It’s jack-o’-lantern day in Cooperstown. Tonight, as the sun sets on the scenic village, people will carry hand-carved pumpkins up to the porch of one of the most beautiful buildings on Main Street.
When the candle inside each pumpkin is lighted, dozens and dozens of faces will appear, cracking jagged Halloween smiles.
This is the eighth year that the Cooperstown Art Association will host Pumpkin Glow, which has become a beloved October tradition in town.
Open to all, Pumpkin Glow has no rules and it’s not a contest.
Cooperstown Art Association was started in 1928 by six professional artists, and one of its first members was Henry S. F. Cooper, a surgeon and great-great grandson of the founder of Cooperstown.
WHAT: Annual display of carved and illuminated pumpkins
WHEN: 6 to 7 p.m. today
WHERE: On porch and lawn of Village Library of Cooperstown, 22 Main St., Cooperstown
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.cooperstownart.com or 607-547-9777
“The world would be a better place if everybody indulged in some form of creative work, primarily for what it did to them,” Cooper once said.
For its first few decades, the art group met in different places around town, and there was only one exhibit each year.
In 1951, the association moved into the Village Library. Built in 1898 by the Clark family and designed by architect Ernest Flagg, the classic revival structure is made of gray stone and fronted by an impressive colonnade of white, fluted Ionic columns.
Today, the Cooperstown Art Association has three galleries in the library and hosts 18 exhibits a year, including its 78-year-old National Exhibition, the Fenimore Quilt Club Show and “Made in New York,” a fine woodwork and craft show.
Janet G. Erway, the director since 1994, grew up in Connecticut. She settled in the Cooperstown area after studying printmaking at Hartwick College in Oneonta.
The Gazette talked to Erway last week, as she was preparing for Pumpkin Glow.
Q: Who comes to Pumpkin Glow?
A: The idea is for anyone — businesses, artists, individuals, kids — to carve a pumpkin and bring it to the Art Association with a candle inside.
Q: What’s the mood?
A: It’s really family-friendly, lots of younger kids. We have goodies inside. And we usually have someone doing ghost stories of Cooperstown inside.
A: We do popcorn, different decorated cookies. We’ve done bats made of Oreos.
Q: How many pumpkins?
A: We’ve had as many as a hundred. We might have 50. You never know. It depends on the weather.
Q: How did it start?
A: One of my board directors had gone up to Keene, New Hampshire, and they have a huge display of pumpkins.
Q: What does it look like when they are all lit?
A: It’s just one glowing orange face after another. They range from a traditional, carved pumpkin face to some really artistic fun. Sometimes people use linoleum carving tools. We’ve had pumpkin towers: multiple pumpkins carved and attached on top of each other.
Q: How many people in the Cooperstown Art Association?
A: We have roughly 400 members. It’s open to anyone. The majority of our members are artists but you don’t have to be.
Q: And there are art classes and workshops?
A: We’re just expanding our classes this fall. We have a new classroom space with parking. We have five ongoing classes right now. We have a pastel painting workshop next week with Greg Barnes, who is coming up from North Carolina, [and] a folk art painting class with Pat Wiley in November. For the first time, we’re taking on a kids’ after-school art class.
Q: How’s the arts scene in Cooperstown?
A: It’s good. We’ve done a lot to cross-promote with the Fenimore Art Museum and the Smithy Pioneer Gallery. When you expand with the arts, with Glimmerglass Opera and all the theater productions, there’s a lot going on.
Q: How many artists exhibit in your galleries during a year?
A: I would say we’re probably close to 1,000, if not more. At the quilt show alone in February, there are 50 to 75 people participating. And our national and regional shows, upwards of 60 and 80 are in each of those. The holiday show has been knocking on 150.
Our sales gallery is going on its third or fourth year. That’s been a great addition because it’s smaller pieces, art that people can buy even if they are not from the area and leave with them then and there.
Q: What’s coming up?
A: Our holiday show and member sale will open the 15th of November and run through the 23rd of December. It has a wide range of prices and gifts, all originally made, and all made in the U.S.
Q: And the Adorn-a-Wreath Festival on November 30th?
A: It’s the 12th year. Over 100 decorated wreaths go up in the ballroom, and we display them on doors and the walls. It’s a silent auction and a great way to get a wreath for your door for the holidays.
Q: Are you doing a pumpkin?
A: Oh, I always do. Usually, with my kids. I carve at least four.