Items tagged with 'arts'

Checking back with The Albany Barn

What's happening in there?

The Albany Barn is a weird landlord.

"We kind of like it when people leave," says Barn president Jeff Mirel, "as long as they stay in the neighborhood."

The Barn, of course, is not an actual barn. It's the former Saint Joseph's Academy in Albany's Arbor Hill neighborhood.

More than two years ago it was converted into a mix of HUD-subsidized live/work apartments for artists and studio/theater/office space for art, performance, and community-building activities. The goal: creative placemaking that the Barn's leadership hopes will help the neighborhood with a constant influx of new art and ideas.

"This is a stepping stone for artists," says Mirel of the Barn's assistance to artists, which also includes help with marketing and business. "Success is not required -- trying to achieve is. We say 'Yes, go out into the world, let us serve someone else.'"

Ideally, Mirel says, Barn artists will plant roots in the neighborhood, hiring locally, training young people, and being a part of creating a vibrant area. Meanwhile other artists will move into their affordable spaces at the Barn, so there is always an influx of new artists.

So, that's the plan. After nearly two years, how's it going? And what's next?

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New name, grand opening for CAC Woodside

The Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside in Troy is now called PostContemporary, and it has a grand opening event for its renovated church building lined up for September 19. Event blurbage:

After three years of sweat and planning, our doors will open on September 19 in a celebration that will unveil the renovated neo-gothic church and usher in the first push of an unapologetic art and performance schedule.
For you, for this evening, we have curated a wall-to-wall environment of artwork, food, and sound, spanning multiple disciplines and spilling outward into adjacent sites.
There will be a ribbon cutting if you come early, and dancing and DJ under the stars if you stay late. We've put some of the best creative minds together to plan this event and it is shaping up to be quite something. Something new, something different, and something wildly fun.

The evening includes a "strolling dinner" from Peck's Arcade, a special "Post Pale" beer brewed by Rare Form, along with performances and art. Tickets start at $85 / $55 (under 35) -- they're available online.

That night also will mark the opening of the second "movement" of Rural Violience at PostContemporary. The exhibit, curated by Brandon Stosuy (Pitchfork editor, Basilica Soundscape collaborator), includes the work of Matthew Barney, Cindy Daignault, Lionel Maunz, and Prurient (with John Sharian). The opening will feature a performance by Brennan Hall and Dana Wachs.

The org formerly known as CAC Woodside moved from North Adams to the Woodside Presbyterian Church in Troy in 2009, and has been providing workspace and living space for artists as the buildings were transformed.

Saratoga Arts Fest Fridays

Saratoga Arts Fest Beekman Vintage Fest promo photo

A promo image for the Beekman Street Vintage Fest. SAF is pitching it as "part street fair, part street performance, the event offers an energetic mix of period music, costumed performers, antique cars, and great ethnic food."

Organizers of the annual Saratoga Arts Fest -- in past years an event at multiple locations around the city in June -- reformulated the idea this year as a series of single-location events on Fridays this fall.

And the schedule is now out -- it includes a street fest, a multi-genre music and dance event, a vaudeville circus, and a backstage look...

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The Capital Region's theater district

schenectady theater composite

Clockwise: Proctors, Schenectady Light Opera, MopCo and Schenectady Civic -- part of the Downtown Schenectady performance scene.

In the late 1920s there were 19 theaters in just the city of Schenectady.

"Companies like General Electric and ALCO were booming back then," says Schenectady County Historical Society librarian Michael Maloney, "and the city experienced a huge growth in population between 1900 and 1930. Theaters were able to capitalize on that."

Of course, there were also zero TVs in the city at the time. There was no internet. There was no Hulu or Netflix. There were no video games.

But that time set the stage for some remarkably long running theater institutions in the city. And almost a century later, they're helping Schenectady develop an identity as the Capital Region's theater district.

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Williamstown to Broadway

williamstown theatre festival exterior

From here to to Broadway.

Something to consider adding to your list of stuff to do this summer: a visit to Williamstown Theater Festival. You might just see the next Broadway hit.

The Tony Award nominees were announced Tuesday morning and the The Visit -- which opened at WTF last season and transferred to Broadway -- took five nominations. The Visit stars Chita Rivera and Rodger Rees, with a book by Terrance McNally and music and lyrics by Kander and Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago), so it has a great pedigree, and the show was many years in the making.

But it's also part of a recent trend of Williamstown launching Broadway shows.

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Longhouse Food Scholars, Revival

longhouse food revival logoA few food/media programs this summer in Rensselaerville that might interest some people:

Longhouse Food Scholars Program
This year's Longhouse Food Scholars Program is July 5-19 and July 26-August 9. Its mission "is to prepare participants for careers in food media, activism, food writing, and food-related entrepreneurial ventures." Additional blurbage:

The Food Scholars Program is structured like a newsroom, intense and fast-paced, with distinct deadlines and deliverables. Working with masters of their craft, scholars shoot and edit mini-documentaries and slide-shows, conduct interviews, gather oral histories, and create online content.
This food media "boot camp" includes daily writing exercises, weekly specialty seminars in recipe testing, studio and location food photography, basic culinary skills, weekly "salon" dinners with food authors, professors and intellectuals, and professional mentoring sessions.
In addition, each scholar is responsible for creating a personal, online portfolio--drawing from this work as well as any additional work he or she may have.

The founder of the program is longtime food writer Molly O'Neill.

The application process is competitive -- "selection is based on a passion for food and storytelling, a well-established appetite for learning, and well-stated career goals." We hear that they'd welcome some more applicants from upstate, so it could be a point in your favor.

Longhouse Food Revival
This year's Longhouse Food Revival is again set for September (it looks like the exact dates haven't been released, yet). The event "combines original multimedia presentations, curated discussions, insight from leading thinkers in food and plenty of time to make new friends, forge new connections and inspire and brew new ideas."

(Thanks, L)

Public Art Challenge

sculpture_in_the_streets_pearl.jpgThere's still time to submit ideas for the Public Art Challenge, a local effort to land as much as $1 million for a public art project in the Capital Region. Blurbage:

The cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy are jointly soliciting submissions for public art projects, as part of a collaborative response to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. The challenge invites mayors of cities with populations of greater than 30,000 residents to collaborate with artists and arts organizations in developing innovative projects that engage residents and attract visitors.

A committee made up of the mayors' offices and Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy will review the submissions and select one to jointly submit to the Bloomberg competition.

Here's a FAQ -- it says collaboration among people is encouraged, and you don't have to be an artist to submit an idea.

The deadline for local submissions is November 17.

By the way: The Capital Region Creative Economy Regional Summit is this Thursday, November 13 at Proctors. It's free and open to the public (registration required).

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers fall 2014

nys writers institute visiting writers 2014 fall covers

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's full of notable, award-winning writers and names you'll recognize.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

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South End Pallet Works

Sean Desiree with dining table

Sean Desiree

By Lauren Hittinger

Nothing warms my heart quite as much as a creative person making his or her own way through the world. Which is why I was keen to talk with Sean Desiree, a self-taught furniture maker (and musician!) in Albany. Desiree is committed to using reclaimed materials -- primarily leftover wood pallets -- to create tables, bookcases, and other pieces.

I caught up with her recently to talk with her about her business, South End Pallet Works, and how she got started...

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Yaddo to offer tours in September

Yaddo exterior.jpg

The main house at Yaddo, open to the public on September 21

Yaddo, The Artist's retreat in Saratoga founded by Spencer and Katrina Trask is opening for tours for one day in September. The house, normally closed to the public, hosts artists, writers, filmmakers, composers and performance artists. Leonard Bernstein, John Cheever, Truman Capote and Eudora Welty are just a few of the artists who have had residencies there.

The main house and cottages have opened for tours about five times, and each time they sell out, and the waiting list is very long. They'll open for public tours for only the 6th time in the organizations 114 year history on September 21. Two hour tours will be offered at 8:30 am, 11am, 1:30 pm and 4 pm. There will also be a deluxe tour available to 50 guests on September 20, from 4-7 pm with a reception. Tours are $50. Tickets are available here. The deluxe tours are $250.

We took the tour in 2011 and it's really interesting. You get to see the dining rooms, a studio, the elegant staircase where John Cheever is rumored to have ridden and antique sled, and artist's studios. Even the pencil sharpener under the stairs made us wonder what was written with the No. 2s sharpened there.

You can check out the rose garden and rock garden at Yaddo anytime between dawn and dusk for free. It's a great place to have a quiet picnic in Saratoga.

Architecture gawking in Hudson

hudson spaces composite

AOA's summer tour is headed to Hudson this weekend, so we thought it'd be fun to have Hudson Week on AOA. Each day we'll be featuring posts about things to do, see, and sample in this city on the river.

One of the interesting things about Hudson is the architecture. It's filled with fascinating old spaces in a wide variety of architectural styles.

After the jump, a few interesting Hudson buildings that have found new lives...

Hudson Week 2014 in-post ad Olde Hudson

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GameFest 2014

RPI GameFest 2014 logoThe annual GameFest at RPI -- a series of events focused on video games -- returns this weekend. And the showcase of student-designed games is open to the public. Blurbage:

The games Rensselaer students will showcase this year are widely varied and include Kajo, a game in which players run and jump their way through a mystical, floating city and use concepts of physics to improve their parkour-style moves. Another game, Space Luddites, features a group of characters fighting back against an oppressive, dystopian future and a powerful company that controls all technology.

The showcase is at EMPAC from noon-3 pm on Saturday. It's free.

Checking out the (nearly) finished Albany Barn

The Albany Barn live/work loft apartments are now fully occupied

So now that all of the 22 live/work apartments at The Albany Barn are occupied, who lives there? And what does the space look like?

Kristen Holler, The Barn's executive director, says the mix of artists is just what they hoped for. "We couldn't have gotten a more diverse group if we planned it that way. The youngest resident is 23 and the oldest is in his 60s. There's a good mix of men and women and different types of art."

One of The Barn's residents is Dana Owens -- illustrator, Smallbany creator, and founder of The Machine Artist Co-Op.

Owens gave us a look at his new place recently, and shared some thoughts on what it's been like for him at the Barn so far.

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Groups for writers to discuss and workshop?

laptop keyboardJoe emails:

Do you know any fiction writers groups in the Capital Region, who meet to discuss their work and workshop?

Outside perspective can be a help when working on some sort of creative effort. And there are certainly communities of writers in this area, so we wouldn't be surprised to hear if there are groups -- ranging from the formal to the less so.

Have a suggestion for Joe? Please share!

Hey there, Dashira Cortes

Caroline or Change The Moon Dashira Cortes

Dashira Cortes as The Moon in Caroline or Change, opening this weekend at SLOC.

Dashira Cortes was 10 years old when she auditioned for Winnie the Pooh and won the part of Christopher Robin's favorite bear. That was the first time other people really began to recognize she could sing. Since then this Albany High School graduate has worked with Park Playhouse, played Dorothy and Aida, and even shared an Off-Broadway stage with Jeremy Irons, whom she refers to as "the voice of Scar."

This weekend Cortes plays The Moon in the regional premiere of Tony Kushner's musical Caroline or Change at Schenectady Light Opera Company.

Cortes took a few minutes to talk with AOA about Caroline, how her alma mater Albany High School often appears in the media, and a move toward more diversity in Capital Region theater.

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Favorite shows of 2013

Thumbnail image for Valentines_exterior_2013-July.jpg

The soon-to-relocate Valentine's makes repeated appearances in this year's favorite shows lists.

With the end of the year coming up, we thought it'd be fun to ask a bunch of people about some of their favorite/most interesting things from the 2013.

Today, a group of musicians, actors, and arts writers look back at some of their favorite Capital Region shows of the year.

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Bolshoi Ballet at SPAC tickets on sale

bolshoi SPACTickets went on sale today for the Bolshoi Ballet's string of dates at SPAC next July. Tickets start at $34 and they're available online (use the code "SPACROCKS" for a discount). When we checked this morning around 10:30 am, SPAC's website reported that it was "experiencing an unusually high volume of requests" for tickets.

The performances at SPAC will be a production of Don Quixote including not just dancers, but also the Bolshoi's 80-piece orchestra. The run includes four performances, from July 29-August 1.

As you know, the Bolshoi is based in Moscow and is one of the most famous ballet companies in the world. And, um, they take ballet very seriously in Russia -- perhaps a bit too seriously.

Book of Mormon ticket sales announced

Proctors has announced it'll start selling individual tickets to the popular musical The Book of Mormon on January 24. The East Coast tour of the show, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, comes to Proctors March 11 through March 16 of 2014. Until January 24 tickets are only available as part of the Proctors Broadway package.

Also announced by Proctors this week, fifty new shows, including Kristin Chenoweth on February 9. And the touring company of the musical Newsies will hold its premiere in Schenectady in the 2014-15 season.

EMPAC fall 2013 season

Oneohtrix Point Never

Electronic music composer Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) will be there September 12.

The slate for the fall 2013 season at EMPAC is now out. As usual, it includes a wide range of events -- performances, talks, screenings. And many of them are the sort of thing you wouldn't be able to catch somewhere else -- locally, and perhaps anywhere.

A compressed, quick-scan version of the fall schedule is post jump.

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Collecting Summer in the City PoeTweets

blue sky tree topThe Albany Public Library's "Summer in the City PoeTweet Contest" ended Saturday night. The week-long contest was pretty much what it sounds like: short poems about summer in Albany, submitted via Twitter.

We thought it'd be fun to collect the entries from the context hashtag. So... that's what we did.

There were some beautiful entries.

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A look at the new Saratoga Northshire, and conversation about the future of bookstores

northshire saratoga exterior

Today's a notable day for Capital Region book nerds because it's the opening of the Saratoga Springs location of the Northshire Bookstore. The 9,000-square-foot store on Broadway in the heart of downtown is just the second location for the much-admired Manchester, Vermont independent.

The last decade or so has been tough on book publishers and bookstores. The big national chain stores have either fallen (Borders) or are teetering (Barnes & Noble). The rise of e-readers has cut into sales of hard-copy books. And Amazon and Apple have been engaged in various attempts to control the pricing of books.

Given all that, we were curious why -- and how -- someone would open a new bookstore. So we stopped by the Saratoga Northshire location on Friday to get a peek at the new store, and talk with co-owner Chris Morrow about why they picked Saratoga Springs, how they made it happen, e-readers, and the future of the bookstore.

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In progress: the Albany Barn

Saint Joes Hall exterior.jpg

At North Swan and 2nd.

Remember that Albany Barn project at St. Joseph's Academy in Arbor Hill? The one that combines subsidized apartments for artists with rehearsal suites, studio space and offices for arts groups and not-for-profits? Well, the apartments are starting to take shape, and later this month the Barn will be opening the building for a night of tours and a fundraiser with the Chefs Consortium.

We got a tour of the building recently, and some details on how plans are firming up, from project founder Jeff Mirel and Albany Barn executive director Kristen Holler.

