Art Wenzel

Art Wenzel

Sometime in mid-April, I got a call from Art Wenzel. I was a little scared to take it.

It had been a month after Art's Inhale Music Fest, the three-stage fundraiser for the music promoter and benefit organizer that packed State Street in March. Art, at that point, was a year removed from his stage-four cancer diagnosis. And I hadn't seen nor heard from him — as I frequently did before and even after that diagnosis — so I feared its effects were taking their deadly hold.

I feared Art was calling to publish a final column, to arrange his obituary — to say goodbye.

He wasn't.

He was calling to make a few changes to the summer music schedule at Kosta's Bar & Grill.

I wasn't wrong, though: I could hear in Art's voice that he didn't have long. He sounded weak, depleted.

And yet, here he was spending some of his last energy on letting the people of Cayuga County know which concerts they could see.

I always felt an affinity toward Art. Sure, we held the same job — features editor at The Citizen — but I saw in him the same calling toward arts and culture, the same mandate to cry out their importance to the public. I saw in him a fellow music geek, another guy who'd risk friendships over questions like "Beatles or Stones?"

I also saw in Art a hell of a resource. I can't count the number of times I bounced questions off him that'd shape the direction of my stories. And Art extended his hand to me, too. I've broken some important news because of him. Yesterday, in Saratoga Springs, I accepted a second award for my February 2015 profile of Skaneateles comedian Barry Crimmins — and I would never have gotten on the ground floor of Barry's incredible story if it wasn't for a phone call from Art.

Of course, Art took The Citizen to task. He regularly posted on his Facebook page and emailed to us his protests, be they coverage decisions or one-day price raises. I think he even offered to buy us, once.

But, when I talked to friend Becky Nicandri last week for our story about Art's passing, I was heartened to hear that he asked her to bring him a copy of The Citizen every day.

I like to think it's because Art wanted to know what's going on — just as much as he, the last time I talked to him, wanted everyone else to know, too.

Mahalo, Art.

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.