( Column 1 / 2001)

"The Lost Valleys"...by...Ron Gladkowski

          "A commentary about creative people living in the small communities scattered through the hills and valleys of Central New York"
          Published in The County Review

          "There are a lot of artists here from New York State."
          This is a comment heard time and time again as I travel to art and craft festivals around the country. Yes, our area is well represented in many creative fields, not just locally, but in places up and down the eastern seaboard. From Maine to Miami, and West to Louisville, and Michigan, we have a right to be proud to have so many talented people spreading the word about the richness and depth of creativity found in central New York.
          Now, everyone has a cousin, brother, or aunt that makes "cutsie' things, and certainly that is creativity and should be encouraged. However, there are people to whom creativity is life. Women and men who commit themselves to bringing into existence the ideas that flow through their heads using the media they find most expressive.
          They struggle to make a living in the face of competition from giant chain stores who contract "art" from manufacturers in third world countries and sell "Original Sofa Size Paintings - only $49.99" or a set of "Handcrafted Stoneware Mugs - only $9.95". These artists face this challenge, and still they continue.....           They continue working at their art, continue exploring new ways to market, continue finding their customers by traveling far and wide, serving a local market, or even presenting their portfolios on the internet. Whatever path each one chooses, the goals are still the same....Create and Survive. Nourish the soul, and nourish the body. For the artist, neither has any value without the other.
          Although most artists don't realize it, each of them is also an educator. educating us about the "Specialness" of their handcrafted work. Each piece is individual, a unique expression of the creator, and whether kept for personal enjoyment, or given with love to someone special, will be a treasure. The memory of this love, the love of creating, the love of giving, and the love of receiving is the real lesson.
          Artists teach love.

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