By Jim Ver Steeg
Each year, the Cranberry Lake Art Show, organized by Gail Gotham, Char Lough, Kathy Nevil, and Marilyn Zimber, brings together artists and craftspeople around a unifying theme. In past years, Adirondack chairs, wooden fish, paddles, and wooden loons have been detailed, decorated, and even reimagined for this annual event that sparks creativity and raises money for scholarships and other worthy organizations.
Perhaps even more importantly, it brings the Cranberry Lake community together as hosts of a wonderful weekend that brings visitors and auction goers from around the region. I’ve even submitted a couple pieces for auction, myself, and watched with nervous delight as NCPR’s Todd Moe called out bids on something I created. It was pretty terrific, and I encourage anyone interested to give it a try.
To set the stage for this year’s auction, I asked Gail, Marilyn, and the group some questions about the art show and what it means to the community.
How did the Cranberry Lake Art Show get started?
The Group: Gail Gotham came to us with an idea. She wanted to do something good for Cranberry Lake.
It turned out to be an art show based on finding the talent in our area. We had no idea of the talent that was here. We found artists in Cranberry Lake with extraordinary talents. We put together a show in the community room with paintings, jewelry, pottery, hooked rugs, quilts, wooden bowls and other beautiful art work all from local artists.
As a part of the first show we had a reception at the fire hall honoring Jeanne Reynolds, our founding artist. We showcased over 70 of her paintings, gathered from people in the area who house her beautiful work. They were willing to share with us for this occasion and it was a glorious success!
The first show was a success and we then realized we needed a bigger venue. The CL Fire Dept. had open space the next year and so we expanded to have the show in the fire hall. More artists came to us and asked to be in the show. It has skyrocketed from there.
What do each of you bring to the planning and organizing?
Gail: I seem to be the big idea person but it is Marilyn Zimber who is the fiber and glue that holds this whole thing together. She does everything from communicating with artists, mailings, press releases, registration, securing the building, working with the fire department, handling the money, our partnership with Friends of the Library, ordering magnets, getting the fish, loons baskets (whatever we are doing) to the artists, recruiting new artists, etc. She is the 365 days a year driving force that makes this show happen. She is the decision maker, the meeting organizer/leader, the “ask Marilyn” person that keeps us on track and focused. Without her there would be no art show. Char, Kathy Neville (our newest worker bee) and I basically do what is on her list. It is always a labor of love, no controversy, no egos, nothing but making the art show represent the people and places we all love. We all have our jobs to do and we do them very well I think.
The show and auction seem to get bigger every year. Why do you think it’s become so popular?
Gail: I think the whole community is ready to celebrate our success as an opportunity to come together and share the good times. The auctions are like a love fest for me. They are community members coming together to celebrate each other. The show is free to the public and free to artists to participate, that was our intent, we want an event that includes everyone and anyone, if you live here or are visiting, you are included and welcome. Small communities have lost their luster on the outside, but when you get to the people there is pride and love that bring us all together and we are just looking for an opportunity and place to display that.
Where do the proceeds from the Art Show go? How much have you raised so far?
Marilyn: The main focus of the proceeds is giving scholarships to graduating seniors from CFCS going on to other higher learning, college, trade school, etc. This year we gave four $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors. We are most proud of this. We have also given money to the Art Dept., the school library, the Clifton Library, CF backpack program, and the Cranberry Lake Fire Department.
How do you decide on the auction themes each year?
The Group: The themes each year are decided by our committee the year before. We have done Adirondack chairs, paddles, loons, fish, and this year it is Adirondack pack baskets. We are keeping to the Adirondack theme.
What has surprised you about the Art Show?
The Group: The amount and quality of the local art. We have found hidden artists who have beautiful work, most of which has some sort of Adirondack theme. The art in this part of the country is awesome.
What do events like this do for the Cranberry Lake community?
Marilyn: Events like this help put Cranberry Lake on the map. It brings people from all over to town for a day. It’s also a great opportunity for the Cranberry Lake Fire Department. IT makes money by hosting a chicken bbq, and the artists have an opportunity to sell their works when they want to.
A Sample of the Pack Baskets
Humble Brag: Two Pieces That I Made for Past Auctions