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New York's first lady to be on-hand for museum exhibit opening

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (May 21, 2009) - On June 3, New York's First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson will be the honored guest at the opening of a new exhibition celebrating the lake that Samuel de Champlain first encountered 400 years ago.The show, "Views of Lake Champlain," will feature 18 new works by internationally acclaimed Canadian artist Samir Sammoun. The collection of oil paintings will be on display in the Burke Gallery, Myers Fine Arts Building, of the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh from May 30 to July 5. The exhibit is free and open to the public, daily from noon to 4 p.m.

Ticonderoga, July 30, 1609, 8 a.m. Before the Battle by Sammoun The works are the result of a challenge issued to the artist by Celine Racine Paquette, vice chair of the Hudson-Fulton-Quadricentennial Commission. She had come to know the artist through his continued relationship with the SUNY Plattsburgh, where his work is part of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum's permanent collection and hangs on display in one of the dean's offices.

Paquette, who was preparing for the Quadricentennial, asked Sammoun if he could capture images of the lake through his artist's eye and brush.

As Sammoun recalls, "I accepted Celine's challenge - not knowing anything about Lake Champlain. I then approached the lake from many vantage points and tried to imagine what Champlain saw 400 years ago."

Sammoun does not claim to be a historian and rather prides himself in not knowing too much about the explorer, except that Champlain was a Frenchman and an artist in his own right, who was exploring the lake with what must have been great wonder.

Paquette says she cannot fully express her pleasure and her intense desire that everyone in the region, and beyond, have the opportunity to view these magnificent and, in their own right, historic works.

"Samir has gone above and beyond what I could have ever imagined he could create," said Paquette. "He is a gifted artist and a wonderful person who has shared so much of himself - for us and generations to come to enjoy. I am so overwhelmingly appreciative."  

"Our reflection on the history and beauty of the Lake Champlain region is captured in this group of paintings. They remind us of our past and our responsibility for the future," wrote Paquette and SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling in the introduction to the exhibit's catalogue.

Sammoun, was born in Joun, Lebanon, and immigrated to Canada at the age of 21. He is a professional engineer by trade and an artist by inspiration. His works have traveled throughout the art world and are highly sought. 

"Cecilia Esposito, director of the museum at Plattsburgh State, has worked tirelessly on the exhibit. It has been an immense pleasure to work with her, and I am so proud of what she has accomplished. Her work will bring so much pleasure to so many," noted Paquette. 

The entire collection will be exhibited at the Plattsburgh State Art Museum's Burke Gallery, Myers Fine Arts Building, 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Note to the media: If you are interested in attending the opening, please contact Michelle Ouellette at 518-564-3095, and she will provide further information.

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