(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — A new idea coming to Waterford aims to support local businesses, local artists and the local library.
“It really is a win-win situation,” Peggy Lehr said. Lehr is the chair of the Palettes of Waterford committee.
Here’s how it works: Palettes of Waterford has issued signboards cut out into the shape of artist palettes (like the late Bob Ross held during episodes of his long-running “The Joy of Painting” series) to local artists. The artists paint whatever they want on the palettes. The palettes then are stationed at sponsor businesses throughout Waterford. Each palette has a letter on it. As residents, tourists and lovers of fine art everywhere walk throughout town visiting each palette, they get a new letter that’s used in a word jumble puzzle. They need to visit each palette (at each business) to complete the jumble, and once they’ve completed the jumble they’re entered into drawing for a $300 prize.
The palettes will be on display through the summer (beginning July 1) and will be auctioned off on Sept. 17. Whatever the palette fetches in the auction will be divided between the artist and the Waterford Public Library.
While it’s a new idea for Waterford, it’s borrowed from Hammondsport, New York. Lehr was visiting the town during its 15th annual “Palettes of Keuka” event and thought it would be great for her hometown.
“It will give (businesses) all the foot traffic. And places that people might not know are here, or that they’ve never tried — we’re hoping it will bring a lot of business in for the Waterford restaurants, beauty salons and others,” Lehr said.
The committee hopes to have 1,000 pamphlets about the palettes available during Heritage Days, July 15-17 in downtown Waterford, and another 1,000 pamphlets at the Waterford Community Fair on Sept. 5.
Lehr said she expected 28 palettes throughout Waterford within walking distance of downtown. 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.
Waterford Public Library Director Susan Osborn said she expected local families will be excited about the student-painted works, while the broader public may be more interested in the professional artist pieces.
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.
“The artists could paint anything they want,” Lehr said.
And Lehr had the confidence and support of Osborn.
“Peggy is passionate about improving Waterford,” Osborn said. “I love to promote Waterford. I love Waterford. I’m a lifelong resident here… We have quite a history of artists in town.”
The businesses (sponsors) have been supportive of the project as well, Osborn and Lehr said. Within a little more than an hour of soliciting, Osborn said the committee had secured 13 sponsors. The newer businesses in town were the most excited about participating, Osborn noted. The committee still is seeking sponsors.
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The organizers are excited about the upcoming event.
“We wanted to bring more art and different kinds of art into the area,” Lehr said. “We just started talking about it in March, and already we have all of this great art coming in.”