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February 28, 2009

Riches revealed at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York

IF YOU GO


Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), 53 Main St., Canton, NY 13617. (315) 386-4289. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. "Higher Mathematics and Traditional Patterns" remains on exhibit through May 23.



If there's extra time during your trip to Canton, it's usually worth checking out the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University, where we've enjoyed a myriad of challenging art and cultural exhibits over the years.



A good place for lunch is Blackbird CafÉ, at 107 Main St. We sampled a delicious carrot ginger soup and one of the restaurant's signature paninis, though we stopped short of the tempting array of house-baked pastry offerings.

A quilt exhibit lured us west on Route 11 to Canton.

We found not only an impressive display of needlework but also an Adirondack jewel.

About two decades ago, a group of interested people led by Varick Chittenden sought means to preserve and celebrate regional arts and folkways that enrich everyday life. Their efforts culminated in the founding of an organization called Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY).

There, individuals are honored by selection for North Country Heritage Awards. Artisans and craftspersons receive exposure via exhibits at the headquarters in Canton and can offer their works for sale. Projects undertaken by the nonprofit group have ranged from surveys of vernacular architecture to compiling venerable family recipes.

Opportunities grew when Traditional Arts moved into larger quarters in downtown Canton last year. Thus, there's more space for sales and room for larger exhibits.

BURSTS OF COLOR

The installation we came to see was "Higher Mathematics and Traditional Patterns: The Quilts of Mary Knapp."

It turns out that she is a quilter by avocation, a scientist by training and a mathematician by inclination. Her creations are an amazing combination of geometry, symbolism and color.

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