Artists Thrive in the North Country
The peaceful Adirondack environment inspires North Country artists
Story by Mike Dutre
Photos provided by Nick Schmidt and Kurt Casler
The calm and beauty of the North Country provides a prime location for local artists. “It has remained for New York State to set aside more than a tithe of its total area where men and women can seek sanctuary from cities and heat and the everlasting press of things,” said T. Morris Longstreth, author of a early travel book called The Adirondacks, written in 1917.
"Every artist is inpsired by their environment," says local artist Chuck Knight, originally from Seneca Falls, N.Y. “In a big city, it’s louder, and there are more artists around to play off of. Here, there are less artists, so my art is more personal and influenced less by others.”
"Every artist is inspired by their environment."
Knight is interested in the 1960s and '70s, particularly early performance and conceptual art, where the human body and mind play a larger part than artistic utensils and equipment. Knight also likes print-making and minimalism. Currently, he prefers to use premade objects for new purposes.
“I want to build a piece where a bike’s front wheel is encased in concrete," Knight says. "The bike will still pedal, but it will never move." Knight has also fused objects together. In one piece, he combined an old television and a gas mask to make a wearable sculpture.
“I’m more interested in fixing objects than altering them,” Knight says. “I want to get a broken Schwinn road bike, fix it, paint it black, and then sandblast it to achieve a different look and at the same time make it functional.”
“The Adirondack environment keeps my art coming from more my imagination than the scenery around me,” says artist Nick Schmidt of Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Schmidt sees the North Country art scene as primarily interested in nature. “I find that expressionism influences my art because a lot of the time, I draw out of my head,” Schmidt says.
"I'm hoping to become a tattoo artist, and I've already started practicing since I got my [tattoo] gun."
Schmidt sees art as a way to make people happy. He prefers using ink and likes a clean, finished look for his drawings.
“I’m hoping to become a tattoo artist, and I’ve already started practicing since I got my [tattoo] gun,” Schmidt says.
Schmidt’s roommate, Kurt Casler, is working toward crafting his aesthetic.
“I try to encompass everything from scenery to my imagination to help with projects I’m working on,” says Casler,an artist and musician and also of Saranac Lake.
“I mostly rely on expressionism and realism,” says Casler. “I’m interested in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.”
Casler doesn’t like to limit himself to one medium. He uses pastels as well as watercolors.
"I try to encompass everything from scenery to
my imagination to help with projects I'm working on."
“I hope to get into photojournalism and start working on projects of my own,” Casler says. “I hope to create works that have some quality that attracts someone.”
Both Casler and Schmidt say they are inspired by people and music.