Michigan artist creates literal 'Martini on the Rocks'

Robin Caudell, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
·5 min read

Apr. 8—SARANAC LAKE — Artist Tracy Klinesteker 's "Martini on the Rocks" nabbed first place in the Adirondack Artists Guild's 23rd Annual Juried Art Competition in Saranac Lake.

"It was a still life that I set up, and then I photographed and then I painted it," the Kalamazoo, Michigan resident said.

"It's all the elements that I really enjoy. So it's rocks, shells, and martinis. It's got my favorite martini glass."

The soft pastel was inspired by a painting she saw at a local show in Kalamazoo.

"A guy had painted a bunch of medicine bottles with reflections on them. It won the show, and I said I can do that. "I decided to do something with reflections, which I had never done before. I'm kind of like a photo realist, so I paint things that are real and I try to make them look real."

Little by little, it took her six months to paint the work.

"I really enjoyed it, and I wanted to make it," she said.

"It's painted on black paper. I wanted to make it very tonal, so it doesn't have a lot of bold color. It's rather subtle."

Klinesteker wanted to make it a statement of items and elements that she really enjoys — river rock, water, reflections and natural things juxtaposed against the sophistication of a martin glass.

"I put it all in it, and called it 'Martini on the Rocks,'" she said.

"That's where that came from. I painted it in 2018. It's soft pastel sticks, and I used soft pastel pencils for the details. "It's on black paper that's sanded, so it has a sanded finish to it. It's a little bit like a fine sandpaper, and that's what holds the pastel onto the paper."

Klinesteker worked with a mentor at the time she created it.

"I first entered the piece when I finished in the Pastel Society of America Show in New York," she said.

"That's the oldest and biggest pastel society in the world. It's a big deal to get accepted, and I didn't know that at the time. But I sent it in, and it was accepted."

Her mentor went nuts.

"She said, 'Do you realize what it is to get accepted the first time?'" Klinesteker said.

"I said, 'Really?' So, it was exciting to get accepted. I didn't win anything in the show. It was a juried show."

"Martini on the Rocks" was also selected to be displayed in the Butler Institute of Art Gallery in Youngstown, Ohio.

"Which is combined with the Pastel Society of America show every year," she said.

"So they choose pieces from the PSA show to be shown at the Butler every year. So, it's a big deal to be chosen for that as well. So I was pretty successful with it that year. It's kind of cool.


The Adirondack Artists Guild's 23rd Annual Juried Art Show is exclusively on line this year. It runs through April 30, and is viewable on the Guild's website: adirondackartistsguild.com.

Entries came in from all around the country as well as from many local and regional artists because the show is on line and not in person, eliminating the need to deliver and pick up artwork.

This year's jurors were photographer David Fokos and painter Sherry Kerlin, who looked closely at all the entries and spoke of watching for "something I haven't seen' and "giving each entry the deepest respectful consideration."

Saranac Lake photographer Phil Gallos won second prize, donated by Chris Covert of Guideboat Realty, for "Dawn Over Main Street."

Third prize, given by Rich Shapiro and Lindy Ellis of Gear-to-Go Tandems, went to Jacqueline Meyerson of Macungie, Pennsylvania for "On the Hudson," a soft pastel.

Honorable Mentions were given to Ken Kochakji of Van Nuys California for "Societies Child," a photograph, and to Marie Engels of Dickinson Center for "Ghosts," a work in acrylic and collage.


Klinesteker's art was first exhibited when she was a 4th grader in the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts in her native California.

Through high school and college, she took art classes and studied graphic design formally.

Before taking top prize at the Guild, she recently won another first prize with "Martini on the Rocks" for the juried curator show sponsored by the Art Preservation Institute.

"So, it's gotten two first places, one second place, and honorable mention in the Pastel Journal, which is an higher end journal for the art," Klinesteker said.

"I got Honorable Mention for Still Life and that was 2019. The second place was 2020 at the Northwind Gallery. It's been a good painting for me. It's done very well."

Email Robin Caudell:




NOTE: The Adirondack Artists Guild gallery will remain open through Sunday, April 18, when it will close for spring cleanup.

Hours of operation will remain Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until then, or by appointment.

The usual Covid restrictions are in effect.

The gallery will reopen for the summer season on Thursday, April 29.

The Adirondack Artists Guild gallery is locatedat 52 Main St., Saranac Lake, 518 891-2615.

The Guild is on Facebook, Instagram, and on the web at www.adirondackartistsguild.com.