Lounge goes with the flow

To the editor:

Dear friends, upstream and down:

I am reaching out today to say hello and share a few thoughts. This is not a fundraising letter, which is ironic considering that at the last Upper Jay Art Center board meeting before the outbreak, our newly elected chair, Casey Galligan, directed me to promise that instead of asking for “support” this spring, I would ask for “money.” I said I promise.

But here we are. The Recovery Lounge is empty, all scheduled events have been cancelled, and I am wandering around the empty streets as a self-appointed security guard looking for someone to play with. Play has always been the foundation at the Lounge, and today feels eerily like tomorrow, and tomorrow feels strangely like yesterday, as the leathery hand of nature has thrown a wet blanket over our living room fort. No concerts, no readings, no plays, no summer benefit, and I have been furloughed. There has been some discussion about creating virtual events from the Lounge, and many art organizations have successfully transitioned to internet entertainment, but the idea of working virtually, especially with actors, doesn’t feel all that exciting.

I have heard rumors that the Recovery Lounge is closing down. This is false. As soon as we are allowed to safely gather, we will be taking reservations for a live performance that is currently in the works. Will we be able to present the concerts we have scheduled for fall? That’s uncertain. Will we be eating ham sandwiches at the January Jams? I hope so. The Upper Jay Art Center recently expanded its board, and all of us have been working in sync on the near and distant future at the Recovery Lounge. The newly appointed members include Lisa Bramen-French, senior editor at Adirondack Life magazine; Martin Deslauriers, who’s been seen in many plays at the Lounge; and Saranac Lake resident Peter Hahn, who brings extensive experience in the art of grant writing. There is enthusiasm, nostalgia and commitment in the room. And on Zoom.

For the first time since opening the doors nearly 20 years ago, I am, like most of you amidst this global event, taking advantage of the slow down and looking at the natural world through a new, appreciative lens: birds, moss, clouds, trees, as well as the organism called the Recovery Lounge — a living, breathing, time-worn relic, deeply rooted on the banks of our exceptional river, whose lead we shall follow and go with the flow.

My promise to Casey is on hold for now.

Scott Renderer

Artistic director

Recovery Lounge

Upper Jay