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Part of Market Street reflected in the window of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council Shop and Gallery in Potsdam.  Photo:  Todd Moe
Part of Market Street reflected in the window of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council Shop and Gallery in Potsdam. Photo: Todd Moe

Turning downtown into an art gallery

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The St. Lawrence Country Arts council kicked off its inaugural community gallery project "Art walk" on Friday night in the villages of Canton and Potsdam. Around 20 local businesses lined their walls and shelves with local art and hosted receptions featuring local artists.

The idea of art in local businesses is nothing new. Other communities in the region have held similar events in recent years. St. Lawrence County art leaders hope to foster a long term relationship between the businesses community and local artists. The council contacted local businesses with the idea that shops would stay open late and display local work. The hope is that having the walk will get people to enter places they may not normally go.

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Acoustic duo Marty Horn and Jonathan Stewart strum some tunes just inside the front door of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council last Friday night.  Photo: Todd Moe

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Reported by

Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

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Summary of Todd Moe's conversation:

Executive Director Rebecca Williams Pepiton took Todd inside the St. Lawrence County Arts Council in downtown Potsdam. Inside you can find music, cheese and crackers, and sometimes more art than space allows for. “We decided that we needed more gallery space,” says Pepiton. A lot of people are not used to this yet, but so far we have been able to form a lot of interesting and long term connections with different businesses around town.”

A light rain fall brought Todd and Rebecca into Maple Run Emporium, a gourmet food and kitchens work shop, where they ran into local artist Hillary Emerson Lay. “Most of the art that I do is on a smaller scale. I love working with teeny tiny canvases, says Lay.  I don’t want to say it is lonely making art, but I don’t actively think about why I’m doing what I’m doing. This [The Art Walk] allows me to have a deeper understanding of my own art by other people asking me questions about it.”

Mary Hilton opened Maple Run Emporium three years ago, and is enthusiastic about the new event. “The day I opened I had two paintings from one local artist. Now I have three local artists and Hillary makes four, says Hilton. I hope everybody on the street hosts somebody, because this could be a wonderful event held every year.”

The council hopes to hold the event again in the fall. “It just raises the profile and gives the artists more presence in town,” says Pepiton. My goal is to get it so big that we have to block off traffic on half of Market Street in downtown Potsdam. There is no reason why we can’t showcase the artists we have here and that is what we hope to continue to do.” The local artists featured create paintings, photos, pottery, and music and include high school and college student artists.

If you missed the art walk last Friday night, you can still check out the local art. It will be on display in most of the Canton and Potsdam businesses throughout the summer.

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