Founder and Director April Iovino wants to draw attention to the fact that Shakespeare is not stuffy or boring, that the plays of Shakespeare are as relevant today as they were 400 years ago.
Iovino and the fledging group of 12 or so actors thought that one way to appeal to people would be to perform “flash mob” Shakespeare in various places. Armed with the more mainstream quotes, passages and soliloquies, Random Acts of Shakespeare made its debut during the Lake George Winter Carnival. Iovino says, “ We decided to start performing scenes and monologues from the passages of Shakespeare that people would recognize. We wanted to demonstrate how popular Shakepeare still is, how Shakespearean plays have gotten into our popular culture without people even knowing it.”
She begins to rattle off well-known pieces in general pop culture, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”, from the play Julius Caesar or Hamlet’s, “To be our not to be: that is the question.” The list goes on.
“Romeo and Juliet is once again being remade and currently in the theatres as a cartoon,” reminds Iovino. “ This was an experiment to see if people were interested. We want to entertain the general public in an unconventional way.
“We are all involved in theatre in some capacity,” Iovino speaks about the other troupe members. “I have a Bachelor’s in Theatre from SUNY Plattsburgh and have worked with Schuylerville Community Theatre and the Hudson River Shakespeare Company. I then asked my theatre friends if they were interested in performing.”
“The idea to start at the Lake George Winter Carnival came quickly and everything fell into place,” says Iovino. “We needed to get dates and times. We needed to get the piece to memorize. We then went to Shepard’s Park by the beach and just started spewing out Shakespeare. I hope it is something we can do in other areas. We hope that other venues will open up to us. We hope to get the information out there, outside of a traditional theatre setting.”
The whole purpose of performing in a “flash mob” format was to expose Shakespeare’s works to the general public in a similar vein as a street performer or performance artist and, judging from the feedback they’ve received, it worked.
To date, Random Acts of Shakespeare’ troupe consists of April Iovio, SaraBeth Oddy, Molly Oddy, Jenelle Hammond, Jeremy Hammond, David Lundgren, Sereh Lundgren, Lisa Grabbe, Jeremy Grebbe, Andy Haag, Nik Korobovsky, Kate LeBoeuf and Sara Lestage
Iovino and the rest of Random Acts of Shakespeare are looking to broaden their scope to include school groups and other venues. Anyone can email or find them on Facebook to set up performances. As Iovino and Shakespeare remind us, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” As You Like It.
Help out the Tri-Lakes Humane Society and get some original art at the same time. by attending “Giving Paws”, a fundraiser at the Adirondack Artists Guild during the month of February. Each member of the Artists Guild is donating work depicting animals for the fundraising silent auction. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Humane Society.
The show runs from February 4 through February 28. A reception with animal-inspired snacks hosted by the Humane Society will be held at the gallery on Friday February 11 from 5-7 PM. Everyone is welcome to visit the exhibit and bid on their favorite pieces, starting on Feb 4. In addition, Art students at Petrova Middle School have created a dog and a cat sculpture as donation boxes for the fundraiser.
The Adirondack Artists Guild is a cooperative retail art gallery representing a diverse group of regional artists residing and working in the Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondack Park.
The gallery is located at 52 Main St, Saranac Lake, 518 891-2615. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 until 5 and 12-3 on Sundays, closed on Mondays.
Ol’ time, foot-stompin’ fiddle music is a North Country staple, rooted in times past when people made their own fun. Its heyday was principally from the mid-1800s to the 1940s, finally giving way in the post-war years to the automobile and widespread availability of electricity. Sources of entertainment changed, but before that, the tradition of barn dances and the like was strong across the Adirondacks.
For the past seventy years or so, that tradition has been preserved by a number of outstanding musicians. Back in the 1950s and 60s, when some of the old tunes were rolled out, it brought back memories of Crown Point’s Lafayette Spaulding. » Continue Reading.
One hundred and fifty years ago, few knew about Lavinia Bell, a fugitive from slavery who trekked from a Texas plantation to Rouses Point, New York, in search of freedom in Canada. Now, for the first time, her experiences will be presented to the public in “Never Give Up: The Story of Lavinia Bell,” reenacted by Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux at Plattsburgh State University’s Krinovitz Recital Hall. The presentation will begin at 7:00 PM on February 11, 2011. The event is free and open to the public.
Ms. Thibodeaux’s visit to Plattsburgh in February will be her first to the North Country. She has already earned national acclaim for her sensitive depictions of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. The North Country location of the premiere of Mrs. Bell’s story, in the region where her vision was at last realized, is as fitting as are the sponsoring organizations: the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, Plattsburgh State University, and Clinton Community College. Ms. Thibodeaux will also offer performance workshops for university and college students during her stay in Plattsburgh. On February 12, she will cross into Canada where, under the sponsorship of the Negro Community Center in Montreal, she will introduce Mrs. Bell to a waiting audience.