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An opera for Roscoe

william kennedy evan mack roscoe cover

William Kennedy, Roscoe, Evan Mack.

Interesting: Composer Evan Mack -- a professor of music theory and piano at Skidmore -- has worked out a two-year development deal with William Kennedy to create an opera version of Kennedy's novel Roscoe.

From a press release:

The story takes place in 1945, V-J-day. Roscoe Conway, after twenty-six years as the second in command of Albany's notorious political machine, decides to quit politics forever. But there's no way out, and only his Machiavellian imagination can help him cope with the erupting disasters. Every step leads back to the past -- to the early loss of his true love, the takeover of city hall, the machine's fight with FDR and Al Smith to elect a governor, and the methodical assassination of gangster Jack (Legs) Diamond. "Thick with crime, passion, and backroom banter" (The New Yorker), Roscoe is an odyssey of great scope and linguistic verve, a deadly, comic masterpiece from one of America's most important writers.
"I feel certain that Roscoe would be delighted by this development in his history," said author William Kennedy. "His life was grandly operatic in its high drama and its sweeping dimension. Roscoe was attuned to the music of the spheres."

This would be Mack's third opera. He'll be collaborating with librettist Joshua McGuire.

Speaking of William Kennedy and Skidmore... The date for his reading at Skidmore as part of NYS Summer Writers Institute is July 19 -- 8 pm in Palamountain Hall.

photos: William Kennedy - Phil Scalia; Evan Mack - Michael Brooks

YouthFX screening latest crop of shorts

youthfx shooting film 2013 springThe Grand Street Community Arts' YouthFX teen filmmaking program is premiering the short films from its 2012 season tonight (Thursday) at the Madison Theater in Albany.

Twelve films are on the slate covering a range of topics, among them: bullying, poetry, the Albany High School girls' basketball team's championship season, and the city of Albany's youth boxing program. The full slate is after the jump.

There are two screenings: 7 pm and 9:15 pm, with a Q&A with the filmmakers after each. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 students. Proceeds go to support YouthFX's summer program.

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NYS Summer Writers Institute 2013

claire messudClaire Messud

The schedule is out for this summer's New York State Writers Institute's public readings series in Saratoga.

As usual, there are a bunch of names you'll recognize. The readings are in the evenings on the Skidmore campus -- they're free and open to the public.

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Laurie Anderson on EMPAC


"You can't explain it to someone, because there's nothing else like it in the world."

Laurie Anderson has a long history of mixing science and art. The experimental artist has invented instruments like a tape bow violin, done a residency at NASA and, for the last year, she's held the first distinguished artist in residence post at EMPAC, where she says science and technology have allowed her to do things she never could have done before.

EMPAC may be a bit of a puzzle to folks outside the media arts world, but inside that world, Anderson says, it's gaining quite a reputation.

"You can't explain it to someone," she says," because there's nothing else like it in the world."

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A few things we learned covering The Place Beyond the Pines red carpet in Schenectady

pines schenectady premiere composite

We're going to let you in on a secret here: We don't cover many red carpet events. Let's rephrase that: We've never covered a red carpet event. Until now.

Last night we headed over to the Bow Tie Cinema for the local premiere of The Place Beyond the Pines in Schenectady -- which, like us, is also not accustomed to red carpet events.

For those of you who also have never attended a red carpet event, here -- in no particular order-- are a few things we learned or observed, and some pictures of what we saw.

And, yes, there are a few pictures of Bradley Cooper.

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Book House part of lawsuit against Amazon and big publishers over e-books

book house exterior

The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza is one of three indie book stores that have filed a class action suit against Amazon and the "big six" book publishers alleging the companies have violated anti-trust law by forming agreements, and using digital rights management, to exclude indie book stores from the e-book market. The suit also alleges the arrangement is moving Amazon toward having an e-book monopoly. [Huffington Post Scribd]

As the book stores' lead attorney explained to the Huffington Post this week: "We are seeking relief for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores so that they would be able to sell open-source and DRM-free books that could be used on the Kindle or other electronic ereaders." [Huffington Post]

So, in other words, the books stores are looking to prohibit the publishers from publishing e-books that can only be read on a Kindle (or via a Kindle app), and Amazon would be required to allow e-books from any store to be read on a Kindle. They also want the publishers to allow indie brick-and-mortar book stores to be allowed to sell e-books with "open-source" digital rights management ("DRM" -- technology that makes it harder to copy something).

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See an Oscar up close in Troy

Stapleton Oscar and dress RCHS.jpg

The closest most of us will ever get to Oscar

We're heading into Oscars weekend, when actors, directors, screenwriters and other people in the film industry are having visions of holding a golden statuette, thanking the Academy, and timing their speeches in hopes they don't get played off.

But let's face it -- most people don't get an opportunity to see Oscar up close.

You can see one right now, though, at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy.

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Poetry Out Loud at St. Rose

college of saint rose western ave(crotchety old person voice) Oh, teenagers today, with their Facebook and their dubstep and their... public poetry reciting.

St. Rose is hosting the local regional finals of a national competition for high school students called Poetry Out Loud. Blurbage from CSR:

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by building on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as demonstrated by the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among youth. By performing great works of literature, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn more about their cultural heritage.

The first regional final is Thursday evening. There's another next week. And the state final is in March. All three are free and open to the public. The schedule is post jump.

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Tickets for Stephen Sondheim at HVCC

stephen sondheim large re-croppedTickets for the (rescheduled) Stephen Sondheim appearance at Hudson Valley Community College on May 7 go on sale to the general public February 9. They're $25 and "limited" (in other words: they will probably sell out quickly). Update March 22: We've heard the tickets are sold out.

"An Evening with Stephen Sondheim" will include an onstage interview with Sondheim, conducted by AOA's own Mary Darcy. The Sonny Daye & Perley Rousseau Trio will play a short concert before the interview.

The Sondheim ticket announcement accompanied the release of HVCC's spring slate of cultural events. One that caught our eye on quick first scan: author Anne Lamott on April 12.

photo: Jerry Jackson

Favorite shows of 2012

Thumbnail image for sean rowe hat bw

Sean Rowe was mentioned more than once...

With the end of the year coming up, we thought it'd be fun to ask a bunch of people about some of their favorite/most interesting things from the 2012.

Next up: Capital Region musicians, actors, and artists on their favorite local shows of 2012.

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Stephen Sondheim at HVCC, rescheduled

stephen sondheim large re-cropped

That Stephen Sondheim event at HVCC originally planned for this past September now has a new date: May 7 at 7:30 pm. '

Tickets for the general public will go on sale in February.

"An Evening with Stephen Sondheim" will include an onstage interview with Sondheim, conducted by AOA's own Mary Darcy. The Sonny Daye & Perley Rousseau Trio will play a short concert before the interview, starting at 6:45 pm.

Sondheim is, of course, one of the all-time greats of musical theater. His works includes classics such as West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Assassins. He's won eight Tony awards, an Oscar, a Pulitzer, and eight Grammys.

photo: Jerry Jackson

Collar City Film Fest

collar city film fest 1 posterThe first Collar City Film Fest is this Saturday at 51 3rd Street in Troy. It's a "2 hour collection of short films from artists all over the capital district and slightly beyond."

The screenings start at 7 pm. There will be a musical intermission from Ryan Ross Smith. It's a $3 suggested donation.

The organizers are Emily Berçir Zimmerman, India Lombardi-Bello, Ryan Jenkins -- all of whom you might recognize from the local arts community. The Troy Record's Danielle Sanzone recently talked with some of the organizers for backstory on the fest.

MoHu sampler give away -- tickets and resturants

mohu logo 2012Drawing's closed!

For the next two weeks you'll be hearing a lot about MoHu -- a festival of the arts in the Mohawk/Hudson region.

Yep, you already knew this is a good place to live and there's a lot going on, but for the next two weeks MoHu is hoping to get people to try something new -- something you've been meaning to try or something that might never have considered before. To encourage that, MoHu is giving away a super-sampler with tickets and restaurant gift certificates so the winner can enjoy not just a show, but dinner in the different parts of the "MoHu arts zone."

One winner will be selected at random and will get:

MOHU South:
+ Capital Repertory Theatre - a pair of tickets to an upcoming showing of Pride@Prejudice
+ Bayou Cafe, Downtown Albany - $50 gift certificate

MOHU West:
+ Proctors - a pair of tickets to the Friday, October 19th SPENCERS: Theatre of Illusion performance -
+ The Waters Edge Lighthouse - $100 Gift Certificate

MOHU East:
+ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall - good for reserved seating to Troy Savings Bank Music Hall presented events; expires 05/31/13
+ EMPAC - good for any EMPAC-curated event
+ Illium Cafe -Gift Certificate $100

MOHU North:
+ Arthur Zankel Music Center - valid for any Zankel Music Center Presentation. Good through 05/01/13
+ 51 Front Wine Bar & Bistro - Dinner for two, includes appetizer/salad, entree, & dessert
Wine, beer, or other alcohol is NOT included - $90 Value - Drinks not included
+ Fifty South Restaurant & Bar - $50 gift certificate good through October 1, 2013. Does not include tax or gratuity

That is a lot of art. And food. So, to get in on the drawing here's what you need to do:

MoHu is a made up word that stands for the Mohawk/Hudson region. Make up your own word, leave it in the comment section, and don't forget to tell us what it means.

We'll draw one winner at random.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Monday, October 8 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly -- seriously, if you win, we want to give you the tickets) with your comment. The winners will be notified via email by 8 am on Tuesday, October 9 and must respond by 6 pm that day.

AOA is a media sponsor of the MoHu Festival.

Sanctuary for Independent Media fall 2012

nosferatu shadow film still

The slate includes a screening of the classic film Nosferatu with the music score performed live.

The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy starts its fall slate this weekend with Bike!Bike! Northeast (previously mentioned). As usual, the org is offering a schedule of events and exhibits that includes the unusual and, at times, challenging.

A quick listing is after the jump.

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MoHu 2012, in a hangar

mohu logo 2012The second MoHu arts festival starts next week, and runs from October 5-14. Like last year the festival is aiming to put a spotlight on the arts in the Capital Region by pulling together events at more than 100 venues around the area.

And the opening event for this year's festival is something different: MoHu Takes Flight -- an "interactive arts cocktail party" in a hangar at ALB. From the blurbage:

In addition to enjoying cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, you can help build a 44' sculpture of the Hudson River train bridge, test your musical abilities in the Instrument Petting Zoo, sample local artisans' fare, experience local artist Tony Iadicicco as he creates a work of art before your eyes or just stand back and watch it all to the rhapsodic sounds of the Teri Roiger Quartet. The evening culminates with the art of clothing with The Electric City Couture Fashion Show. Who knows what else the MoHu crew has up its creative sleeve!

We had a chance to talk with some of the organizers and it sounds like they have some fun plans for the space (and there's lots of it). The party is October 4 from 6-8 pm. Tickets are $50 / $30 for MoHu artists.

Figure model drawing meets burlesque

pasties pencils pints

Not your typical art class: "Pasties, Pencils & Pints" is coming up this Thursday in Troy. Organizer Emily Armstrong describes it as, "The Capital Region's first sassy figure model drink-n-draw. It's sort of like life drawing meets burlesque."

Emily says the first event was this past July, and they've been holding them monthly since. She explains how it works:

There are about two hours of poses with a model, starting with one minute and working all the way up to 20. We don't allow just anyone to model, however -- it's really got to be someone who can and will exude their inner sexiness, and someone who will dress in an interesting costume (or two). As the poses get longer, the model removes parts of her (or his -- though we've only had female models thus far) costume, and like in a burlesque show, the audience in encourage to cheer.
There are also three drawing contests each time, and they always include best non-dominate handed drawing, and two other silly things (like, best incorporation of a sailor, best incorporation of competitive sports). The contests are always for prizes, and sometimes local businesses donate. ...
We always have a DJ who sets the mood, and we ask for a $10 donation to cover fees. It's really important to me that the model gets paid well so that it's a desirable thing to do, and after all, we are asking for A LOT from them. Without the model, we have no event.

The series' Facebook page has a bunch of photos from previous nights, so you can get a sense of the scene. (The "pints" part of the night is BYOB.)

The drink-n-draw is at 51 3rd Street in Troy on Thursday. (Emily says they're trying to keep it the third Thursday of each month.) Prizes this month are from Brown's and CAPow! Art Illustration & Photography.

By the way: Emily says the 51 3rd Street space recently suffered some water damage, and they almost had to cancel this month as a result -- but it's still on. "I was unable to find another venue where we'd be able to pay the model AND pay for the space. There is some cleanup needed to be able to use 51 3rd again, and we're assembling a crew to go in Wednesday at 7 and do it. (And by a crew, it will be at least my mom and I :) )."

photo: Andrew Franciosa

EMPAC fall 2012

tim hecker corn field

Tim Hecker will be performing there at the end of September.

The fall 2012 schedule for EMPAC is now online. A compressed, easy-to-scan version of the slate is after the jump. Be sure to hit the (newly redesigned) EMPAC site for full details.

This season's schedule includes the usual mix of the unusual in all sorts of media -- music, dance, film, animation, science...

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Sondheim event at HVCC cancelled

stephen sondheim largeHVCC announced today that the scheduled appearance by Stephen Sondheim on September 25 has been cancelled.

The college says it hopes the event can be rescheduled for spring 2013.

If you have a ticket for the event (they hadn't gone on sale to the general public just yet), you can get a refund by calling (518) 629-8071.

photo: Jerry Jackson

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NYS Writers Institute fall 2012

nys writers institute fall 2012 book covers

A few of the recent books from a few of the writers on this fall's slate.

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. As usual, it's full of notable/interesting/award-winning writers.

A handful of the names that caught our eye on first pass: Junot Diaz, James Mann, J. M. Coetzee, David Quammen, Steveny Levy, J. Hoberman, and newly-designated State Author Alison Lurie and State Poet Marie Howe.

Here's the full lineup...

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Frequency North 2012-2013

frequency north febos strauss

Melissa Febos and Darin Strauss are both on this year's slate. (Fact: a black and white photo makes you look even more writerly.)

The Frequency North series at St. Rose is back for the upcoming school year -- and the slate is now out. The lineup includes fiction writers, non-fiction writers, memoirists (including a former dominatrix), poets, and the return of Pitchapoolza.

The full schedule is post jump.

Frequency North readings are free and open to the public.

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Grants of as much as $5k from the Arts Center

arts center of the capital region logoHeads up: the Arts Center of the Capital Region has started the process for its next round of community arts grants -- individual grants can include as much as $5,000 in funding. During the last round the Arts Center distributed a total of almost $90k.

There are three types of grants. From the blurbage:

Community Arts Grants fund nonprofit organizations that produce high-quality arts and culture programming in the community.
Arts Education Grants fund cultural organizations or teaching artists to support programs that integrate the arts into non-arts curriculum in K-12 public school classrooms.
Individual Artist Commissions provide funds to individual artists to create new works that engage their local community.

