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Groovin’ Around Saugerties marks Woodstock ’94 anniversary

‘Magical Musical Tour Van’, artist: Grey Ivor Morris, sponsor: Carol Spirig. (Photos by Lauren Thomas)

The Saugerties Chamber of Commerce’s annual summer street art project, this year dubbed Groovin’ Around Saugerties, went on public display in time for Memorial Day weekend and will be up through Labor Day. Each year since 2009, local artists have been invited to decorate fiberglass models on a particular theme, with the finished projects adorning the downtown sidewalks and eventually auctioned off to support a local charity. “They mark the unofficial start and end of summer,” says Chamber vice-chair Peggy Schwartz.

While horses have been Saugerties’ most frequent street-art theme, reflecting the Stallions baseball team and the significant role that HITS plays in the community, the sculptures vary from year to year. “Each year we try to stick to something that’s representative of Saugerties: lighthouses, horses, sailboats,” Schwartz explains. “We did butterflies during COVID, because we felt we needed something uplifting.”

Owls were the theme in 2022, honoring Rocky the saw-whet owl, who was discovered as a stowaway in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and later rehabilitated by Ellen Kalish of the Saugerties-based Ravensbeard Wildlife Center and released to the wild. “We did cars one year, for the car show,” recalls Mark Smith, proprietor of Pine Grove Studio and chair of the Chamber.

‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’, artist: Andrew Rein, sponsor: Mirabella’s.

Schwartz gave credit to Chamber board member Richard Walker for the inspiration this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Woodstock ’94, which took place at the Winston Farm property in Saugerties. “It seemed so appropriate to do something with a hippie theme. It was Mark who suggested buses. We’re calling them ‘Hippie Buses’ because we can’t say ‘Volkswagen.’”

A stroll through downtown Saugerties is always more fun when the summer’s sculptures are on display, and it doesn’t require much walking to take in a bunch of them. Local artists have taken the theme to heart, painting these fanciful vehicles with ‘60s counterculture iconography such as Flower Power blooms, Peter Max-style balloon lettering, rainbows, suns and moons, guitars and peace signs, mushrooms and aliens, Op Art swirls and Impressionist landscapes. Some light up or move when you press a button. One of our early favorites is Andrew Rein’s Don’t Rain on My Parade, a tour bus for a band called the Bluestones that’s covered with mirror tiles, with a Jaggeresque pair of plumped-up lips adorning the front bumper.

According to Smith, each winter the blanks for the year’s street art project are custom-designed and manufactured by a model-making company called Chicago Fiberglass, based on a sketch sent by the Chamber. “Once we approve the design, they start producing them and shipping them to us, with nothing but a coat of white primer.” The models are stored at Schwartz’s business, Town and Country Liquors, until March, when the artists’ conceptual designs are selected. Then the artists can set to work, while the Chamber lines up sponsors for each piece.

‘Eternal Sunshine’, artist: Tara Bach, sponsor: Ulster Masonic Lodge #193.

Chamber representatives are full of praise for the artists; active volunteers Don Sparks, Steve and Terri Massardo; the many business sponsors; Bob Siracusano, whose body shop offers the artists a clearcoat for their sculptures for a minimal fee; and the Village Department of Public Works employees who are responsible for installing the artworks each May and taking them down after Labor Day. The buses will then be stored out of the weather, cleaned up, repaired and repainted by the artists if necessary, until the big auction event on September 15 at a venue to be announced.

A portion of the auction proceeds goes to the artists, another to a scholarship fund for Saugerties High School graduating seniors and the balance to the Chamber to award to a local not-for-profit, which this year will be the Hudson Valley Center for Veteran Reintegration. Bids will be accepted online in advance of the live auction at https://discoversaugerties.com/groovin-around-saugerties.

A map for a self-guided walking tour, including photos of all the Hippie Buses, will be available soon from the Chamber’s Visitor Center at 117 Partition Street, as well as from many local businesses. The tour map will even include QR codes next to the photo of each bus that will take you right to the spot where you can place your bid on the auction webpage, once it’s up and running. The QR codes are posted on the name plaques on each sculpture as well.

‘Peace, Love, Mud and Music – ’94’, artist: Jacquie Roland, sponsor: Valley Courier.

In addition to the Hippie Buses extravaganza, the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce has planned a monthlong series of special events to mark the 30th anniversary of Woodstock ’94, occurring at various venues around town. Cantine Field will host live music and a gathering of food trucks on August 3, and the culminating event will take place at Hope Rocks at the month’s end. For updates, visit https://discoversaugerties.com or www.facebook.com/saugertieschamberofcommerce. The Facebook page also features a slideshow of the Hippie Buses, soon to be joined by videotaped interviews with the artists, led by Robert Langdon.

The post Groovin’ Around Saugerties marks Woodstock ’94 anniversary first appeared on Hudson Valley One.

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