The four-day ArtsFest, a collaboration of more than 40 community arts organizations, is a citywide celebration designed to appeal to a wide audience—from the seasoned arts aficionado to families with young children. The festival offers activities and events spanning music, dance, visual art, film, theatre, and literary art.
This year, as a tribute to the famed race track’s sesquicentennial, many of the ArtsFest activities will draw on Saratoga’s rich and storied history.
“This year’s festival is our most exciting to date,” said Mary Ellen O’Loughlin, executive director of SaratogaArtsFest. “The arts community enthusiastically embraced the Saratoga 150 theme, taking the opportunity to explore track-related art as well as the evolution of the arts over the past 150 years.”
Among the community-based events with historical themes will be a film and discussion series organized by the Saratoga Film Forum and Yaddo, the local artists’ retreat that was recently named a National Historic Landmark. The series will pay tribute to Yaddo’s support of a generation of screenwriters and directors, some 70 in all over the years. Over three evenings the program will feature screenings of “The Illusionist,” “Prodigal Sons,” and “Five Dances,” each followed by a conversation with the film’s director or producer, all of whom had Yaddo residencies.
Opera Saratoga will present “Opera 150,” in which the company’s general director, Curt Tucker, will lead a discussion about the evolution of opera over the past 150 years, with examples performed by members of the Opera Saratoga 2013 Young Artist Program.
In another tribute to music of the past, the Saratoga Chamber Players will perform a chamber concert with bassoon, violins, viola, and cello that will highlight works that Saratoga audiences would have listened to 150 years ago.
The event will also present historical slides of art in Saratoga Springs. In addition, the concert will feature a piece composed by noted musician Bernard Garfield, retired principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
At Caffè Lena, composer and pianist Elizabeth Woodbury-Kasius will team up with Skidmore College theater students to present an original performance piece that evokes the past 150 years of Saratoga Springs history, showing the city as a hub of the arts.
“The ArtsFest is the kickoff to a summer season of world-class art in our community,” O’Loughlin said. “Saratoga has an amazingly vibrant arts landscape.”
In addition to these tributes to the past, the SaratogaArtsFest line-up will feature such well-known performers as Tony Award-winning actor, dancer, and singer Ben Vereen; Cuban jazz superstars Tiempo Libre with celebrated pianist Alfredo Rodríguez; Orleans’ own Hot 8 Brass Band; the Susan Marshall and Company dance troupe; and noted guitarist-composer Gary Lucas. The festival’s literary programming will include a special treat for young readers—a presentation and book signing by writer and cartoonist Jeff Kinney, author of the No. 1 best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
The visual arts will also be well represented, including a juried show of four artists at the SaratogaArtFest Center and Gallery, featuring painting, sculpture, ink on paper, and photography. The Saratoga Race Course will be the focus of an exhibition of paintings at the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center on Broadway. Galleries throughout the city will welcome visitors, and local artists will give demonstrations of their craft.
The full ArtsFest schedule is available at www.SaratogaArtsFest.org.