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Friday, September 19, 2008

Abanakee Studios and Rustic Fair

On Sunday, Sept. 7, I visited Abanakee Studios in Indian Lake, the Rustic Fair at the Adirondack Museum and the piggyback show along Blue Mountain Lake's Main Street at the bottom of the hill.

The owners of Abanakee Studios, Kathy and Jane, were making room for a delivery of several pieces from one of the rustic furniture makers from the show later on in the afternoon. I've gotten to recognize the owners of Abanakee Studios from their regular attendance over the years at Buyer Days.

While Jane talked and sold to two couples who meandered in Kathy took the time to show me around and give me a little insight into their business. Homemade cookies and coffee were in the back corner by the door overlooking Abanakee Lake. From the door I looked onto the porch where more than a hundred people this summer took 23 workshops. Today their golden retrievers enjoyed the sun.

Next year they will have been open 10 years. 75 to 80% of the people who visit the mix of gallery, giftshop and workshop come back! The barn interior is airy and well lit. Among the antiques are works from local artisans which are only sold here. One of them creates fine gourds, pressed flower images with a contemporary feel, and birch bark frames. Jane's painting of nature and landscapes on wood pieces are scattered throughout. Kathy is pleased that one of her photos is in Adirondack Life's 2008 calendar as the July image. A lampmaker friend has designed a lamp for them which is a popular seller. Kathy says they are doing well despite the ups and downs of the economy. Another marketing piece that they do is label each of their raffia handle brown paper gift bags with their logo, name and location.

Upstairs in their loft gallery I discovered the canvases of George R. Dworzan, a contemporary of Jackson Pollack's and member of "The Club" in NYC. He had summered in Indian Lake for 40 years. His widow who still summers here has become friends of Kathy and Jane. Breathtaking abstarcts, still lifes, landscapes; samples of his works spanning his career surrounded me. They have sold a few. I can only hope that some of his pieces find a home in a museum which collects works from that heady time period in NYC.

In Blue Mountain Lake, I was astonished at the size of the piggyback show. There were at least 50 exhibitors. In small groups, they work out individual arrangements with the property owners along Rte. 30. The Adirondack Museum events may be the only ones in the region which trigger piggyback shows. One had sold $2400 worth of product, another had taken their largest order in chairs; 10. Many of the same regulars also frequent Buyer Days. Two of them will be offering workshops at Abanakee Studios next year. Brian Morris, North Country Images and Gallery from Long Lake had sold at least two large pieces of his furniture to customers from Long Lake! Steve and Marilyn, I'm sorry I missed you - where were you?

Inside the Museum, the furniture makers were scattered about the grounds while the five painters were together in one building. I admired Matt Burnett's tile landscape pieces and congratulated Gary and Barbara Casagrain on the exterior of their recently opened beautiful gallery on the main street in Tupper Lake. I saw Vicki, the Museum shop manager, looking pleased as she collected the pieces she had purchased. The Museum Fiber Show, on the following weekend, attracted people who made the weekend worthwhile for the vendors who are there. This upcoming weekend is the first time that the annual antique show is back at the Museum after a number of years in Indian Lake. I was told that there will be another piggyback show of vendors along the main street in Blue Mountain Lake as well as some in Indian Lake.

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