LAKE GEORGE - A flurry of fancifully painted canoes could be on display throughout Lake George Village as soon as this summer, if a municipal trustee's brainstorm is realized.
Village Board Member Ray Perry is launching an effort to have canoe hulls painted, put on public display and competing in a contest, similar to how the Saratoga County Arts Council operates their "Horses Saratoga Style" public art competition every five years or so in downtown Saratoga Springs.
Perry said Monday night he is now seeking donations of canoes, presumably older, non-seaworthy hulls, for the competition.
Individuals or businesses who wish to donate a canoe for the project may call Perry at 668-0466, or leave a message for him at the Lake George Village Hall.
In Saratoga Springs, the "Horses Saratoga Style" 2007 contest attracted entries from artists across the state, Vermont, and Massachusetts, painting 34 fiberglass horses in varied whimsical ways. The contest has spawned T-shirts, posters, calendars and postcards. The displays helped "brand" Saratoga as a fun destination, Perry said, noting that other communities host similar promotions.
Brandon Vt. and Lexington, N.C. both have successful painted pig displays, and Bennington Vt. has its painted moose competition.
"A public art display like this can attract attention for the village and draw a lot of people here," he said, noting that the canoes could be displayed jutting out from storefronts or hanging from trees.
In Bennington, painted moose sculptures in Moosefest 2009 became a symbol of community friendship, according to the local chamber of commerce. Saratoga's street art displays were so popular the program included surrounding towns and the painted horses ended up on display in the Museum of Natural History in New York City.
This summer, 17 artist-decorated Adirondack Chairs were on display then auctioned off for chairity in August.
Lake George Arts Project Executive Director John Strong said the canoe-art enterprise offers a lot of benefits for the community, the artists, and visitors.
"We like the whole concept of art in public places," he said. "It's a great project, and Ray has put some real effort into this. We at the Arts Project certainly want to be involved in some capacity."
Luisa Craige-Sherman of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce said the concept would likely boost tourism.
"These types of public art displays are a great way to get recognition for artists while getting involved in community-building," she said. "The art would intrigue visitors - the effort would have our support."
Cate Johnson, Director of Tourism for Warren County, said the canoe-art concept would help with "branding" the county, as canoes are associated with history, recreation, and traditional Adirondack travel.
"This definitely could enrich tourists' experiences here - it prompts curiosity and would give tourists something to talk about - and word of mouth is one of the best methods of advertising."
She said her department was ready to help promote it.
"I really like the concept," she said. "We could give it visibility."