Applicants must show up at an information seminar -- there are a bunch of them over the next month-and-a-half. Check the schedule at the link above.

Five grand can go a long way in the right (creative) hands. Maybe those hands are yours.

The deadline for applying is October 5.

Yep, the Arts Center does advertise on AOA.

Ticket details for Sondheim at HVCC

Stephen Sondheim -hi res

A few months back we told you that composer, lyricist and deity to music theater fans, Stephen Sondheim will be making an appearance at Hudson Valley Community College this. "An Evening With Stephen Sondheim" is slated for September 25 -- and AOA's Mary Darcy will be the on-stage interviewer.

Ticket sales have just been announced. Here are the details:

+ HVCC students faculty and staff can reserve tickets as of August 27. They're free for students. $25 for faculty and staff.

+ Tickets will be available to the general public starting September 8 -- they're $25.

The event is expected to sell out, so if you're hoping to attend, act early.

photo: Jerry Jackson

Summer theater festivals 2012

williamstown theatre festival importantance of being earnest

The Williamstown Theatre Festival is doing The Importance of Being Earnest a bit differently -- "What if a family of Guys and Dolls-style gangsters moved to Downton Abbey-style London in order to escape certain, shall we say, entanglements?"

Summer theater festivals in and around the Capital Region are just getting underway for the season. We're pretty lucky to have so many high quality summer festivals within an hour's drive.

After the jump, a quick look at this year's festivals and what they're offering...

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Groundbreaking! at Albany Barn

Albany Barn Stage One exterior.jpgThe Albany Barn has a groundbreaking/fundraiser lined up for June to celebrate the start of construction on the St. Joseph's Academy building. From the blurbage:

...a culinary & visual happening celebrating the start of construction at St Joseph's Academy, future home of The Barn creative arts incubator & community arts center.
"Lost and Found" - a photo exhibition of St. Joseph's Academy
Food by the Chefs Consortium featuring Rebecca Joyner, Noel Conklin, Ellie Markovitch & Albany's own 2x Chopped™ Champion chef Ric Orlando preparing his own unique "Slow Food" dishes. Fresh, local ingredients from Albany area farms & food producers.
Wine & Beer presented by Harmony House Marketplace and Chatham Brewing.

Groundbreaking! is June 22 (a Friday) from 5-9 pm. Tickets are $25.

Earlier on AOA: Raising the Albany Barn

NYS Summer Writers Institute 2012

claire messudClaire Messud

The slate is up for this summer's New York State Writers Institute's summer public readings series in Saratoga.

Some of the names you might recognize: Rick Moody, Joyce Carol Oates, Jamaica Kincaid, Mary Gaitskill, Russell Banks, Claire Messud, William Kennedy (of course), and more...

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Applications open for street painting competition in Troy, and this year's Fence Show

river street festival 2011 casey aoa entry

Casey's AOA-sponsored entry in last year's competition.

The Troy River Street Festival -- one of our favorite local summer festivals -- is coming up June 16. And that means applications are now open for the annual street painting contest at the festival.

The competition includes space for 75 artists, a range of age-specific categories, to chalk designs on a panel of sidewalk along River Street. And there's $1,000 in prizes.

The entry fee is $15. And the competition does fill up -- so the earlier you apply, the better.

Speaking of arts and downtown Troy... the call for entries is now out for the annual Fence Show at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The Fence Salon will open June 16. This year's juror, Jim Richard Wilson from the Opalka Gallery at the Sage Colleges, will select works from the salon for inclusion in the Fence Select show that opens July 27.

Yep, the Arts Center advertises on AOA.

Laurie Anderson named EMPAC's first distinguished artist-in-residence


Laurie Anderson will spend the next three years inventing stuff at EMPAC.

Experimental media and performance artist Laurie Anderson will spend the next three years at RPI as EMPAC's first distinguished artist-in-residence. Anderson has a history of using science and engineering to create new artwork, inventing things like a tape-bow violin and talking stick.

This isn't Anderson's first experience at EMPAC. In 2009 she spent some time there working on a piece called Delusion -- a series of stories about longing, memory and identity that incorporated multidisciplinary elements that included music, visuals, altered voices, and electronic puppetry.

You can get a little bit of a sense of Delusion (and Laurie Anderson's disenchantment with rectangles) in a video clip after the jump. Heads-up: it's not you -- the interviewer is speaking Swedish, but you'll understand what's going on.

Until now EMPAC's residencies have been project specific. There's no word yet on what kind of plans Anderson has for her three year stay in Troy, but EMPAC says it's looking forward to working with her to combine engineering and science to find creative approaches to the arts. They also say Anderson will be sharing some of her creative practices with the campus through lectures, workshops and demonstrations.

Photo: Leland Brewster courtesy of Laurie Anderson

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Level at the Arts Center

everyday the same day game Molleindustria

From Everyday The Same Dream by Molleindustria.

Looks fun, interesting, and geeky: Level -- a new exhibition of independent video games -- opens this Friday at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. From the blurbage:

Level presents the games in an immersive environment that simulates a 1990s American video arcade. Each game has its own working cabinet, which allows visitors to play free of charge. The game cabinets are designed and fabricated by We Are Architects with assistance from regional game enthusiasts and friends. Collaborators include Donna Fitzgerald's class at Parson's Child and Family Center, circuit bending sound artist Peter Edwards, and regional furniture maker Leonard Bellanca.

The Friday opening is the Level Festival:

Alongside the exhibition's debut of a wide variety of video games in an immersive, arcade-style environment, Level Festival will feature a booth of vintage games and systems by local game enthusiast boutique Pastime Legends and genre bending electronic music. With support from iEAR Presents!, Level Festival features four intriguing performances by musicians that work in a range of electronic sounds, unconventional instrumentation, and take influence from games and other facets of pop culture. Level Festival performers include Evidence (Stephan Moore and Scott Smallwood), Matthew Carefully (Matthew Loiacono), Bubblyfish (Haeyoung Kim), and Extreme Animals (Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman).

The exhibition is organized by We Are Architects. The opening festival starts at 4 pm Friday and runs until 10 pm (it's free). The exhibit runs through May 25.

Speaking of Troy and video games: The annual GameFest symposium and exhibition at RPI is this weekend.

Yep, the Arts Center advertises on AOA.

Hey, that's Chris Gibson and... Alec Baldwin

chris gibson alec baldwin

Jack Donaghy has just told Chris Gibson a terrible secret about the Trivection oven.

Among Alec Baldwin's stops this week in DC while lobbying for National Endowment for the Arts funding: Chris Gibson.

The Congressman's office says Baldwin wanted to thank Gibson for his support of arts funding. Baldwin has been working with a group called Americans for the Arts to rally support for the NEA. At the National Press Club yesterday he called Gibson a "hero" of the arts on Capitol Hill. [NPC] [TU CapCon]

Last year Gibson was one of only a handful of House Republicans to vote against a cut to NEA funding. The measure still passed by eight votes. From a political perspective, Gibson's support makes sense. It'd be he hard to represent the Hudson Valley and somehow be seen as anti-arts. And his new district -- NY-19, if he's re-elected -- covers even more of the Hudson Valley and Catskills. [Americans for the Arts]

Gibson's office says the Congressman invited Baldwin to the district to co-host an arts event. Alec Baldwin in Kinderhook would have a certain State and Main quality...

(Press release post-jump.)

photo: Chris Gibson's office

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Steven Millhauser wins the Story Prize

steven millhauser croppedSkidmore professor Steven Millhauser has won the Story Prize for We Others, his collection of short stories published last year.

The prize is an annual $20,000 cash award that recognizes outstanding collections of short stories. The other two finalists were Don DeLillo and Edith Pearlman. Not bad company to be in. He's also a finalist -- again for We Others -- for the PEN/Faulkner award.

Millhauser's short stories often appear in The New Yorker -- and many of those stories are in We Others. A few of them are available to read for free on the New Yorker's website:

Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer..

photo: Michael Lionstar

YouthFX screening includes documentary about Tyler Rhodes

youthfx summer 2011The Grand Street Arts' YouthFX filmmaking program is premiering its 2011 short films this Thursday at the Madison Theater. Among the films on the slate: a documentary about Tyler Rhodes, the Albany High student who was fatally stabbed in Hoffman Park last year. From a press release:

Tylerʼs death sent shockwaves through the entire community at Albany High School, where he was a well-known student and athlete. This past summer many Youth FX participants, many who knew Tyler personally, brought up the idea of doing a documentary about his story and raising awareness about the issue of teen violence in Albany. Other films will include fiction shorts about lost relationships, the precarious allure of money, a documentary about local artists and a hilarious mockumentary about competitive texting. All the projects were conceived of and produced by the teen participants of Youth FX.

YouthFX is a summer program for teens that involves "the creative and technical aspects of digital filmmaking and doing hands on workshops to practice their skills." Liz met some of the teens involved last year and came away very impressed.

The screening at the Madison starts at 7 pm Thursday. Tickets are $7 (adults) and $5 (kids under 12).

photo via YouthFX Facebook

Rem Koolhaas to design building in Hudson

seattle central library

The Koolhaas-designed Seattle Central Library. As odd as the building is from the outside, the interior spaces are amazing.

This is crazy: Rem Koolhaas has agreed to design a building in Hudson, New York.

New York Magazine reports the superstar architect has signed a deal with performance artist Marina Abramović to design the Center for the Preservation of Performance Art, which would house performance art pieces that go on for hours -- or days:

At the future museum devoted to marathon pieces, viewers will watch in specially constructed chairs complete with wheels, tables to dine upon, and lamps. If they fall asleep, "the attendant will roll you to the sleeping area" of the theater, she said, but sleepers will still be considered part of the performance. "When you wake up, raise your hand and you'll be wheeled back," she promised.

NY Mag reports Abramović has to raise $8 million for the project -- and she's pushing for related development in the city, including a hotel for arts tourists.

Abramović got attention most recently for The Artist is Present, a 2010 performance at the Museum of Modern Art in which she sat motionless and visitors were invited to sit facing her.

Koolhaas is one of the world's most famous architects. Among his notable buildings: the Seattle Central Library. His designs are striking and odd. NYT architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote last year that Koolhaas' crazy CCTV building in Beijing "may be the greatest work of architecture built in this century." In 2008 Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

If the project comes together, it would be a huge step in the ongoing transformation of Hudson. The city's Warren Street already feels like part of New York City on weekends. And it's becoming home to some ambitious and creative projects, from the Basilica Hudson arts venue to Cafe le Perche, which is trying to produce a baguette as good as what might get in France.

(Be sure to read Sam Pratt for more context.)

[via @missstafford]

photo: Flickr user andrewasmith

Pitchapalooza at St. Rose

the book doctorsPitchapalooza -- sort of like the opening round of American Idol for authors -- will be at St. Rose April 15. At the event authors will get one minute to pitch their book to a panel of judges and get feedback. From the blurbage:

At Pitchapalooza, judges will help you improve your pitch, not tell you how bad it is. Judges critique everything from idea to style to potential in the marketplace and much, much more. Authors come away with concrete advice as well as a greater understanding of the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Whether potential authors pitch themselves, or simply listen to trained professionals critique each presentation, Pitchapalooza is educational and entertaining for one and all.

The judges will pick one winner and that person will get an intro to an agent or publisher.

The catch: to pitch a book or idea you have to buy a copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, who bill themselves as "The Book Doctors" and run Pitchapalooza. (The book is $10.85 online, though it's not clear if you have to buy the book at the event.) Book buyers also get a free 20 minute consultation.

If you just want watch other people pitch, the event is free. It's presented as a collaboration with the Frequency North series at St. Rose.

photo via Book Doctors Twitter

Stephen Sondheim at HVCC

stephen sondheimThe one and only Stephen Sondheim will be appearing at Hudson Valley Community College September 25. Ticket info hasn't been settled, yet -- but the event will be open to the public. Tickets are expected to go on sale in August. HVCC students will get the first opportunity for spots.

The appearance by the composer and lyricist will be an on-stage conversation. The interviewer: AOA's own Mary Darcy. A short concert from Sonny Daye and Perley Rousseau will precede the conversation.

Sondheim is one of the all-time greats of musical theater. His works includes classics such as West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Assassins. He's won eight Tony awards, an Oscar, a Pulitzer, and eight Grammys.

photo: Jerry Jackson

EMPAC spring 2012

The trailer for one of the onedotzero series being shown at EMPAC this spring.

EMPAC's schedule for spring 2012 is out. And, as we've come to expect, it's full of stuff that looks interesting, weird, challenging, or just... different. The works on this season's slate make use of dance, animation, "actual reality," Walden, Infinite Jest, and mosquitoes.

Here are a handful of dates that caught our eye.

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NYS Writers Institute spring 2012

lauren groffThe spring lineup for the New York State Writers Institute visiting writers series is out -- and as we've come to expect, it's full of events that look interesting.

And handful of the dates that caught our eye: science writer Alan Lightman, physicist Michio Kaku, director and author John Sayles (who's originally from Schenectady, you know), author Shalom Auslander, journalist Masha Gessen, novelist (and Cooperstown native) Lauren Groff (that's her on the right), and editor Joe Lelyveld.

Here's the full lineup...

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Front Parlor storytelling series coming to Albany

front parlor Troy Abby LublinThe popular Front Parlor storytelling series is adding an Albany night. The first one will be November 14 (that's a Monday) at the Olde English Pub in downtown Albany at 7 pm. The theme for the night: "Firsts."

Front Parlor organizer Abby Lublin says it might end up being the second Monday of each month, depending on how things go.

The Front Parlor series started in Troy at the Ale House this past spring. The storytelling nights -- modeled in part on The Moth -- have turned into standing-room-only events. This past September, the series expanded to Saratoga with nights organized by Tim Dawkins.

The Troy series is back this Tuesday (November 8). The theme is food. It starts at 7:30 pm -- but it's a good idea to show up early.

Earlier on AOA: Front Parlor: story night at The Ale House

Tickets for DANCE MOViES at EMPAC

Fanfare for marching band empac

Band, on the run.

Drawing's closed. Winner's been notified.

This Saturday EMPAC will be debuting the results of its most recent DANCE MOViES commissions, which are films that somehow involve dance. For example, here's the description for one of the works, called "Fanfare for Marching Band":

A film following the mayhem created by a ragtag musical militia that embarks on an impotent invasion through a parallel universe, where their exuberant music is out of sync and unheard. The two worlds are finally unified when the band masters the tempo and patience of empathy.

The band -- Mucca Paza -- will also be there to play afterward.

So, not something you see every day. And we have a pair of tickets to give away. To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What's your favorite dance or type of dancing?

This could be anything: swing, hip hop, the Snoopy, the Carlton, whatever.

Four films are on the slate for Saturday, none longer than 20 minutes. The screening starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $6.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Thursday (November 3, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly -- seriously, if you win, we want to give you the tickets) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Thursday and must respond by 10 am Friday (November 4).

photo: Sangphoon Lee

The Swing Syndicate

Emily and Orian Dancing.jpg

Emily McNeight and Orian Breaux at The Swing Syndicate.

