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Art show displays talents of Wilson Bickford students

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MASSENA - Students who have taken art classes under the tutelage of Wilson Bickford have an art show to call their own.

The show, featuring nearly 80 pieces of work by Mr. Bickford’s students, some of whom were dabbling in the craft for the first time in their lives, opened last week and runs until Thursday at the Massena Public Library.

Mr. Bickford said local attorney Mark F. Snider, one of his students, was instrumental in getting the art show off the ground. The artist has previously held a similar show about 12 to 15 years ago in Watertown at the former Ben Franklin Craft Store.

“I was doing classes there in their classroom for two years,” he said.

This time around, Mr. Snider brought the idea to Mr. Bickford.

“I told him I had done something similar before. I thought it was a great idea,” Mr. Bickford said. “He was so integral in just getting everything organized. Because of him, that’s how it happened. He was definitely motivated and took charge.”

Every piece of art on display is a winner, with a Best of Show, first place, second place or third place ribbon attached to it.

“They are artists that are tied in with Wilson Bickford, our masterful teacher,” Mr. Snider said. “A lot people in these classes, their work is just spectacular. You go, ‘wow, this is absolutely, positive stunning.’ It belongs in an art show. It belongs in an exhibit. That was the impetus, looking at other people’s work.”

Mr. Snider has some of his own work on display.

“Many, many years ago I went to one of his classes. Since then every once in a while I’ve been to see him,” he said. “It’s just something that piqued my interest. I have four of my pieces in the show.”

There’s a variety of different styles on display at the library, and each one is special in its own way, according to Mr. Snider.

“I put a first-, second- or third-place ribbon on every painting. He picked the three Best of Show. He loaded his Facebook page up with photos from this exhibit. He felt truly honored that this would happen in his name. He’s a great teacher. He’s always encouraging us,” Mr. Snider said.

Mr. Bickford said his classes take him near and far, from Massena and Malone to Utica and Albany and “all parts in between.” Among the subject matter of his classes are “Moonlit Palms,” “Female Cardinal,” “Snowy Chickadees,” “Irish Countryside,” Picket Fence Bluebird” and “Wandering Moose.”

“In a typical month I average between 17 and 22 classes each month,” he said. “It’s very rewarding. Everybody thinks they don’t have any artistic abilities. Everybody has a real defeatist attitude because it has a stigma of art attached to it. Part of it is the desire. If you want to learn it, you can learn it.”

But the pieces on display at the Massena Public Library showcase the talent that Mr. Bickford said he knows his students have.

“Some of the work is stuff they’ve actually done in my class. Several have done work on their own from what they picked up in class,” he said. “I think they were very pleased to be a able to get a little recognition and appreciation for their efforts.”

Exhibit visitors who signed a guest book shared their enthusiasm for the works they saw on display.

“Awesome, all talented!” one wrote, while another suggested, “This should be an annual event.”

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