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monday, february 21, 2011

Community-Based Art in the Village of Port Henry, NY

 Looking westward toward Vermont on Lake Champlain lies the strapped, but hopefully economically re-emerging Village of Port Henry. Recently the EPA gave approval for the development of a marina on its shores. And, in keeping with its reputation as the Lake Champlain's ice fishing center, this winter the ice froze thick enough to permit dozens of fishing shanties to sprout over its surface. Towed there by trucks and visited at will by friendly snowmobilers, the presence of the shanties brought with it its usual boost to the village economy, but last winter was not as cold--or as kind. 

Travel between the Port Henry and Vermont requires a crossing Lake Champlain. For years the Crown Point Lake Champlain Bridge graced the view from the hilltop in Port Henry as it sped area residents back and forth to and from Vermont over its arched surface. That was until neglect on the part of VT and NY States required its implosion. Now in its stead, at half hour intervals, a ferry service runs year-round. But it took a while to put in place. And it is less efficient. And people do not delight in it in the same way they did the old bridge.

Come August, however, the lovely span of a new Crown Point Bridge is promised to be completed. And with it, hopefully, commerce and tourism for the area will reach their former levels. Anything but a well-to-do town in years--not since the closing of the iron mines sometime in the seventies--Port Henry struggles along. The scars of its loss are particularly evident on its main street where stores have closed and buildings stand poorly attended. That was until the coming of the PH7.

Haven't heard of the PH7? Well, let me share about them. Under the able leadership of the locally well-known artist Linda Smyth, the PH7 are group of seven women bent on prettying up the place. Armed with bolts of cloth, needles and thread, slabs of wood, paint, and brushes they are bent on removing the depressed atmosphere along Port Henry's main street.

To date the PH7 have filled the windows of the vacant stores with beautiful quilts, paintings, and murals achieved by community volunteers. Come Christmas they decorated a tree in the middle of the turn about at Main and Broad streets. Next, Linda handed out large slabs of wood to the willing who in turn each painted a large flower on it. Thereafter these works of art were hung in the Lee House for the senior citizens there to enjoy. And then, come February, the Christmas tree in the village center took on the look of a Valentine's Day celebration.

Needless to say both the work and the results have been a real lift to all over this particularly cold and snowy winter in North Country.

Many thanks to the PH7 and their energetic leader Linda Smith whose work can be seen at

Roberta in Po-Town, Missin' PH

8:52 am est          Comments

monday, february 7, 2011

Alva Press Sends Roy to Cherry Valley for 'A Show of Hearts'
On Saturday an interesting and interested group gathered at the Cherry Branch Gallery to view the art on display and talk with Roberta M Roy about her book Jolt: a rural noir.

Special thanks to Gallery Director, Kristen Henderson, and Gallery enthusiasts, David Cadwalader, Rick Brockman, and Tammy White for the warm welcome, many laughs, and delicious breakfast. Also thanks go to Cindy from the health food store and all the other volunteers for providing us such wonderful cheese and goodies. And thanks to the couple of dozen and more brave personages who willingly weathered the freezing rain and snow to celebrate "A Show of Hearts" in art and its appreciation at the Cherry Branch Gallery in Cherry Valley, New York. 

The fifteen artists who participated in this "Show of Hearts" displayed works that echoed the theme of relationships and love. Included were everything from jewelry to carvings in wood and cut stone, to oils, oil pastels, water colors and mixed media. http://cherrybranchgallery.com/ 

An esthetically uplifting and socially good time was had by all.

Pictured above is Roy chatting with Tammy White and then standing in front of a bright and colorful masterpiece that is so large that artist Carol Ann Henderson chose to paint it as it lay on its side. It and the other uplifting larger works and smaller prints by Carol Ann Henderson were clearly woven from the stuff of dreams. And so, too, was the work of all the other artists.

Roberta in Po-Town, Still delighted
7:37 pm est          Comments

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