When Orian Breaux came to RPI he was a little bit shy. He thought checking out a swing dance club might be a way to meet people and have a little fun.

He liked it. A lot.

Now a senior in RPI's aeronautical engineering program Orian is about to launch into a project that has -- well -- pretty much nothing to do with aeronautical engineering. This Friday during Troy Night Out, he and his girlfriend, Emily McNeight -- a math major at RPI, (they met at swing dancing) -- will host the grand opening of The Swing Syndicate, which they hope will be a hub for swing dance in the Capital Region.

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MoHu begins

mohu fest logoThe first MoHu Festival starts this Saturday evening and runs through the next weekend. Organizers say they have more than 150 artists and arts orgs participating.

One thing you might have already noticed: all the local art nights this month have been shifted to next Friday, October 14. (That's why there's no 1st Friday in Albany tonight.)

MoHu (Mohawk + Hudson) is basically a wrapper around a bunch of local cultural venues and events for the purpose of highlighting the arts in this region. (Sure, you know there's a lot of great stuff here -- but not everyone does.) That's not a bad thing. As we've said many times, there is a lot of stuff to do in the Capital Region -- you often just have to make a little bit of an effort to find it. If a festival like this helps make that easier for people, good.

If the festival returns next year, it'd be great if there was some kind of pass people could buy to get into multiple events. Or maybe a "buy three events, get one free" sort of thing.

Small Batch Editions

grossingers indoor pool sebastien barre

"Poolside" by Sebastien Barre, one of the first prints available through Small Batch Editions.

Worth a look: Small Batch Editions, a startup business from local curator Melissa Stafford, which is aiming to put together new art buyers with up-and-coming photographers. As Melissa explained in an email:

The idea is something that has been building in my mind for at least 3 years now. In the course of working at the gallery in Hudson I often met a lot of people who fell in love with a photograph or painting, but were unable to afford it. I also met a lot of artists struggling to sell their work. Considering the economy these days and how limited most budgets are, I wanted to create an opportunity for both artists and buyers to have a meaningful exchange; by publishing special limited edition prints at more affordable prices I hope to grow the market for unrepresented photographers, increasing their visibility. At the same time, we as collectors get to discover new and exciting work and support the artists we love.

The initial lineup of photographers includes some local names you might recognize: Joe Putrock, Sebastien Barre, Holly Northrop.

Small Batch Editions hasn't officially launched yet. Melissa is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to cover some of the initial costs. Contributors will be able to pre-order prints and be eligible for other rewards. (And, as with all Kickstarter campaigns, the money is refunded if the goal isn't met.)

You might recognize Melissa's name from Carrie Haddad Photographs in Hudson, where she was the gallery's first director. Here's a little bit more about what prompted her to start Small Batch Editions...

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The Sanctuary for Independent Media

pierce and miller

Sanctuary for Independent Media founders Branda Miller and Steve Pierce sit on the stoop of the sanctuary with their family.

By Danielle Furfaro

You probably remember the 2008 brouhaha over Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal and the "Virtual Jihadi" video game that was booted from RPI. And you also may remember that Bilal's exhibit ended up at a little space in Troy called the Sanctuary for Independent Media -- which then got temporarily shutdown for code violations.

In the years since, the Sanctuary has continued to soldier on, providing a meeting space for seasoned and novice activists to train, listen, plan and party. Now, as protest culture blooms both here in the United States and around the world, the Sanctuary's fall season is focused on "cultures of resistance."

I talked with Sanctuary executive director Steve Pierce and art and education coordinator Branda Miller recently about emboldened protesters, media reform, the necessity of being for something, and allegedly humorless militants.

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Voki Kalfayan: from the Hudson Valley to international clown

Voike Kalfayan --clowning .jpg

Clowning around.

Voki Kalfayan spent four years in a private school in the Hudson Valley, and two years studying at Vassar, before he discovered his life's ambition during an audition for Ringling Bros. Clown College.

Kalfayan never looked back. He's spent 15 years traveling the world as a clown, actor and humorist, and he'll be back in the Capital Region on Wednesday night in Cirque de Soleil's "Quidam" at the TU Center.

He took a few minutes to talk with AOA last week about the myth of Krusty the Clown, the difference between East and West Coast clowns, and the serious business of being funny.

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The Memoir Office

The Memoir Office by Daniel NesterEarlier this year local writer and St. Rose professor Daniel Nester set up at the Arts Center of the Capital Region as part of a public writing project called "The Memoir Office."

The result of that project -- The Memoir Office: The Writer is Present -- is out today as a Kindle "single" (it's 99 cents):

Inspired by performance artists who take their work to the public, Daniel Nester set up shop in an art gallery lobby in Troy, NY and started to write about himself. He brought a desk, chair, office lamp, and a plant. He called it The Memoir Office. The result, The Memoir Office: The Writer is Present, is a 12,000-word piece of first-person writing--part journal, part memoir, and part essay.

So, why release The Memoir Office as an e-reader single? Nester explained today on Google+:

It's too long for a single article, too short for a book, and not really viable as a book. The long form of it really suits the material, if that makes sense. Plus, I am getting into my Kindle a lot these days and buying and reading a lot of these singles things myself. Hat into ring and so forth.

A clip of a portion released this past July in Painted Bride Quarterly is after the jump. (Yes, like an excerpt of an excerpt.)

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Grand opening for The Foundry in Cohoes

foundry cohoesWay back -- like a whole 1.5 years ago -- The Foundry arts org in Cohoes was one of the first local orgs to apply for a Pepsi Refresh grant. And it won -- $50,000.

Well, this evening the Foundry has the grand opening of its converted bank building on Remsen Street, with tours and music from We are Jeneric. It starts at 4:30 and runs into the evening. (They would appreciate it if you could RSVP.)

From the Foundry's vision statement:

The Foundry is dedicated to connecting the arts and creative sectors to the business, civic, education and non-profit community of New York State's Capital Region. The Foundry strives to teach businesses, artists, institutions, and community developers how to use arts and culture in enriching and strengthening the physical, economic, and social revitalization of our region.

photo: The Foundry

The Nitty Gritty Poetry Slam

first Nitty Gritty Poetry Slam at Valentines

Slam contestants Shannon Shoemaker and Tammy Lopez, Slammaster Dain Brammage, contestant Algorhythm and co-MC Mojavi

By Danielle Furfaro

Like a beacon in the poetry wasteland, the Nitty Gritty Poetry Slam has arrived. It's been years since Albany had an honest-to-goodness slam, but now they will happen twice a month at Valentine's, thanks to a collaboration between Albany Poets, Urban Guerrilla Theatre, and the Frequency North Reading Series. The city's first slam in 10 years took place on September 6th and there's another one planned for tomorrow (Tuesday).

We spoke to the elusive Dain Brammage, Slammaster of the Nitty Gritty, about the politics of slams, how to score a zero and the haiku face-off.

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Wandering through Yaddo

Yaddo exterior.jpg

On Sunday, for only the 5th time in its 111 year history, the mansion and private grounds at Yaddo were open to the public. About 1,400 people wandered the rooms where people such as Langston Hughes, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, John Cheever and thousands of other artists gathered, ate, slept, held court and of course, created.

The house is gorgeous and filled with impressive antiques, but what we loved was being able to wander through a place where so many amazing and creative people have lived and worked. If there was ever a place we wished that walls could talk, this was it. We walked through the rooms imagining moments of inspiration, unguarded conversations and wondering what kinds of things might have happened in rooms full of so many creative people.

If you weren't one of the 1,400 who took the tour, here's the quick version...

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Tickets for 69°S at EMPAC

69 south phantom limb at empac

Antarctica. And puppets.

Update: Drawing's closed. Winner has been emailed!

We have a pair of tickets to giveaway for what looks like an interesting performance at EMPAC this Friday and Saturday: 69°S. From the blurbage:

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton's harrowing expedition to Antarctica in 1914, Phantom Limb unites puppetry, dance, film, history, and photography with contemporary music to create a stunning vision of the great arctic continent--past, present, and future. Dim light plays across a lunar terrain dotted with icebergs. Shackleton's crew, played by half-life-size puppets, struggles to survive in this vast landscape, putting into stark relief the power of endurance and camaraderie and the price of knowledge. With sound that combines the junkyard dog aesthetic of the band Skeleton Key playing live, a score recorded by the Kronos Quartet, and glacial field recordings, 69˚S. mines the inherently bittersweet and complex nature of the Shackleton experience and what the future may hold for this fragile environment.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What place in the Capital Region would you like to explore?

It could be a place you've already been -- or someplace that you just haven't had to chance to get to (for whatever reason). We'll draw one winner at random from the comments.

The performance of 69˚S at EMPAC is a preview ahead of the work's premiere at Dartmouth later this year. The performances are at 8 pm both Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are $18.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 am on Tuesday (September 20, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Tuesday and must respond by 10 am Wednesday (September 21, 2011).

photo: Sarah Walker

Looks from Discard Avant Garb 2011

Here's a great video piece from this past weekend's "Discard Avant Garb" show at the Grand Street Arts by Bryan Thomas. There were some really good (and crazy) looks this year.

[via Hidden City]

Discard Avant Garb 2011

discard avant garb 2011 posterThis Saturday: the Discard Avant Garb Recycled Fashion show at the Grand Street Community Art Center.

There have been a bunch of these shows over the last decade or so -- both in this series and part of others. They're a lot of fun. They involve designers making outfits from objects and materials that would otherwise be thrown away (gives new meaning to a trashy look). Here are photos from the Discard Avant Garb's 2009 show.

The show this weekend includes designers Katie Pray, Amy Orr, and Mischel Nivens (as well as many others). It's a benefit for the Grand Street Arts, Albany Center Galleries, and the Chris Ryan Albany High School Art Scholarship.

Doors are at 6 pm. Tickets are $20.

Earlier on AOA:
+ From Trash to trashion
+ Anatomy of a trashion piece
+ Trashion 2010 photos
+ Project Larkway winner Joleen Button

The Burden Letter Project

Crystal Burden Letter Project

Art meets history in The Burden Letter Project

In the hustle of day-to-day living, the historic buildings you pass along the way can become just part of the landscape, and the people who inhabited them, just names on street signs, monuments and parks.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out remarkable things about the history that surrounds us every day.

When video artist Lea Donnan came to Troy a few years ago for a residency with CAC Woodside she didn't plan to steep herself in the industrial history of the Collar City. But a few questions about the CAC building -- formerly a church commissioned by industrialist Henry Burden to memorialize his wife, Helen -- led to more questions. And those led to even more questions.

And all of those questions led to a wealth of long forgotten stories -- and a packet of steamy 19th century love letters.

Donnan has turned all of that into The Burden Letter Project, a video installation that examines the history of South Troy through love letters from a giant of industry to his wife.

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NYS Writers Institute fall 2011

nys writers institute book covers 2011 fall

Perrotta, Kennedy, Whitehead and a whole bunch of others.

The fall lineup for the New York State Writers Institute's visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's jammed with events that look interesting.

A handful of the dates that caught our eye -- including William Kennedy reading from his new book, Sylvia Nasar, Dava Sobel, and Tom Perrotta -- after the jump.

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The Living Walls project

living walls livingston

The first completed Living Walls mural was done by Gaia and Nanook. It's on Livingston Avenue between Broadway and North Pearl

By Danielle Furfaro

Cities are living, breathing creatures. Like other living things, they thrive on positive reinforcement, growth and creativity. And sometimes they exhale the slow reek of decay. Samson Contompasis, owner and curator of the Marketplace Gallery, looks around Albany and sees beauty and possibilities everywhere. He wants to take decaying or barren vistas and make new life out of them, turning them into awe-inspiring pieces of art. So he's launched Living Walls, a public art project aimed at making Albany a bit more alive with art.

He's brought together a slew of mural artists, some local and some nationally regarded, to help create works of art around the city. The public art project will be accompanied by a lecture and workshop series that will run September 16 and 17.

You may have already seen the first completed wall, which is at 74 Livingston Avenue between Broadway and North Pearl Street. That one was done by the artistic team of Gaia and Nanook, who came up with the concept for the piece after touring Albany.

Samson loves to talk about the power of art, legal or illegal, massive or fleeting...

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Michael Bierut at St. Rose

michael bierutNoted designer Michael Bierut will be giving a talk at St. Rose September 30. Opening a few days before that at the school's Esther Massry Gallery: "Michael Bierut 30 Years 90 Notebooks." From the blurbage:

In this exhibition of work stretching over three decades, Bierut has recorded his work and thoughts in a series of identical notebooks dating back to 1982. Today there are more than 90 such notebooks. The exhibit presents a selection of completed pieces that are juxtaposed with an assortment of Bierut's notebooks. Viewers can make connections between original, very rough sketches and finished work and gain insight into the design process as a result.

Bierut is a partner at the famed design firm Pentagram. He's worked with a long list of well-known clients (example: The Atlantic redesign, the New York Times building sign, the Saks shopping bag.). He co-founded Design Observer. And In 2006 he received the AIGA Medal, the highest award in the design field.

Embedded after the jump is video of Bierut talking about his notebooks.

photo: Christian Witkin

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Inside St. Joseph's Academy

st josephs academy albany barn

A classroom, in a former life.

A few weeks ago we talked with Jeff Mirel from the Albany Barn about the plan to turn the old St. Joseph's Academy in Albany into a live/work arts facility.

Recently, Sebastien, Paul and Darren were invited to photograph the inside of the building. Sebastien's put together a good post about the photo trip. And Darren's photos are on Flickr. (The trio also recently had a show at the Albany Barn's Stage 1 space.)

Sebastien's post also includes a shoutout to Carl and Akum about the history of the building.

photo: Sebastien Barre

Is there a happy ending to the story for the Book House and other indie book stores?

book house exterior

If Borders can't make it, can the indies?

When is the last time you bought a book at a bookstore?

Not a virtual bookstore -- an actual, brick and mortar, physical space where you browse and read and walk around and maybe even talk with clerks or other readers bookstore? A place like Market Block, or The Book House --- or heck, even Barnes & Noble.

With Borders shutting down, the ubiquity of Amazon and the rise of the e-reader, we've been curious about -- OK, baffled by-- how independent bookstores manage to keep going.

Susan Novotny, owner of The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza and Market Block Books in Troy gets asked about this all the time.

And some of her answers kind of surprised us.

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C. Ryder Cooley breathes the life of art into extinction

deer photo by Ken Jacobie.jpg

C. Ryder Cooley and Lady Moon invoke their animal selves

By Danielle Furfaro

Artist C. Ryder Cooley doesn't talk about her work in terms of how she created a set or a character. To hear her tell it, the characters and sets come to her in dreams and visions, and it's up to her to take those bits of information forward and backward, simultaneously developing them into workable ideas and sussing out their origins.

