KEESEVILLE – If ADK Action is the painter and this northern hamlet is the canvas, then the Keeseville Community Arts Festival is the masterpiece.
The three-day festival, organized by the association and supported by several companies based in Keeseville, takes place from Friday July 23 to Sunday July 25 and promises more than 20 artistic activities, such as art exhibitions, wall painting of the downtown, a performance play, live music, artwork featuring familiar scenes and a tour of historic architecture.
“I think it will instill a lot of pride and bring real energy and vibrancy to the city center during the festival,” said ADK Action CEO Brittany Christenson. “A lot of locals here already know this exists in the community, but it’s events like this that really show us what a great group, a great community this is. “
FROM THE OUTDOOR
The festival is a spin-off of the former Keeseville Plein Air Festivals of ADK Action, which took place each year from 2017 to 2019.
“Plein air”, a French term, translates to “outside”.
“It’s the practice and the art of being outside in the fresh air and painting a canvas with what you see in front of you,” explained Christenson. “It’s really tricky, because of the lighting changes and the precipitation changes – there are so many factors. Sometimes your subject may even move or change; a little outdoors
painters are very fond of painting animals, for example.
Past festivals have hosted around 20 artists who painted Keeseville scenes which were then put up for sale in a local gallery.
“Our downtown reception in the past has been absolutely crowded, shoulder to shoulder,” said Christenson. “We got great feedback from the community like, ‘Wow I’ve never seen downtown Keeseville so crowded’ and, ‘I love living here, but it’s really cool to see other people appreciate how beautiful it is here. “‘”
But some in the community admitted that they didn’t know what “outdoors” meant, which led to ADK Action changing its name, she said.
“We wanted a more accessible and inclusive term. “
This year’s Keeseville Community Arts Festival is the first of its kind to coordinate with the variety of events taking place throughout the hamlet, of which the open-air painting is only a fragment.
“When we decided to add additional elements,” said Christenson, “we thought the ‘community arts’ really better captured the spirit and the broader scope of the festival.
ADK Action Tuesday hosted 40 artists from across the Northeast region, including local artists from Keeseville, Peru, and Saranac Lake, as well as some from the Hudson Valley, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to participate in this year’s outdoor painting.
Since then, artists have been busy throughout the hamlet, painting what they see.
“I saw artists paint Wickham Marsh, which is a beautiful swamp in Keeseville right by the lake where there are lots of water lilies and wildlife,” Christenson said. “I’ve also seen artists paint Mace Chasm Farm and outside of Ausable Brewing Company, so hills and farm landscapes. We have a lot of people painting the beautiful architecture, as well as the Old Stone Mill and Ausable River type scenes. “
At Friday’s special Plein Air preview night, which begins at 6 p.m., Christenson expected 120 of these paintings to be on display for sale at the 1719 Block Gallery on Front Street in Keeseville.
Festival activities are classified into six categories: art exhibitions, mural painting, theater, music, youth art and architecture.
The festival itself is decentralized with events taking place across Keeseville. So while the art exhibits and mural, painted on the Adirondack Hardware and Rental side in coordination with Outside Art: Plattsburgh Public Art Project, are downtown, Woods’ theatrical production by Artistry Community Theater is at Keeseville Elk’s Lodge and live performers will perform on the Highland and Mace Chasm roads.
“Everything is just spread out,” Christenson said. “We knew we had to provide festival goers with a map and very clear instructions on what is going on and how they can check everything.”
This is where the Arts Passport comes in.
Participants will receive the brochure free of charge, which includes a map, to be stamped once they have visited at least one activity in each category.
“It was designed as a way to highlight the 21 arts activities that are happening,” Christenson said. “If they get one or more stamps, they get an entry into the draw to win an Ultimate Keeseville Getaway Giveaway prize. Whoever gets all six stamps gets 10 entries.
The price includes a mix of products from a group of local businesses, she added.
EAT, DRINK, ART
Christenson encouraged attendees to visit the event host tent, which will be set up for the duration of the festival near the hardware store and Adirondack rental on Front Street.
“We’re going to have a ton of activities for the kids there,” Christenson said. “We will have two tables set up with all kinds of arts activities for the kids, and we will have volunteers throughout the weekend to hand people their arts passports and answer their questions.
“There will be plenty to eat and drink,” she added. “Ausable Brewing Company will be open throughout the weekend with food trucks and there is also Highlands Vineyard, which offers some of the most breathtaking views in the Lake Champlain region and a superb tasting room.
“Come eat, drink, bring your children. It’s gonna be fun.”
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