August 9, 2010


Arts, wine fest draws big crowd

4th annual event sets attendance record; features 55 artists, 18 wineries

FestBob Ellis/staff photographer
A group of wine tasters, left to right, Ronda Austin, Debbie Davenport, Jill Davenport, and Amber Austin, all of Cortland, sample wine from Americana Vineyards, of Interlaken, during the annual Arts and Wine Festival Saturday at Courthouse Park.

Staff Reporter

Steve Warren and his wife, Kathy, were in the wine tent toward the end of the Arts and Wine Festival Saturday, tasting different flavors of wine ice cream.
He was impressed with the ala port ice cream, and she said she liked the cherry chocolate merlot. They just moved to the area from Washington, D.C., in late May.
“It’s really nice, especially for someone who just moved to the area. It’s a nice introduction to the community,” Steve Warren said of the event.
Earlier on, the Warrens had enjoyed looking at artwork and listening to classical music and jazz.
The fourth annual Arts and Wine Festival held in Courthouse Park Saturday featured 55 artists selling their work, 18 wineries giving samples of their wine in a tent and several bands.
Local artist David Beale, who helps organize the festival, said he thought the Arts and Wine Festival drew its largest crowd yet on Saturday. He said organizers were hoping to attract 5,000 visitors. Midway through the event, he said he thought they would reach their goal, although they had no official counting method.
“What we’re trying to do is promote the arts in Cortland County,” said Ann Finamore, the chairwoman of the event.
Allen Phillips, a McGraw resident, won the “best in show” prize for his painting of an elderly woman who he met outside the Office of Aging in the Cortland County Office Building. The painting was part of a series he did, featuring five women he had seen inside or outside of the Cortland County Office Building. He took their photographs and used them to make paintings. He contacted the women and had them pose when he was finishing the paintings, because he needed to see them in person to create the types of details that make a painting appear three-dimensional.
The series also featured a single mother who had just reapplied for food stamps, a pregnant teenager seeking prenatal support, a girl with a black eye who had been abused by her boyfriend and a woman in a wheelchair.
The series was meant to comment on desperate housewives, Phillips said. He said he was turned off by the television show, “Desperate Housewives.”
“This is what it means to be desperate,” Phillips said. “These are all women who have had tough lives and some of them are in dangerous situations.”
Jim Burlitch, a photographer who lives near Ithaca, said Saturday was his third or fourth time selling his work at the event. He displayed many photos he took in Central New York, as well as ones he took while traveling to other states and countries.
A few of his photographs were of Taughannock Falls in Trumansburg and Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca.
“When we are going to shows in this area, the bulk of what we sell is local,” Burlitch said.
Bill Bischoff, a Cortland resident who has seen Burlitch’s work at several art shows, said he is utterly impressed by it.
“I think he’s the best I’ve ever seen,” Bischoff said.
Biscoff pointed to a photograph of a beaver swimming in greenish water and noted how Burlitch had captured the wet hairs standing up on its back. He also pointed to a photograph of water reflecting colorful basswood trees in Upper Treman State Park.
“It’s kind of like an abstract painting out of a photograph,” Biscoff said.
Biscoff, who is also a photographer, said he looks through photography magazines and “there’s not stuff as good as this in there.”
Shirley Fuller and Carol Lukovich, two sisters who live in Vestal, were selling baskets made from pine needles they had collected. They learned to make them from their mother, Kay Fisher, 96, who was resting in a trailer during the event.
Fuller and Lukovich were weaving baskets as people stopped to admire their finished baskets and talk to them.
“This is so unique. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Wendy Lyon, a Dryden resident, said as she looked at the baskets.
“I think I’ve seen some things that the Native Americans had done like this in Maine,” said Meg Richardson, an artist from Groton who also had a display at the festival.
Richardson shared her stand with her boyfriend, Carl Steckler, who displayed digitally altered photographs, including many that he took as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Richardson displayed photographs she had taken of dolls.
One of Steckler’s photographs, called “The Patrol,” showed his fellow Marines and Vietnamese militia members they had trained walking along a path to patrol an area. He said he served in the war from 1967 to 1969 and took 3,000 slides of photographs during it.
For the first time, Boy Scouts implemented a recycling plan for the event. Recycling bins were set up throughout the park, and the Boy Scouts planned to collect the cans and bottles and take them to a store to collect money for their organization.
Finamore said it was the first event in Courthouse Park to feature recycling. She added she hopes all events in the park will recycle and that organizers of the Celtic Fest are planning to do it later this month.


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