To see Ms. Thibodeaux portray Harriet Tubman visit You Tube.
To learn more about this event, contact Don Papson at NCUGRHA@aol.com or (518) 561-0277.
On January 29, the The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls opens its latest exhibition – Objects of Wonder and Delight: Four Centuries of Still Life from the Norton Museum of Art.
The show brings together fifty-one works of art from the collection of the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. The subject matter is still life and the exhibition at The Hyde comprises works in a variety of media including painting, watercolor, collage, sculpture, ceramics, glass, and textiles.
Spanning four centuries, from the Ming dynasty of China to the early twenty-first century, this array of images and objects includes all of the major sub-genres of still life such as tabletop arrangements, flowers, and fruits and vegetables. Arranged thematically, the exhibition illustrates both the diversity and the longevity of the still-life tradition in China, Europe, and the United States. The exhibition, which runs through April 21, 2011, features some of the most famous artists in Western art history, such as Marc Chagall, Gustave Courbet, William Harnett, Robert Mapplethorpe, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Yinka Shonibare, and Andy Warhol.
At 2:30 pm on January 29th, Dr. Roger Ward, chief curator of the Norton Museum of Art and organizer of the exhibition, Objects of Wonder and Delight, will provide a lively presentation entitled Birds Pecking at Grapes and Other Shiny Objects: Four Centuries of Still Life from the Norton Museum. The talk will be a fast-paced account of the evolution of still-life painting in Europe and America, from Antiquity to the present, and how the diverse collection for which he is responsible has been deployed to create this exhibition.
The exhibition was organized by the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida.
Illustration: Marsden Hartley (American, 1877–1943): Flounders and Blue Fish, 1942. Oil on rag board. Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida. Bequest of R.H. Norton.
Rootsy folk-zydeco-rock band Donna the Buffalo is back in the area and plays the Waterhole Upstairs Music Lounge on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. The Roy Jay Band opens for the evening with gritty and bluesy grooves.
Donna the Buffalo’s eclectic and often socially conscious music has it’s base in traditional old-time mountain music and is infused with elements of Cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country. The group’s core are vocalists Tara Nevins, who plays fiddle, guitar, accordion, and scrubboard, and guitarist Jeb Puryear. Keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark, and drummer Vic Stafford complete the ensemble. For over twenty years Donna the Buffalo (DTB) has performed feel good, infectious music that often moves listeners physically and spiritually. In the words of a longtime fan, “Their songs are well known to contain lyrics offering poetry and sage commentary on the attractions and struggles with love and politics in this life. Their magnetic musical mix has often been described as dance music, and, for sure, there is everything from foot-tapping to get-up-and-feel-ecstatic moving in their sound; but there is also some deeply satisfying solace in what DTB has to say and how they say it. The dynamic songwriting tandem of Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins have penned over 140 songs in their collaboration with DTB.”
Their fervent fan base, self-named The Herd, follows the band with zeal and has created a unique and supportive community online and at DTB shows across the nation. As an extension of this community and the band’s own dedication to live roots music, Donna started, and are still the driving force behind, the Finger Lakes Grass Roots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY. 2010 marked the festival’s 20th year. Stemming from its success, a second Grass Roots Festival was started in Silk Hope, North Carolina in 2002: the now biannual Shakori Hills Grass Roots Festival.
Over the years, Donna the Buffalo has had the opportunity to collaborate and/or record with musicians such as Jim Lauderdale, Preston and Keith Frank, Bela Fleck, Mamadou Diabate, Claire Lynch, David Hidalgo, The Duhks and Amy Helm, just to name a few. In 2009, Nevins also toured with former Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band BK3.
The band’s 2008 release Silverlined, on Sugar Hill Records, rose to #8 on the Americana Music Chart. With a twenty-two year tenure to celebrate, hundreds of gigs ahead of them, and an ever-evolving grassroots sound; it looks like Donna the Buffalo is riding a cloud that is truly Silverlined.
Other exciting news is that multi-instrumentalist and DTB’s band leader, Tara Nevins, has a new album in the works at Levon Helm Studios. The album is being produced by 2 time Grammy award-winner Larry Campbell who will also be performing on the album. The new album will be put out through Sugar Hill Records in late March or early April. Check out this video of one of her new songs, Snowbird.
