Almanack Contributor Sandra Hildreth

Sandra Hildreth

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 sandrahildreth.com.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sandy Hildreth: The Anguish of March

patterson_globalwarmingMarch is normally the time of year, at least here in the North Country, when we suffer anguish over which season we wish it would be. I go through it every year, part of me wishing for spring and the other part holding out for more snow. I know there are people out there like me who still wish we had more opportunities for cross-country skiing. There is nothing sweeter (except maybe maple syrup) than a spring ski on a warm March day, with fresh powder, bright sun, and brilliant blue skies. Tree tops pinkish orange with buds ready to burst into new growth.

But this year without a winter is even worse! I feel so cheated. My friend, artist Valerie Patterson, communicates how I feel perfectly in her watercolor painting, “Global Warming”.  A lot of us who live here do so because we embrace and enjoy outdoor recreation in all seasons of the year. I’m sure no reminders are needed about how sparse our snow was and how warm the temperatures averaged. My Adirondack Artists Guild colleague Burdette Parks announced the ice went out on Middle Saranac on St Patrick’s Day this year – the earliest he and his wife, Fran Yardley, can remember. They reported the water stayed open much later this winter as well. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Adirondack Regional Art Trail Launched

adirondack regional art trailThere’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? » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Arts Opportunities Around Saranac Lake

holidays-pinkhouseWe artists take great pride in producing new work for the holiday season, believing (perhaps naively) that people will want to give art to their loved ones! It’s actually not a bad idea. Works of art are genuinely unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that can bring enjoyment every day of the year – forever. A chance to give someone something they’ve never had and that no one else in the world will ever have. It can be a child’s tempera painting, something totally hand-made, or a professional piece of art.

Many communities in our region have small galleries and shops that feature locally produced art. Since I happen to live in Saranac Lake, I will describe what we have to offer, but my advice is to seek out what’s available in your own communities. Shop small. Shop local. Remember, the money spent at locally owned businesses mostly stays in the community, helping keep the regional economy alive. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

A ‘Paint-Out’ In Paul Smiths This Weekend

VIC-paint-out09-15-1I never tire of plein air painting! A couple of weeks ago we completed the very successful 7th Adirondack Plein Air Festival in the Saranac Lake area. Fifty-five artists from all over the east coast and Canada came to paint our Adirondack views.

Several thousand dollars in prizes were awarded and 86 people brought new paintings home with them. Now we are having an informal, local “Paint-Out” at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC). » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Adirondack Plein Air Festival Getting Underway

kirklarsenThe 3rd week of August artists assemble in Saranac Lake for the Adirondack Plein Air Festival.  This year, from August 18 to 22, fifty painters from all over the east coast and Canada are taking part.  Registration opened online March 1 and filled in less than 48 hours, as both new and repeat artists were eager to attend. In order to keep the annual Show & Sale at manageable numbers, it was decided to limit participation to 50. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sandy Hildreth: Art As Storytelling

Hildreth1_bear_grassypd2015(1)Some Almanack readers may remember a couple of wildlife adventures I’ve written about (“The Cruel Art of Nature” and “Survival of the Fittest on the Pinnacle Trail”). I can’t say that I am obsessed with the cruelty of raw nature, but I am attracted to it – the primeval laws of survival. Some wild creatures have to eat other wild creatures in order to live. We humans used to be like that. This is the subject matter of two of my paintings being shown in an upcoming exhibit.

But not all my paintings are about life and death in nature – some are just encounters that occurred because, as an artist, I’m pretty observant. Especially in the natural world, I notice things that a lot of other people might just walk right by. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Summer Full Of Art In Saranac Lake

summerart2015-artistsguild-b-lobdellThe days are long, the mountains green and the arts bloom and ripen like potatoes in the hardscrabble fields of Adirondack farms! While the Saranac Lake area has a flourishing, year round arts community, summer sun produces abundant exhibits and exciting special events.

Saranac Lake ArtWorks sponsors three “Last Saturday Studio Tours”, with the first one on July 25. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Photography Shoot-Out In Paul Smiths

hartung_VICNightLightThere is a remarkable experiment on display in the gallery space of the Paul Smith’s College Visitors Interpretive Center (VIC). Twelve area photographers were invited to come out to the VIC between April 17 and 21 to capture images of the property. Then they had a couple of days to review their efforts, print, mat and frame them for this exhibit, which was hung on April 25.

The experiment was actually my idea. I absolutely love the challenges of plein air painting – hauling my paints and easel out to a view I like and spending a day creating a painting. I find it’s a wonderful way to totally immerse myself in that specific environment and put the rest of my life out of my mind for those enjoyable hours, not to mention the fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine. It’s like the difference between an impromptu talk and a rehearsed speech; you have to produce – right there – on the spot. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Survival Of The Fittest On The Pinnacle Trail

Coyote Track in WinterThe story was in the tracks. Thursday was cold, but sunny – I’d had a hunch that it might be a good day to get off the groomed trails and do some exploring. There were a couple of inches of fresh powder on top of a hard crust that covered probably two feet of snow, and skies as blue as they could be.

