Downtown Tupper Lake has been enjoying a series of revivals. Last year, a street festival was held to celebrate the completion of extensive repairs and upgrades to the town. Among the many booths offering community information, refreshments, and interesting shopping, there were arts and crafts available from local artists.
The popularity of these booths encouraged the arts community to expand and offer more services for both artists and the community. This year, most of August is devoted to the grand opening of the new Tupper Arts Center.
A new beginning
Tupper Arts Center officially opened August 8, 2018. The opening show will run through August 25, with a wide variety of different works from local and regional artists. The gallery will be open Tuesdays through Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. I got a sneak peak of the new space thanks to my guide, Louise, who has been a vital part of this revival.
Louise worked with local carpenters to create several of the wooden display stands seen above, and the hanging system seen along the wall behind her on the left. She wanted inexpensive versatility.
"I feel myself as a catalyst, encouraging stuff like this to happen," Louise said. "It's sort of like, 'If you build it they will come' because we started with nothing. The building owners have gotten it in shape for us to have an art show in there, working along with our volunteers."
As you walk in, the reception space is full of small decor items.
"We will have a permanent retail space selling artworks from local artists, and maintain the gallery space, where we will feature different local artists," Louise said. "I know there's someone I'm really excited about this year. I've seen her art in random places, and I've asked her for the last year or two, 'Please come to the art show,' and she is coming this year."
There is a constant supply of art in Tupper Lake, and that's good because it'll be vital to keeping the Tupper Arts Center running.
Population of artists
When I asked about the arts tradition in Tupper Lake, Louise was happy to share the glory.
"I think it's all been pieces, building blocks," Louise said. "Each small thing that we've done, from art shows to Streetfest, have created enthusiasm. But I think actually having a physical space, a building, and saying 'this is real, this is going to happen' has made people take a second look. It lets people see the opportunities, and then support comes forward."
Tupper has a wealth of artists, both in the visual -- painters, woodworkers, and stained glass makers -- and in skills like stone masonry. Now, there will be a permanent home for them in Tupper Lake.
"So many talented people -- sometimes they need a little encouragement to bring their art out," Louise said. "I know the beauty of the work here."
Louise encourages everyone to take a look for themselves. The new space has a total of 5,000 square feet between the first floor and the lower floor, and both will be filled with art.
"For 42 years the organization carried on the tradition of the yearly art show being held in the basement of the Tupper Library," Louise said. "Three years ago, when I took it over, we brought it out into the light. Once September comes, we want to be a vital arts center in the community, with programs for children all the way up to adults."
The program schedule is still in the works, but Louise said morning yoga and dance classes will likely be on the roster.
When I visited, the space was starting to fill with art that would be set up by the art volunteers in time for the opening. There has been a dedicated core group of art lovers in Tupper since 1979, forming a non-profit organization and organizing different events through the years.
As Louise pointed out different pieces of art, her eyes lit up as she told me about her relationship with local artists.
"It's always exciting, even with the artists that you know, to see what they have done from one year to the next, and get to know them," she said.
Landscape painting will also come to Tupper via a Plein Air festival that's slated for next summer.
"It will be great for the people of Tupper to see artists coming here with their easels and painting well-known locations," Louise said. "There are so many beautiful things to paint here. It's a terrific place to explore, and now things like that are bubbling up and happening."
They certainly are happening, and it is thanks to the hard work and high enthusiasm of people like Louise.
The Tupper Arts Center will help more people take a little bit of the Adirondacks home with them.
Header photos courtesy of Jim "Cookie" Lanthier, from the temporary art display for 2017's Streetfest.
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