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COVID prompts art gallery to close physical site, relocate eventually

You couldn’t have a gathering like this now for an art exhibit’s opening, but you could in April 2019 at the NorthWind Fine Arts gallery on Woodruff Street, Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

SARANAC LAKE — If you have driven down Woodruff Street recently, you may have noticed something looking a bit different. Having been established for about 10 years, the NorthWind Fine Arts Gallery has decided to leave its physical space, where it has been for about five years.

However, NorthWind is not closing as much as it is transitioning.

“About a month ago we decided to close our physical space because of the pandemic and focus on what the future would bring,” said Lee Ann Sporn, president of the art gallery. “We just wanted to get a fresh start after the pandemic is over.”

Although they don’t know exactly when their new space will open or where it will be, Sporn believes it will be in Saranac Lake.

“We consider ourselves part of the Saranac Lake community, and we believe we have a real presence in the community,” said Sporn. NorthWind members are looking to have a new space open around June 1 with some new artist partners, but Sporn added, “We are open to partnerships with others, including shared spaces, or anything else that comes along.”

Art galleries in the Tri-Lakes area are handling the pandemic differently and have faced different obstacles. The Adirondack Artists Guild Fine Arts Gallery, located in downtown Saranac Lake, remains open with hours from Thursday to Sunday and continues to welcome artists’ exhibits, even though it is not having receptions at this time. Tupper Arts also continues to have exhibits open, as well as launching a new capital campaign to renovate its existing space on Park Street in Tupper Lake. The Lake Placid Center for the Arts has a variety of options available during this time, including online art classes and in-person dance classes, as well as two galleries open for visitors.

NorthWind is focusing on revamping its website for e-commerce and making it a better experience for patrons. Online at northwindfineartsgallery.com it says, “NWFA is excited to announce a new direction for 2021!”

“We still have a strong web presence” said Sporn. “We have a juried event coming up with the theme ‘The Healing Wilderness’ that will be posted online in February, to go along with Winter Carnival.”

If you are a local artist and want to submit work for this juried show, the deadline for submission is Jan. 15. The juror will be David Fadden, an Akwesasne Mohawk and a known artist in the community.

“I think he is the perfect juror because of his background in art and his membership with the tribe, and I think he will pick a piece of art that best reflects ‘The Healing Wilderness’ through his experience,” Sporn said.

“We want to make sure people know this is a positive story,” Sporn added. “This is absolutely more of a transition than a closing. We are still around in the community.”

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