Over the last several months regional artist Matt Burnett has launched a large-scale outdoor art installation project around the Town of Long Lake in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. Three 8×8 portraits can be seen at locations around town including the Shaw Pond Turnaround on route 28N, Deerland Road (on the Big Red Barn) and at the former site of the Blarneystone Restaurant along Main Street. In addition he recently installed three additional portraits along the Burns Road Wall on Route 30 just past the Long Lake Bridge.
The public is invited to meet Matt and participate in a public art project on October 11th at the Long Lake Harvest Craft Fair and Fall Fire Fest at the LL Town Hall on Main Street in Long Lake. This is an opportunity for Matt to meet anyone interested in discussing the project, how it evolved, where’s he’s going from here, negotiate a deal (this art is for sale if anyone is interested) and to also invite everyone of all ages to help create another large scale work. Children and adults and all levels of talent are encouraged to participate in this public interactive art project. This event is made possible with public funds from NYSCA Decentralization Regrant Program. In Hamilton County the Decentralization Program is administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.
We asked Matt.. in his own words to describe the Portraits in the Wilderness Project and what it means to him.
CONCERNING THE LONG LAKE MURALS
I can still remember my first introduction to the Seamans. I was about 13, proudly stepping up to race in the Long Lake Boat races. I had lots of time in a boat but very little time steering at this point in my life, so naturally I entered all 3 categories (guideboat, canoe, and rowboat). Let alone I had no guideboat with me!
In the midst of all the hubbub (mostly audience and support staff scattered around the Long Lake Town Beach, by the late 80s this event was waning), an older gentleman introduced himself to me. He told me that if I wanted to race in the guideboat division he could help me out.
And so I raced with Howard Seaman’s guideboat, not realizing until many years later the significance of this meeting and of his unmatched reputation racing in guideboats.
Like so many of my experiences in the small Adirondack Alcove of Long Lake, the significance of where I was, what I was doing and who I was doing it with took on much more meaning and history as I became an adult.
So it was with his wife, Francis Boone Seaman. When I was a little older and trying to make my way as a professional artist, Francis called me out of the blue and told me to drop by, she had something for me. It turned out to be a box of illustration clippings, animals, landscapes, a bit of everything, that she had been holding onto for years. She also made a point of coming to my first solo exhibition in the area.
Again at the time I didn’t really realize who was taking such an interest in me. I had always thought of Francis as the lady who had been town historian for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until I read about her earlier years as a fire tower warden in Nehasane that I started to realize what I dynamic artist and outdoorswoman I was dealing with. I remember seeing the photograph of her in her early twenties in a red wool lumberman’s coat pulling back a long bow. Another child of the Adirondacks! I’m glad I got the chance to tell her what a striking photograph that was.
So what does it mean to be living history? The best way I can try to answer this question is tied up in the murals and portraits that I installed in Long Lake this year.
I have tried to choose subjects that would speak to the community at large, not just residents, summer people or tourists but everyone. I’ve chosen places that everyone could identify, places that are tied up with the history and memories and idea of our unique village.
For the portraits, I’ve tried to pick a few people that are a clear part of this community’s history. It was hard to start with three only; I could easily fill this wall with significant figures from our town.
This paintings are my way of answering, and of thanking.