Opening January 29th and running through March 4th, 2011, the Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery will present a solo exhibition of new work by Kirsten Ullrich. There will be a reception for the artist on Saturday, January 29th, from 4 – 6 pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Kirsten Ullrich’s work as painter, sculptor and animator stems from free associations that transform images into peculiar personal meaning. She plays with illusion and abstraction to create distortions that are at once comic and exuberant, and brutal and unsettling. The result is an ambiguous mix of cartoon fun ride and journey into deep psychic tension. She says: “My work’s trajectory is dictated by free association; images often track a chain of short-range logic from element to element but as wholes read as absurdities or impossibilities. My process of making most often begins with drawing because of its speed and immediacy. This allows me to act on mischievous impulses that emerge as a piece emerges, and the result is an idiosyncratic stew of lighthearted and sinister elements which together take on personal significance”.
Kirsten Ullrich received her M.F.A. from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and B.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati. She has shown at Local Project, in Long Island City, New York; Michael Rosenthal Gallery, in San Francisco; Vox Populi, the Main Line Art Center, and Temple Gallery, all in Philadelphia; ArtSpace at Plant Zero in Richmond, Virginia; the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, in Wilmington; the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Hudson D. Walker Gallery, and artSTRAND, all in Provincetown. Ullrich lives in Brattleboro, VT, but is currently completing her 2nd year residency fellowship at the prestigious Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. More images of Kirsten’s work can be seen at www.kirstenullrich.com.
The Courthouse Gallery hours during exhibitions are Tuesday through Friday 12 – 5 pm, Saturday 12 – 4 pm, and all other times by appointment.
The Courthouse Gallery is located at the side entrance of the Old County Courthouse, corner of Canada and Lower Amherst Streets, Lake George, NY. For more information call (518) 668-2616,e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.lakegeorgearts.org.
Long Lake native and artist Matt Burnett is bringing one element of his art back to his hometown with fellow artist Scott Fuller. Each has enjoy their own personal artistic successes within their favored medium but continue to stretch personal boundaries with the use of nature’s elements to mold snow and ice with light to create a temporary outdoor art exhibit.
“We like to find a way to represent the flow of nature. I like to do something that will stir up the pot and make people think about what is natural and what is artificial,” say Burnett. “The exhibit will be in two to three locations around Long Lake. It is nice to be able to bring something back to my hometown. They are supportive of new ideas in this small community.” Burnett and Fuller have collaborated in the past with using winter elements as with the Community Spiral in Saranac Lake in 2008, a large-scale public ice sculpture. This outdoor ice sculpture involved ice bricks and hundreds of lighted tea candles.
According to Burnett the Long Lake project has been over a year in the planning. Already many hours have gone into the concept of E-lumination from the molded geometric snow forms to testing equipment for the projected images. Now the two artists, with the help of volunteers will take the next three days on site to install the outdoor exhibit to create glowing multicolored orbs that will surprise and delight travelers and locals alike.
“I like to create something that appeals to anyone,” says Burnett. “Not everyone is going to ever see the same thing when looking at art. Art can sometimes be viewed as exclusive. I want to work on different levels and the challenge is to be able to relate to as many people as possible.”
Matt Burnett has garnered accolades for his paintings, multimedia studies and environmental events. He is also the co-director of the Graphic and Multimedia Design program at SUNY Canton where he teaches studio art, photography and design.
Scott Fuller continues to work in public installations and new media. Along with other awards, Fuller’s piece with Asherah Cinnamon, Reaching for Courage: Gateway to China was a finalist for the 2008 Bejjing Olympic Sculpture contest. Fuller is an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.
“There will be a game involved. We are tying in elements of history to the region of Long Lake,” says Burnett. “ We are projecting images, some between 70-100 years old, that we hope will be special to the people of the Long Lake and to people that are just passing through. There will be a puzzle for people to try to name all the people and places that are to be projected for the week the project is up.”
Burnett and Fuller will be doing a similar outdoor installation at St. Lawrence University in Canton in February. The sculpture will be seen at the center quad and focus more on the environmental issues of St. Lawrence Univerisity instead of the regional history. Burdett will also conduct a lecture on public and environmental art.
For more information regarding Matt Burdett and Scott Fuller’s art, check out their respective websites. E-lumination is slated to be working this weekend, weather permitting, in time for Long Lake Winter Carnival.
As a follow-up to last week’s piece on the late Mary Barber (Aunt Mary), below is the story of the movie that was filmed long ago on the barge canal in Whitehall. It was researched and written by my partner, Jill McKee, and is now part of an exhibit in Whitehall’s Skenesborough Museum.
