The St Lawrence
A few choose this River and commit.
A relationship that works,
or it doesn’t.
But for some, it becomes—
or a living
or a love.
I chose this River, or perhaps it chose me.
Regardless, it is love.
Often when I have found myself on a new road in life, I realize that I don’t remember having my directional on, or even turning the wheel. My newest trip is just another of those times.
Last fall I was at a friend’s studio and he asked if I would like to go have a beer at Foxy’s, I was in a hurry as usual but I said “sure.” While there he told me that he had cancer. We talked for awhile and I headed home; that is when I found myself on a new road.
On the way home, I considered how many artists call our River home, how skilled many of them are, and how hard it is for them to keep up with current technology in order to leave a record of their work behind, when they go. It seems like as soon as an artist gets a grasp on one version, they are told that they need to move on to another platform. Finally got your new website done? Sorry but everybody is on to something else. It’s a young person’s game, but it’s not the young artists that we need to record. Truthfully, most artists would rather make art and ignore the rest, so it seldom is taken care of. We need to create a record of these great people, before they are gone.
I thought video would make at least a small dent in this problem, but to explain this, I need to give you a little background on me.
My name is Scott Ouderkirk, I’m the owner of Glass Goat. I am an artist who lives here full time with my wife, overlooking the River at our small farm and studio in Hammond, near Oak Point.
My relationships with many of the artists around the River gives me access to them. My daughter Brittney is young, helps me with my business, can guide me through technical issues, and can tell me which platform I should use. I can spend the time necessary to seek the artists out. I am in a good position to help.
I was already working on a series of collaborations with other artists, with the goal of an art show. This project was called Duets on the St. Lawrence. There was a plan to have a documentary created as the individual projects progressed. I quickly realized just how difficult it was going to be, to get thirteen artists in the same place, at the same time, and with completed projects. And, somehow, we were going to film this as well?
I was facing the same problem as the rest of the artists, I had just created a bigger version of it. There were just too many variables, so I decided to cut out the middle-man and do the filming myself. (I was going to be there anyway.) The only things holding me back were equipment, experience, and money. And none of those little issues had ever stopped me in the past, when I had taken one of these side trips.
Through the research I did, I quickly realized that I had decided to begin creating videos at the right time. Technology has come amazingly far since 2013, when I had last helped my students create videos as a high school teacher. Whole movies are now being created with iPhones! And YouTube is a great platform.
Ok, one problem down, the equipment is obtainable and we can reach people with the product. Now how to pay for it? I have clients and friends who pay me to do artwork, so maybe some would help me create in a new medium. I sent out some emails explaining my plan and quickly received positive responses to help. Two problems solved. Lastly was the biggest problem-experience. I wasn’t going to go to work for a television station or go back to college, so I did what I usually do. I put myself in a position, where a skill had to be learned and learned quickly. I started a YouTube channel and began creating a video blog, (a vlog) and telling viewers that new ones would be out each week.
And what a fun ride this has been so far. Even my dog has gotten involved, by wearing a GoPro harness and learning to speak to host the vlog. Check out Specklesodes to see what I mean. Most filming is done with an iPhone. I film and edit on an iPad. The apps are amazing! I can even sort of fly a drone now. The basic skills were in place, but could I use them to create something that was more professionally done? Duets on the St. Lawrence was going to help create a record, but what about artists I wasn’t collaborating with? Short documentaries with me as an observer would do it. I decided to call these North Country Masters.
Now back to where we started; my friend Will Salisbury. The first North Country Masters video: Will Salisbury, Sculptor, is now up on the “Glass Goat” YouTube channel. North Country Masters and Duets on the St. Lawrence will occur 3-5 times/year.
I like the two options, because it allows me to veer off if I want – after all, there are a lot of talented people out there. They are creating interesting objects, doing interesting things and maybe not thinking of themselves as artists, but we know that they are. I am the lucky one who gets to experience each of them as I create a record.
By Scott Ouderkirk Glass Goat, Hammond, NY
Scott Ouderkirk is an artist, author and craftsman who moved his studio to the River. Scott is a graduate of SUNY Oswego (BS in Technical/Vocational Ed), Syracuse University (MA in illustration) & University of Hartford (MFA in illustration). His books include The Amish Secret, Fallen Heroes, Sunday Drive, The Adirondack Run, Island Images, Barns and Wind, Waves and Wispy Smoke as well as The Wind in the Islands (See Review and excerpt, June 2014). In 2010 Scott was a presenter at the American Glass Guild's national conference in Detroit, MI and at The Stained Glass Association of America's national conference in Syracuse, NY in 2011. He is also on the board of the American Glass Guild. He was published in Wooden Boat, January 2004 and was asked to write and illustrate the feature article for the Antique Boat Museum’s The Gazette Annual 2004. Scott’s TI Life article, Life After Death for a Wooden Boat, was published in December 2013.