Through her work with animal themes, she focuses on concepts such as the connection between humans and animals, the destruction of animal habitat and extinction. On the surface, her performances incorporate music, aerial acrobatics, taxidermy and costume to create a kind of fairytale atmosphere. But behind that is a desire to evoke emotion about the current state of chaos and change affecting the world's animal populations.

She spent the past several years in living in Troy, where she worked on her Master of Fine Arts degree at RPI and developed the stage show Animalia as her master's thesis. And after performing it at Proctors in 2009, she set it aside.

But like the deer/human hybrid woman who died at the end of the show, Animalia never really went away. It was just reincarnated into its next life. Last year, when Cooley moved to Hudson, her followup piece, XMALIA, rife with themes of death, came alive. The work picks up where Animalia left off, exploring a fantastical world where the extinct species such as the Tasmanian tiger, the Pyrenean ibex and the Xerces butterfly conspire with the recently deceased half-deer half-human woman (played by Cooley, of course). XMALIA's Songs of Extinction feature Cooley on her ukulele and saw, singing gentle songs to taxidermied approximation of these mythic beasts.

If this all sounds pretty outlandish, it's because it is. It's also wildly engaging and moving. And that's what Cooley is going for. She wants to get humans thinking about what's we're doing to our planet and the other species with which we co-exist. But at the same time, the show doesn't jam politics down the audience's throat and relies more on the atmosphere to make the statement. We talked to her about the politics of extinction, taxidermied animals and her dodo bird trapeze act.

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EMPAC fall 2011

empac_exterior_looking_up.jpgEMPAC's fall 2011 schedule is out today. And, as usual, it's full of performances that look interesting, different, challenging or just kind of odd.

Here are a few events from the slate that caught our eye...

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Front Parlor: story night at The Ale House

front parlor Lublin with Fashoro and Bassett

Front Parlor founder Abby Lublin, with partner Tolu Fashoro and storyteller Chris Bassett.

They say everybody has a story. And Abby Lublin wants to hear them all.

Abby is the founder of the monthly Front Parlor storytelling series in Troy.

We've been meaning to make it over for a few months, and last night we were part of the standing-room-only crowd at The Ale House.

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Raising the Albany Barn

St Josephs Academy

The former St. Joseph's Academy, future home of the Albany Barn.

Six years ago Capital Region residents Jeff Mirel and George Kansas decided to help raise money for victims of the tsunami in South Asia. A few weeks later they'd packed 2,000 people into the Palace Theater to see dozens of local artists and musicians, raising nearly $30,000.

Fast forward five years.

That successful Rock2Rebuild concert has spawned another effort: the Albany Barn. Organizers hope the project will be a creativity incubator that helps provide resources for artists, offer arts programming for the region, create educational opportunities for inner city kids, and acts as a catalyst to revitalize neighborhoods.

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MoHu Fest

mohu fest logoA bunch of local cultural orgs today announced a new multi-day event coming up this fall: MoHu Fest. That would be Mo, as in Mohawk, and Hu, as in Hudson, and Fest, as in fest, as in festival. It runs October 8-15 8-16.

From the blurbage:

Several hundred events, from performances to exhibitions, gallery openings and lectures, will offer MoHu attendees a wide array of experiences. Spectacular opening and closing ceremonies will make MoHu the cultural event of 2011. MoHu should draw tens of thousands of attendees to its mix of regularly scheduled events, specially produced performances and random acts of culture.

Among the "nearly 150" orgs involved: Proctors, The Egg, EMPAC, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy Music Hall, St. Rose, and Sage. And from that list, you can guess the type of events: theater, art exhibitions, film, dance. And bubbles.

Organizers of the festival are touting the event as a way to "foster collaboration and cooperation between the area's thriving arts communities." It's great to see people working together -- especially if that effort takes an omnivorous approach to what's considered "Culture" and pulls in groups and artists that are a bit outside the usual. It looks like many of the events have yet to be posted -- it will be interesting to see how the slate shapes up.

Radical puppetry at Grand Street Arts

rpm puppets grand streetThis looks weird and possibly fun: the Grand Street Arts has a performance by the RPM Puppet Conspiracy this Wednesday night. From the blurbage for the show, called "The Standard Model":

Fallacious Physics and Scientific Half-Truths! Alliances and Betrayals! The Latest Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons!
In a world where Good battles Evil, and where stimulated emissions of photons blur the lines between the two, questions are raised! For instance: Why are there apparent violations of the symmetry between matter and antimatter? What was the nature of the quark-gluon plasma in the early universe? And where are our protagonistʼs eyeglasses?! ...
Donʼt miss this moving exploration of friendship, intergalactic warfare, and the incredible longevity of packaged baked goods, coming to your town for one night only.

Also on the bill for that night: music by Brief Bouts of SPIMES, Redefined Arguments, and _11:34.

Music starts at 8:30. Puppets at 9:15. It's $5.

NYS Summer Writers Institute 2011

rick moodyRick Moody

The New York State Writers Institute has released the lineup for this summer's reading series in Saratoga.

There are a lot of names on the list you might recognize, including Mary Gordon, Michael Ondaatje, Robert Pinsky, Russell Banks, Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, and (of course) William Kennedy...

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Tickets for Euphorie at EMPAC (cancelled)

Update at 3:25 pm!!! We just heard from EMPAC that the performance has been cancelled.

EMPAC has an interesting show lined up for Thursday: Euphorie. From the blurbage:

The project Euphorie was born from the desire to develop a project based on interactions between video, sound, movement and accidents of life as a 40-minute theatrical performance driven by low-tech tools.

Really, just watch the video the above. That's probably all you need to know. Euphorie is the work by two artists who work under the name 1024 architecture.

AOA has two tickets for the performance and we'd like to give them away -- maybe to you. To enter, just submit a comment answering this question:

What's bright?

We'll draw one winner at random from the comments.

The performance of Euphorie is Thursday at 8 pm at EMPAC. Tickets are $15.

(By the way: we mentioned this show in our "week ahead" post on Sunday. Just a heads-up if you haven't been scanning those.)

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Thursday (May 5, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Thursday and must respond no later than 5 pm that day.

William Kennedy's next book

william kennedyIt's called Chango's Beads and Two-tone Shoes and it will go on sale at the end of September.

From the "PrePub Alert" on Library Journal:

Here's an unbeatable setup. Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur Fellow Kennedy, who gave us Ironweed and the rest of the great "Albany Cycle," puts journalist Daniel Quinn (not of his Quinn's Book) in the Floridita bar in 1957 Havana, where he meets Ernest Hemingway. It's the start of something good: a novel that runs riot from Cuba (with Castro on the rise) through good reporters, bad politicians, and drug-running gangsters, to race riots in Albany as Robert Kennedy's assassination looms. Even Bing Crosby makes an appearance. Kennedy's first in a decade should be pretty amazing; with a six-city tour.

Kennedy's last novel was Roscoe, published in 2002.

Of course, you know all about William Kennedy and his books involving Albany. Did you know the NYS Writers Institute was founded with money from Kennedy's McArthur Foundation "genius" grant?

Capital Region literary notables for $1000, Alex: A: This acclaimed author and Saratoga Springs resident will also be releasing a new novel, The Memory of Skin, at the end of September. Q: Russell Banks.

[via @bookhousealbany]

photo via NYS Writers Institute

Rent at The Egg


525,600 minutes...

There are a lot of amateur theater productions in the Capital Region -- a lot of high quality amateur theater productions.

But few, if any, are as ambitious as Our Own Productions' version of Rent, opening this weekend at The Egg. The $22,000 budget is more that twice what is normally spent on a single local musical theater production.

It didn't start out that large -- but it looks like it could prove to be a worthwhile investment for the relatively new theater company.

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Breakdancing is back at Union College

Breakdancing Composite

By Liz Clancy Lerner

In the classroom, Union College junior Tri Trang goes by one name: Tri. On the dance floor he goes by another: B-Boy Squirtle.

The biology and economics double-major is the founder of UBreak, a breakdancing club at Union. Yes, breakdancing. The dance form peaked in the 80s -- but for Tri, it never really went out of style.

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Bill Pettit and the Moby Dick Collection

pettit moby dick editions shelf closeup

Bill Pettit is a little obsessed.

The object of his obsession? A book about, among other things, obsession.

Over the last 30 years the Albany resident has collected about 180 volumes of the same book -- Moby Dick.

Some of them came from libraries, others from bookstores and public schools. Most editions are in English, but some are printed in Japanese, Chinese, Latvian, Icelandic and a number of other languages.

This month, 20 of his books are on display at UAlbany's libary.

To get ready for the show, Bill started to blog about the books. And suddenly the collection he'd been living with for years became even more interesting.

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L'esperance Tile Works: Sure-fired beauty

l'esperance soldier full

He'd lost his head.

By Akum Norder

To a history and architecture geek like me, Linda Ellett is a superhero.

The century-old tiled fireplace stood out like a broken tooth. Its central design was supposed to be a three-tile panel of a reclining Roman soldier, but the first tile -- the soldier's head and chest -- was missing. The team restoring this California home asked: Could Linda, founder of L'esperance Tile Works outside of Saratoga Springs, re-create the missing tile?

Fortunately the panel's original creators, the American Encaustic Tile Company, had included a picture of the full panel in their 1902 catalog. Working from a grainy catalog picture -- and drawing from the style of the two remaining tiles -- Linda recreated the missing piece, accounting for variables such as the shrinkage of the clay and the darkening of the glaze during firing, to match the originals in both line and color.

Tile restoration combines artistry with sleuthing and mathematical exactness. And it's only one part of the amazing work going on at L'esperance Tile.

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Joshua Bell to play with Albany Symphony

The Albany Symphony announced its 2011-2012 schedule today -- and it includes a performance with acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell at the Palace in December (yes, there's some time to plan ahead).

The ASO is aiming to make the most of the star's appearance. Tickets for the concert are only available to subscribers. If you subscribe to the full 8-concert season (which starts at $139), they'll give you a ticket for the Bell concert for free.

Bell is a renowned performer who's sold millions of albums. He plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius that he bought for almost $4 million. He was also the subject of a great Washington Post story a few years back in which he played incognito for commuters in a Washington Metro station (video embedded above).

The ASO's current season is still in progress. It's performing at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall this Saturday in celebration of conductor David Allen Miller's 50th birthday.

The Beekman Street Arts District: Saratoga, off Broadway

Beekman Street montage.

Saratoga Springs' Beekman Street Arts District.

By Akum Norder

Sure, you know Saratoga Springs: the track, the grand houses, and of course Broadway. But a few blocks away from that showcase street is a growing stretch of alternative Saratoga.

The Beekman Street Arts District is a group of galleries, shops and restaurants a short walk west from downtown. The small-scale streetscape gives the district a different energy than Broadway offers with its wide sidewalks and large shop windows.

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Proctors and Capital Rep partnering

Proctors and Capital Repertory Theater announced today that they have teamed up to "sustain the state of the performing arts and to explore economies of scale and shared solutions." The full release is after the jump.

The orgs say that Proctors has taken over ticketing, finance, marketing, development, education programming and group sales for Capital Rep. The press release says Cap Rep will continue to operate independently with its own artist direction and at its downtown Albany location.

The release notes that Cap Rep has been dealing with declining support from municipal and private sources, and "recorded losses along the way." The theater had been getting $60k from the City of Albany, but that funding -- and the funding for other arts groups -- was cut in the last city budget. But the theater had already been scraping to get by -- and had a round of layoffs last summer. [TU Arts Talk]

Capital Rep expects to save $200k under the new partnership. [TU]

Talk of a potential partnership between the two arts organizations has been buzzing in the background for a while -- but as late as mid-December, the players were denying a plan was in the works. [Troy Record]

If this partnership helps shore up the finances of Capital Rep, it could be a good thing for theater fans (beyond simply keeping the theater afloat). It might give Capital Rep the freedom to program adventurously without having to depend on sure-fire hits to pay for more challenging programming.

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EMPAC Spring 2011

empac_concert_hall_ceiling.jpgEMPAC's spring 2011 slate is officially out -- and, as usual, it's full of stuff that looks interesting, challenging, and weird (you know, in the good way.)

Here are a handful of shows/exhibits/performances that caught our eye...

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NYS Writers Institute Spring 2011

shteyngart super sad true love storyThe spring lineup for the New York State Writers Institute is out. And it looks like this season's slate is packed with interesting events. It might be one of the best seasons in a few years.

A handful of the dates that caught our eye -- including Gary Shteyngart, Maureen Dowd, and James Gleick -- after the jump.

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A little bit of summer in January

new yorker cover 2011-01-03There's a short story by Skidmore professor -- and Pulitzer Prize winner -- Steven Millhauser in the January 3 issue of The New Yorker (the same issue that sits in the pile of all the other issues you haven't gotten to, yet). "Getting Closer" is about summer, childhood and anticipation:

Though who's to say when anything begins really? You could say the day began when they passed the wooden sign with the words "INDIAN COVE" and the outline of a tomahawk, on a curve of road with a double yellow line down the middle and brown wooden posts with red reflectors. Or maybe it all started when the car backed up the slope of the driveway and the tires bumped over the sidewalk between the knee-high pricker hedges. Or what if it happened before that, when he woke up in the morning and saw the day stretching out before him like a whole summer of blue afternoons? But he's only playing, just fooling around, because he knows exactly when it all begins: it begins when he enters the water. That's the agreement he's made with himself, summer after summer. That's just how it is. The day begins in the river, and everything else leads up to it.

Millhauser's novel Martin Dressler won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

[via Skidmore Unofficial]

Arts Center looking for submissions, curators

arts center call for entriesThe Arts Center of the Capital Region has posted a call for entries:

Submissions will be considered for opportunities including solo exhibitions, small and large group exhibitions, installation possibilities, arts-in-education opportunities and more. Visual artists in all media - painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation, video, photography, performance, and mixed media presentations - are invited to submit.
The Arts Center is also interested in offering emerging curators the opportunity to propose exhibits for future programming.

The deadline is January 7.

Uncertain Spectator at EMPAC

empac uncertain spectators wolfson

A still from Jordan Wolfson's "Con Leche" video piece, part of "Uncertain Spectators"

Looks interesting: EMPAC has a genre-spanning exhibition called "Uncertain Spectator" opening Thursday evening. From the blurb:

A group exhibition confronting anxiety in contemporary art, Uncertain Spectator asks individuals to cross a threshold -- to place themselves in situations riddled with tension, confront deeply charged emotional content, and grapple with feelings of apprehension. The works presented deal with a general mood of uneasiness arising from recent political and economic events that frames a future rife with imminent threats. Uncertain Spectator not only responds to these unsettling situations, but also creates them by challenging individuals to step outside of a place of comfort both physically and emotionally.

Hmm. Shocking they were able to mine recent events for feelings of apprehension.

Among the special events that are part of Thursday's exhibition opening:

+ A performance by the Troy Chainsaw Ensemble

+ A screening of Lars von Trier's film Dancer in the Dark, which stars Bjork.

Events get started at 6 pm. It's free. And we hear there will be free snacks, too.

