(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Throughout the summer, Waterford businesses played host to several works of art. Now that art will go to auction.
Interested folks followed a map of the artworks to solve a word jumble (jumble clues were on the backs of the art). Once completed, the jumble could be entered for a chance to win a $300 prize. Pamphlets — with maps and the jumble — were distributed during Heritage Days and at the Waterford Community Fair.
The displays, organized by Susan Briggs Osborn, were an effort to share art with the community, give people a new reason to walk around in downtown Waterford, and to bolster foot traffic into businesses.
“It’s been a great success,” Osborn said. “Hundreds of people were looking for something to do this summer. There were parents with children, grandparents with grandchildren, adults and singles. Everybody on the streets.”
The paintings are on giant painters’ palettes (like the late Bob Ross held during episodes of his long-running “The Joy of Painting” series). Many of the palettes were crafted by renowned artists — Jack Paluh, Kim Kloecker, Kim Finch and Dan Kozy, to name a few — and other palettes were painted by local high school students. The art style and theme varies by artist. One work depicts a muskie striking a Red Devil lure on LeBoeuf Lake. Another work — painted specifically for the American Legion — features a patriotic theme. Some are abstract.
Osborn said she received 187 entries for the word jumble, meaning 187 people theoretically walked the map and solved the puzzle. That number doesn’t account for people who chose to not solve the jumble or didn’t get around to submitting the jumble but still followed the map. Nor does it account for people who walked some of the map but not all of the map.
“I’m sure a lot more people enjoyed it,” Osborn said.
Each business paid a fee to sponsor the palette in their business. That fee saw their business name included in the pamphlets that were doled out throughout the community (Osborn had planned to distribute 1,000 pamphlets at Heritage Days and another 1,000 during the fair).
“At first, we approached it as a fundraiser, but the businesses saw it as really cheap advertising,” Osborn said. “I already have business owners saying to me, ‘Oh, how come you didn’t approach us?'”
The palettes were so popular that organizers already are planning next year’s event.
This year, the art will be auctioned off on Saturday, Sept. 17. The palettes will be on display with artists on hand beginning at noon. The auction will begin at 1 p.m. The auction will be held at Gazebo Park on High Street in Waterford. Cash, check and credit card will be accepted.
Earnings from the auction will be split between the artists and a local nonprofit that has been formed to bolster art in Waterford.
“We plan to use the money for murals and any other forms of public art, as well as for maintaining and cleaning the George Washington statue,” Osborn said. “If we make enough money, we hope to give art scholarships to local art students.”