Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2016 12:30 am
By Melanie Lekocevic Columbia-Greene Media
COXSACKIE – Catskill has its cats, Cairo has bears, and Ravena had trains. Now, it’s Coxsackie’s turn.
A volunteer committee has been working for several months to get a new project off the ground – Hoot of the Owl, a public art exhibit that will bring sculptures of creatively decorated owls to the community.
Owls have long been the symbol of Coxsackie; indeed, some translations of the name “Coxsackie” – said to be of Native American extraction – are thought to reference owls, according to an article by Coxsackie Town Historian Michael Rausch on the town website.
Committee members have been lining up sponsors – local businesses and individuals – who are willing to sponsor an individual owl at a cost of $500. More than 30 sponsors have already signed on, and as many as 40 could participate when all is said and done.
Now, the group is looking for artists who would be willing to lend their talents and their creative eye to decorating an owl.
Like the Catskill cats, once completed each owl will be posted at locations around the village for several months, and later auctioned off at an extravagant gala.
Visitors to last week’s Coxsackie Farmers Market got a taste of what is possible in creating an owl when local artist Ellen De Lucia put on display an owl she created, just to get the creative juices flowing around town.
“When we started, we decided to buy one owl prototype and have Ellen De Lucia paint it to give people an idea of what it would look like,” said Committee Chair Joseph Ellis, also a village trustee. “We made a lot of design changes to the prototype, like making the eyes the big focus.”
De Lucia’s owl has a patriotic theme and has been dubbed “Freedom,” but the design ideas are limited only by the artist’s imagination.
The art exhibit and auction are solely run by volunteers, and all proceeds will go to local charitable organizations. The largest portion will go to the Coxsackie Food Pantry, which is building a new home, with more going to groups like the Friends of Heermance Memorial Library, Helping Hands in Sleepy Hollow, the Coxsackie Police Athletic League, a scholarship for a Coxsackie-Athens High School senior, and possibly others.
Ellis has been discussing getting such a massive project off the ground with others who have been there – the organizers of Cat’n Around Catskill – to see how they handled it. DeLucia, in fact, regularly decorates cats for that exhibit.
With so many neighboring communities participating in such artistic endeavors, an owl exhibit has been in the sights of Coxsackie leaders for some time, but it took Ellis taking the reins to make it happen.
“Many years ago I spoke to the person who organizes the Catskill cats and she told me it was a lot of work,” Village Trustee Dianne Ringwald said. “I thought, do I really want to take this on? J.B. [Ellis] stepped up. There is a lot involved – people have no idea how much work it is.”
Anyone interested in designing an owl is welcome to submit a couple of possible designs. Once all the designs are in, sponsors will have their pick of what’s available and make their selections for which artist they want to work with.
Then, it’s up to the artist to make their creation shine. They will be provided a stipend to cover the cost of art supplies, and a quarter of the profit from the sale of their owl.
The gala, where all the owls will be auctioned off, is expected to be held next October.