I drove up to Santa Clara and parked on route 458 by the gated road and the Pinnacle trail sign. It looked like two people had skied the old logging road the day before. Possibly earlier in the day, someone post-holing, walked in with a large dog. That person eventually put on snowshoes and continued to trudge in on top of the ski track. I just skied up onto the crust however, and glided along – probably the smoothest, easiest skiing I’d done all year. The person with the dog didn’t make it very far and turned around. Good – now I could start watching for wild animal tracks in the fresh snow. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Adirondack Plein Air Fest Growing Fast

PAF2015-ADThis was going to be a post that announced some changes in the Adirondack Plein Air Festival and the fact that registration for the 2015 event opened on March 1. However, by noon on March 2, we had 50 artists registered and had reached our pre-determined limit. The 2015 Adirondack Plein Air Festival will be Aug 17 – 22 in Saranac Lake. Four days of outdoor painting and then a one day Show & Sale of the work produced over those four days.

I am amazed by this phenomenon. We all know the Adirondack Park is a scenic place. Artists in the past, like those of the Hudson River School in the mid 1800’s also recognized that. Six years ago I started the Adirondack Plein Air Festival in Saranac Lake for rather selfish reasons. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

TR, T-Rex, Art And More At Paul Smith’s VIC

bullard_barnumbrookStrikingly beautiful photographs, expressive but realistic paintings of dinosaurs in lush green landscapes, a “Touch Table”, live music Sunday afternoons from 1 – 3, and 25 miles of groomed ski trails….. this is the Paul Smith’s College VIC.

It’s really pretty cool to be able to come to a place that offers so much. The current New Moon Art Exhibit consists of photographs by Jim Bullard, of Potsdam, and paintings by Meg Bernstein of Saranac Lake, where she is a member of the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery. Both artists have a lifetime of experience behind them, but continue to explore, invent, and create new things. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sandy Hidreth On Becoming An Art Collector

bernsteinsm2014A few years ago, during the annual Artist at Work Studio Tour, I had a family from Long Lake come to visit my studio. Mom, Dad, and if I remember correctly, “Lily”, who must have been around 8-9 years old. They looked, we chatted, and then the Mom offered Lily the opportunity to pick out a small piece of art that she would like! I was truly astounded – parents offering to let a child purchase art! What a wonderful way to cultivate a life-long love and respect for original, hand-made items. I was very honored to have been a part of that.

Well, it’s now that time of year when we (the artists) hope that you (the readers) get in the gift giving spirit and consider enriching lives by making presents of art. But as I sit on duty at the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery in Saranac Lake and watch people browse, I began to reflect on what it might mean to “collect art” and how that impacts daily lives of both the buyers and the sellers. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Adirondack Art: Three Exhibits In Saranac Lake

Oil, 16x20, plein airThree exhibits are coming up in the Saranac Lake area that will provide lots of visual enjoyment.

My own “What the Rocks Remember” and photographs by Karla Brieant, is the exhibit currently on display in the gallery space at the Paul Smith’s College VIC.  There will be a “Meet the Artists” reception on Sunday, Nov 2, from 2 – 5 and the exhibit will be up through Nov 21.

I first met Karla nearly twenty years ago. We both were volunteering at the Paul Smith’s College VIC, working with area art teachers and taking students out on the trails to do nature observation and sketching. I didn’t really know her very well, but when I saw her photographs, I could tell we felt the same reverence for the Adirondack landscape. Flash forward to 2014. I contacted Karla and asked if she would like to do a month long exhibit with me at the VIC and she agreed. When asked if we should have some kind of theme, I don’t remember which one of us suggested “rocks”, but the other eagerly agreed. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Ausable Forks To Coreys Studio Tour This Weekend

StudioTourAd-web2New canoe route or Bike Race? No! It’s the Studio Tour!

The village of Ausable Forks to Stony Creek Road just off the Coreys Road, near Tupper Lake represents the widest distance between artists opening their studios to the public for the 8th Annual Artist at Work Studio Tour.

Artists are also in Gabriels, Onchiota and Rainbow Lake, Black Brook and Lake Placid, and Wilmington, Jay and Upper Jay. With Saranac Lake, the “arts destination of the Adirondacks” as the hub, nearly 50 artists are participating in the Studio Tour on Sept 27-28 with 16 right in the village. Peak fall colors are the bonus as artists welcome visitors to come see works in progress, ask questions, and find out how various works of art are created. And of course purchase unique items to take home! » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sandra Hildreth: The Plein Air Phenomenon

N. Brossard in Saranac Lake. M. Kurtz photoAugust 21st through the 24th nearly 80 artists from Washington, DC to Maine, Quebec and Ontario, will be converging on Saranac Lake for the 6th Annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival.

Beautiful August weather (fingers crossed) and all the aspects of our region: mountains, lakes, bogs, waterfalls, woodland trails, panoramic views, rivers, farm land, “Great Camps”, historic sites and our small communities are all part of the attraction.

The other, if you haven’t noticed, is the growing popularity of plein air painting. The Festival concludes with a fantastic Show & Sale on Sunday,  Aug 24th, in the Town Hall in Saranac Lake from 12 – 3 pm. Over 200 wet paintings will be on display and available for purchase. » Continue Reading.