In 1929, Universal Pictures released a film called The Girl on the Barge. The movie was about Erie McCadden, the illiterate daughter of a crusty, alcoholic barge captain. Erie falls in love with Fogarty, the pilot of the tugboat that is towing her father’s barge from New York to Buffalo on the Erie Canal. Captain McCadden is not at all pleased when he discovers the romance, and his anger is escalated further by the fact that Fogarty is teaching Erie to read. Happily, in the end the captain comes to his senses, likely due in no small part to Fogarty’s rescuing of McCadden’s barge when it is accidently set adrift. Erie marries her love and the two present McCadden with a grandson.
The Erie Canal proved too difficult a setting for the Universal production department to create on or near the studio’s lot. However, the Erie Canal itself was not deemed suitable either. At least that was the opinion of the movie’s director, Edward Sloman, who came to New York State with two veteran cameramen, Jack Voshell and Jackson Rose, to find the right filming location.
Such location trips were rare at that time in the movie industry, but Universal was willing to invest the added time and money necessary to film the movie in the correct setting. After scouting the entire modern, commercialized Erie Barge Canal from Albany to Buffalo, Sloman felt it would not be believable to audiences. “They would swear we faked it in California,” he said.
Enter a contractor from Waterford, NY, named John E. Matton. He believed the Champlain Canal was just what Universal was looking for. After seeing it, Sloman agreed and chose Whitehall as the filming location.
In May, 1928, Sloman and rest of the film’s cast and crew set up their headquarters at Glens Falls and took up temporary residence at the Queensbury Hotel in order to begin making the movie. The silent era was giving way to “talkies,” and The Girl on the Barge was a hybrid between the two—a silent film with talking sequences.
The film’s cast was made up of some notable stars. The title role of Erie was played by Sally O’Neil, who had found stardom in 1925 when she appeared along with Constance Bennett and Joan Crawford in Sally, Irene, and Mary. Erie’s father, the barge captain, was played by Jean Hersholt, who appeared in 140 films from 1906–1955, and served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1945–1949.
Malcolm MacGregor (or McGregor), who appeared in over 50 films during his career, played Erie’s love interest, Fogarty. Erie’s sister, Superior McCadden, was played by Nancy Kelly, whose career spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s, during which time she received nominations for an Emmy and an Oscar, and also won a Tony Award. Both Ms. Kelly and Mr. Hersholt have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The movie’s director, Edward Sloman, was no slouch either. He directed nearly 100 films and acted in over 30, with some producing and writing thrown in for good measure. The story on which the movie was based was originally written by Rupert Hughes for Cosmopolitan magazine. Mr. Hughes was a prolific writer who saw more than 50 of his stories and plays made into movies.
The entire episode apparently caused quite a stir in the Whitehall/Glens Falls area. Several Whitehall residents took part in various scenes in the movie, and a humorous incident at the Queensbury Hotel was reported in the Syracuse Herald on June 11, 1928.
It seems that Mr. Hersholt arrived at the hotel after a day of filming. He was still dressed as his drunken barge captain character and asked for his room number without giving his name. The desk clerk not so politely informed Mr. Hersholt that the hotel was filled with “those motion picture people,” and there were no rooms available. In order to gain access to his room, Mr. Hersholt had to call upon director Edward Sloman to vouch for him.
Universal had a three-tiered rating system for its motion picture productions at the time Girl on the Barge was filmed. Low-budget flicks were dubbed Red Feather, and mainstream productions were labeled as Bluebird. Girl on the Barge was categorized as one of Universal’s most prestigious films, called Jewel. Jewel productions were expected to draw the highest ticket sales.
The movie was released on February 3, 1929. Various newspaper ads and articles have been found showing the movie still playing in theatres around the country into the following fall. The movie also received many favorable reviews. The Chronicle Telegram of Elyria, Ohio, complimented the “realistic and picturesque scenes” of “the barge canals of Upper New York State” (May 20, 1929).
The New York Times reviewer, Mordaunt Hall, raved about Mr. Hersholt’s make-up and costume, and stated, “The scenes are admirably pictured.” The Sheboygan Press of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, called the film “an exceptional picture,” and went on to report, “The picture actually was photographed along the picturesque Champlain Ship Canal in Upper New York State.”
Photo Top: Movie Poster now on exhibit in the Whitehall Museum.
Photo Middle: Sally O’Neil and Malcolm MacGregor in a scene near the canal.
Photo Bottom: Movie advertisement in the Ticonderoga Sentinel, 1929.
Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is calling for writers to share inspirational stories of experiences in New York’s great outdoors by entering the “Great Stories from the Great Outdoors” contest. Stories can range from the simplest walk through the woods to meeting a challenge through an outdoor activity. The contest is open to all and runs through February 2011.
Each month, DEC will select stories and post them on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov). A prize will be awarded for the top story each month. Complete contest rules are available online. Through the Great Outdoor Stories contest, students, sportsmen and women, outdoor enthusiasts, campers and hikers can reflect and share the importance of the natural environment in their lives.
