Sugar Loaf NY “In the News”Feb 12th, 2011 | By Editor | Category: Uncategorized
A wonderful article from the latest Chronogram issue:
A Hamlet of Artisans
Travel north from Warwick along the King’s Highway (Route 13) for 11 miles and you arrive at an equally distinctive destination—Sugar Loaf. This hamlet has been an arts-and-crafts destination for over 250 years. “It originated as a stop along King’s Highway where you’d stop and get your wagon wheel fixed or get your horseshoes or your groceries,” says Paul Ellis, artistic director of Sugar Loaf’s Lycian Centre for the Performing Arts and president of the Sugar Loaf Community Foundation. “So there were always people making things [in Sugar Loaf] because it was the only place between ‘here and there’—wherever here and there was at the time.”
Walter Kannon and Jarvis Boone revived that legacy when they became the founding fathers of the Sugar Loaf artists movement in the late 1960s. “They really revived the artisan community,” says Kevin Kern, owner of Romer’s Alley—a unique passage right off the King’s Highway that is home to a number of shops. “They were really the two people that started recruiting and bringing artisans to Sugar Loaf.”
In the 1970s, Sugar Loaf grew into the arts-and-crafts capital of the Tri-State Area, just as the handmade crafts craze was sweeping the country. “It was really, truly, a unique experience when you came here and you met people who were making what they were selling,” says Nick Zungoli, award-winning photographer (he was named 2010 Artist of the Year by the Orange County Arts Council) and owner of Exposures Gallery, “Sugar Loaf became very cutting edge during those years.”
The movement may have crested since then, but Sugar Loaf has remained true to the initial vision of Kannon and Boone. “The thing that really makes Sugar Loaf unique is that when you come into Sugar Loaf many of the business [owners] not only live and work out of the house that you walk into, but a lot of them still make most everything in the shop,” says Zungoli.
Walking down Kings Highway through the center of Sugar Loaf is unlike walking through any other town. The street is lined with shops offering handmade jewelry, custom clothing, one-of-a-kind art, pottery, even handmade soap. But the difference is that these shops are also the artisans’ homes, and the people you’re buying from are also generally the people who made what is being sold. “When people come to my store, they come for me, to talk to me,” says Kiki Rosner, co-owner with her husband,Yaron, of Rosner Soap. “There’s a conversation—an exchange that is part of being social beings.”
It’s that small-town, easy-going atmosphere that helps make Sugar Loaf so appealing. “It’s a place where people can just hang out and roam around.” Says Kern. “We have a saying, ‘Make Time to Loaf.’ People tend to make time to loaf because they like to talk to people on the street; they like to talk to the artisans. They can do that here.” People come for the shops, but more and more, they also come for the events. “There’s always something going on.” Says Kern. “There’s either a concert going on, or an outdoor event, or some performer or some artist showing.” The Sugar Loaf Fall Festival, in its 40th year, brought over 16,000 people to Sugar Loaf over Columbus Day weekend. This past holiday season, Sugar Loaf closed off Kings Highway (its main street) and had horse-drawn carriages, caroling, and a visit from Santa. “If you look at the village [during the winter], it looks like it belongs under a Christmas tree,” says Ellis.
Worth the Effort
Warwick and Sugar Loaf, connected by the King’s Highway, are also connected by the way they remain unspoiled by the modern trappings of suburbia. While the rest of Orange County welcomes national chains and growing sprawl along Interstate 87 and its other major corridors, these two destinations have held on to their heritage, and retain control over the character of their communities—an achievement that has managed to go relatively unnoticed by the rest of the county. “So many people have moved up into our area in the last 20 years and they just don’t even know [Sugar Loaf] exists.” Says Kern. “They just get into their car and go right to Woodbury Commons. They don’t look around the corner to see what’s there.”
Read the entire article here!