Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
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Personal Collection Series


Personal Collections Series

In 2017 at the TAUNY Center, we will showcase personal collections from individuals around our region. Each collection has a special connection to the North Country; most of the items were originally produced or utilized here. These collections represent the diversity of interests in our region along with the deep-rooted history of folk culture over the past century or more. Each item holds intrinsic value for these collectors and their families, and we at TAUNY are deeply grateful to be able to display these items for the benefit of the public.


Judy Rexford's Buttons

March 11, 2017 - April 29, 2017

Fruits and vegetables, stars and charms, famous women and world religions… Believe it or not, there’s a button for everything! From March 11th to April 29th, Judy Rexford shares her mother Iris’s buttons with TAUNY for the next exhibit in our 2017 Personal Collections series.

In 1963, Iris Rexford became a member of the North Country Button Club, which her friend Ruth Crandall of Colton had started a few years earlier. The Club, which was active from the 1960s through the 1990s, included members hailing from various places from Colton, NY to Cornwall, ON, Canada, and the club members also took part in the New York State and National Button Societies. The North Country group met regularly to show their findings around monthly program themes focusing on different button types, themes, and materials. The club members did everything from saving buttons off their own clothing to trading, buying, and hunting down treasures at area auctions and flea markets, and their collections included a range of beautiful and unusual materials and imagery—from dainty pearl to military brass, from flower and maple shapes to maps of New York State. Members would also craft with the buttons, mounting them artfully and including them in jewelry, as well as trading birthday cards with special buttons affixed as gifts. While the North Country Button Club hasn’t met in recent years, state and national groups continue to be active. Meanwhile, Judy and others in the community continue to preserve the button collections started by their family members and share the stories those buttons represent.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Five Elements Living.

Jerry Lincoln's Decoys

January 14, 2017 - February 25, 2017

Our first exhibit is a decoy collection from Jerry Lincoln of Ogdensburg, NY. The exhibit will run from January 7 through the end of February. Decoys are wooden - and sometimes plastic -  birds, usually ducks, used to attract birds when hunting. Decoys have been made in the North Country since approximately 1870, and many of the best examples are from between 1920 and 1960 for various economic and political reasons. While up until approximately 1970, in our region, these birds were carved out of wood by hand, nowadays hunters use plastic decoys that weigh and cost less and have more life-like features. The art of the decoy is not lost, though, as many collectors and makers continue to make extravagant wooden birds for show, some of which are valued above and beyond $10,000.

There are many notable makers represented in Jerry’s collection, primarily from the Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay regions, including Frankie Louis, Rosh Douglas, Bob and Bill Massey, and Bill and Dick Hollis. Jerry’s full collection includes over 130 birds and is tastefully displayed throughout his home. As an avid duck hunter, he began collecting decoys over 30 years ago, finding them at garage sales or lost and forgotten in attics and basements while working in his pest control business. He continues to interact with many local decoy makers and collectors and regularly attends the decoy convention in Alexandria Bay in July. Jerry especially values the family connections behind each of these birds, and he has a personal story about nearly every single decoy in his collection.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Hilltop Hunting & Fishing Supply.


The Personal Collections Series will continue through 2017 with these collections:

Jack and Joann Backus's Antique Tools

May 13, 2017 - June 24, 2017

Ted Comstock's Paddles

July 8, 2017 - August 19, 2017

Adirondack Playboys' Fiddles

August 26, 2017 - October 7, 2017


The Personal Collections series is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, Folk Arts Program, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Note: All images, text and other material found in this website © 2017 TAUNY. All rights reserved.