A group of artists and other residents of Sharon Springs are working on a community project designed to highlight one of the most beautiful things about the Schoharie County village — its people. 

The Sharon Springs Community Arts Project is taking pictures of local residents and will use them in a surprise project to be unveiled in the fall. The next photo shoot will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, in front of Klinkhart Hall Arts Center.

John Townsend, a member of the project and vice president of the Klinkhart Board of Directors, said the project was started by about four or five Sharon residents who were having a socially distanced conversation about all the things that had been canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“So much is not happening in Sharon Springs this summer, we were hoping this would be a fun thing,” he said. 

Although the final project is meant to be a surprise, it is based around the idea of community, and how the village’s residents have gone some time without seeing each other’s faces, Townsend said.

At designated shoot times, a volunteer photographer will take pictures of residents’ faces. The photos are taken against a black and white polka dot background and will all be used in the project.  

On the website for the project, a lengthy mission statement also advocates for a better village and town, where the residents support each other and local businesses. 

“Once a 19th century spa for New York City elites, the tiny village of Sharon Springs, New York declined when the fashions changed,” the statement reads. “Private estates were converted into boarding houses, then abandoned, then collapsed. The arts disappeared. The opera house closed. The theater closed. Businesses closed. The hotel where Oscar Wilde lectured was pulled down. People moved away. Now there is a global pandemic. The world is changing again.

“No matter. We will change with it.

“We are the people of Sharon Springs; the ones who stayed and the ones who have come since. Artists. Writers. Actors. Musicians. Teachers. Students. Artisans. Workers. Families. People. We are the people who believe that the arts are vital to the well-being of democratic societies; that they can model inclusion and diversity, transform civic life; enlighten public dialogue; and contribute directly to recreating our community.

“We are the people who believe that the arts can show us how to learn from each other. Young, old, women, men, straight, gay, old family, new family. Different backgrounds, races, cultures, social and political perspectives. We are the people who will prove by our actions, by our civic engagement, by showing our faces – we will show that we are still here and that we believe the arts can transform the way we see our neighbors and ourselves, the way we think about who we are, and the way we give back to our community,” the statement continued. 

Townsend said the group working on the project is diverse and a mix of natives and newer neighbors. The thing they all have in common is a love for where they live, he said. 

“If you listen to the news, or God forbid, look on Facebook, you find a lot of things to feel bad about,” he said. “We’re doing this because we think there are a lot of good things going on here, there are a lot of good people here and we want people to know about them and see them.”

Townsend said a debut for the project is not yet set and depends on “some technical issues,” as well as how many photographs the group can take. 

“We’re hoping for a date in September, but if we have to hold it in early October, that would be OK, too,” he said. “The weather is usually still nice in early October. But I would say we are shooting for sometime during the last two weeks of September.”   

Go to www.sharonspringsnow.org/ for more information.  

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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