A Trail of Talent

When you think about the Finger Lakes region, what comes to mind? The beautiful lakes provide the opportunity to partake in almost any water sport you can think of. The countless wineries allow wine experts, wannabe experts and casual tasters to get their fill. And then there are the arts. Galleries, museums, theatres, festivals and various arts organizations provide locals and visitors with ample opportunities to explore the talent and beauty in the Finger Lakes region. The problem is, many visitors and even locals don’t know how or where to find these arts venues. And there are plenty more artists who haven’t even gotten their names out there because they just don’t know how. For these reasons, the Finger Lakes Arts Grants and Services (FLAGS) has created the Finger Lakes Arts Trail.

For the Artists
The arts trail is a new program that will allow art creators, producers and sellers to promote themselves and their work with the help of several tools. A brochure trail map will include the name, address, phone number, website and e-mail address of each artist or organization. It will be available at many locations, including hotels, restaurants, bed and breakfasts and wineries.

The website, www.fingerlakesart trail.org, has detailed descriptions of the services for artists, as well as a listing of the individual artists, which includes all of their contact information. The artists can add images and links to their own personal webpages. Mary Beth Springmeier, executive director of FLAGS, said that there are plans to add other elements to the website, such as an artist’s forum where people can discuss their interests and ask questions.

The arts trail logo is another useful tool for tying all the regional artists together. To find the perfect logo, FLAGS held a contest. Over 20 artists submitted their designs, and the public voted. The winner was Steve Chervenak. His design will be translated onto banners and decals that trail participants can hang or display in their windows.

Artists will have the opportunity to participate as vendors at the Windmill, a farm and craft market midway between Penn Yan and Dundee. The market has four buildings, streets of shops and a produce shed. Shoppers can find books, furniture, fudge, quilts, vintage jewelry, pottery, candles, lawn decorations, wood carvings and just about anything else they are looking for. The Windmill has regular vendors who are there every Saturday during the season, but it is going to dedicate space especially for the artists promoting their work on the arts trail. The Windmill receives 8,000 to 10,000 visitors each Saturday, so it’s a good opportunity for artists to show off their work.

For the Visitors
The arts trail is a great resource for visitors to the area. Before there ever was such a thing, people had to pick up several tourist guides, sift through all the information and try to determine what was going on where and when. Sound confusing? The brochure organizes all of the information into categories: artists/studios, museums/galleries,
theatres (including opera houses and drive-in movies), performing arts, festivals, arts business, arts organizations, culinary arts, and hospitality. If people are headed in a certain direction, they can pick up the brochure or go to the arts trail website and easily see what’s in that area. With all of the information conveniently organized in one place, visitors don’t have to waste time searching for things to do.

Many arts trails have open house weekends where people can go to different sites on specific days. This trail is designed differently. It’s open year round and the information is available at any time so people can go from place to place at their own leisure.

For the Region
Artists and visitors aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the arts trail. It will enhance the Finger Lakes region as a whole, according to Springmeier. Having such a wide range of talented artists adds significantly to the quality of life in the region. The arts are one of the reasons that people move to the area and stay here.

“They are a source of community pride and spirit,” Springmeier said.

In addition, the cultural arts are the backbone of the Finger Lakes tourism industry. Thanks to the arts trail, when tourists come, they will be able to quickly and easily access all the information they need. Upon seeing how much there is to explore, they may choose to stay even longer. Each extra day they stay translates into money that can be used for the growth and development of the area.

And for the Future
Springmeier said there are plans to expand the trail. There were 200 spaces to fill this year but there will be room for even more artists in the years ahead. As the trail itself grows, the region will develop a strong arts identity, and people will come specifically to take part in the cultural events. Maybe they’ll even stay to sample some wine.

Visit www.fingerlakesartstrail.org for more information.

by Stacy Majewicz

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