town” in Saranac Lake, courtesy L. Kilby; and Azure Mountain Summit, courtesy Sandra Hildreth.