Twenty-one years ago Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) was a young start-up in the world of farmland protection. We were 12 years old and had protected ~3,500 acres of land, but we were the "little engine that could".
The board of directors was looking for ways to increase our presence in the community beyond the farm families we were working with and also to create our first real fundraising event. Several ideas were bandied about, but the one that stuck was an art sale.
It made perfect sense; one of the things about ASA's work is that by protecting farmland we also protect the beautiful rural scenery and landscapes that everyone enjoys, even if they don't know anything about farming. We talked about a "working landscape" that changes with the season. Artists capture that beauty with their work so we thought it was a great collaboration to do an art show/sale.
Coming up with a name was the next big challenge. The one that rose to the top was from one of our board members, Liz Gordon....she said "we are going to sell landscape art for the sake of protecting the land" or something like that and then she said "Landscapes for Landsake". I have been involved in many white board idea sessions for different organizations and businesses and this was by far the biggest and best "aha moment" I have ever been a part of.
We also decided on a date, Columbus Day weekend because it is a long weekend and the fall colors are always so amazing.
The art was hung in Larry Sconzo's barn in Cambridge using crude gallery techniques adapted to the historic 1860 era barn. We had a small group of volunteers hang the art and local framer, Janine Lazarus acted as curator. Jim Schanz figured out the lighting and hanging systems and has been an integral member of the "hanging team" ever since.
Another team of volunteers got wine, cheese and decorations donated, and then we hoped that people would show up. And much to our joy - they did - hundreds and hundreds of them, which over the years has grown to thousands!
Landscapes for Landsake could not be possible without Larry Sconzo and Jim Schanz. Larry and his family have allowed us to use that amazing and historic barn for this show every year. Larry and Jim are great ambassadors for ASA and some of our dearest friends.
ASA shares the proceeds of art sales 50/50 with the artists so the artists are making a huge donation and commitment to ASA. The show is juried and has become the premier art event in the northeast each autumn. The artists have come to really appreciate the camaraderie that Landscapes for Landsake creates too.
Some of our artists have been with us since the very beginning - Harry Orlyk, George Van Hook and the late, Virginia McNeice. Many of the artists you see in this year's show have participated in the event for more than 10 years.
In recent years Klara Varosy, John and Gigi Begin and Leah McCloskey have taken on the task of curating the show, but there have been many others who have added to the quality of the event. John Begin also helped us fully develop the gallery space in the barn with his creative engineering and woodworking projects in the barn, allowing us to increase the number of artists we are able to accommodate.
The show has grown tremendously in 21 years. In 2022 we had 61 artists and over 600 pieces. It was the first time our art sales topped $115,000. This year, we have 68 artists, 17 of which are participating for the very first time.
Over the years we have added more and more lighting and wall boards. Tracts above are used to hang the art with a professional cable gallery system. We have converted almost every bulb in the show to LED lighting to reduce the energy consumption and risk of blowing fuses in the old barn.
The challenges of hosting an event in 2020 allowed us to explore a new way of selling art. We took a bold leap and built a website, and to our surprise, it was fantastic; and to date, our most successful ever.
This year's show will be a hybrid again. We are offering both an in-person show (albeit scaled down to about 300 pieces) and an online sale with over 700 works. We are incredibly grateful Klara Varosy Hall was up for the challenge of being our curator again. It is a marvel to see all the volunteer hours to prepare for the event come together. The amount of community support and the volunteer efforts are really humbling and gratifying to ASA.
We are hopeful that our history of having the major art event of the year can be continued in this our 22nd anniversary of Landscapes for Landsake.
Dave Horn, DVM
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