August 6, 2012


Vendors use art as change of pace

VendorsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Baldwinsville photographer Mary Shear, right, talks about her artistic process with Arts and Wine Festival attendee Mike Kniffin, left, at Courthouse Park in Cortland on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

Mary Shear of Baldwinsville stood under a tent Saturday at Courthouse Park, surrounded by the results of her wish to unwind from work.
Closeups of leaves coated with frost, a sunrise on the Seneca River, sculptures in Rome, stairways, flowers, old buildings, rusting machinery — photographs of all these things hung on the tent walls. A tree on Onondaga Lake had been tinted with sepia, and images of flowers and an old barn had been made to resemble paintings, all through computer software.
Like many of the vendors at Saturday’s sixth annual Cortland Arts and Wine Festival, she does not make a living from her art. She uses it as a diversion from her work as a financial analyst for Kemper Insurance in DeWitt.
“It’s kind of like how you survive,” said Shear, whose photography business is called Shutter Shock. “There’s the thing you have to do and the thing you like to do. You have to have both.”
The more than 60 vendors at the event spanned jewelry, painting, photography, pottery and food products. A wine tasting tent stood at one end of the park, offering the chance to taste the products of 14 wineries in the region, with a food vending area next to it.
The day was sunny and close to 90 degrees but a few hundred people walked among the tents and a breeze occasionally offered relief. Vendors said the heat was preferable to last year’s rain.
Jazz music played from a stage under maple trees at the park’s center, as violinist Lois Pfister joined pianist Marina Gorelaya. There were 11 acts listed on the concert program.
Many of the vendors make a living from the art or other products they were exhibiting, but others do it only as a side venture.
Shear sees images as she drives to work through Central New York or walks around her village. She studies the ways light hits a lake or building. She looks down at plants or objects on the ground.
Her equipment is not fancy: an Olympus 7070 and a Canon Power Shot. She can carry either in her purse.
Some of her photographs show scenes from Savannah, Ga., and Italy, but she said she finds plenty of colorful and strong images just in the Syracuse area. She stages a few, such as an antique manual typewriter resting in a bed of ivy.
Down the row of tents, Michele Scoville explained why her pottery and glass works have a functional nature, inspired by what she sees in her Fulton home.
“I go through things that annoy me in my kitchen and fix them,” she said, pointing to a ceramic dog dish with a hump in the middle designed to slow a dog’s eating. “I made these because my black Lab, Livvy, ate too fast. The hump forces the dog to eat more with its tongue, slowing it down, which is healthier.”
A ceramic sponge holder and a plate with two dip bowls attached were other items for sale.
Scoville is an art teacher in the Oswego city school district. She said she makes only as many items as she can sell, as a side business.
Two Winey Sisters of Syracuse, Patricia Henson and Virginia Thoma, make decorative objects from recycled wine bottles and corks.
The corks become key chains or jewelry. The bottles become lamps, with glass grape patterns on them, in a range of colors.
Thoma also makes jewelry.
Henson said sales were slow Saturday not just for her but other vendors. She said Two Winey Sisters actually has more success at large wine festivals, such as the Finger Lakes Wine Festival in Watkins Glen.
Thoma works at a construction materials testing laboratory in East Syracuse. Henson is a career services staff member at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Another vendor who used the event to showcase a side business was Rick Eleck, music director for the Cortland city school district. For the fourth year, he is operating School’s Out Charters, a cruise boat that takes up to 12 people to eight vineyards on Cayuga Lake.
Eleck said he needed to do something besides music during the summer, so he started this business.
One new event this year was sidewalk chalk drawing.
The music all day was called the Classical and Jazz Music Festival, sponsored by the state Council on the Arts and the Cultural Resources Council of Cortland County.
The festival itself was sponsored by the Cultural Council. Among the groups helping was Sustainable Cortland, which offered volunteers.


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