PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Once an industrial city known for Fleishmann's yeast, Peekskill has been working hard to become an artistic hub of the Hudson Valley.
This weekend members of the city's creative community will open their studios and performance spaces, as more than 100 visual and performing artists, 15 special exhibitions, and a crafts fair are featured in the 15th annual Open Studios event.
Director of Economic Development James Slaughter that while the event will bring art lovers, it will also highlight how the city has grown its arts scene in recent years.
"It really shows how the art component has helped economic development in the city," Slaughter said. "We have been really reaching out to the surrounding communities, so we're hoping to get a very good crowd."
Stella the Peekskill Trolley will run all weekend to get visitors from venue to venue, Slaughter said.
"The trolley will pick people up at the train station and take them to various sites on both days, so that will provide a lot of opportunities for people to get around and look at the various studios," Slaughter said.
Mayor Mary Foster said the city is looking to make itself a home not just for art galleries but for the artists themselves.
"It's one thing to say you support the arts and come visit some art stores, but it's another thing to say that you are growing a creative economy," Foster said. "It's not just about getting people to come see painting hanging in a gallery or some blown glass work or some cute galleries and antique shops. It's about driving an economy that brings young professionals and people that are in the digital economy and recruiting them to put down roots here and work here."
Part of Peekskill’s draw for artists is the artist loft program, which offers affordable live and work space to visual artists, performers and poets who earn their living through creative practice.
Foster said having the Paramount Center for the Arts and other music and dining venues as well as a growing theater scene in the city also helped it stand out from neighboring art communities.
"The level of entrepreneurs who are here trying to create unusual businesses and unusual restaurants and unusual retail makes it distinctive as well," Foster said.
A full listing of this weekend's Open Studios events can be found on the Open Studios website of the Peekskill Arts Alliance, with photos and conversation on its Facebook page, and Foster said the weather is expected to cooperate nicely all weekend.
"I'm told the rain will be leaving by early afternoon, so we should have a wonderful weekend," Foster said.