Stagecoach Run highlights local artists

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star

Otego resident Ruby Mitchell, left, purchases earrings and handmade cards from Karin Brenner, right, and her sister Lara, center, at the Fishers’ Barn in Treadwell Sunday during the 24th annual Stagecoach Run Art Festival.

 The 24th annual Stagecoach Run Art Festival showcased the works of nearly 70 local artists at venues throughout Delaware County over the weekend.

“The purpose of the festival is to spotlight artists and creatives living and working locally, and to forge new relationships between these artists and their neighbors,” said Beatrice Georgalidis, executive director of the Bright Hill Press & Literary Center of the Catskills.

The organization hosted the Stagecoach Run Spotlight Show at its Treadwell headquarters, showcasing one piece from every artist featured to give attendees a preview of the works on display. 

Cars lined state Route 357, county Highway 14 and the Catskill Turnpike — the former route used by horse-drawn carriages to transport passengers between Unadilla and the Hudson River, according to festival organizers — as visitors strolled along the main streets of Treadwell, Franklin, Walton and Delhi, perusing sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, drawings, paintings and photography made by local artists.

The festival was founded in 1995 by the Treadwell Artists’ Association, originally a 15-member collective, to highlight the “vast artistic talent in the immediate area,” according to Georgalidis.

“Many of the same artists are involved, but the work is always evolving,” she said. “There’s always something new.”

Ruby Mitchell, a festival-goer from Otego, purchased handmade earrings and cards from sisters Karin and Lara Bremer, who were set up in the Fishers’ Barn in Treadwell along with a dozen other artists.

Karin, an Otego native, said she and her sister recently purchased a duplex in Oneonta to use as a studio space.

A primarily self-taught artist, Karin said she has been making jewelry for over a decade and participates in regional shows about once a month from June to December.

“Local shows like this are always so much nicer,” she said. “There aren’t as many overhead costs, you don’t have to travel and you’re supporting your community.”

Rhonda Harrow-Engel, a ceramics artist based in Delhi, displayed her wares from the front porch of the Croton House in Treadwell.

“It’s the best spot in the festival, right at the crossroads,” she said. “I don’t want to give it up.”

One of the original artists featured in the festival, Harrow-Engel said she taught herself how to sculpt by hand and on a potter’s wheel after college, where she received a fine arts degree.

Many of her pieces feature natural motifs such as birds and leaves, but Harrow-Engel said she goes through subject-matter phases, drifting from cats to lizards to elephants.

“I’m a compulsive potter,” she said. “I don’t know how it happened. I get into something and I just keep making more and more until I find something else.”

Harrow-Engel said some of her works are inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the pieces with lacquered gold. The cracks are still visible, she said, incorporating the damage as deliberate art instead of trying to conceal the repairs.

Anna Sea showcased her ceramic works in the Franklin Guest House, which she co-owns with her husband, Craig. Her hand-painted tiles adorn the living room fireplace, and her other pieces, a series called “Impossible Paper,” were displayed about the room.

Each piece, a sculpture of lined notebook paper no bigger than the palm of her hand, contains lines of poems authored by Sea or quotes from Marilyn Monroe. Others contain illustrations — a skull and crossbones, skyscrapers — or three-dimensional images that appear to emerge from the paper’s surface.

“I wanted to take something we think of as disposable and make it more permanent,” she said. “There’s so much that goes into a piece of paper.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.