The exhibition runs through January 29.

Bonus Thursday stuff to do: The annual B3nson Family Funsgiving is Thursday night at Valentine's. Many of the collective members are lined up to perform: We Are Jeneric, If Madrid, Scientific Maps, Que Caro, Barons in the Attic, Sgt Dunbar, and Beware! The Other Head of Science. $10 at the door, $8 with a non-perishable food item.

Yep, EMPAC has advertised on AOA in the past

image: Jordan Wolfson via EMPAC

Nao Bustamante at EMPAC

s&g sm.jpgPerformance artist -- and RPI professor -- and reality show contestant -- Nao Bustamante will be performing her work called "Silver and Gold" at EMPAC Wednesday night. From a blurb:

Silver & Gold (runtime, 45 min) combines film, live performance, and original costumes into a self-proclaimed "filmformance" in which Ms. Bustamante evokes the muse of legendary filmmaker Jack Smith and his tribute to 1940s Dominican movie starlet Maria Montez in a magical and joyfully twisted exploration of race, glamour, sexuality, and the silver screen.

Here's a trailer for the piece (might be NSFW). It looks... well... we're not quite sure what it looks like. That's probably part of the point.

The performance starts at 7:30 pm in EMPAC's Studio 1.

Earlier on AOA:
+ RPI's Nao Bustamante on Bravo's "Work of Art"

Yep, EMPAC has advertised on AOA in the past.

Laurie Anderson at EMPAC

laurie_anderson.jpgPerformance artist Laurie Anderson will be at EMPAC this weekend for a work called Delusion. From the blurb:

Produced in part during Laurie Anderson's multiple residencies at EMPAC last year, Delusion is a meditation on life and language by way of music, video, and storytelling. Conceived as a series of short mystery plays, Delusion jump-cuts between the everyday and the mythic. Employing violin, electronic puppetry, music, visuals, altered voices, and imaginary guests, Anderson weaves a complex story about longing, memory, and identity. At its heart is the pleasure of language and a fear that the world is made entirely of words. Delusion tells its story in the colorful and poetic language that has become Anderson's trademark.

Here's a short review in the Guardian. Q&A with Anderson by The Economist's Intelligent Life.

There are two performances -- Friday and Saturday night at eight. EMPAC's site currently lists the tickets as "limited" and "very limited." Tickets are $15.

EMPAC has advertised on AOA in the past. And they were nice enough to allow us to taste pizza there.

photo courtesy EMPAC and Laurie Anderson

Meghan Daum this week at Frequency North

meghan daumJust a heads-up that author Meghan Daum will be doing a reading as part of the Frequency North series at Saint Rose this Thursday evening. From the blurb:

Meghan Daum is the author, most recently, of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a memoir about real estate addiction, published in May 2010 by Knopf. Since 2005, she has been a weekly opinion columnist at the Los Angeles Times. That column is distributed widely to numerous newspapers across the country and in 2006 was a finalist for a National Journalism Award and the winner of the Southern California Journalism Award in column writing. Meghan is also the author of the essay collection My Misspent Youth and the novel The Quality of Life Report. She has contributed to public radio programs such as This American Life and Marketplace and her articles and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, GQ, Vogue, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.

It starts at 7:30 pm in the the Events and Activities Center. It's free.

Next week: co-founder Scott Rosenberg will be appearing October 20 as part of Frequency North. He's the author of Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters.

Earlier on AOA: Frequency North 6

photo: Laura Kleinhenz

Writers Institute Fall 2010 schedule

encounters end of the earth

From Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the Earth

The fall lineup for the New York State Writers Institute is out.

A few events that caught our eye:

Encounters at the End of the World - September 22
A screening of Warner Herzog's doc about researchers in Antarctica. The evening will include a talk by Samuel Bowser, a scientist from the Wadsworth Center who appears in the film.

Richard Dreyfuss - September 28
An conversation with the actor. A joint event with Archives Partnership Trust at The Egg. It's $10.

Sapphire - October 26
A reading and talk by the author of the novel Push, upon which the Oscar-winning film Precious was based.

Encounters still: Discovery Films

EMPAC Fall 2010

laurie anderson empac fall 2010The schedule for the upcoming fall season at EMPAC is out. And, as we've come to expect, it includes a bunch of interesting/odd/challenging shows.

Here are a few that caught our eye while scanning the list...

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Frequency North 6

meghan daumSt. Rose's visiting writer series, Frequency North, starts up again this fall. And this year's lineup looks good.

A couple of the dates that jumped out at us on first pass:

October 14: Meghan Daum
Daum is the author of the novel The Quality of Life Report and, more recently, the memoir My Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in that House. She also writes a column for the LA Times and has appeared on This American Life. (That's her on the right.)

October 20: Scott Rosenberg
Rosenberg is one of the founders of the pioneering website Salon. He recently wrote Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters.

The full schedule is after the jump.

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Sean Fallon, Charlotte Barrett & Virgin Alexander

Virgin Alexander directors Sean Fallon and Charlotte Barrett

Sean Fallon and Charlotte Barrett

When he was 13, Sean Fallon and his buddies were running around Saratoga making movies with a camcorder plugged into a VCR.

This summer, Sean Fallon and his wife and film making partner, Charlotte Barrett, will be running around Saratoga making movies again. Only this time they'll have high-def cameras, a professional crew and a cast that includes Bronson Pinchot (yep, Cousin Balki) , Paige Howard (Adventureland, daughter of actor/director Ron Howard) and Mika Boorem (Dawson's Creek, and a whole bunch of other stuff).

Sean and Charlotte wrote the script for Virgin Alexander -- their first feature film. They took time out from scouring garage sales and scouting locations to talk with AOA about the script, the cast, and shooting in Saratoga.

(there's more)

Where to go for good theater?


Chris emailed this week:

I moved here from NYC less than a year ago. I was deeply involved in off-off-broadway theater, but haven't seen/done any theater since the move. I know about Capital Rep and Proctors, but they're not what I'm looking for. Can you tell me where the fringe/experimental/black box performers and performances are here in Albany or nearby, like in Troy or Schenectady?

OK, here's what we know.

If you're interested in doing theater in the Capital Region, try putting yourself on the Capital District Audition List-Serve. Most theater and film companies will list their auditions there. It won't be all the experimental stuff you're looking for, but you can pick and choose.

There are a lot of theater companies in the Capital Region, and they do a pretty wide range of work. After the jump are a few that stand out for us.

We're sure there are others, so if you see something missing, add it to the list.

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Voting opens for "community sponsored" Sculpture in the Streets

community sponsored sculpture voteThis year's Sculpture in the Streets exhibit in downtown Albany will feature works by J. Seward Johnson (a little background). And, for the first time, the exhibit will include a "community sponsored sculpture." From the web site:

One of the sculptures will be sponsored by you- the residents, employees and friends of the Capital Region! $3,000 will support one life-sized sculpture for the duration of the show. We ask everyone in our community to donate $1.00 and show how, especially in today's economy, collaboration is the key to success. To truly involve each of you, the sculpture will be chosen from one of the three [options] -- each $1.00 donation will serve as one vote for [a] sculpture ... Each donor will have his/her name printed in an ad in the Times Union this summer to celebrate our community coming together in this effort!

The thumbnail on the right is one of the options (title "Generation Bridge"). Voting started today and goes through May 21.

The kickoff party for this year's Sculpture in the Streets is June 18.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Sculpture in the Streets 2009
+ Sculpture in the Streets 2008

Dance collaborators for Sea of Trees

Dylan from local band Sea of Trees emails:

We recently played a show with our friends in Wobble Dance Co down in Brooklyn, NY. It was the first time we played a show like that, providing the music for a live dance show and it was a great experience! [video is embedded above]
We had so much fun doing this that we are hoping to put together a similar show in Albany. We're currently looking for both a venue and a local dance company that might be interested in putting something together. It occurred to us that it might make a good 'ask aoa' post, since we're not sure where to start looking. We might get some good suggestions. Who knows?

Maybe the who in this case is you. If you have suggestions, please share.

Sea of Trees is a great band. We bet they'd be fun collaboration partners.

State inspector general: more than $1 million in improper spending at NYSTI

state inspector general logoOh, the drama. A report out from the state Inspector General's office today alleges that Patricia Snyder, the director of the New York State Theater Institute (which is in Troy), "repeatedly violated state laws on nepotism and used the state authority to steer nearly $700,000 in payments and benefits to her husband, her children, and herself, while overseeing an additional $475,000 in questionable expenses."

A sampling of the allegations in the IG's report are after the jump.

The IG's office also alleges that Snyder "took actions to frustrate and mislead the inquiry" and at one point said:

"You know, you are getting into very dicey waters, artistically. I will tell you, the arts community will be up in arms with this line of questioning. We are talking about artists . . . Art is not like running an OGS office."

Snyder is NYSTI's founding director. According to the org's website, "Snyder believed that theatre for family audiences must be of the highest quality, and that theatre can be used to make the world a better place."

The Paterson administration's proposed budget this year planned to cut state funding for NYSTI by half this year and completely next year. A group popped up to oppose the cuts. From a recent post on the wall of the Save NYSTI Facebook page by Snyder: "Everyone, write your Senators and ask them to restore funding to NYSTI during budget negotiations. It's the last chance."

Update: E. Stewart Jones, who's representing Snyder, told NYT: "This report is mean spirited and monumental nonsense."

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Rebecca Goldstein at UAlbany

rebecca goldsteinThis could be interesting: philosopher Rebecca Goldstein will be at UAlbany Tuesday for a reading organized by the New York State Writer's Institute. It's at 8pm in the Science Library on the uptown campus. It's open to the public.

Goldstein's novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God was released earlier this year. A reviewer for the Washington Post called it "a brainy, compassionate, divinely witty novel." Janet Maslin described it in NYT as "overcomplicated yet dazzling, sparked by frequent flashes of nonchalant brilliance." Here's an excerpt.

Also: Dartmouth professor Michael Chaney will be at St. Rose Wednesday for a public talk about "Subject and History in The African American Graphic Novel." It's at 6:30pm in the Lally Building.

photo: Steven Pinker. Yep, that one.

Kevin Craig West

Kevin Craig West.jpg

He plays Reverend Sykes in Mockingbird.

Kevin Craig West could easily win the title for hardest working guy in show business. The Arbor Hill native and Troy resident is an actor, producer, director, writer and editor who is constantly networking.

West recently named best actor at the Knickerbocker Film Festival for his work in Mike Feuerstein's film The Greatest Man Alive. And he's currently appearing in Capital Rep's production of To Kill A Mockingbird.

We got together with West last week to talk about the strange way he backed into his career, Arbor Hill, the growing film scene in the Capital Region and car chases with Angelina Jolie.

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Just Noticeable Difference extended

empac jndEMPAC has expanded the run of Chris Salter's Just Noticeable Difference installation because of demand. From the blurb:

On entering the installation the visitor is immersed in an environment of near-total darkness, insulated against external sound and vibration. Sparked by an array of sophisticated built-in sensors and devices that emit micro-levels of tactile, auditory, and visual feedback, the slightest motions cause this environment to respond, though so subtly as to test the limits of both perception and interpretation. The result is a revelatory aesthetic experience in which noise shifts towards order, sensation becomes sense, and the apparent randomness of threshold sensory impressions gives way to a new understanding of meaning in the relationship among body, self, and external world.

The installation will now be open until Friday. You have to get a reservation to check it out: 276-3921.

Disclosure: Yep, EMPAC gave us concert tickets to giveaway recently. We're mentioning this installation because it sounds weird and different (in a good way).

TvFilm 2.0

TvFilm 2WMHT's indie cinema series is looking for another round of submissions:

WMHT is looking for the very finest, unique and original independently made short films upstate New York has to offer in order to showcase on TvFILM, premiering in June. Hosted by Brandon Bethmann, TvFILM will also engage dialogue with winning filmmakers to discuss the inspiration, ideas and concepts behind their work. In addition, TvFILM will profile the people, places and events that are shaping WMHT's growing independent film and media community.

The deadline to enter is April 16.

The author Sapphire coming to Sage

sapphire sage posterSapphire -- the author of Push, the novel from which the film Precious (trailer) was adapted, will be giving a talk at the Sage campus in Troy next Thursday (February 25).

Precious opened to widespread acclaim last year (it's been nominated for six Oscars). But Push created its own stir -- because of its subject matter, voice and advance -- when it was first published in 1996.

Sapphire told NPR last year that she based the books on her own experiences as a remedial reading teacher:

The author says that she encountered girls like Precious while teaching -- overweight girls who didn't fit into the confines of our society's beauty paradigm, girls who were essentially "locked out" of the broader culture.
"I wanted to show that this girl is locked out through literacy. She's locked out by her physical appearance. She's locked out by her class, and she's locked out by her color," says Sapphire. "I encountered this. I had a student who told me that she had had children by her father."

The talk starts at 8 pm in Schacht Fine Arts Center on the Troy Sage campus -- there's a screening of Precious at 6 pm (the center is at 1st and Division). Tickets are $5 at the door ($3 for students, free for Sage students).

Sapphire recently spoke to a big crowd at the University of Michigan. We've heard from Sage that they've already changed the talk to a larger venue because of expected attendance.

$50k would be refreshing

foundry logoThe Foundry -- an arts startup in Cohoes -- is currently seventh in the voting in a national competition for a group of $50,000 grants. The top 10 projects at the end of this month finish in the money.

The competition is sponsored by Pepsi. You can vote online (you have to fill out a form first, and then push the "vote" button on the page).

Artists Lynne Allard and Jesse Matulis are behind the Foundry. From their site:

The Foundry is a unique integration of the arts, design, heritage, preservation and public art; committed to enriching community through culture. Public exhibitions and performances, public art, preservation of significant sites and interpretation of local history deepen our connections to the places in which we live and work.

The project is located in a former bank on Remsen Street in downtown Cohoes.


capital lit posterSt. Rose is hosting the first Albany Lit Mag and Small Press Fair this Saturday. From organizer Daniel Nester's web site:

Hundreds of regional and national independent literary publishers will converge to sell their journals for only $2 an issue and books for $4 each. Many publishers will attend in person to meet Albany's eager readers, so don't miss this opportunity to discover literature you are unlikely to find in a single store, and meet the publishers and editors who do the real work of keeping American Literature vibrant and vital.

There will also be readings and discussions throughout the day. The fair runs from noon to 6 pm in St. Joseph's Auditorium on the CSR campus. It's free.

But, wait. There's more. The day will be capped off with an event called "Karaoke + Poetry = Fun" at Valentine's at 7 pm.

The Puppet People of Schenectady

puppet people composite

Michelle, Mark and a few of their friends.

By Jessica Pasko,

Schenectady's Michelle Smith-Carrigan and Mark Carrigan advertise themselves as "your puppet professionals."

Seriously, how much fun must they have at parties?

"So what do you do for a living?"

"Well, actually, I'm a puppet professional..."

