Northern boat shop channels 1970s art event


The North Country is full of amazing artists and galleries, from the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls to the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg.

But sometimes the art happens in surprising places, in old barns, in farm fields and this weekend in a boat shop in Canton.

Emmett Smith (left) and his father Everett rebuild and restore historic boats, but they see an overlap between craft and art.  Photo: Brian Mann

Emmett Smith (left) and his father Everett rebuild and restore historic boats, but they see an overlap between craft and art. Photo: Brian Mann

Father and son, making art a reality

Everett Boatworks on the outskirts of Canton is a magical place, filled with old boats and old boat bones. On that late fall afternoon, the magic had risen, intensified.

“It all comes down to art,” said Emmett Smith. “Arts and crafts are closely linked to what we do here.”

Most of the time, it is a workspace, with boat engines hoisted on blocks, the ribs of old riverboats exposed. But Emmett Smith worked with his father Everett to create a one day and one night art that takes place here.

Everett says the idea was borrowed from events he saw and participated in while working as an artist in New York City in the 1970s. “It could involve poetry and drama and it was essentially created as an artistic expression, ”he said.

The bones of the boats frame much of the artwork for the Happening.  Photo: Brian Mann

The bones of the boats frame much of the artwork for the Happening. Photo: Brian Mann

Emmett Smith was a boatbuilder, curator, and artist.  It all came together on Saturday.  Photo: Brian Mann

Emmett Smith was a boatbuilder, curator, and artist. It all came together on Saturday. Photo: Brian Mann

The shape, texture and colors of the boat shop itself add to the feeling that this event is unlike most gallery exhibits.  Photo: Brian Mann

The shape, texture and colors of the boat shop itself add to the feeling that this event is unlike most gallery exhibits. Photo: Brian Mann

The idea is therefore that art matters, but so does the place, the moment, the spirit. There was something theatrical about the boat store, with different levels and balconies.

“Stairs and bridges,” Everett said, leading me through the space. “A 1910 steel hull cruiser landed here that Emmett is restoring, so we have stairs going in and out. It has a lot of depth.

In places, the boats themselves had become entangled in the art. Emmett showed me a piece he just did with those kind of offsets and gimbals.

This work by Everett Smith has been in development for over forty years, bringing together what Smith describes as "a patina" of age.  Photo: Brian Mann

This work by Everett Smith has been in development for over forty years, bringing together what Smith describes as “a patina” of age. Photo: Brian Mann

“These are pieces from the original deck of a Rushton canoe. JH Rushton was a canoe builder here in Canton from the late 19th to the early 20th century. These are beautiful triangular pieces made from many different stripes. of Spanish cedar. I put them on bearings so that they hang horizontally on the wall and come out of each other. “

A lot of things here were in motion. Mobiles were swinging over the boat building bay. The children played on the deck of the boat while their parents watched the art.

Downstairs, Ola and Claude Aldus were making music with an electronic keyboard and a homemade synthesizer.

The event was inspired in part by Everett Smith turning seventy, a milestone for his boat shop and a chance to relate that part of his life to that previous chapter when he was an artist in the city.

He showed me an arrangement of what looks a bit like dragon wings. “This is a sculpture I made in 1971 when I was doing a workshop program at the Whitney Museum in New York. I was really building these wooden structures and covering them with canvas. is sitting in the barn here and has been covered in dust and bugs, but I kinda like the patina they have because of that. There’s some kind of bone structure underneath that shows through. “

Now the boat shop is back to being a boat shop. The crowd leaves, leaving behind the dust and the smell of wood and oil. But everything is always intertwined there, the magic of boats and art, work and crafts and time.

Contributing artists include Claude Aldous, Ola Aldous, Mary Cantline, Greg Lago, Sara Leavitt, Chorben Miller, Christopher T. Miller, Lydia Miller, Samuel D. Newman, Eli Smith, Emmett Smith, Everett Smith, Jerod Sommerfeldt, Juliana Stankiewicz, Ian Stevens, Mimi Van Dusen, Kathy Wyckoff, Peter Wyckoff and Ray Whalen.

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