Drop-Off Day for the 2017 TRASK charity art auction

Last minute, last minute, gotta hurry, gotta hurry.

Sort of my life story.

See, although all three of my artworks – The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad, Saratoga Vichy Crate Art Project and Milky Way at the Corinth Reservoir – were accepted into the 2017 Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation TRASK charity art auction…

The event, which helps raise money for the preservation of monuments and buildings in the Saratoga Springs area, is a long-time favorite endeavor of mine.  Besides being able to find beauty and wonder in my photographs and art projects in the forests and architecture of Saratoga County…

It’s also a chance to bring closure to painful parts of my childhood.

Let me explain as much as I possibly can.  And bear with me, I’m trying to load the car with three artworks that have to be at the Canfield Casino this morning.

The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo taken in October 2015. Photo by Chuck Miller.

From approximately 1971 to maybe 1974, I lived with my mother and stepfather in a double-deep, double-wide mobile home trailer park in Saratoga County.  At first, we lived at what is now Brookview Village (back then it was called the Alhambra Mobile Home and Trailer Park) in Greenfield Center, and I attended the first half of second grade at Greenfield Center Elementary School off Route 9N (#3 on the list of The Twelve).

Halfway through the school year, however, my parents got into a dispute with the mobile home park owners – might have had something to do with them not paying rent on their lot – and next thing I know, the trailer has been relocated to the Howe Road Mobile Home Trailer Park in Corinth.  That trailer park no longer exists, I suppose it’s been redeveloped as tract housing or something, but while I was there, I went to school at South Corinth Elementary (#4 of the Twelve), then did third grade, part of fourth grade and part of fifth grade at Corinth Elementary (#5 of the Twelve), before another rent dispute forced my parents to move the trailer to Colonie.

Those formative years were very bleak times for me.  I wasn’t a person that could handle country living, and between being bullied at school, bullied by my babysitter’s kids and beaten at home, it was a very rough time for me.

Somehow, even today, I’m finding new and unique parts of my past and rebuilding what was good at that time – and trying to emotionally eliminate the bad.  It’s not easy.  It never will be.  But I try.

Corinth Reservoir with Milky Way. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens, ISO 3200 for 20 seconds. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

And with these artworks, perhaps I’m finding the parts of my life that I deserved to enjoy.  I should have had wonderful nights in the Saratoga forests, catching fireflies and staring at the stars and fishing for trout.  And somewhere, there’s a small part of me that can still find those moments.  They turn up in photos like the one above, where you can clearly see the Milky Way as it floats across the Corinth Reservoir skies like a twinkling, wispy ribbon.

They turn up in shots like The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad, when the fall foliage changes from green to yellow to red to brown, while a railroad engine spans an old steel bridge across the Great Sacandaga River.  It’s that moment when the Adirondacks are as spectacular as a penny postcard.  It’s that moment when I’m not thinking about how I’m going to survive the day, trying to avoid whoever might beat the shit out of me that day.

And what about this crate art project, my first-ever entry into a Charity Season show?  Perhaps it’s an opportunity to create beauty from chaos, to show order when my life was originally decorated in squalor.  Nine Saratoga Vichy bottles, all lit up to dance and twinkle like the mineral water they once held in their green glass vessels.

In selling and showing these pieces, I am truly excising my demons.  I’m building the boat upon which to lay my burdens and torments and travails, and letting the ship drift away.  I’m tying my troubles to a helium balloon, and letting it fly into the atmosphere.

This isn’t just the challenge of these three pieces.  It’s the challenge that we all struggle through on our worst days.

And maybe it’s an achievement in itself that my biggest concern right now isn’t worrying about which person is going to and break my bones with sticks and stones…

No, today the biggest worry I have is whether the aqua-colored tablecloth I bought to accent the stand upon which Saratoga Vichy Crate Art Project is of an appropriate shade.

Little victories.  I’ll take them as I get them.

Anyways, if you do get a chance Thursday night, please come to the 2017 Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation TRASK Art Show and Sale.  It will be held at the Canfield Casino from 630p to 930p, and all purchases and bids will benefit the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.

Which, in the end, is truly a noble endeavor.