Working Together

GLOVERSVILLE – When it comes to planning arts events, collaboration is key, according to members of both the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network and the Micropolis Gallery.

“So many cities do art nights on the same night, and it just creates a lot of energy around the arts,” said Constance Dodge, one of the founders of SVAN, which is based out of Northville. “I mean, they do this in Troy, in Albany, in Schenectady; I think actually Glens Falls does this, too.”

SVAN’s Member Show and the current Micropolis show, featuring Edinburg photographer Harry Wirtz, will both hold meet the artists receptions from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday. The Member Show is hanging in the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce building on North Main Street through June 30, while the Micropolis show is in the collective’s gallery in Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, also on North Main Street, through June 29.

SVAN and Micropolis have joined forces before. In 2011, the year Micropolis was founded, the two organizations held joint receptions for that year’s Member Show and the then-current Micropolis exhibit, dubbing the event Art on Main.

But the event wasn’t repeated the next two years. Although Micropolis has continued to host receptions for its rotating exhibits every few months under the Art on Main banner, SVAN’s Member Show, a mostly annual event, was called off in 2012 due to Dodge’s bout with cancer. Last year, SVAN exhibited photography by Bradford Smith in place of the Member Show.

This year, the timing was right for another collaboration, said Linda Hinkle, a graphic designer, painter, SVAN member and one of the founders of Micropolis.

“I think people who participated in the last one missed not having those in the two years in between,” said Linda Hinkle, a graphic designer, painter and one of the founder of Micropolis. “They were definitely like, ‘Oh, that was fun; I’m glad you’re doing it again.’ Then, there’s some few new people who never went through it before, so that’s sort of cool they’re getting that first chance.”

Both shows feature a variety of works in different mediums from area artists, including photography, paintings, drawings, sculpture, pottery and mixed-media pieces, among others.

“I think that’s kind of what makes it so fun, too, is that there’s a wide variety,” said SVAN show organizer Brenda Dwyer, who is also the environmental and creative arts specialist with Lexington Center. “And this supports the members, so it gives them a chance to show their work and draw a little attention.”

The Member Show features 53 works by 25 SVAN members. While SVAN has a larger membership, with 225 artists to Micropolis’ 18, there’s some crossover between the two organizations. In addition to Hinkle, plein air painter Janet Yeates, watercolorist Ellen Rae Panero and others are members of both organizations, according to Dodge.

Artists in the Member Show range in age from 20s to 90s. Photographer Norma Porteus of Edinburg, 95, has been taking pictures since she was 15. She mostly focuses on landscapes and scenery around Sacandaga Lake.

“I’m not on the lake on the road I live on, but I can walk down to the lake; it’s a couple thousand feet,” she said. “Right now, I’m trying to get some pictures of the new Batchellerville Bridge, but I’m having some issues. It’s not a scenic bridge to start with, and right now they’ve planted a lot of trees, and of course they’ve got them staked. Wherever you go, it’s hard to get a decent picture of the bridge itself.”

Emma Obern, 40, originally from Suffolk, England, and currently based in Galway, is exhibiting two pieces in the Member Show: a painting in the style of Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, and a three-dimensional relief painting. She has been away from the art world for the last four years in order to raise her daughter, Elizabeth.

“I want to continue working, but I’m not sure what I’m actually going to be painting,” Obern said. “Which is why I think the two pieces in the show are just for fun. They’re themes I’ve explored in the past, and went back to to get motivated again.”

Wirtz is a member of SVAN, and has two pieces in the Member Show as well as being the guest artist at Micropolis. Although not a Micropolis member, he has been a supporter of the organization since its founding, Hinkle said.

“There’s artists all over this area; some get involved locally, or some prefer not to, but Harry’s always been somebody who’s been involved with SVAN and supported us [Micropolis],” Hinkle said. “[It] just seemed like the right time, and it was a good time for him, too.”

Wirtz has displayed his photography in galleries throughout the Capital Region. He got his start in the film business, eventually moving to still photography after a stint with a firm that specialized in filmstrips.

“It was a distant predecessor to multimedia, Power Point-type stuff, and it required a lot of still photography,” Wirtz said. “I bought my first Nikon and started doing a lot of photography. it was just one of those jobs; it was a terrific job, I really enjoyed every minute of it.”

Today, Wirtz focuses on close-up, highly detailed shots. His 12 pieces hanging in Micropolis include a series of cross-section cuts of green, red and yellow peppers; shots of plants; and a nighttime scenery shot. He utilizes composite digital images in order to create larger photos with sharp details, he said.

“The reason I take multiple photos is … these issues with the digital media,” Wirtz said. “It’s very difficult for me to get a very large image that’s sharp. Now, the cameras are getting better, with higher resolution. … The reason I assemble a lot of these images is basically to take a lot of images and put them together to hold the resolution.”

After this event, SVAN and Micropolis are hoping to continue collaborating, although it probably won’t be more than once a year, Hinkle said.

“It really makes so much sense to do,” Hinkle said. “There’s a lot of effort for either party to do it, and why not have a big party instead of a little party?”

“This collaboration and everything is part of the vision of SVAN,” Dodge said. “It’s part of the vision of the arts network to really promote the cultural climate throughout the entire watershed of the Sacandaga region, and this is just another facet of that.”