Colorscape In My Own Words, by Melissa deCordova

By Melissa DeCordova, President, Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival Board of Directors

Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival beamed like a colorful prism upon Norwich’s downtown parks last September, its sparkling facets of art, music, dance, poetry, and culinary delights creating a sensory explosion for all.

If you were there, like the estimated 10,000 people who visited over the two-day weekend, I’m sure you felt it. Colorscape 2018 was marked by brisk but dry weather, 119 welcoming artists, a crowd-pleasing line up of country, folk, jazz, and classical music, and interactive activities. Based on favorable reviews on our social media pages and from surveys taken at the show, we have it starred as one of our best festivals ever.

Yet, as if this magical spectacle weren’t enough, as if the hundreds of volunteers and numerous corporate, business, and foundation partners supporting our beloved Colorscape weren’t enough. As if Adam Ezra and Vance Gilbert jamming offstage amongst the crowd, Poet Shannon Matesky voicing hope and inspiration, Ceramist Marsha VanVlack’s Best of Show win, nor Chenango Memorial Hospital’s Seafood Newburg stew weren’t enough.

Truth is, the thing, the real thing that solidly placed Colorscape in the history books this year was the very pinnacle that longtime Visual Arts Director Peggy Finnegan has been shooting for over all these years:

Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival was named #94 of the 100 Best Fine Art and Design Shows in the nation!

The recognition came from the publication most artists turn to when selecting their next venue: Sunshine Artist Magazine. Moreover, we were one of only four festivals in New York State to make the Best Fine Art & Design list. The other three were in Armonk, New York City, and Syracuse. This is something quite extraordinary when you consider the rural, less affluent nature of our Central New York region.

Sunshine Artist Magazine¬†ranks festivals each year based on sales feedback from artists. The inclusion of Colorscape among the best shows in the nation is evident that participating artists are profiting at the festival. The fact that we are in this ranking means enough of our artists are happy and making money and want to come back because they’re guaranteed that they’re going to be be making money–not just breaking even.

We always knew we were welcoming at Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival. We bring lunch to all of our artists both days, we reward them with more than $7,500 in cash prizes, we feed them a complimentary breakfast on Sunday, and even open our homes to house them for the weekend. We post our artists’ success stories and contact information on our Facebook and website pages, and we create numerous promotional signs for them in the parks. Indeed, the comments we receive every year say we are one of the friendliest shows in New York State. But this year’s pinnacle isn’t just about that. This particular shining accolade is not a personality contest. It is about our vending artists making a profit at Colorscape.

With this recognition, we anticipate jurying even more high-quality artists for this year’s festival,” Executive Director Celeste Friend said recently. “Better art means more buyers. More buyers mean better artists. In the long run, the recognition should mean a long and healthy future for Colorscape Chenango.”

What better way to shine on in this coming year as Colorscape kicks off its 25th Silver Anniversary! Plans have been underway since early last year when a large group of our supporters embarked upon a Strategic Development Plan intended to carry us all the way through to 2020, couching this important 25th year. We have arts activities galore in store for Saturday, Sept. 7th and Sunday, Sept. 8th, not the least of which include a well-known folk star, one of the top five spoken word poets ever, family-favorite puppeteers and jugglers, an exciting arts educational competitions. There will be parties honoring our longstanding volunteers and partners and receptions honoring our artists. And we hope to add more social media tools to attract younger, technology savvy audiences. Safe to say, 2019 should be memorable as well. Don’t miss in.

Now in closing, let our award-winning artists take a final bow:

Emerging Young Artists: Francis K. Wilcox Scholarship Awards went to Gillian Muller of Oxford Academy High School and Phoenix Kacyvenski of Vestal High School.

Best of Show: Marsha VanVlack, Whitesville, NY

Best Booth: Robert and Elizabeth Yates, Studio Yates, McDonough, NY

Ceramics. 1st: Marsha VanVlack, Whitesville, NY; 2nd: Leslie Green Guibault, LGG Creative Art Pottery, Hamilton, NY; 3rd: William Perrine, Split-Fire Pottery, Homer, NY

Drawings. 1st: Grant Dolge, Tully NY; 2nd: David RC Oster, Utica, NY; 3rd: Isaac Bidwell, Pickled Punks, Phoenix, NY

Fiber. 1st: Sharon Bottle Souva, Sharon Bottle Souva Fabric Handworks, Syracuse, NY; 2nd: June Tyler, Pondside Pulp & Paper, Norwich, NY; 3rd: Bonnie Eastwood, Hudson, FL

Wearable Fiber. 1st: Lis Barsuglia-Madsen and Michael Madsen, Heirlooms, Harrisville, NY; 2nd: Roberto Quintero Velez, Long Pond, PA; 3rd: Susan Rollings, Sundancer Designs, Indian Lake, NY

Glass. 1st: Michael Radigan, Concord Art Glass, Pittsford, NY; 2nd: Cheryl Gutmaker, The Lady’s Got Glass, Scotia, NY; 3rd: Chrissy Lapham, Chrissy Lapham Handblown Glass, Corning NY

Jewelry. 1st: Don Meixner, Old Erie Crafters, Jordan, NY; 2nd: Karin Bremer, Windfall Designs, Otego, NY; 3rd: Nancy Miller, Nancy Miller Jewelry Designs, Saratoga Springs, NY

Metalwork. 1st: Elizabeth and Robert Yates, Studio Yates, McDonough, NY

Mixed Media. 1st: Sonoka Fukuma Gozelski, Sonoka County, West Edmeston, NY; 2nd: Shawn Lewis-Halperin, Fayetteville, NY; 3rd: Linda Kay-Biviano, Linda Kay’s Studios, Norwich, NY

Oil and Acrylic Paintings. 1st: Michael Price, Bainbridge, NY; 2nd: Michael Wolski, Becker, MA; 3rd: Charlotte Badeau, The Tole Peddler, Wellsburg, NY

Other. 1st: Mariellen Brown, Paper Snowflakes Art, Ithaca, NY; 2nd: Kristine Myrick Andrews, Naturally Inspired, Salisbury, VT; 3rd: Hayna Weems, On Hand Lotions, Naples, NY

Photography. 1st: Chris Goodenbury, Rochester, NY; 2nd: Joseph Wild, Wild Ways Photography, Inlet, NY; 3rd: Kevin Gray, Cherry Valley, NY

Sculpture. 1st: Robert Fragale, What the Fork?, Oswego, NY; 2nd: Brian Harnett, Harnett Designs Woodworking, Grahamsville, NY

Watercolor Paintings. 1st: Terry Smith, Wild Ravens, Johnstown, PA; 2nd: Grant Dolge, Tully, NY; 3rd: Joyce Stewart, Joyful Studios, Vestal, NY

Wood. 1st: George and Therese Olsen, GTO Woodturning, Richmondville, NY; 2nd: Daniel Gomes, Heartwood Furniture, Schenevus, NY; 3rd: John Knapp, Knapp Knoll Woodworks, Oxford, NY

Best Taste of Colorscape: UHS/CMH

[Also published in “Progress Chenango 2019,” Section 9, a multi-section special feature produced annually by The Evening Sun/Pennysaver.]