ALBANY — The Capital District is rich in the arts, but sometimes spreading the word on what’s happening within the local scene can present a challenge, despite the penchant for pessimists to call home “Smallbany.”
“Smallbany has that negative connotation, but I think it speaks to how people know each other within the community,” said Karen Choens, treasurer for the Upstate Artists Guild on Albany’s Lark Street. “I think the one thing that is a challenge is being able to highlight the events within the community because there are so many media options out there for people to use.”
Choens went on to explain how patrons of the arts often turn to different outlets, from newspapers to television to the Internet. Which outlet to pursuit can be a difficult question to answer. This week, the event UAG wishes to showcase is it’s own Black and White Gala. So, why not pair up with a public relations firm?
Overit Media hosts The Upstate Artists Guild’s 5th Annual Black and White Gala Saturday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 10 p.m. at 435 New Scotland Ave. in Albany.
The annual event is the guild’s largest fundraiser of the year, helping pay towards the logistics of the not-for-profit organization, that includes paying the utility bills at its 247 Lark Street location, to educational classes.
The UAG has been dedicated to providing both a gallery space for local artists and a community resource for arts-related instruction and idea sharing. The Lark Street gallery contains roughly 1,000 square feet of wall space and 800 square feet of floor space for shows, workshops, and special events. It has featured the work of more than 500 artists, and includes a community of more than 100 artists. Nine years ago, the UAG initiated 1st Friday – a monthly arts event — that has since pulled in more than 200,000 patrons to the local arts scene.
The UAG is a not-for-profit community arts organization fueled entirely by donated time and money – a collaboration of hard-working volunteers.
“We love to be able to have people set up just for the (gallery), not the kind of art that you would pick up and take home,” said Choens. “Someone had made a piece using different types of paper, and made it look like someone lying on the floor. We have that kind of welcoming where they are doing something unique, not commercial art, but something interesting to see.”
In its nine years the UAG has paired up with like-minded entities, dedicated to the promotion of local artists, such as the Albany Center Galleries, Central Art Supply and the Student Art League of St. Rose College. Overit Media has been getting involved, too. And, this year, plays host to the annual party.
“The first time I had been to Overit, was at a 1st Friday in Albany,” said Choens. “Overit was participating in a 1st Friday… We just loved the space and the creative vibe within that space…” The public relations firm converted a 1930s traditional gothic church on New Scotland Avenue and established house. Within the walls and stained glass windows is its office of operations, including audio and video recording studios. It feeds into the creative nature the firm bills as “a church you won’t fake a cold to get out of.”
“They kept the open space from the church and added multiple rooms to broadcast,” said Choens. “I was struck by what a great vibe it had.”
The marriage of that creative vibe, along with the natural open space of the former church, seems to make for the perfect place to host a party full of artists.
“The highlight of the gala is the entertainment,” said Choens. “We have live music…. spaced out so that people have time to enjoy the space and look at the art, some available for sale through a silent auction, all from local artists.”
Entertainment includes live music by C Ryder Cooley and the Dust Bowl Faeries, Off The Record, St.Thomas and the Self Proclaimed Visionaries; poetry by Dan Wilcox, MC Geo Doody, DJ Jay Clarke & DJ Duane Majer; Lighting and Sound by Nicky Lightz.
Two auctions, silent and ticket, promising a variety of original artwork and gift certificates from local businesses. 50/50 raffle, hors d’ oeuvres and stations provided by 2SHEA
Admission can be purchased by means of four tiers of advance tickets: Honorary Committee ($100), Champagne Preview ($50), Couples Package ($70), General Admission ($40). Tickets will be sold at the door for $50 per person. Details for each ticket and purchasing information can be found on its website at www.upstateartistsguild.org/UAGFifthAnnualGala.