By HOWARD BALABAN email@example.com
Medina Journal-Register — HOLLEY — For the past several months patrons at nearly 70 businesses all over Orleans County have seen a variety of different artists’ palettes. The pieces of wood depicted various scenes and different vistas, nearly all of which could be found in the area now or in days gone by.
The Palettes of Orleans Program, organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce, exceeded the original expectations set forth for it. That left the Chamber’s executive director, Kathy Blackburn, beaming during the program reception Sunday afternoon at Hickory Ridge in Holley.
“The talent in this county is amazing,” said Blackburn. She said the plan was to have 20 palettes placed throughout Orleans County, but once word of the program got out, the Chamber wound up needing to turn away several businesses that wished to participate. In the end, the Chamber stopped at 73 businesses. All of their palettes were on display during the reception, which was open to the public.
“We needed more artists than we thought,” Blackburn said. Indeed, some business owners who dabbled in artwork created their own palette, and a number of artists painted multiple palettes.
One such artist was Carol Culhane of Gaines. She created six palettes, and two in particular — the depiction of Eagle Harbor and the stunning portrayal of a steam locomotive chugging through Waterport — garnered many bids during the reception.
“I painted the Archers Club by request, I did Eagle Harbor for the Chamber, and Ho-Jack’s wanted the steam locomotive,” Culhane said. “I wanted to do them so that they had some historic significance.”
The Eagle Harbor palette and the Ho-Jack’s train palette both hearkened back to a part of Orleans County’s past. The train, Culhane noted, was the last of its line to include station stops in the county, finally ending “in the late 60s or early 70s,” she said.
Culhane is part of the Chamber board, and she said the program was a great way for local artists “to get out and show their stuff, because there are a lot of good ones.”
Lyndonville’s Constance Maines had two palettes in the program, and they attracted some of the higher bids. One palette showed a family of swans in the moonlight on Lyndonville Pond, and the other showed a scene on the banks of the Oak Orchard River, just east of the bridge and falls in Lyndonville on Route 63.
“I was asked by the Chamber to do this because they said they needed two palettes in Lyndonville,” Maines said. “I think some of the most beautiful features are in Lyndonville.”
Maines, whose father served as the mayor of Lyndonville for 12 years, said the Palettes of Orleans Program is a great way to promote the arts.
“People should learn to value art,” she said. “Some people spend money on a dress they wear once, but they won’t spend the same money on a different one-time purchase they can pass down generation to generation.”
Pat Greene of Shelby also contributed multiple palettes, all of which were on display in Medina.
“I tried to do things that related to the businesses the palettes were in,” Greene said of her work. Of the program as a whole, she noted, “I think it’s really interesting because it gave people an introduction to both the artists and the businesses where they were. It was a good opportunity.”
Blackburn said an early estimate placed the proceeds from the event at roughly $2,000. That total will be divided among the five county high schools for scholarships for the arts. Moving forward, Blackburn said the Chamber will streamline the program and make sure there is plenty of time for both the participating businesses and the participating artists to complete their commitment.
But, she said, the program will continue.
“This got people out and about in the county, seeing everything there is to offer,” she said.
Bruce Phillips of Waterport and Kim Lawrence of Holley agreed that there was in fact a lot to see. They said they tried to hit every business involved in the program, and that said it was good for the county merchants.
“This is a great opportunity for artists and for businesses, and I’m looking forward to being one of the artists next year,” Lawrence said.
Phillips added a simpler assessment. “This is awesome,” he said.