Entries can range from a few sentences to a maximum 650 words. All story entries must be received by February 28, 2011. Submit stories online at GreatOutdoorStories@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by mail to:
Carole Fraser NYS DEC Universal Access Program 625 Broadway, 5th floor Albany, NY 12233-4255
Illustration: The Great Adirondack Pass 1837 by Charles Ingham.
“Lake George is rich in musical history, having been home to Marcella Sembrich, Louise and Sidney Homer, among others, and by the late 1950s, people wanted to bring the magic back,” says Tom Lloyd, recounting the origins of the Lake George Opera.
Lloyd, the owner of Adirondack Studios, is the son of the Lake George Opera’s legendary director David Lloyd, and was himself a technical director, artistic director and acting managing director when he was still in his 20s.
Earlier this fall, Lloyd addressed a gathering of Lake George Opera supporters in Clifton Park, a kick-off to the organization’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary.
Two weeks later, the company announced that it was changing its name to Opera Saratoga, severing its links to its origins on the shores of Lake George. “For several years, the Company has considered a name change to reflect its permanent residency in Saratoga Springs. The Company has been producing opera at the Spa Little Theater for the past fourteen seasons and considers the lovely, intimate theater to be its home. The time has come, as the Opera celebrates the accomplishments of its history, to fully embrace its home and increase the public commitment to its community and surroundings,” a statement from the company said.
Lloyd acknowledged that he has mixed feelings about the change in names, but he concluded, “the organization should probably be named for the community that embraces it, and that seems to be Saratoga. Let’s hope it will lead to increased funding.”
For those who hoped that some way would be found to bring the Lake George Opera back to Lake George, its 50th anniversary was to have been an occasion to re-affirm its historic links to the lake. Instead, it’s an occasion to reflect upon the past.
Tom Lloyd provided that retrospective in his talk to the Friends of the Lake George Opera in November.
In 1962, tenor David Lloyd was in Colorado, performing with soprano Jeanette Scovotti, both names huge in the world of opera.
“Jeanette had to leave Colorado and go back to New York, where she and her husband Fred Patrick were starting the Lake George Opera,” said Lloyd. “She said something to David, David spoke to Fred, and by the next summer David had signed on as artistic director.”
Fred Patrick, born Frederick Susselman, was a baritone who had graduated from Julliard, where he had met Scovotti.
He was also a friend of Armand McLane, a singer who was familiar with Lake George and its musical associations, who believed that there was still an audience on the lake for opera.
Patrick may also have been familiar with Donald W. Johnston, who had started the Studio of Song in 1951.
“The Studio of Song didn’t make it, but Fred Patrick saw its amphitheatre in Diamond Point, and saw its possibilities,” said Lloyd.
Legend has it that the theatre, at the corner of Rt. 9N and Coolidge Hill Road, was a building in total disrepair. Patrick rebuilt it himself on summer weekends, when he wasn’t on tour or singing in New York.
Among the new company’s first productions was an English version of “Carmen,” with a libretto by Patrick himself.
In fact, when the singer scheduled to perform the role of Escamillo fell ill, Patrick sang the role.
Reporting on the Lake George Opera’s first season, the New York Times called Patrick “a jack of all trades.”
“Mr. Patrick keeps his budget down by doing the chores himself. He feels that his company must be versatile. He plans an apprentice program, which should help out backstage,” the reporter noted.
According to Tom Lloyd, the Lake George Opera’s versatility was its defining characteristic, and made membership in the company the valuable experience it was.
“The singers didn’t just sing, they did everything, including costuming, lighting and set design,” said Lloyd. “Fred always had a handful of bus tickets, and if you weren’t willing to work, he’d hand you one and put you on a bus back to New York. He was so committed, and he expected you to be, too.”
That collective spirit informed the apprentice program envisioned by Patrick. By 1967, a young singer would be taking classes in the morning, painting sets in the afternoon, and applying her own make-up in the evening in preparation for a stage appearance. The program is now the second oldest of its kind in the country, and one of the most selective.
Equally important to the future of the company was Patrick’s vision of an American company performing operas in English.
David Lloyd and many others associated with the Lake George Opera had studied with Russian-born pianist, conductor, and stage director Boris Goldovsky at Tanglwood.
Goldovsky, explains Tom Lloyd, trained artists to be actors as well as singers.
“Like stage actors, opera singers needed motivation and characterization if they were to become good performers,” said Lloyd.
Singing in English made singers better actors, David Lloyd said in 1967.
When a singer knows that his words are understood, David Lloyd said, he works harder to make his gestures and expressions suit his language.
