SaratogaArtsFest displays city’s creative side

A library would be the last place you would expect to hear a rock band playing a live show.

A library would be the last place you would expect to hear a rock band playing a live show.

But the thumping sound of bass and drums was inescapable in the Saratoga Springs Public Library midafternoon Saturday.

The library is hosting events for this weekend’s SaratogaArtsFest, and the Dirty Little Boogie Band was rocking what is normally a very quiet house.

Aspects of the art world are on display for the public to enjoy, from music and painting, to children’s puppet plays and theater and dance, and the event is drawing thousands downtown.

John Muller, 35, of Saratoga Springs, was one of more than 30 people moving to the beat of the Dirty Little Boogie Band. Others included young children and grandmothers in the library’s H. Dutcher Community Room. Muller said he has seen the band play in the city before and counts himself as a big fan.

“I would have watched them in the rain, and believe me, they would have had a crowd. I wasn’t going to miss them.” Muller describes the bands’s sound as “like Phish and the Allman Brothers Band got together for some coffee.”

Mitch, the band’s vocalist, and drummer Jurij (pronounced “Yuri”) laughed when they heard that analogy. The band, which performs almost all original material, mixes in reggae and world beat influences with blues-based rock.

Muller said this is the second year he’s come to SaratogaArtsFest, which began in 2007. “It’s great to see how it’s grown these past couple of years. I love the live music, I love the live painting and art demonstrations.”

The Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library is one of the festival’s many sponsors. “We are a new partner,” said Friends Vice President Darren Drabek. “We feel we are part of the fabric of downtown. This is an opportunity for us to promote our mission.”

The Children’s Museum of Saratoga is also hosting events, which included a scavenger hunt for the “Arts Rally for Kids.” Executive Director Michelle Smith said the steady to heavy rain had them “outrageously busy,” as attendees looked to mostly avoid outdoor venues and stay dry. At the same time, Smith said it was “kind of sad for anyone who had hoped to do outdoor displays and live demonstrations. You do all of that work to set up a canvas and get ready, but what can you do in this weather?”

The Sorelle Gallery, inside of the Shoe Depot on Broadway, is hosting live painting demonstrations. Kathi Blinn was painting a portrait of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Rachel Alexandra while being closely watched by Lucas Martinez, 7, a second grader at Lake Avenue Elementary School. His father, Johnny Martinez, said Lucas “is really into art and painting. This event is nice because it’s so hands on. Kids can talk to artists and get a sense of what it’s really like to paint or play music.”

Martinez performed at ArtsFest on Friday. He and his wife run the Tango Fusion Dance Company in Saratoga Springs. “It’s nice to do a performance on Friday. Now, I have the rest of the weekend to hang out and enjoy the festival,” he said.

Emily Mastrianni of Saratoga Springs and her three daughters have come to the festival every year since its inception. The family enjoyed a glass blowing demonstration earlier in the gallery by Gary Zack Studios off Van Dam Street. Mastrianni said ArtsFest is a “great way to introduce people to artists who are here. I never knew there was a glass blowing studio right here in Saratoga Springs.”

Today, the SAF Gallery and Information Center and Saratoga Coffee Traders will host featured art exhibitions all day, while Skidmore College will hold an open house and performances at the Arthur Zankel Music Center.

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