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David Hyde Pierce at Home Made Theater

david hyde pierceHome Made Theater, the theater company in Saratoga, is hosting its 25th anniversary benefit March 27 at the Spa Little Theater -- and David Hyde Pierce will be appearing (he grew up in Saratoga).

Here's the scoop: tickets for the event are $65 and only available via invitation -- but you can request an invitation by sending your mailing address to

HMT will then send you an invite. Then you send back your ticket request immediately, because the event is expected to sell out right away.

The evening will feature cocktails, food, music and "surprise" entertainment that will include David Hyde Pierce.

EMPAC's spring schedule

empac_concert_hall.jpgThe schedule for the upcoming season at EMPAC is out and it includes a bunch of events that look interesting/challening/odd/beautiful.

Here are a few that caught our eye...

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Flamenco in Troy

paco pena dancersThe Troy Savings Banks Music Hall has a show coming up next week that could be fun: Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco Peña.

From a TSBMH release:

"A Compás" features Paco and two other guitarists, a percussionist, vocalist and three dancers. Its goal is to transmit to the audience the compelling nature of a range of flamenco rhythms, from the almost tribal, trance-inducing quality of the "alboreá"" to the razor-sharp complexity of the "bulería."

Here are a few video clips of "A Compás" from two years ago.

Peña is apparently one of the world's foremost Flamenco guitarists. The Guardian described one of his recent performances in London as "a larky fiesta."

The performance is October 1 at 8 pm. Tickets start at $20.

The theater empire based in... Latham

Bruce and Marilyn.jpg

Bruce and his partner Marilyn Abrams on the set of Shear Madness

Bruce Jordan is a funny, funny man.

How funny is he?

Funny enough to make 8 million people laugh.

More than 30 years ago he took a very unfunny play and turned it into Shear Madness -- the longest running play in the history of American theater.

Shear Madness has played all over the US and in more than 15 cities worldwide. Tonight the show will run in Washington DC, Boston, Albany (at Capital Rep), Charlotte, Milwaukee, Athens (Greece), Barcelona and Warsaw, just to name a few.

And Bruce Jordan runs the show from his office off-Broadway. Waaaay off Broadway.

In Latham.

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The Dollar Store Show

dollar store showThe traveling literary show (yep, that's what we said) is rolling into town tonight for a free show at Valentine's. So, what's the word? From the The Dollar Store Show site:

Stealing from the Chicago improv community's bag of tricks, The Dollar Store uses a "suggestion" for the pieces performed in the show. Each writer is given an item purchased at a local dollar store (mundane to insane) and a month to craft a story (fiction or non-) that involves the item as directly or obliquely as the author wishes. The item is then put on display during, or incorporated into the performance.

Here's a piece about the show from

In addition to TDSS' traveling lineup, tonight's show will feature local writers Colie Collen, Shane Jones and Daniel Nester.

The show starts at 7 pm.

Cheap tickets at Capital Rep

capital_rep_logo.gifIf you're looking for some "cheap fun" this 4th of July weekend, but fireworks and potentially soggy barbecues aren't your thing, here's something you might want to try. Local theaters have a little more trouble filling seats on big summer holidays.

Bad for them -- good for you.

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Radio and Juliet

radio and juliet

A scene from Radio and Juliet

Next week's schedule at Jacob's Pillow includes a ballet featuring the music of Radiohead. We're not sure if Radio and Juliet looks different and interesting... or just a little odd and head-scratch-inducing.

Here's the blurb from the JP site:

Transport into a universe of razor-sharp dancing, video effects, electronic rhythms and beautiful melodies with a new take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, set to the music of Radiohead, today's most influential alternative rock band. In a rare U.S. engagement, this powerfully gorgeous contemporary ballet by Romanian choreographer Edward Clug, a fast-rising star and artistic director of Ballet Maribor, casts superb ballet dancers that give new life to this timeless tale of conflict, fate and love.

Here's a "trailer" for the performance.

There are performances July 1-5. Tickets are $59.50. But get this: if you're under the age of 35, you can score tickets for $35.

[via @PatrickDodson]

image: Jacob's Pillow

Sculpture in the Streets 2009

sculpture streets 2009

Untitled #1 by Amy Podmore squats between Broadway and James.

This year's Sculpture in the Streets collection is up in downtown Albany. This year's group includes 16 pieces by 11 artists. There's a walking tour of the collection that starts at the Hudson River Way Pedestrian Bridge.

B has posted a great photoset that includes many of the pieces -- it's sort of like a virtual walking tour.

The current collection will be on display until next April.

Earlier on AOA: Sculpture in the Streets 2008

photo: B

T. Rex in Troy

dinosaur sculpture

Yep, the hip is made of out of the Millenium Falcon.

We saw this dinosaur sculpture in Troy the other day and it made us smile (a bigger version of the pic). The sculpture overlooks the Hudson from a hilltop in Riverfront Park.

As far as we can tell, the piece is part of a series of recycled sculptures around the city. The series is organized by the same people behind Trashion.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Trashy looks at UAlbany's Ecouture
+ Sculpture in the Streets
+ Anatomy of a trashion piece

Brenny Rabine's life in the theater

Brenny 1.jpg

This is her first appearance at Capital Rep.

Pretty much anytime we go to a theater in the Capital Region these days, the name Brenny Rabine comes up.

Brenny has been working as an actor, playwright, producer, teacher and actor in the Capital Region for years. Not in addition to her day job -- the arts are her day job.

And her night job.

These days Brenny can be seen in Capital Rep's production of Boston Marriage. She took a little time before getting into make-up to talk to AOA about life upon the wicked stage and how she manages to make a living as an actor in the Capital Region.

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Fire eater Jennifer "Dehva Colure" Canton

Dehva large.jpg

Hot stuff

By Jessica Pasko

A divorce, a trip to San Diego and a few YouTube videos helped 33-year-old Jennifer Canton transform herself into the fire-eating, hula hooping dynamo that is Dehva Colure.

The Tribes Hill resident (near Amsterdam) is now a photographer/social worker by day and a fire eater by night.

How it happened and more photos, after the jump.

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Capital Rep pay what you will - Boston Marriage

capital_rep_logo.gifYes, we were surprised to learn that David Mamet , the guy who wrote "Glengarry Glen Ross", wrote a play about Victorian era relationships. But not nearly as surprised as we were when we learned he wrote children's books (Really? What would those be like? "The Itsy Bitsy F*&$#ing Spider??!", "Coffee is for Closers Charlie Brown!?").

Anyway, If you're a fan of Mamet's work, or you want to try something new, tonight is the night. It's Pay What You Will night for Mamet's "Boston Marriage" at Capital Rep. It works like it sounds -- you pick the price.

Tickets are on sale now, but get down to the theater as soon as you can -- pay what you will nights tend to sell out.

Art on the move

pointilized bus

A few points about all this.

The Central Ave BID and CDTA are looking for artists to create public works for the new Bus Rapid Transit system that's being constructed along Route 5. It sounds like they're open to pretty much anything:

There are many concepts that could meet the criteria and consideration for public art. Public Art could be simply a metal insignia or representational tiles or words as concepts embedded or attched to nearby sidewalks, buildings, the bus shelter or who knows. Art for this project could even be considerd a multi-media interactive projector that displays art on nearby buildings, or it could be music or sounds. It could be tactile pads, buttons, braile or something that you touch or listen to. You are the artists, and therefor in the medium you are familiar with, tell us your ideas.

Other cities have done some really interesting stuff with transit art. The MTA has an ongoing "Arts for Transit" program. And Flickr is full of examples from around the world.

The first deadline for submissions is April 17. There are a bunch of other details posted on the project's site.

Wafaa Bilal returns to Troy

wafaa_bilal.jpgRemember Waffa Bilal? He's the Iraqi- American digital artist who created the "Virtual Jihad" exhibit that was removed from RPI last year.

Bilal's art sparked protests and cries of censorship when the City of Troy temporarily shut down The Sanctuary for Independent Media for code violations after the gallery took the exhibit in.

Well, Wafaa Bilal is back in Troy tonight. The digital media artist is speaking at The Sanctuary for Independent Media to promote his new book Shoot an Iraqi: Life, Art and Resistance Under the Gun. The books examines his experience as an Iraqi living in the United States. The event starts at 7. Suggested donation is $10/ $5 for students and low income.

Trashy looks at UAlbany's Ecouture

By Jessica Pasko

trash 2.jpg This Friday night at UAlbany models will be strutting down the catwalk in clothing that's just garbage.

Really. It's trash. Actual trash.

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Graphic novelist Jessica Abel at HVCC

la perdida illustrationIf you're a fan of graphic novels and you can get out for lunch on Wednesday, you might be interested in seeing author Jessica Abel at HVCC.

Abel will be talking about La Perdida, her graphic novel about "an American estranged from her Mexican father, who heads to Mexico City to 'find herself.'"

A review on Bookslut described La Perdida as "fantastic" with panels that "exude an amazing energy."

Abel will be speaking at HVCC's Stapleton Theatre at 1 pm. It's free and open to the public.

image: Jessica Abel

Recovery: From Albany to Afghanistan and back

Recovery 1.jpg

Murals by "Recovery" artist Samson Contompasis

By Jessica Pasko

The idea for the "Recovery" art show started here in Albany and made it's way to Afghanistan and New York City. This week it's home again.

The premise of the show -- that art, like war, can greatly affect people's lives.

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Belly dancing with Habiba

By Jessica Pasko

Habiba 1.jpgAs an introverted teenager, Donna Marie Tritico spent a lot of time in libraries. Which, naturally, led to become a belly dancer named Habiba.

Wait, what?

Actually, the trip isn't as far as it seems.

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O big-name bands, where art thou?

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady is coming to Albany in March, but Howard says it will probably be their last visit to the Capital Region.

A couple of weeks ago Paul asked why more well-known bands don't make stops in the Capital Region -- and we've been thinking about it ever since.

So we phoned a friend: Howard Glassman, he's been booking bands for venues such as Valentine's, Bogie's and The Linda for the last twenty years.

His expert opinion?

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Slammin' at St. Rose

St. Rose's Frequency North series continues Thursday night with an appearance by teacher -- and slam poet -- Taylor Mali. Here's a clip of him, well, slamming:

Sample line: "Because, you see, I have this little policy about honesty and ass kicking, which is: if you ask for it, I have to let you have it."

So we're guessing this will be a little like 8 Mile mashed up with Stand and Deliver.

The reading/ass kicking starts at 7:30 in St. Joseph Hall on the CSR campus. It's free.

Amiri Baraka at The Sanctuary for Independent Media

By Jessica Pasko

Amiri Baraka.jpgOK, before you say "Who?" think back to the beat poets of the 60's. Back then poet and activist Amiri Baraka was known as LeRoi Jones and was palling around with the likes of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. He founded Totem press, published the work of the beat poets and was married to fellow beatnik, Hettie Cohen.

Later he converted to Islam and changed his name to Amiri Baraka. He went on to become a playwright, a Marxist, a professor and even a collaborator with hip hop group The Roots.

This Saturday he'll be at The Sanctuary for Independent Media with New York City-based saxophonist Rob Brown. Baraka will be reading from his new book, "Somebody Blew Up America and Other Poems." It starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10.

Earlier that evening at 6 p.m., the Sanctuary's hosting an opening reception for Brenda Ann Kenneally's new exhibit, a collection of photographs called "Upstate Girls," which examines poverty and working class America through the eyes of women and girls living in Troy.

Kreisler's Long Sleep

Amy_Biancolli.jpgAmy Biancolli has our dream job. She lives here in Albany, but she's a movie critic for the Houston Chronicle. She's also an author.

And now she's a playwright. Capital Rep is staging her first play, "Kreisler's Long Sleep," as part of its "Biggest Little International Play Festival."

The play is based on her book about world renowned violinist Fritz Kriesler. Now, admittedly, we're not exactly up on our violinists, but this guy sounds pretty interesting. Amy took a few minutes off from the glamorous life of a film critic/playwright to tell AOA a little more about him-- and about herself.

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New designs for success

By Jessica Pasko

albany tattoo watercolorToward the end of last year, someone broke into Albany Tattoo on Delaware Ave and stole all of the shop's equipment. Yep, all of it, plus a bunch of other stuff, too.

The owners are frustrated -- but not defeated.

Cindy Maxwell, Jinx and company have closed shop and are selling their digs in search of greener pastures. They'll soon be joining forces with the piercers and tattoo artists at Dead President's Lounge on upper Madison Ave. To make the transition easier, the folks of AT will be keeping their same e-mail addresses, phone numbers and Web sites.

In the meantime, though, they're selling some of Cindy's watercolors, tattoo memorabilia and other things from their shop. (That's one of the Cindy's watercolors on the right.) Photos of the items are posted on their MySpace page.


Fence Mag obama coverThe New York Writers Institute will be hosting the launch of the latest issue of Fence Magazine this Thursday. Not familiar with Fence? From the mag's site:

Founded in 1998, Fence is a biannual journal of poetry, fiction, art, and criticism that has a mission to redefine the terms of accessibility by publishing challenging writing distinguished by idiosyncrasy and intelligence rather than by allegiance with camps, schools, or cliques.

The Thursday event will feature readings from three contributors to the issue:

  • Ira Sher, who's appeared on This American Life
  • Edward Schwarzschild, UAlbany English Department Professor
  • Shelley Jackson, who's described as a "groundbreaking creator of hypertext fiction"

The reading starts at 7 pm in the Standish Room of the Science Library on the uptown campus. It's free.

EMPAC in motion

Updated with another video Monday night

Sebastien has posted a few video clips from the performances at EMPAC this past weekend. After watching them, it's maybe a little easier to get a sense of how the performances spaces are being/could be used. Here's a clip from the studio space with the 360 degree screen:

EMPAC Opening - Workspace Unlimited (Short) - Troy, NY - 08, Oct from Sébastien Barré on Vimeo.

Sebastien also has a photo set posted on Flickr.

More video clips -- including a really weird one -- embedded after the jump.

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Contagious drama in Albany

John and Maeve McEneny

Siblings John and Maeve McEneny. He's a playwright. She's a director.

It killed more people than WWI or the Black Plague, and it was rampant here in Albany.
And the mark it made affected generations in ways they probably didn't understand.

Still, who writes a play about the flu?

John McEneny, that's who.

No, not that John McEneny -- though he did work on it.

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BoardedUP! closing exhibition

three of the boarded up works

Three of the works from BoardedUP!

Here's something interesting to do this Friday -- and you could come away with some cool art, too.

The Grand Street Arts is holding a closing exhibition for its BoardedUP! project. The series of 40 panels that has adorned (or, well, boarded up) the windows of the org's space on Grand Street will be up for auction.

We first checked out these panels back in April and a bunch of interesting works have been added since.

The exhibition is this Friday, September 12, at 6pm.

Making it up with the Mop & Bucket Company


The Mop & Bucket Company

Last week when we talked with Katie Haverly, she mentioned she was doing improv with a company called Mop and Bucket here in the Capital Region.

