The phones at the St. Lawrence Galleries, on Dingman Point Road in Alexandria Bay and on James Street in Clayton, NY, should soon be busy!
Michael Ringer, the well-known artist in both the Thousand Islands and the Adirondacks, has announced a new book for distribution in July. Both the collector’s and regular editions can be pre-ordered, at a discount, by calling or visiting the galleries.
The book has paintings from over a thirty year period here in the North Country and includes his first painting at the age of twelve “The Old Country Store”, fifty years ago”. I loved that little painting and first saw it when I interviewed Mike last summer for TI Life, “An Easy “A” … and a Michael Ringer Morning… “. It's the last color plate in the book but the text is titled "The Beginning".
The theme of Our Mountains & Valleys - Northern New York , the book’s title, is sectioned into personal aspects Michael describes as collectively "Ours," (the people that live or vacation in Northern New York).
There are chapters like: Our Younger Spirit - with paintings of people young and old alike – for example the late Andrew McNally III is shown in his flower garden, when he was “90 years young”, holding a flower next to McKenzie Tucci, a one year old holding a flower.
Michael goes on to describe the book, “The chapter entitled Our PFD's (personal flotation devices) are the things we like to explore in, or on ,or dream about whether it be a St. Lawrence Skiff, freighter, Adirondack guide boat, classic wooden boat or a kayak etc”. Our Camps & Cottages is another chapter showing paintings of Cottages on the River or Camps in the Adirondacks. There are nine chapters all together Our Fins & Feathers features all sorts of wildlife. That's the theme!”
Interesting to note the distinction between the underlined terms cottages and/or camps, as the terms can easily get confused. In the North Country both terms describe the homes we love, not whether they are rustic or palatial. I look forward to seeing how they are pictured in Our Mountains & Valleys.
Those who know Michael know that he is intrigued with the natural history of the region as well as the history of its people. One of his idols is the great American painter Winslow Homer. He often relates about the invitation to paint at the North Woods Club in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, “where Homer painted for forty years”.
“The Club is private and patrolled now and no one gets on unless invited. I painted within feet of where Homer painted a hundred years ago because the mountains and ponds have changed little since he was there and it was relatively easy to find some of those places if willing to do a little hiking or canoe paddling. As an artist it was a very special thing for me to have followed and painted where one of my idols had worked a hundred years ago. I have since been back and fly fished Mink Pond where many paintings were created and Homer fly fished himself. There are several paintings in the book of the North Woods Club. On the river certainly Boldt Castle, paintings of the islands, freighters, classic yachts and people working or playing on the river are rich in their own history.”
“There are several things that make this book different. One is that it is a retrospective of the last thirty years rather than just the last few years. Secondly, some older paintings that people have told me are their favorites like ‘The Christmas Ship’, ‘The Sugar Lady’ or ‘Riding Out the Storm’ have been included. This is also the largest book I have done by almost 80 pages and it also includes more new unpublished work than any other book. Lastly it includes all of Northern New York including both the St. Lawrence River and the Adirondack Mountains with about equal representation”.
The Foreword is written by Barney Bellinger, the well known furniture artist. (What a great combination of talents...). His work is exhibited at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Adirondack Museum, and in New York galleries. Michael has known Bellinger since 1991 when the artist made a gold leaf sign that hangs on the front of the Dingman Point gallery. “It is still there and after all these years still in perfect condition.” says Michael.
He goes on, “I asked Barney to write the foreword because he is the best known artisan in the region. We also fly fish together. Barney creates many things beyond his furniture. He also paints occasionally - mostly fly fishing scenes from the Adirondacks.” In fact, the two are already planning to collaborate on a new book.
Of course, much work goes between the idea of publishing a new book and getting to the final product, and this one is no exception. As Michael spent hundreds of hours in front of a computer not to mention time at the easel. “About the only part that was a little frustrating was learning Adobe's InDesign CS5 publishing program. I had to start from scratch and it is quite complicated learning the program. As I learned, things got easier and I felt very comfortable with it but it meant going back into the book countless times to redesign what had already been done to make it better. Even so, the challenge of learning something new - though sometimes frustrating, was overall enjoyable. The book Barney and I will do will be easier from the technical end because of my experience with this book. There is a fair amount of writing with this book that I really had fun with and hope the readers will have a few laughs with as well as learn some new things, maybe have some new insights and also enjoy the work”.
“What I hope comes from this work is a greater appreciation of this magnificent Northern New York”, Michael told me “I look at the Hudson River painters and love what they did in their work but also am aware that beyond just the image they caused people to see the Hudson and its many facets in a new and more appreciative way. If in some way I can do the same for the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains the book will have achieved my primary goal.
As editor of Thousand Islands Life e-zine I am always pleased to learn of new publications about our special River – I am quite confident Our Mountains & Valleys - Northern New York will make us both grateful and proud.
Susan W. Smith, email@example.com