Fred Patrick died at the age of 37 in 1965. By then, David Lloyd was the company’s managing director. Under his tenure, the Company gave its first contemporary and American operas, Menotti’s The Telephone in 1965 and Robert Ward’s The Crucible in 1966, and four world premiere productions: David Amram’s Twelfth Night and Robert Baksa’s Aria da Capo, both in 1968, The Child by Jose Bernardo in 1974, and Alva Henderson’s The Last of the Mohicans in 1977.
In 1964, the company moved to the Queensbury High School.
“The disadvantages were that it was a high school, with all the stigma attached to that,” said Lloyd. “The advantages were that it was enormously accessible, classrooms could be used as rehearsal halls, there was plenty of parking and it had an 876 seat theater.”
Unlike today’s three week season, when two operas will be performed, Lake George Opera seasons in the 1960s extended for an entire summer and featured more than fifty performances of at least seven operas.
The Queensbury High School was meant to be a temporary home. Fred Patrick had dreamed of building a theater on Lake George, and working with officials in the administration of Governor Hugh Carey, David Lloyd nearly accomplished that feat.
“My Dad’s effort with Hugh Carey was inspired. He almost had the State ready to donate Green Island to the Opera when the Sagamore was in disarray. It would have become a real destination festival like Santa Fe if that would have happened,” said Tom Lloyd.
It has been said that the Opera’s board of directors, then dominated by Glens Falls residents, vetoed the idea on the grounds that Bolton Landing was too remote to attract an audience.
In 1998, the company moved to the Spa Little Theater in the Saratoga State Park.
This summer, the newly-renamed company will celebrate its 50th anniversary with performances of two operas staged in Diamond Point in 1962.
And that, so far as we know, will be the last of the Lake George Opera Festival.
Photos: Lake George Opera production of The Bartered Bride, 1996; Lake George Opera Festival founders Jeanette Scovotti and Fred Patrick (photo taken at Chalet Suisse, Warrensburg). For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror
In 1936, at a birthday party in the Adirondacks, the honoree said he would be married within two years. He died six years later, but in that short time he made headlines across the state and the country on several occasions. During that span, he received more than 100 letters and 9 personal visits from female suitors; became engaged; was dumped the day before the wedding; was the guest of honor at several dinners, birthday parties, and parades; regularly mowed his lawn with a scythe; joined a ski club; and received the Purple Heart for war injuries.
Those are interesting, but relatively normal life events. Unless, of course, at that party in 1936, the birthday boy was turning 99 years old. Review it all from that perspective, and now you’ve got something.
Meet Charles Jennette, for a time the most famous man in the Adirondacks. His greatest notoriety came in his 100th year when he became engaged to Ella Blanch Manning, a New York City woman who had attended his 99th birthday party several weeks earlier. Days before the wedding, the Albany headline read “100 Called Too Old to Marry; Man Will Take 3d Wife at 99.” But just 24 hours before the wedding, and after a visit with her daughters, Ella changed her mind. Already a media sensation, and despite being left high and dry, Charles continued with his post-wedding plans of a boat ride and dinner, remaining hopeful of marriage in the near future. After many interviews, he was only too happy to return to an otherwise, quiet, humble life.
Jennette was born in Maine in 1837. The family moved to Canada when he was five, and returned to the US when the Civil War began. At Malone, Charles enlisted for three years with Company A, 95th NY Volunteers, but served only nine months. His time was cut short in 1865 when he was wounded in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run (also known as Dabney’s Mills) in Virginia. He was still in the hospital when the war ended.
In 1866, he married Emily Proulx in Ottawa, a union that would endure for 57 years. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Charles tried to enlist at the age of 61 but was refused. He lived much of his life in the St. Regis Falls area as a lumberman, toiling in partnership for many years with his son, John.
They ended the business relationship in December 1915 when Charles was 78, and in the following year he built a cottage at Old Forge. In 1921, the 84-year-old was one of only 6 attendees at the final meeting of the Durkee Post GAR in St. Regis Falls. GAR represents Grand Army of the Republic, the title given to Union forces in the Civil War. Few veterans survived, so the local group was discontinued.
His wife, Emily, died in the mid-1920s. Charles soon began spending summers in Old Forge and winters in Ilion (near Herkimer), while making regular visits to family in Tupper Lake. He married for a second time (January 1935, in Montreal), but his new bride died just two months later.
He was generally known as a remarkable old-timer until fame arrived in 1936 when, at his 98th birthday party, Charles announced he expected to wed again before he reached 100 (because “over 100 is too old”). Several hundred people attended the festivities.
After addressing more than a hundred female suitors (ages 42 to 72), he made plans to marry Ella Manning. Instead, at 99, he became America’s most famous groom to be jilted at the altar.
