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New arts fest — dreamy, thorough, educational and free — starts today

September 7, 2012
By RICHARD ROSENTRETER - For the Adirondack Daily Enterprise (

LAKE PLACID - It's not a dream - this is really going to happen. But organizers hope that the free three-day Adirondack-themed arts festival in Lake Placid, which starts this evening, will give attendees a chance to dream.

The festival is titled "Adirondacks: A Place to Dream" and has a multi-media program that will feature the collective contributions of some of the most important voices in the Adirondack arts. It's all free and open to the public.

"It's a new, unique program for this area; I don't know of any other like it," said Gary Smith, one of the event's organizers and owner of the Northwoods Inn in Lake Placid. "We don't have anything that addresses the arts and humanities in this area like this program."

He said the idea was to create an event that not only focuses on the arts in the Adirondacks but gives credit to the many who have shaped the special area in the North Country of New York.

"We tried to plan a way of how to acknowledge the historical significance of this place - the Adirondacks," Smith said. "We wanted to acknowledge the painters, the artists, the philosophers, the photographers and the writers that shaped for the outside world the perception of this place called the Adirondacks.

"We think that for the people who come, they will learn so much about the writers, thinkers, photographers and artists who helped present this place to the outside world," Smith added. "I think that if we are successful, people will also learn how they can use this place to further their own aspirations and dreams."

Arts and cultural organizations from throughout the North Country have joined forces for this event that is designed to explore the power of place that, for more than a century-and-a-half, has drawn some of the world's greatest artistic minds, according to organizers.

The festival kicks off with a reception and lecture at 6:30 p.m. today at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. The keynote speaker is environmental philosopher Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, who will share her views on the "subtle and often implicit" influences of the Adirondack cultural, spiritual and physical landscape on art and artists in the region. She is a member of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Northern Forest Institute.

The program continues with lectures, presentations and displays on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the High Peaks Resort. Arts and cultural organizations from throughout the Adirondacks will share their mission and current programs, including (but not limited to) Camp Sagamore, Fort Ticonderoga, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta and The View Arts Center in Old Forge.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, activities shift to the Palace Theatre on Main Street for an Adirondack silent film screening, and then to the Northwoods Inn at 9:15 p.m. for an evening of Adirondack music and storytelling. The program will conclude on Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., at the Adirondack Community Church with a consideration of spirit featuring a Mohawk storyteller.

The program was developed through the collaborative efforts of the Adirondack Center for Writing, Adirondack Community Church, Adirondack Life magazine, the Adirondack Museum, the Adirondack Photography Institute, Archives Partnership Trust, the Lake Placid Film Forum, the Lake Placid Institute and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Northern Forest Institute. Other sponsors include High Peaks Resort, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Mountain Lake PBS and North Country Public Radio.

Smith said organizers started planning the festival about two years ago. In addition to creative people, planners wanted to include the movie and film industry in the region, and it was also important to acknowledge the contributions of the early settlers and Indians in the area.

"We started out trying to develop a program that would encompass a lot of those aspects of the Adirondacks," Smith said.

He said organizers chose "some wonderful organizations to partner with" and that "it was important that those organizations build and decide upon their own presentations, and then we would attempt to shape those into an overall program."

Then came the task of coming up with a name.

"We searched for a name for the event, and words escaped us," Smith said. "Then we finally came to the notion that all the people we were including in the program who shaped the Adirondacks had been dreamers.

"And that led to the name, 'The Adirondacks: A Place to Dream,'" he said.

Attendees won't be the only ones to learn from this new event.

"We thought it was important to see if there is a market for it, and if there are people who want to learn about this aspect of Adirondack history," Smith said.

The program is supported by the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; a grant from Julia Cadbury in memory of her husband, the late Warder H. Cadbury; and an anonymous donor.

