COLONIE– The exhibit “Until We Meet Again” opened Friday, May 5 at Art Associates Gallery and the name is appropriate because it will be ending its stay in Colonie.
After its four-and-a-half-year residence at 21 Railroad Avenue the independent art gallery and frame shop will be closing its doors Saturday, May 27.
Co-Gallery owner Kinga Zalavary, told Spotlight News that she and her husband, co-owner Attila, are looking for a new location for their business outside of Colonie.
“I will say the best (gallery space) will be found when I’m not looking.” Kinga said. “In June, we’ll start looking because if we do put things in storage it’s going to be for a short period of time. I’m not going to just jump into anything, not at this stage in time.”
According to Attila, there were many factors in closing the gallery, including the expiring lease, a pending increase in rent if they were to renew and his shoulder injury.
“I decided that the rent is too high now. I don’t want to charge artists money they couldn’t afford so I have to know when to pull back.” Attila said. “I don’t want to destroy what these artists have built all these years.”
Attila added that once the building was sold, the rent tripled compared to when they arrived.
To pay for the $6,300 a month rent, the Zalavarys must make at least 25-30 frames a week to break even.
Attila said he will continue to focus on his healing and put his framing tools in storage until he able to restart the business.
“I can’t do any work and I don’t want to fall behind. I don’t want to disappoint my customers.” Attila said. “What I’m doing for the first time in a long time, is to listen to my wife and take her advice to cool it.”
Attila was filled with happiness from the artists who came to support the final First Friday opening.
“All these artists came to support us because we supported them all these years and they don’t mind giving up their Friday’s, Saturday’s, Sundays to be a part of this.” Attila said.
The Upstate Artist Guild and the Fire House Group were chosen by Attila and Kinga to exhibit their art in the final show. In addition, a separate exhibition featuring photography from Michael Panzarino and Ann Norsworthy, which ends in May, are also exhibited in the gallery.
Founding member of Upstate Artist Guild Rebecca Schoonmaker recounts the time when her friend, Nina Stanley wanted her to check out the gallery.
“Nina was the one who told me you got to check out this space. She did a “Friends of Nina Show” that featured a lot of the UAG members.” Schoonmaker said.
When Upstate Artist Guild was formed over twenty years ago by ten members, their gallery first opened on Hudson Avenue in Albany and eventually settled into a new location on Lark Street.
However, things changed. Members began having families and they didn’t have time to commit to the gallery fully and keep it open. Upstate Artist Guild members still wanted to keep their organization alive at another temporary space. Enter the Art Associates Gallery.
“We didn’t want a space and we didn’t want to deal with money, because that was the downfall for the guild.” Schoonmaker said. “Once we had that show with Nina, then we decided to have an annual members show here and again, no submission fees, we didn’t want to deal with any money and it just kind of worked out.”
“What was so special about coming here was Attila. He’s always been so generous. He just really wanted to help people and the community, and it jived with what we were doing.” Schoonmaker continued. “That’s why so many people root for him and love his space.”
When it was made clear that the gallery on Railroad Avenue would have to move or close, Schoonmaker’s got the group together.
“We had a few meetings, and we were trying to think; could we do classes and make this a real workshop space?” Schoonmaker said. “We wanted to make it work, but again, we just don’t have the time to do it or the resources.”
Schoonmaker estimates that it would take more than $12,000 per month to achieve that goal and it wasn’t in the cards at this time.
“We daydreamed about the events we would have, the shows we would have, and invited people to come and show stuff, but it just wasn’t our time and that’s okay,” she added.
Schoonmaker remains optimistic about the future of Art Associates Gallery Inc.
“They’re going to find something and it’s going to be bigger and better”. Schoonmaker said.
Origins of First Friday Albany
According to Schoonmaker, the Upstate Artist Guild, together with artist Elizabeth Dubben, UAG member Michael Wedrick originated the First Friday concept in Albany. Nearby galleries along Hudson Avenue first held exhibit openings on the same day each month. The openings later spread to Lark Street and other Albany County locations.
Wedrick continued to administer the event until he moved to Western New York. It was later passed down to Tammy Madalla and currently Overit Media and Nippertown run it.
“What I’m most excited about is the revival of First Fridays.” Schoonmaker said.
A Photographer’s Perspective
Colonie photographer Michael Panzarino shared his experience at Art Associates Gallery and the fond memories of exhibiting his photography at the space.
“I came in to take my stuff down and Kinga yelled at me because she wanted me to keep it up,” Panzarino said. “She asked Attila, and he said yes, give him the lobby.”
Since March, Panzarino’s photography has been hung in “The Art Of Photography” and in another show in April. According to Panzarino, Kinga asked him to stay for the final month of exhibitions.
“They’re fun people.” Panzarino said. Panzarino added that by having his photography up within the past three months, he had a larger audience checking out his work which resulted in photo sales.
Firehouse Artist Group Reflects
Ellie Prakken of Bethlehem and member of the Fire House artist group reminisced about her connection to Attila and the gallery.
According to Prakken, members of the artist group were introduced to Zalavary through friend Jackie Watsky. The Firehouse artist group formed in spring 2011 at the Duanesburg firehouse. It allowed artists to gather once a month to complete painting challenges and give art critiques.
“Jackie Watsky who’s a member of our group, has worked closely with Attila over the years and brought her pieces in to get framed.” Prakken said. “He has been very good to us over the years.”
The group previously exhibited their art at the gallery twice. When the women attended the exhibit openings, including their third exhibit Friday evening, Zalavary was very kind and very supportive of all the members and the other artist groups involved, Prakken noted.
“Oh, we’re just sorry to see it go, I mean, it’s kind of “Until We Meet Again”, Prakken said. “Hopefully, Attila will find his new space and then we can reconnect with him.”
“I hate to see it end. But it’s reality and I hope things will be better as far as health, moving, and everything else.” Attila said.