Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
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Current Exhibits

Venerable Folks of Tug Hill 
February 11, 2017 - May 2017


Tug Hill is a 2,100 square mile patchwork of small villages, farms, and wilderness located between Lake Ontario and the Adirondacks. Known to the Iroquois as the “Lesser Wilderness”, to distinguish it from the Adirondacks, Tug Hill is especially noted for record snowfalls, and a self-sufficient, resilient population.

In 2016, TAUNY partnered with Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Tug Hill Commission to produce a small traveling exhibition featuring 15 residents of Tug Hill. Criteria for inclusion were drawn from the Tug Hill Sages program established by the Tug Hill Commission in 1983. Sages are individuals who have vast knowledge of Tug Hill’s heritage and its environment and have shown a life-long involvement in the region. They have distinguished themselves by their strong historical knowledge of the region and by their actions that have contributed significantly to the quality of life on Tug Hill. The traveling exhibit has been touring the Watertown region since October 2016.

An expanded version of the traveling exhibit will open in the main gallery of The TAUNY Center in February 2017. The expanded exhibition will include the following:

  • Portraits of Tug Hill residents painted by artist Loretta Lepkowski, herself a life-long resident of Tug Hill, accompanied by short biographies of each resident.
  • Photographs of Tug Hill, its landscape and landmarks.
  • Thematic panels focused on key aspects of life in that region, including surviving winter, the importance of community life, and music.
  • A selection of objects from the region, chosen by the individuals in the exhibit.

Venerable Folks of Tug Hill will remain on display at The TAUNY Center through mid-May 2017.


Funding was provided by the St. Lawrence Arts Council, NYS Council on the Arts, NYS Tug Hill Commission, Iroquois Gas Community Grant Program, The John Ben Snow Foundation, Inc, an the Northern New York Community Foundation. A portion of this work was made possible through two Public Arts Fellowship Grants. Additional programming support provided by Hyde-Stone Mechanical Contractors, Inc.

Folkstore Artist Spotlight: Romi Sebald

March 11, 2017 - April 29, 2017

TAUNY presents the work of local artist, Romi Sebald March 11th - April 29th. The artist’s works on view at The TAUNY Center evoke the beauty, darkness, and mystery of North Country woodland life with the presentation of her new, one-of-a-kind forest creature dolls in addition to her work with more traditional, historical doll figures. Picking up on the thrifty ways of her Adirondack pioneer grandparents, Sebald is inspired by the traditional ethic and aesthetics of reuse, but she aims to turn worn and well-loved scraps into things entirely new. She said, “I love to see where the sharp meets the soft. I work with beloved and familiar forms, but make them with bones and teeth.” Visitors to The TAUNY Center are invited to view the exhibition to explore these unusual juxtapositions with her. All artworks on view will also be for sale.


Personal Collection Series

Ongoing through 2017

This year at the TAUNY Center, we will be showcasing 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.


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.

Click here for more details about TAUNY's Personal Collection Series.


Current Personal Collection Series

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.




Upcoming Exhibits

Raquette River Dams Oral History Project

Opening June 10, 2017

From 2014 to 2016, TAUNY partnered with the Raquette River Blueway Corridor Group, the Village of Potsdam, and Watertown PBS to document the stories of people involved in or significantly affected by the construction of the hydroelectric dams and powerhouses along the Raquette River, one of the most heavily dammed rivers in New York State. This oral history project was made possible by the support of the New York Department of State with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund. Interviews were conducted primarily by Camilla Ammirati, Director of Programs and Research at TAUNY in Canton, NY, and Mary Jane Watson of South Colton, NY, in cooperation with Roque Murray of Watertown PBS. The project recorded thirty interviews with thirty-one individuals with significant connections to and/or memories of the Raquette River hydro projects, about fifteen of which were included in a separate Watertown PBS documentary project (aired spring 2016). In addition to interviews, we collected approximately five hundred photos and other scanned memorabilia items from the interviewees and approximately 3700 additional photos representing the history of the Raquette River more generally, and the life of the communities along its shores.

For this project, we aimed to present as many perspectives as possible on the history of the Raquette River hydro dam development projects. Interviewees represent a range of different occupations, geographical locations, time periods, and types of relationship to the dam projects. The majority of interviewees worked on the dams or powerhouses and/or for the power companies, such as Niagara Mohawk and Brookfield Renewable Energy, which have run the hydro projects over the years. Occupations or activities documented include logging, clearing land, construction management, crane operation, security, pipeline maintenance, concrete-testing, truck-driving, engineering, representing citizen concerns, and “running the river,” or managing the hydroelectric assets on the Raquette. We spoke to some who were involved at the beginning of the major development in the Colton area in the 1950s, some primarily involved in later re-building projects in the 1980s, and some whose work on the river or in their related careers has continued until relatively recently, thus bringing a more contemporary perspective to the project. We also interviewed people who did not do work connected to the dams but could share recollections of ways in which the dam projects affected their communities and their own personal lives. These include individuals whose families lost or gained land due to the dam projects, operated businesses affected for better or worse by the boom in development, owned camps that were lost or had to be moved because of the project, or generally remembered changes to community life and to the river itself, as well as what it was like simply to witness the construction projects themselves.

The exhibit, opening on June 10, 2017, will share the stories and perspectives of those we interviewed as well as the broader story of how the river itself and life along its banks have been shaped by the hydroelectric dam projects. The exhibit will include:

  • Thematic panels representing different topics and types of experience related to the dams, such as: occupations/work/worksite experiences on the river, tall tales of the trades, landmarks lost and gained, winter on the river, arts and crafts related to river work or local community life during the building of the dams, and environmental and economic impact.
  • Recent and historic images.
  • Audio samples from oral history interviews.
  • Video samples from oral history interviews as well as historic video footage.
  • Objects pertaining to the dams and/or related experience of interview subjects.

The exhibit will be on display through October 2017.

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