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Striking a pose: Jennifer Goodwin’s Eleanor.

A Quiet Season

At Saratoga’s Art in the Park, artists feel the effects of a flat economy

By Chet Hardin

Oh, how exquisite!” the delicate old creature says. She is taken in by Sarah Annis’ exhibit: a charming set of teacups arranged casually on the antique ironing board, sugar cubes scattered about, and a mostly empty pitcher of fake milk.

“What are these?” the prim and well-maintained woman asks herself, pointing to the little brown cockroach sculptures posed as though scurrying across the remnants of a tea party. She leans in closer to examine them. They don’t look exactly right for cockroaches. She wonders at the familiar shape: the smooth, rounded hood at the tip of a long and tubular body, wrinkly, slightly curving, phallic.

“Oh my!” She falls back, recoiling like she had just stuck her nose into an actual infestation of miniature brown cocks. She tries to smile at Annis, but turns to run instead, and is blocked by a mother with her teenage daughter, also interested in the oddly shaped roaches. Too embarrassed to say anything, she frets and fumbles her way to her husband.

It’s been a while since she’s been that close to one, someone jokes. Another victim of Annis’ coy play on social niceties.

“It is great to watch people react,” the artist says. “So far, most have people been disgusted and shake their heads in shame.”

The sober and young artist in the next tent, Alexa Rast, proffers that the resilient cockroach serves as an ideal metaphor for the insistence of our base desires to infest even the most proper and controlled cultural settings. Even in the parochial Saratoga Springs on a sunny, lazy Tuesday afternoon away from the track, there is no escaping those ugly little roaches.

Rast’s work is conceptual as well, involving strands of her own hair dyed and pressed onto canvas in vascular shapes. She and Annis have traveled from Connecticut to exhibit their work at Art in the Park, but they belong to an experimental teaching gallery in Torrington and are used to that edgier, less consumer-driven world. They are suffering from a bit of culture shock.

“I have never been to a fair before,” Rast says. “It’s humbling. People can be so much more, uh, direct.”

Artists are familiar with the sacrifice of their trade. Investing years into their skills and thousands of dollars into their materials, just to pile up the patent rejections and attics full of unsold pieces, at least showing in a gallery offers them some solace, some self-respect. Plunking down $100 to set up a card table and tent along with 60 other artists for the amusement and distraction of a crowd of Saratoga vacationers can be brutal.

In a gallery setting, she says, an artist can easily remain anonymous. Here, she’s trapped, sitting next to her work in a folding camping chair, watching as the parade of middle-aged, middle-class white people file by, not even slowing to examine her labor in detail or pawing at her canvases with sticky fingers. Many of the artists have deflated the prices of their work, or created new, smaller pieces, intentionally to try to recoup some of the expense, trying to justify the extra money they spent just for the one-day event.

Everyone that passes by is an instant critic, leveling the harshest criticism: do not want.

The majority of the artists today certainly are trying their best to please their audience, as is obvious by their complete embrace of the equine motif. It is Saratoga.

Flat, thick oil thoroughbreds against flat, thick oil sunrises; rustic purple nighttimes in quiet stables; swirling watercolor beasts, accidental experiments in perspective, whinny and buck. Black-and-white nostalgia shots of Travers Stakes winners. Mounted steeds in mid-gallop, pampered by their trainers in the early morning, bathed and cleaned, or standing patient as their jockey looks off into the upcoming race. In a variety of mediums: eggshell mosaic, steel silhouettes cut by plasma torches, quilts, silver jewelry.

Playful horses, angelic horses, champion horses, and thanks to Jennifer Goodwin, horses full of sass.

Hats on Horses, a series of sculptures by Goodwin, is intended for its audience, but goes beyond the simple adulation of the beasts and offers a playful personification of femininity. Her horses, sculptures of resin and clay, stand proud on their hind legs, hands on hips, flaunting their stylish Victorian-era hats.

Victorian horses: How much more Saratoga can you get?

She is selling all of her pieces at a reduced rate, too. She spends about 12 hours on each sculpture, and is selling them for $195. A little low, but she is willing to take a loss to get her work out there.

“I plan to add more, some purses, handbags, skirts,” says Goodwin. “Maybe get them into some stores in Saratoga.”

“It’s this reputation of Saratoga that attracted all these people,” says Sandra Natale, the office manager at the Saratoga County Arts Council. She marvels that any artist would travel from Connecticut to show in Saratoga. “It’s that myth of Saratoga. This myth of Saratoga that perpetuates itself, but everything is down this year. This entire season, all over Saratoga. SPAC. The exhibitors are complaining that the numbers are down. The impulse buyer is gone. The feel-good buyer is gone.”

chardin@metroland.net

Saratoga Calendar

Curlin, the reigning Horse of the Year, with owner Jess Jackson early in the morning after a workout.

Photo: Martin Benjamin

Concerts

Aug. 21-27

CONGRESS PARK (Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-3550). Tue: Gballoi.

SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Sun: Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick. Mon: John Mayer, One Republic.

UPBEAT ON THE ROOF (Rooftop patio, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080). Fri: Doc Scanlon.

 

Clubs

Aug. 21-27

THE ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.

ALMOST SARATOGA (2839 Route 9, Malta, 587-0048). Sat: karaoke.

CAFFE LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu: open mic. Fri: Sonny & Perley. Sat: Happy Balky and the Good Livin’. Sun: Kieran Kane.

CHEZ SOPHIE (Saratoga Hotel, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-3538). Fri, Tue: Cole Broderick. Sun: Cole Broderick (10:30 AM).

CIRCUS CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Thu: open mic with Nate Solomon. Fri: Nouveau Jazz Beat. Sat: George Boone Blues Band. Wed: Jeanne O’Connor.

