Sue Brown Gordon felt pretty confident that an arts festival held on the front lawn of the Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs would be successful, and she was right.
"I've been organizing art festivals for more than 30 years, and when a friend told me I had to do one in Saratoga, I knew the front lawn of the Museum of Dance had to be the place for it," said Gordon, whose Saratoga Arts Festival, now in its 10th year, will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the museum on Route 9. "An arts festival in Saratoga in the summer was a great idea, and from the artists' perspective, what can be better than showing your work at such an auspicious and beautiful setting than the dance museum. There's no way this was not going to work."
While Gordon has spent much of her life in Connecticut, she and her husband, David Gordon, have been living in Greenfield for the past 18 years, sharing their time between Saratoga County and the Greenwich, Connecticut area. For the past 25 years she's been director of the Bruce Museum Arts Festival in Greenwich, and it was at that event that Gordon decided to do another arts festival in Saratoga Springs. Or, to be more precise, it was Susan Earle, whose parents created the Dance Museum and Hall of Fame back in 1986, who came up with the idea.
"One of my patrons at the Connecticut festival came up to me and said, 'why don't you do a festival in Saratoga?'" remembered Gordon. "I told her there was only one place I could envision doing it, the dance museum, and her eyes opened wide. It was one of those serendipitous moments. She said, 'my parents started that museum.' I had no idea I was talking to someone who had a direct, personal link to the dance museum. It was like divine intervention."
Gordon attracted about 40 artists that first summer, and this year will have around 75 people on site displaying their various works of art, including paintings, photographs, drawings, prints, sculptures, mixed media, jewelry, ceramics, fiber, metal and glass pieces. All of the artists will be on the front lawn throughout both days of the event.
"I make that an absolute requirement that artists who created this work have to be there to present it and talk about it and engage with the public," said Gordon. "It gets people excited about the creative process to help people understand how the work was made. It adds another personal layer when someone decides to collect a piece. It's important for us to share this common experience, and all of our artists are very friendly and happy to engage with people."
Both Gordon and her husband are artists themselves and will have some of their work on display.
"My husband is a contemporary abstract oil painter, and I'm also a painter and a jewelry designer," she said. "We're going to have a booth full of his beautiful work, and I typically work in silver and gold and do very sculpted pieces."
Some of the artists come from as far away as California and Florida, and many of them are from upstate New York.
"I try to cater very hard to the many wonderful local artists we have in this area," said Gordon. "We have many people blessed with wonderful talent. We'll have museum-quality items, and some of them are for very serious collectors. But we'll also have items that very young collectors can buy with their allowance. We'll make everyone feel like a collector."
The festival will also have dancing and musical performances each day, as well as a number of activities for children.
'Saratoga Arts Celebration'
WHERE: National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, 99 South Broadway, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: 10 am.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.SaratogaArtsCelebration.org or GordonFineArts.org