Of all the shocking confessions I’ve made over the years, perhaps none has been met with more stunned reaction than this:
I’ve never been to Golden Artist Colors.
That’s right folks, unbelievable as it may seem, until a couple weeks ago, I had never set foot inside what is surely one of Chenango County’s most successful and innovative home-grown businesses.
You’d think being the seen-it-all, done-it-all seasoned newspaper editor that I am, there wouldn’t be many thresholds in Chenango that I haven’t crossed. Yet, until very recently, I’d never seen the wonders of Golden Artist Colors.
To clarify, I had been to the Columbus (or is it New Berlin? Hard to tell up in them thar woods) facility before. Sometime back in the early 90s, I pointed my trusty camera at a groundbreaking for one of the artist paint manufacturer’s many expansion projects. I lined up the dignitaries, got my requisite posed shot, and left. I can’t remember if they invited me inside or not; more likely, I was concerned about following my bread crumb trail back to Norwich as quickly as possible.
So, a decade or so and a couple dozen Evening Sun stories later, it is kind of surprising that I’d never found my way inside the Golden factory before. Lu Dick, a good friend of mine from her days at the Pennysaver, had been trying to lure me up to her current employer for quite some time. On Nov. 19, I decided to bite on an invitation to a gallery talk by visiting artist Susanna Starr of New York City. Fairly recently, Golden Artist Colors’ expansion project included the addition of gallery space that features a rotating exhibit of artists who use the Golden line of products. It’s named, appropriately enough, the Sam and Adele Golden Gallery (SAGG), after the founders of the company.
I love art. I can’t actually do art. I can’t always convey why I like or dislike a particular piece or style of art, but I enjoy looking at it. Starr’s talk was fascinating. While I’ve often enjoyed the finished product at various galleries in the area, I confess (there’s another one) that I don’t as often think of the process that goes into creating it. Starr’s lecture, open to Golden employees and the general public, gave a captivating glimpse into one artist’s inspiration. Her slide show and comments were presented chronologically – you got to see the evolution of how she went from working in one medium to another, and the reasoning behind the choices she made along the way.
Starr uses Golden’s paints in ways I’d never even thought of. Apparently, there’s a lot more you can do with them besides brushing them on a canvas. I like to fool myself into thinking that I’m somewhat of an artist with words and ink, but this woman truly thinks outside the proverbial box and defines “artist.” Calling her works “giant sponges filled with paint” is like calling the Sistine Chapel a “painted ceiling.” Trust me, you’d have to see them for yourself.
Inspired by Starr’s talk, I wanted to see more of Golden Artist Colors for myself. That’s when I confessed to Lu, and later Mark and Barbara Golden, that I’d never been there before. Surprised they were, yes, but even more so they were gracious and open in their invitation to show me around. Barbara took me on a tour personally, and I tried to absorb as much of the storied Golden history as I could – kind of like one of Starr’s sponges, come to think of it.
Of course I’ve reviewed countless Evening Sun stories we’ve done on Golden Artist over the years, but as they say, seeing is really believing. I was particularly impressed by Golden’s attention to customer service. I’d say they’ve raised that to an artform every bit as much as the paints and various mediums they produce. Collaborating with the artists who use their products in such an intimate and inspirational way is clearly the key to Golden’s success. Here’s an example of what was literally a mom-and-pop operation growing and prospering into a globally-recognized company – all from right here in little ol’ Chenango County. We’re lucky to have them here.
My little field trip to Columbus has inspired me ... not to paint, mind you (although I am pretty handy with latex and a roller). If nothing else, my tour of Golden Artist Colors has taught me that I really need to get out of Norwich more often. You never know what you’re going to find up there in the woods.