( Column 15 / 2002)

"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

A Visit to Colorsape Chenango

          My schedule has kept me busy, so this was the first I had time to visit Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival in about four years. The festival, now in it's eighth year, it was held this year on September 8th and 9th, in East and West parks in Norwich, New York. There was plenty of good food, a farmers market, events for the kids, and the great selection of musical performances offered a lovely background for real reason I came....To see all the art and craftwork. After all, it is all the hand made art and craftwork that make this an "Arts Festival". The show is a great opportunity for local artists and craftworkers to get exposure, and it was fun to see the wide range of talented people in this area. Regardless of whether they do it for their livelihood, or are just dabbling in the arts, all the work was of very high quality. There were a few professional artists I know from doing shows around the country, and I was able to hang out and visit with them, something I don't often get to do.
          A festival like this is a great place to shop for the special people in ones life. I purchased gifts for a couple upcoming birthdays, and one Christmas present. I'm always looking for unique work and try to plan ahead. I don't participate in the festival because my terrariums are available at Gallery 3-2-1 in Oxford, New York, and I don't want to compete with them. It is my view that having such a fine art and craft outlet in this rural area is an asset to the community, and a cultural resource.
          The weather cooperated, so those who spread out on the lawn to listen to the music, had no worries. They were rewarded with outstanding performances, and it was good to see that the folks that run it have managed to keep Colorscape free to the public. Thanks to the many corporate contributors, grants, private contributions, and logistic support from the city of Norwich and Chenango County, the music is here, and not at some other venue where admission would be charged. The volunteers that give their time, and work so hard, to make this a success also deserve a lot of credit.
          A new feature of Colorscape 2002, is a poetry contest. There is a Youth division, and an open division, I had the opportunity, and time, to view the thirteen poets in the youth division. Trying to pick favorites, was very difficult. Each of them had something special to share with the audience, and opened windows into their souls. Sometimes it was done gently, and sometimes the words hit me in the head, but never the less, when all was said and done, I felt like I knew at least a part of each of them very intimately. The very depth and strength of their performances, was impressive and I was encouraged to see these young people exploring creativity using the written and spoken word. Thank you all for a most enjoyable visit.
          There is more to see from the Colorscape Chenango Arts festival on the website at: www.lostvalleys.com

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