Exhibit to spotlight TB artists

The “Art of the Cure” exhibit in the John Black Room at the Saranac Laboratory Museum will showcase artists who either continued their journey in their artistic medium or began a new adventure in art while curing for tuberculosis in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

SARANAC LAKE — The curing of tuberculosis made this village famous, but for some, the cure made them famous. A new exhibit spotlights this.

For a year, the new exhibit in the John Black Room at the Saranac Laboratory Museum has been thought out and prepped. Kaytlin Gochenaur, Historic Saranac Lake’s oral history coordinator, and Chessie Monks-Kelly, museum administrator, are in the final push to get the exhibit up. Outlining the room are spare shelves holding only plaques with the names of those whose artistic journeys were impacted by coming to the village.

“We’re really trying to showcase all the arts that people did while they were taking the cure for TB,” Gochenaur said.

Each empty shelf represents an artist who experienced occupational therapy while being cured. Patients were asked to draw, paint, sculpt, knit, anything creative and artistic that could draw their minds away from their sickness. For some, art was discovered in the cold hills of the North Country because of this type of therapy. For others, the practice had already been discovered and mastered.

Amy Jones, for example, had already gone to school for art and submitted some of her works for awards; however, the solitude and treatment that she received in 1930 allowed her to paint pieces that are well-known to this day.

The jewelry of Martin and Betty Koop, who met met while curing, can be seen at the “Art of the Cure” exhibit starting Wednesday in the John Black Room at the Saranac Laboratory Museum in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

Ray Ridabock had not quite learned how to paint before coming for the cure, but according to Gochenaur, Jones taught him how to paint during his time in the village. His artwork was well received in New York City.

Maxfield Parish was another artist who was well-versed in his craft, but the cure led him to change how he worked. Normally, Parish used ink, according to Gochenaur. The cold, however, made this difficult, as the ink would freeze. He then switched to oils. His new pieces of art, which Gochenaur described as “incredibly saturated fairy-tale concepts,” inspired and captivated many, including Norman Rockwell.

Martin and Betty Koop met while being cured. They started to work on jewelry together, and after being cured, they stayed in the village and opened a jewelry store, Temming Arts Studio. Their Temming bracelets were the gift to give teen girls decades ago, and are still recognized today. Some of their work can be seen on display at the exhibit.

The exhibit will be open to the public starting Wednesday and will be in the museum until fall 2020.

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