For more information, call the Lake Placid Institute at 518-523-1312 or visit




Today - Lake Placid Center for the Arts

6:30 p.m. Opening reception

7:30 p.m. Keynote speaker, environmental philosopher Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, will share her views on the "subtle and often implicit" influences of the Adirondack cultural, spiritual and physical landscape on art and artists in the region.


Saturday - High Peaks Resort until 4:30 p.m., then Palace Theatre, then Northwoods Inn

8:45 a.m. Exhibits open: Arts and cultural organizations from throughout the Adirondacks will share their mission and current programs. Organizations represented include (but are not limited to) Camp Sagamore, Fort Ticonderoga, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta and The View Arts Center in Old Forge.

9 to 10:30 a.m. A Place to Paint: Caroline Welsh of the Adirondack Museum on painting. Her presentation will explore how artists from the 1800s to the 21st century perceived, valued and pictured Adirondack wilderness.

10:30 a.m. coffee break

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A Place to Photograph: Photographs have played many roles in the history of the Adirondacks, from documenting the Park's features to preserving family memories to works of art. Adirondack Photography Institute photographers Mark Bowie and John Radigan join with emerging artist Shelby McGill for a look at where we've been and where the future lies for photography in the Adirondacks.

12:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 to 3 p.m. A Place to Write: Adirondack writers have been pivotal in developing our sense of place and regional identity. To showcase that legacy, the Adirondack Center For Writing has arranged for a series of readings and tellings of Adirondack literature. Rich Frost, in the persona of Orson Phelps, will discuss the writers that make up our canon. Jeannine Laverty will give tellings of the poetry of Jeanne Robert Foster, and actor Bob Pettee will do readings of "How I Killed a Bear" and selections from Russell Banks.

3 p.m. coffee and soda

3:30 p.m. Recap and discussion, Marianne Patinelli-Dubay

4:30 p.m. Exhibits close

6 p.m. A Place to Film: At the Palace Theater, Nelson Page, vice chair of the Adirondack Film Society, will introduce "The Flapper," a 1920 silent film accompanied by organist Jeff Barker. Kathleen Carroll, the Adirondack Film Society's artistic director, will discuss filmmaking in the Adirondacks.

8 p.m. Dinner for presenters, open to attendees, at Northwoods Inn

9:15 p.m. Music and Storytelling at Northwoods Inn by Tom Akstens, who will perform several of his pieces, sharing stories, doing some show-and-tell and playing some tunes on the banjo and guitar.


Sunday - Adirondack Community Church

10 a.m. A Tribute to the Early People: John Martin and Kay Olan present a creation story and thanksgiving address of the Mohawk peoples.



TOM AKSTENS has been a fly fishing guide, writer, musician, photographer and gardener. Among his many articles for Adirondack Life, his "A Season on the AuSable" and "Bridges" chronicle the life of the river and its people, and his "The Headstone Tells it All" won a major award.

MARK BOWIE is a third-generation Adirondack photographer, an outdoors writer, nature and digital photography workshop leader, and an avid paddler. He's a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life and Adirondack Explorer magazines.

RICH FROST has given presentations in the persona of Orson "Mountain" Phelps since finding how closely Charles Dudley Warner's description of the famed 19th-century Adirondack guide matched his own. Over the years he has written his travel column "A Day Away," first for The Chronicle in Glens Falls, and is the author of four books on regional travel and history.

JEANNINE LAVERTY has been telling international folk tales since 1979. Her performances and workshops for children have been awarded funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Institute for the Humanities.

SHELBY MCGILL is a budding artist and photographer. She loves art and photography because they allow us to share our favorite moments, places, and thoughts with others.

BOB PETTEE is an actor and the founder of the Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake

JOHN RADIGAN is a freelance professional photographer specializing in intimate images of nature. His award-winning work has appeared in calendars and publications such as Adirondack Life magazine, the Adirondack Life calendar and Art Business News.

CAROLINE WELSH is director emerita of the Adirondack Museum. She is an art historian and a specialist in museum exhibits and collections management.



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