By Kathleen Yasas
SHERBURNE – Six decades ago – in 1949 – life in America was very different. Harry Truman was president, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was playing for the Yankees, and golfer Sam Sneed captured the green jacket at the Masters Tournament. Other notable events that year: RCA introduced the 45 RPM record; The Lone Ranger premiered on ABC; the first Polaroid camera was sold; the first Emmy Awards show was held; Billy Graham began his ministry; and the first automatic streetlight flickered to life in New Milford, Connecticut.
In October of 1949, one hundred and thirty miles or so west of New Milford, an exciting event was taking place, not that it made the national papers. The local art society held its first art show in the tiny town of Sherburne, New York. The year before, in 1948, artist Mariea L. Brown helped to co-found the Sherburne Art Society. The society’s goal was a straightforward one: to bring together area people who enjoyed art and creativity, and to learn about, teach, and promote art in the community.
Mrs. Brown and her fellow artists came together in 1949 and displayed their artistic works. In Mrs. Brown’s case, she showed paintings with names like Rocky Coast of Maine, Lobster Wharf at Kennebunkport, Autumn Plowing, and Sherburne Episcopal Church. The show was a great success, and in fact ran another 40-plus years at the park in downtown Sherburne. If you talk to locals today their eyes twinkle at mention of the show, many of whom remember taking their children – or going as children – to the park to admire paintings, sculpture, and other inspirational craft. One artist, now of Norwich, remembers his first exhibition at the Sherburne Art Show … when he was six years old. The event was a staple of the community, and it was with heavy hearts that the show was discontinued after Mrs. Brown’s passing in 1996.
On Saturday, June 9, the Sherburne Art Show, now called The Sherburne Arts & Crafts Family Festival, returns to Gaines Park. Hosted by The Sherburne Public Library, the festival will feature local artists and crafters, a student exhibition tent, a children’s interactive art tent, a ticket auction, a silent auction, food vendors, and music. There will also be a special exhibit in the library on Saturday of Mrs. Brown’s work, donated for the purpose of the exhibit by local residents. While the event is a fundraiser for the library, the long goal is to recreate what was once a joyous immersion into creativity and community in a town known for historic homes, its band and colorguard programs, its exceptional school, and its people – friendly, hardworking, involved, and artistic.
The 2012 Sherburne Arts & Crafts Family Festival will be dedicated to Mariea Brown, whose vision 63 years ago not only created memories in local hearts, but put tiny Sherburne on the map in art circles across the state.
For more information about the show, visit sherburneartshow.blogspot.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Yasas is a trustee at The Sherburne Public Library and chair of the Sherburne Arts & Crafts Family Festival.