After that, it seemed anything he did was remarkable, and at such an advanced age, it certainly was. In 1937 (age 100) he rode in a Memorial Day parade as guest of honor. Shortly after his 101st birthday, he attended the Gettysburg Annual GAR Convention 72 years after his combat days had ended.
In 1940, on his 103rd birthday, he used a scythe to mow the lawn, and otherwise continued his daily ritual—trekking nearly two miles to retrieve the mail, and taking time to read the daily newspapers (and he didn’t need glasses!). Yearly, he made maple syrup in the spring and tended a garden each summer.
In August 1940 at Oneida Square in Utica, Charles was honored in a ceremony at the Soldiers’ Monument, which was built in 1891 to memorialize the Utica men who “risked their lives to save the Union.” Seventy-five years after suffering wounds in battle, Charles Jennette became a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (formed during WW I).
At age 104, perhaps still holding a marriage possibility in the back of his mind, Charles became the first male allowed to join the Old Forge Sno-Flakes, an all-girls’ ski club. He soon expressed regret at not having taken up skiing “when I was young, say 70 or so.”
In mid-1942, in support of the WW II effort, a photo of Charles purchasing war bonds was widely distributed among newspapers. He continued to attend American Legion rallies and make other appearances. Finally, in December of that year, he passed away at the age of 105.
Photo Top: At age 99, Charles Jennette with his fiancé, Ella Manning.
Photo Bottom: One of many headlines generated by Jennette’s story.
Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
Few people combine so much heart, artistry and teachable strategy as Gary Randorf. This influential, heroic Adirondack photographer and conservation advocate is about 73 now, but he will always be a young man at heart, and he’s still keeping in touch with his many Adirondack friends. I feel fortunate to have interacted with him over the years.
Gary has influenced so many people to look not once, not twice but again and again at the Adirondacks, or any landscape that has such arresting wilderness beauty, subtlety, inhabited by people feeling a deep sense of place. Actually, Gary was teaching when you didn’t realize it. Early in my time with the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, Gary led a lobbying trip to Albany for the Adirondack Council. He never explicitly taught me how to lobby. He simply took me from office to office, talking as we went. As I recall, Gary was pushing the Legislature to increase funds for land acquisition in the State, and for Park planning at the Adirondack Park Agency.
The Senate Finance committee, chaired By Senator Ron Stafford, was a tough nut to crack. Gary always took the time to sit down with even the most hostile, or seemingly hostile, staff member. On this occasion, a very senior staff member of the Senate Finance Committee started to lecture Gary. Our cause that day was not very important, he said. We were a very small fish swimming in a very large ocean called the NYS budget. Furthermore, people in the Adirondacks were not interested in more land acquisition.
I thought he was brusk and rude to someone of Gary’s stature and experience. Yet, Gary calmly persisted, giving him pertinent information, asking the committee for its consideration, showing him photographs of the areas he was talking about, and hoping the staffer will join Gary in the Adirondacks at his next opportunity to see what was at risk. The staffer ended up smiling at the thought of a field trip. I have never forgotten that effective style.
A few months later, in August 1987, Gary was working for the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for a second stint (he and Clarence Petty worked for the APA in the ‘70s, documenting and field checking the Park’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers). On this occasion, Gary was photo documenting the development of the Visitor Interpretive Centers (VICs).
I met Gary at the recently cut-over lands destined to be the footprint of the VIC at Paul Smith’s. Gary was giving suggestions to a crew of Camp Gabriels prisoners on how to build boardwalks through the wetlands below the VIC site. He was also taking lots of photographs. Gary has such an eye for scenery, lighting and mood. Two years later, the VIC opened, with Gary’s photographic talents on display, including his photographic exhibit of the marsh as it changed its appearance over the course of a full year.
I enjoyed other rare, precious days with Gary and friends over the years. He left notes on his door – “make yourself at home” – and he always made you feel exactly that way, as he took us to places he had been many times before, but was seeing with fresh eyes. Along the way, the book he had worked on for so long, The Adirondacks: Wild Island of Hope, was finally published. His inscription of my copy meant a lot to me: “Long-time fighter in the trenches for the Forest Preserve.”
In the book’s foreword, Gary writes: “I will share with you how I enjoy the park and introduce you to its natural history because I believe that you must know and understand a place before you can be talked into saving it.” That is so characteristic of Gary’s teaching method. He continues, “The world is watching. We are and will continue to set an example of how to do it – that is, saving a wilderness that includes people. If we fail, we fail not only our state, our country, and ourselves, but also the world.” Wild Island of Hope is no mere picture book. It seeks to teach how we only understand what we appreciate, and only seek to protect what we understand.
