Art Into Action

During the 16 years Suzanne Farley ran the Naples Grape Festival, she always felt she was missing the opportunity to view and purchase great artwork. Now, several years removed from the arts, crafts and music event, she owns her own art gallery in Naples. Not only does she get to enjoy artists’ work all year, but she also gets to see them in action on her porch during the summer months.

This summer will mark the fourth annual “Artists in Action … on the Front Porch,” an 18-week program during which more than 40 Finger Lakes artists come to Farley’s shop to demonstrate their work. This year’s program will run from noon until 3 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from May 8 through September 15.

“I had a sense – a pulse – that the Naples area needed a gallery,” said Farley. “After consulting with some of my favorite artists, I decided to open Artizanns and make it an art festival 24/7,” she said of the beginnings of her gallery five years ago.

“It’s versatile, intimate and fun,” said Farley. “It’s a great way for people to choose a piece of original artwork without having to plan their lives around a particular festival.”

When Farley moved her store to its Main Street location complete with “a beautiful porch” nearly four years ago, she knew it was time to organize another one of her “programs.” “I’ve always put together music and art festivals,” said Farley. “It was just a natural evolution for me with the gallery to present something that was geared toward the general public – and the best way to do that is with artist demonstrations.”

With more than 200 local artists showcased in her gallery, she has a wealth of people with different artistic talents to include in her program.

“We wanted to feature our artists and have them entertain and educate the general public with their own techniques of producing a piece of art of their medium,” said Farley. If the featured artist works with fiber, for instance, they may bring their loom and demonstrate how to weave, Farley said. If the specialty is metal, anvils and torches will accompany the artist for his sculpture-making demonstration. Potters bring portable wheels and throw a dozen to 20 pots in an afternoon.

Many times, the artist for the day will demonstrate a craft then let spectators try it for themselves. “The guests watching the demonstration may be invited to get on the wheel and throw a pot,” said Farley, “or if a jeweler is doing lampwork beadwork, she may pass them her safety glasses and a torch and let them make their own beads.”

Farley particularly enjoyed one artist’s collaborative approach to her demonstration last year. “A painter brought a big canvas that she’d already prepared with a coat of acrylic paint,” she said, “and she took a dozen different guests out onto the lawn and gave them tubes of acrylic paint. Everybody had a little go at creating this abstract painting.”

After the artist finished the piece in her own studio, she brought it back to Artizanns where it was displayed until Farley bought it.

She often likes to set the demonstrations to music.

“Some weeks we might have an artist painting and there will be a guitar player as well,” she said. “Other times, there will be an author signing a new book release and we’ll have a harp player or a small trio.”

This year’s program is still being compiled. Farley will post updated information on her website, www.artizanns.com, as it becomes available.


by Kimberly Price