Arts and crafts lovers had the unique opportunity to meet hundreds of local artists in Peekskill this weekend for the 15th Annual Open Studios.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, whose district now includes Peekskill, as well as Cortlandt, Yorktown and Mt. Kisco, joined Mayor Mary Foster, City Council members and the Peekskill Democratic Committee Chairwoman Marina Ciotti to take a tour of local businesses and galleries during the Open Studios event Sunday. Lowey stood amongst pain splatters, ceramics, piles of paintings and artist tools while chatting with artists about all the city has to offer by way of art, dining, entertainment and business. Artists were glad to meet their new congressional representative to discuss their art and role in the community.
"Rep. Lowey really got a good view of how vibrant the art scene was very impressed with what is happening in Peekskill," Ciotti said. "She loved seeing the and the Clay Studios at the Hat Factory," Ciotti said, adding that local residents were welcoming and excited to meet their new congresswoman.
Lowey also took a ride on Stella the Peekskill trolley, which was providing transportation to all visitors from downtown to the Hat Factory and other studios around the city.
Council members, performers, and many residents also stopped by different galleries to chat with each other and visitors. Artist Robert Barthelmes, who was volunteering at the information booth, estimated about 300 people had come by around 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
"It has been a tremendous success and it was only possible due to the teamwork of everyone on the Peekskill Arts Alliance Steering Committee, the businesses, the city of Peekskill and the artists themselves," said Maureen Winzig, Chair of the Open Studios events. Winzig also noted that she was glad to have met former Mayor of Peekskill Fran Gibbs, under whose leadership the city arts district was formed.
Open Studios did not just feature the popular galleries in the downtown, local artists and vendors without storefronts were invited to show and sell their work at an outdoor crafts fair on Esther Street.
"This is my first big thing," said Lis High, a Peekskill resident who has been making colorful jewelry and fun scarves for friends for years and who was just convinced to try to make a profit from her talent.
"I like that the artist community is evolving and to get to experience it. And I like the camaraderie of artists," said 20-year Peekskill resident Jim Brooks, who has been attending Open Studios for the last three years. "I feel like I missed out on it the first 12 years," Brooks said of having not attended the event until recently. Brooks now makes the most of the Open Studios, visiting many galleries all weekend.
Local artists will now focus on strengthening the new Peekskill Arts Alliance to cultivate and promote the artist community in the city. More on that on Patch in coming weeks.
Click through the photos for a look into the world of Peekskill's artists.