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Artists combine efforts to liven up Port Henry village

PORTHENRY-The town of Moriah and the village of Port Henry are the home of the well-known artist Ruth Rumney.

Now, village residents Linda Smyth, a painter, and Jackie Viestenz, a quilter, are looking for more local talent to carry on Rumney's tradition with the visual arts. The idea is to begin to enliven the village of Port Henry with color by adding paintings and murals and quilts to the windows of empty storefronts.

With the help of neighborhood kids, including four of Rumney's grandchildren, Smyth created a mural depicting a whimsical version of the village itself. The colorful canvas now hangs on Main Street.

Viestenz's quilts hang in the old Bell Store.

"People admire them when walking or driving by, and two were sold," Smyth said.

This past fall, as Smyth passed by the large Lee House windows of the lobby, she noticed, especially at night, that color needed to be added to the interior walls. She rounded up local talent including members of another creative Port Henry family, the Bryants. She recruited more young artists from the Moriah Central School. Now, a row of large paintings on wood with the theme of flowers hang in the lobby of the Lee House. Each painting is for sale. Building manager Stella Blaise is watching over them. Essex County's Alan Hipps granted permission for the use of the storefronts.

"And the fun in creativity is just beginning," Smyth said.

The village has recently been awarded an art grant. Jeff Kelly, author of "The 21 Mine" and "Adirondack Heist" wrote and submitted the grant to the Arts Council of Northern New York, under director Caroline Thompson. With this grant money and the permission of another village store owner, Boni of Boni's Bistro, Kelly will begin to repair the large window and wall on the old Wheelock's garage. This is a prime location for a mural, easily visible to traffic as drivers enter Port Henry from the south.. Local talent, led by Smyth, will paint the mural, bringing color, creativity and history together. All ages will participate.

"We encourage others to become involved in the arts of Port Henry and Moriah," Smyth said. "Let's get those creative juices flowing. If you want to get involved as a painter, as a carpenter or as a general helper please give your name to Jackie, at the library, or call me at 546-4056. The mural projects begin this May."

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