I last saw Gary in 2009 thanks to his friends Dan Plumley and John Davis, who brought Gary to a training seminar designed for college students to apply their academic curriculum to real-world challenges of wilderness preservation in the Park. Dan opened the training and invited Gary to follow.
With disarming frankness, Gary talked about his Parkinson’s disease, and how he believed he was afflicted because of the years of exposure to pesticides as a young man earning a living in western New York. He then reminded the students how close the Park had come to widespread, unregulated aerial spraying to kill black flies in the 1980s, and recounted the difficult but rewarding work to stop this aerial assault.
Several students were amazed that spraying for black flies had been practiced, or even been considered in the protected Adirondack Park, which led to an excellent discussion about gaps in legal protection at the state and federal levels, and how current generations must build on the work of their predecessors. The job is never done. Photos: Gary Randorf speaking to students at a 2009 Adirondack Park Stewardship Training seminar, and in a group photo after the session.
I can’t be the only person that hasn’t completed her holiday shopping. Otherwise there would be no need for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Right? I did not venture into the Black Friday madness. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted enough to camp in a parking lot or be part of a stampede. My nieces and nephews are of an age when only a gift card will do while my in-laws appreciate something a bit more edible.
My children pick apart the daily influx of catalogs, circling a wish list that would put the greediest to shame. Through out the gimme-gimmes of the holiday season, I weave in as many opportunities to remind my kids that it is not the price of the gift that makes it special.
I do my best to give them chances to make gifts for their grandparents or earn a bit of money to be able to go pick up something unique. Luckily there are many bazaars, craft fairs and town celebrations that allow just that.
This weekend, events are happening all over the Adirondack Park as towns start stringing twinkle lights and bows in anticipation of the holiday season. There are tree lightings and caroling, craft shows and ranging from Northern Lights Winter Faire (where children can hand-dip a candle or make a gift) to the 23rd annual Sparkle Village weekend craft fair at Saranac Lake’s Harrietstown Town Hall. Wilmington and Keene Valley and AuSable Forks presents “Christmas at the Forks.”
On Saturday, December 4, Long Lake will have various workshops and artist open houses along with a free holiday movie, candy cane hunt and story time. North Creek will have a weekend of events for their annual “Lights One Holiday Celebration.” Eagle Bay (near Old Forge) will host an old-fashioned tree lighting, caroling and gifts for kids on Sunday followed by refreshments at the Eagle Bay Fire Hall.
Ticonderoga has its 5th annual Museum Christmas Store where all area museums gather a sampling of their goods at the Hancock House.
Warrensburg has a town-wide celebration on Saturday from tree lighting to church bazaars and plenty of children’s activities throughout. From 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Thurman Town Hall, help trim the community tree and catch a visiting Santa. If you are in Bolton Landing, Santa will be offering hay rides at Rogers’ Memorial Park at 2:00 p.m., though it will be up to you to explain the numerous Santa sightings around the park this weekend.
This hardly touches on the range of hand-crafted items or activities that will allow children of all ages to participate in a community kick-off to the holiday season.
All in all there are so many happenings that can continue to show all of us that the gift doesn’t have to be made in China or always be the “must have” toy of the year, it can be made by a neighbor or even by our own hands. Enjoy the start of the Adirondack Holiday Season.
Saranac Lake photographer Mark Kurtz will be marking the 10th anniversary of opening his gallery on 36 Broadway in downtown Saranac Lake on Friday with a celebration (5:30 to 8 pm) and a weekend long open house next weekend, November 20th and 21st.
Ten years ago this fall Kurtz opened his gallery after three years with the Adirondack Artists Guild. “That gave me the courage to try something on my own, Kurtz says, noting that he wasn’t sure what to expect from his new space, which also houses his commercial photography business. Since he first entered a darkroom in the eighth grade, Kurtz has been honing his craft, largely in black and white. His gallery boasts hundreds of hand-made prints. Kurtz was a founding member of the Adirondack Artist’s Guild, and is widely recognized as one of the Adirondack region’s preeminent photographers. He is a regular contributing photographer to Adirondack Life magazine and his work has been featured in Skiing magazine. Kurtz will be showing some new things at his gallery for his tenth anniversary – color for one. Along with his black and white, and sepia work he has also expanded his offerings to include digital prints. “No, I have not gone completely digital” Kurtz said emphatically, “I will never give up the traditional process of shooting with film and working in the darkroom. But the quality of digital has progressed to a level that I can now offer my images as digital prints and at a lower price than the labor intensive silver print process.”
Hours for next weekend’s open house will be Saturday, 10 to 7, and Sunday 10 to 4.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.