THE CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686). Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.

FIFTY SOUTH (2128 Doubleday Ave., Route 50, Ballston Spa, 884-2926). Fri: karaoke.

IT’S CONFIDENTIAL (38 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-0130). Thu: Mikki Bakken (5:30 PM). Fri: Franklin Micare Trio (5:30 PM); Vivid (9 PM). Sat: Sonny & Perley (5:30 PM); the Schmooze (9 PM).

MARE RISTORANTE (17 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-6955). Fri: the Accents. Sat: the Heaters.

MOUZON HOUSE (1 York St., Saratoga Springs, 226-0014). Tue: Masters of Nostalgia.

ONE CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026). Fri, Mon: Sarah Pedinotti Band.

PRIME RESTAURANT (Saratoga National Golf Course, Union Street, Saratoga Springs). Sat: Happy Daze.

ROUND LAKE RESTAURANT AND PUB (Round Lake Road, Round Lake, 899-1060). Thu-Fri: karaoke. Sat: E’Town Express.

SIRO’S (168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). Thu-Wed: piano bar with Roger Morris. Thu: the Accents (5:30 PM). Fri: New York Players (5:30 PM). Sat: the Refrigerators (5:30 PM). Sun: Spare Parts (5:30 PM). Mon: the Heaters (5:30 PM). Wed: Vehicle (5:30 PM).

THIRTEEN (13 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 581-1316). Fri-Sat: DJ Kamikaze.

VAPOR NIGHTCLUB (Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, 342 Jefferson St., Saratoga Springs, 584-2110). Thu: Joe Diffie.

VENUE NIGHT CLUB (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686). Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.

 

Dance

Participatory

Milonga/Tango Party, Saratoga Savoy Center of Dance, 7 Wells St., Saratoga Springs. 8/23, 8-11 PM. $10. 587-5132.

 

Classical

Performance

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 8/21, 8 PM: Philadelphia Orchestra performs works by Ravel, Lalo and Strauss; the guest violinist is Vadim Repin. $18-$72.50. 8/22, 8 PM: The PO, with violinist Yuja Wang, will perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Also, Debussy’s Nocturnes and Holst’s The Planets. $18-$72.50. 8/23, 8 PM: The PO, with guests, will perform two concertos by Higdon, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. $18-$72.50. 587-3330.

Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs. 8/24, 2:15 PM: Saratoga Chamber Music Festival concludes with violinist Zach De Pue, violinist Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer. $36.50, $41.50. 587-3330.

 

Family

Children’s Museum at Saratoga, 69 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs. Wacky Wednesday After-School Kids Club Wednesdays, 3:45-5 PM. Ages 6-10. Free with museum admission. 584-5540.

Radio Disney KidZone at Saratoga Polo on 8/24. Kids can meet ponies and more. Call for info. 584-8108.

Museums & Galleries

70 Beekman Street Art Gallery, 70 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs. 542-6688. Sporting Life: A Solo Show by Adriano Manochia. Through 9/5.

New York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs. 581-5100. Worth a Thousand Muskets: Civil War Field Artillery. Also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary War. Also, World War II: United for Victory. Also, Fiery Trial and Sacrifice: New York and the First World War. Ongoing.

Riverfront Studios Fine Art Gallery, 96 Broad St., Schuylerville. 369-3280. Summer Suite. Through 8/30.

Saratoga County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. 25 Years of the Travers: Poster Art by Greg Montgomery. Through 8/31.

Saratoga County Arts Council, Member Exhibition Hall, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Adirondack Light and Adirondack Reflections. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Hospital Medical Library, 211 Church St., Saratoga Springs. 583-8301. Rocky Roads: Coast to Coast View. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Springs Amtrak Station, Station Lane, Saratoga Springs. 437-6877. Sen Ba: War Horses. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs. 584-7860. Photographs by Andrew Derk. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Springs Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 587-3241. Saratoga Springs Alive!, oil paintings by Cynthia Whitman. Through 8/31.

Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Opener 15: Amy Sillman: Third Person Singular. Through 1/4/09. Also, Elevator Music 12: Jessica Rylan. Through 9/20. Also, Opener 14: Dean Snyder: Almost Blue. Through 8/31.

 

Literary

Readings/Signings

Parting Glass, 40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs. 8/21: Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado and co-author John Eisenberg will discuss and sign their book My Guy Barbaro. Call for times. 583-1916.

 

Lectures & Learning

Workshops

Schulerville Yacht Basin, 96 Broad St., Schuylerville. 8/23, 1-4 PM: Rita Dee will demonstrate how she assembles driftwood horses. 695-5354.

 

Farmers Markets

Ballston Spa Farmers Market, Wiswall Park, Ballston Spa. Thursdays, 3-6 PM; Saturdays, 9 AM-noon.

Saratoga Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.

 

Et Cetera

Galas & Benefits

10th Annual Travers Wine Tasting to benefit Senior Services of Albany’s Meals on Wheels program, and other senior-related services, at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs on 8/22. Bid on dozens of distinctive food, wine, travel, art, theatre, and sport packages. Desserts, live auction and more. Call for info. $125. 463-4381.

Miscellaneous

Saratoga County Arts Council Ghost Walks Haunted History Tours of Saratoga Springs, 7 PM every Friday night through October and Saturday evenings in August and October. $10, $5. 584-4132.

Saratoga Race Course

Open daily through Sept. 1, except Tuesdays

Location 267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.

Admission $3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; reserved seating sold separately. Travers Day $5 grandstand, $10 clubhouse.

Parking $10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.

Racing Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.

First Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 23, when it’s noon; and Aug. 29, when it’s 2:45 PM).

Major Stakes Races The Alabama Stakes (Aug. 16); The Travers (Aug. 23); The Woodward (Aug. 30).


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