( Column 5 / January 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

          "The Hands of the Artist"
          For as long as I can remember, creative people have held a certain fascination for me. As a child, watching a street artist doing portraits of tourists with pastels would keep me riveted watching as a face flowed from those talented hands. I once sat for hours as a family friend rolled clay into long snake like strips, and then coiled them, one on top of another, to form bowls. She carefully rubbed, inside and out, until the surface was smooth. Months later, I received one of those bowls for my birthday, and it immediately became my favorite "Cheerios" bowl. For years, every time the bottom of the bowl was reached, the memory of watching it being formed would return.
          What I realize now is that, in my mind, I connect the creativity with the hands. It's as if the person wasn't there. The hands of the artist would form the work, decide when it was finished, let it go, and move on to another piece. Later on, as I began to "create" things, it became clearer.....the hands had to be taught. The creative spirit may inspire, but the mind has to design the work, and train these hands to carry out the task of completing the project. Once the hands have the skills, the artist has more freedom to create.
          This perception lingered in the back of my mind, and then last year I was given the opportunity to do something with it. I came up with the idea to make a video featuring some of the creative people who live in Chenango County. The proposal was approved, and The New York State Council on the Arts enabled my purchase of a digital video camera and tripod with public funds administered by The Chenango County Council of the Arts. I then purchased a powerful computer and software to edit the video, and set out to chronicle "The Hands of the Artist".
          I found seven cooperative artists, and proceeded to tape their stories. Working with them, and around our schedules, the video began to take shape. It was a learning process for all of us. The artists having to assemble their thoughts and feelings about their work, and me learning to operate the equipment , compose the shots, and editing the resultant footage into something that represented each of them accurately. The end result of this, my first video, does not have the movie studios banging on my door, but does give some insight into the artists' personalities, and the creative people that make Central New York their home.
          You can learn more about the video "The Hands of the Artist" and the artists themselves on the internet in "The Gallery" at www.anysaver.com. The video is available at all of the libraries in Chenango County, as well as the Chenango County Council of the Arts.

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