Clifton Park/Halfmoon- Jack Morgan first began painting after retiring from work as a manufacturer’s representative in the late nineties. “My wife was going to kill me if I didn’t find a hobby,” he said wryly as we walked through a collection of paintings exhibited by the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society in the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library.
Morgan has always been interested in the arts. “When I had to travel for work I would always stop at the nearby museums,” he says.
Now, one of the proud founders of the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society, Morgan serves as the Chairman for the group’s Winter Art Show in the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. The gallery, which features work from 21 local artists, will be on display for the entire month of December on the second floor of the library. The show is mostly comprised of paintings although there are some drawings and photographs as well.
When painting “All that Jazz,” Morgan turned to a photo he took in New Orleans for inspiration. The painting depicts the Saint Peter’s Playboys playing at a famous jazz spot in New Orleans called Preservation Hall on Saint Peter’s Street. “The band tours all around the country. They even played at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center,” says Morgan. The photo which the painting is based on was taken in 2011 when Morgan visited New Orleans for the first time “with a buddy from high school.” This painting, which captures the shine of brass against the dark, hazy background of a jazz club, is not for sale.
The second painting Morgan has hanging in the gallery is called “The Birch Stand” and is based on a black and white photograph of birch trees. According to Morgan, every year the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society sends black and white photos to all its members for them to interpret however they’d like.
Other works on display included paintings of ships at rest, a herd of watercolor elephants, snowy forest scenes and beautifully textured celestial abstracts.
Morgan details how the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society was founded in 1996. He had just started taking art classes with Dr. Malcolm Waite at the Clifton Park senior center. “He and his wife taught art classes and we all thought it would be nice for the artists to get together.” In total, Morgan says the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society has between thirty to forty members now, “and not all of them are ancient like I am,” he added.
Morgan says he started from scratch and turned to lessons while many others avoid structured lessons and are self-taught. “I still go to lessons once a week,” with Joan Lorde of Niskayuna, he says.
VOICES OF THE SOUTHERN SARATOGA ARTIST’S SOCIETY
Unlike Morgan, Roberta Moses tried her hand at art early in life. As she said over the phone, she is “definitely not new to this.” After graduating from an art-focused high school, she moved to Manhattan and took night classes at Pratt Institute. After studying at Pratt, Moses switched to the Fashion Institute of Technology. “At one point I thought I would be a fashion illustrator,” she says.
After marrying her husband and having children, Moses had less time to focus on her art but she says, “after the children were grown I became active again.” Moses, along with Morgan, was one of the founding members of the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society.
“Truthfully, we really need some art in Clifton Park. Sadly, our membership has declined in recent years. We hope to rekindle interest so all can enjoy art in Clifton Park. Moses says “we are there!” and hopes those who have decided to leave the Art Society will consider returning.
Joan Van Halpen says, “Any warm body with an interest in painting can join.” Van Halpen enjoys being part of the Art Society because “It’s inspirational being around other artists and [it] keeps me motivated to paint.”
Patricia Wade joined the group a couple of years ago after hearing about it through a friend. “I have been interested in art most of my life, taking lessons from various local artists, trying different mediums, settling on watercolors, a perfect fit for me.” She added, “The group recently had a re-organization and it looks like it will be around for quite some time. All mediums are welcome and everyone is encouraged to join. We’d like people of all ages to join this friendly group and bring new ideas to share.”
Self-taught artist Jill Murphy has belonged to the SSAS organization for about five years. She has relied largely on books and practice when she first began painting but then went back to school for Graphic Art. Jill says she joined the Art Society because she “wanted to find something that would help me keep my passion for painting going. SSAS offered art demos, workshops and venues to hang up artwork. It has been a good experience that I will continue on with.”
Morgan’s advice for aspiring artists who may be hesitant to pick up a paintbrush for the first time is “You gotta start someplace. Anybody can paint. You know those people who say ‘I can’t even draw a stick figure!’? Well, you know what I tell them? Good! You don’t want to draw a stick figure!”