We've heard a lot about these guys lately. They've been holding performances and
workshops at Proctor's Theater and they're teaching a class that starts tomorrow night at The Arts Center of the Capital Region.

They're adding improv to the list of stuff to do in the Capital Region.

What is improv? It's theater without a script. It's audience participation. It's making it up as you go along.

And Kat Koppett says it's not just for theatrical types. Koppett is a twenty year improv veteran. She's performed with troupes in NYC and San Diego. Today she teaches improv in classes and in business settings. She also performs with the Mop and Bucket Company (Mopco.). She says there's a lot that real people can learn from improvisation.

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Erik Laffer at the Clement Art Gallery

Red Atmosphere by Erik Laffer

Red Atmosphere by Erik Laffer

We're digging Erik Laffer's "Cartography Series," which opens at the Clement Art Gallery today in Troy.

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Yellow Blue is back... or is it?

Yellow Blue at ESP

Kelly is said to have thought the ESP needed some color.

The Ellsworth Kelly sculpture Yellow Blue is back in its place at the foot of Building 3 at the ESP. It had been on a sort of spa vacation for the last couple of months. And it's returned looking very refreshed.

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Edgar Allan Poe

By Mike Hare

The Raven is one of Edgar Allan Poe's best known works. The poem has been read
all over the world. But the first time the mysterious black bird quoth "nevermore"
was in Saratoga Springs.

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Albany Tango Society

By Jessica Pasko

Tango_practice.jpgOK, we've seen Raul Julia in "Tango Bar". We know the Tango is hot. Still, until now we've been content to watch.

But the Albany Tango Society is making it harder to be a wallflower.

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The Trasks of Yaddo


The house that Trask built.

By Mike Hare

It's one of the best kept secrets in Saratoga, but John Cheever, Leonard Bernstein and
Truman Capote knew about it. They're just a few of the thousands of artists who've
spent summers at Yaddo.

But the romantic tragedy that surrounds Yaddo began years before their visits.

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The story behind the PRVRT graffiti art

PRVRT tag on Delaware Ave

"Unnatural Selection" by Mr. PRVRT

By Jessica Pasko

We couldn't help but notice this piece of art along Delaware Avenue in Albany. It turns out the commissioned spray-and-stenciled piece is the work of A-Town graffiti artist Mr. PRVRT.

Here's some backstory...

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tags: Albany, arts

Elevator Music

By Jessica Pasko

Elevator.jpgElevator music? No, it's not Muzak this time. This elevator music is a little, well, different. Sound artist Jessica Rylan of Boston has literally turned an elevator in Saratoga into a giant, unique musical instrument.

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The Ballston Spa Film Festival?

BS fest.jpg

Cannes, Sundance, Ballston Spa

It may not be mentioned in the same breath as Sundance or Cannes, but this weekend the village of Ballston Spa is hosting a film festival. Dozens of short films from all over the United States, England and Canada will be screened throughout the village on Friday night and Saturday. And yes, there's a bunch of other fun stuff that goes along with a film festival.

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Giles Thompson

Lysol by Giles Thompson

Next time you're on Broadway in Saratoga, you might want to stop into Saratoga Coffee Traders to check out the art on display by Giles Thompson. We like these sort of pop-art-meets-Pollack pieces. Here's Thompson in his own words:

With a daily bombardment of banal images, people get used to seeing things one way- I try to produce the opposite. I create a new language by altering the banal in a raw, spontaneous manner. These paintings are all part of a group of work completed in 2003- 2004. They depict a variety of themes inspired by our normal everyday exposure to all forms of media.

Pics of a few more pieces are posted after the jump. (Saratoga Coffee Traders has a listing of the Thompson pieces on display.) If you do stop by, make sure to swing through old-school candy section in the back of the store!

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Who painted these monkeys?

fashion care mural close up<

The no parking sign makes us smile.

Check out this awesome mural on the side of the Fashion Care cleaners building on Central near the Albany/Colonie line (full width view). We checked with Fashion Care to find out who painted the mural, but the artist's name escaped them.

Does anyone know her name? We've heard she might have painted other murals around town.

The Albany Art Room


Karen Schupack giving art tips to Cole and his mom.

The Albany Art Room is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a big room (actually 3 rooms) filled with just about anything you can use to make art. There are buckets and boxes of crayons, markers, paper, paint, stencils and brushes. There are beads and strings and easels. There's glitter and paste and a big box filled with pretty purple sand. There's just all kinds of fun stuff.

And for $5 an hour little kids and little kid wannabe's (otherwise known as grown-ups) can play with all of it, and take their creations home.

Karen Schupack says she started The Albany Art Room because she wanted something like it in the world, and she thought other people might like it too. In between coaching
budding young artists and their parents, she told us why.

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Wafaa Bilal/Virtual Jihadi update

virtual jihadi stillWafaa Bilal's Virtual Jihadi, which got bumped from RPI and sparked protests in Troy, is now on display in Chicago. And while it doesn't seem like Chicagoans have necessarily embraced the idea of an assassinate-the-president game mod as art, it doesn't look like anyone there is flipping out over it, either.

Bilal talked about all the hubub he encountered in Troy with TimeOut Chicago:

When asked whether courting controversy has any benefits--the incidents in Troy brought Bilal (whom New York University has just hired as an assistant photography professor) national media attention--the artist acknowledges that he deliberately pushes the envelope in his work. Yet he adds, "I knew [Virtual Jihadi] was going to be controversial, but I didn't know it was going to be that controversial."

Previous items about Wafaa Bilal on AOA.

image from Virtual Jihadi:

Catch the Mame Faye doc this week

mame fayeSittin' on a Million, the documentary about legendary Troy madame Mame Faye will be screening at the Spectrum tonight at 7 pm. The doc's directors, Penny Lane and Annmarie Lanesey, will be there for a discussion after the showing.

And if you miss it at the Spectrum, Sittin' on a Million will air tomorrow night at 10 pm on WHMT as part of the TVFilm series.

Earlier on AOA: Mame Faye: the inside scoop on Troy's second most famous figure

Sidewalk art on River Street

sidewalk art of a nymph in a flower with a waterfall

Renata and Regina scored $300 with this panel.

A bunch of artists got together this past weekend at the Troy River Street Festival to compete in a sidewalk painting (or chalking) contest sponsored by the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The judge's winner, chalked by Renata and Regina Memole, is above. The people's choice winner and a few other pieces are after the jump.

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Sculpture in the Streets

Sculpture in the Streets on Pearl St

They're happy to share the sidewalk with you.

If you're wandering through downtown Albany (say, on your way to Cone of Our Own) there are 16 new steel sculptures to check out. The Downtown Albany BID just switched out the abstract metal sculpture from last year's "Sculpture in the Streets" installation.

The art is scattered throughout the neighborhood. We found a few of the new pieces outside Capital Rep, in Ten Eyck Plaza and near the footbridge to The Corning Preserve. Fourteen regional artists are featured in the temporary installation, including Steven Rolf Kroeger (the guy who created Albany's 15-foot floating, burning, steel tulip). The downtown BID is holding an official kickoff party and fundraiser tomorrow night, but the art will be up until next April.

Pics of a few more of the sculptures after the jump.

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TvFilm short film screening

TvFILM logoSo you couldn't make it to Cannes or Sundance this year (scheduling conflicts, of course), but you have a hankering for fresh new independent film. Then you might want to check out TvFilm. WMHT's newest program will showcase films produced by filmmakers here in the Capital District.

The series kicks off on Thursday June 12, but if you're the looking for that Riviera on the Hudson experience (what's Monaco got on Defreestville? -- don't answer that), there's a preview screening this Saturday at 1 pm at the WMHT Studios in the Rensselaer Tech Park. The filmmakers will be there if you'd like to do the meet and greet thing. (The screening is free, but you have to reserve a spot.)

As for what you'll see, it looks pretty eclectic. The 15 films include: a documentary about an infamous Troy madam, a thriller about karma and the human psyche in the age of technology, an artistic exploration of the human form, and a look at growing up from a parent's point of view.

The TV Film blog has all the details. A few trailers are embedded after the jump.

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Crisan: at last, art you can eat

Crisan owners Claudia and Iggy Calabria

Claudia and Iggy.

It's a bakery! No, it's an art gallery! Hey kids -- it's a bakery AND an art gallery. And the art is edible. Crisan, the long gestating bakery/art gallery on Lark Street finally opened its doors this morning.

Artist Ana Claudia Crisan Calabria and her husband, jazz musician Iggy Calabria, are offering gelato, beautiful pastries and edible jewelery. Wait... what?

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Pay What You Will night at Cap Rep

Cap_Rep_Logo.gifTomorrow is "Pay What You Will" night for Capital Rep's production of the Pulitzer prizewinning drama Doubt. Pay what you will works just like it sounds. You pick your own ticket price. Make a little time to stand in line, though. It's understandably a pretty popular event. Tickets go on sale at 5PM Thursday at noon and it's first come first serve. Curtain is at 7:30.

Spectres of Liberty: what it looked like


Spooky--but cool.

What does a giant inflatable ghost church look like? Thanks to our buddy Renée at Almost Foodies, we know. She made it to Friday night's Spectres of Liberty event at Troy Night Out. Looks like it was pretty cool. More pictures after the jump.

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Spectres of Liberty

By Jessica Pasko

ghost_church_poster.jpgIf you're heading to Troy Night Out, check out the inflatable ghost church. Yes, we said inflatable-ghost-church. The site specific exhibit called Spectres of Liberty recreates a church that burned down in 1941 with the use of inflatable sculpture and video.

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Plugged In Hudson

Plugged In HudsonIt sounds like Hudson has something pretty cool cooking over the next two weeks. Here's how Plugged In Hudson describes itself:

PLUGGED IN will be exhibited in and along the mile-long Warren Street, the main business district, in Hudson, New York. From May 17 through May 31, artists will utilize everything from storefront windows to the sides of buildings, to the street itself to exhibit their site specific work. Over the course of the past year we have been working with each artist to find a space which will be both engaging and challenging for their work.

The kick-off party is tomorrow night. Video mashup artists Electic Method will be setting the scene from 6-10 pm in the Parc Foundation building at 330 Warren St. Also in the mix: artist Mike Long will be painting a 10 foot mural all night. And there will be music courtest of Lukomski/Majer/Lail and DJs ESE and Mikey Palms.

The overarching Plugged In exhibition runs from May 17 to May 31.

Paul Katz at Feast Gallery

paul katz exhibit cardIf you have few minutes in Saratoga during the next month, you might want to stop by Feast Gallery on Beekman (it's at the head of the arts district that's sprouting on the west side.) It's currently exhibing works by Paul Katz. The collection includes small paintings on pages from the New York Times, as well as some mesmerizing iterative works.

It's definitely worth checking out -- and you can stop by downstairs for a drink afterwards at newish pub and tea place The Local.

Edwood film camp

By Jessica Pasko

edwood logoIf what you really want to do is direct , here's your big chance.

Inspired by the iconic campy film director Ed Wood, the folks from the Edwood Film Fest are back at work on their 11th local independent film festival. This year organizer Peter Barnett has added a new twist for wannabe filmmakers.

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Boarded Up: art on Grand Street


A sampling of the art on Grand Street.

By Jessica Pasko

If you've driven by Albany's mansion neighborhood lately, you may have noticed that the former St. Anthony's Church is looking a little more colorful. Grand Street Community Arts has undertaken a neighborhood beautification project by using the exterior walls of the former church they're renovating on Madison Ave and Grand Street to display pieces by local artists.

Boarded Up! began in March and will continue through May. Each month, local artists will produce works on 3x5 pieces of plywood that are then displayed in each of the nine boarded up basement windows of the church's Madison Ave side. Mediums include paint and collage, and any other technique that can be applied to the plywood board.
GCSA plans to hold a closing event this summer in which all of the displayed pieces will be auctioned off to raise money for their future programs and to continue renovating St. Anthony's.

There's more info -- including details about how to submit a piece -- at the GCSA site.

Sittin' on a Million: Mame Faye premiere announced


Sure, Uncle Sam is better known than Mame Faye, but she has her own movie.

Roll out the red carpet. The much anticipated documentary about Troy, New York's second most famous citizen is about to make it's big local premiere. "Sittin' on a Million" is a look at infamous Troy madam Mame Faye, known throughout the world for her... umm... hospitality. Filmmakers Penny Lane and Annmarie Lanesey are hosting two screenings on June 14th at Troy's recently re-opened Sanctuary for Independent Media, complete with the big band music of The Georgie Wonders Orchestra.

A rough cut of the film shown last year on Mame's birthday played to a standing room only crowd, so reservations are recommended.

Admission is $10. There's a $5 discount for folks who can't afford full price. You can make reservations via e-mail at Be sure to let them know which show you want to attend. Screenings are at 7 pm and 8:45 pm.

Earlier on AOA: The inside scoop on Troy's second most famous figure

Slam poetry at Frequency North

fqn_poster_4Frequency North, the visiting writers series at The College of Saint Rose wraps up tonight with slam poets Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz and Shappy Seasholtz.

Nerdy is not so much a word you'd associate with slam poetry, but Aptowicz and Seasholtz promise to appeal to your geeky side, or at least the side that appreciates a good geek. Aptowicz is a humorist and the author of, "Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam". Her latest is a book of poems called, "Oh Terrible Youth."

Seasholtz is a playwright and actor who has a bit part in the upcoming Seth Rogan movie "Fanboys." Who does Rogan play? A character based on Shappy. You can see the real Shappy tonight at 7:30 at the Neil Hellman Library at CSR.

The Big Read

age of innocence coverThe Upper Hudson Library System has a bunch of things going on this month as part of a national program called The Big Read, which aims to get people grooved on the "pleasure and enlightenment" of reading.

The book at the center of this year's local program is Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. If you'd like to read along with everyone else, you can, of course, pick up a copy from any library in Albany and Rensselaer counties. There are also some interesting events (pdf) to go along with the book:

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Melissa St. Pierre

Melissa St. Pierre

What comes after post-classicism?

We stumbled across this North Adams musician a few weeks ago and her music is kind of awesome. It's funky and mechanical in a way that reminds us of a hive of robotic bees. She's releasing an album, "Specimens," in June. Here's how her MySpace page describes her music:

MELISSA ST. PIERRE tosses classicism and post-classicism overboard, utilizing the prepared piano -- John Cage's notorious instrument of choice -- and electronic enhancement to sail resolutely in the direction of rock & roll. Peppering the strings, hammers, and dampers of the piano with a variety of objects, she transforms the instrument's typical timbre: sparkling gamelans chatter; harrowing voodoo drums call out in the night.

Check out this picture of St. Pierre playing the prepared piano. And there's a video for her song "Fig. VIII" embedded after the jump. It's a little mesmerizing.

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Local premiere tonight for doc about the lives of transgender people

By Jessica Pasko

reclaiming pieces stillHere's something to look for at this evening's Troy Night Out. Ethan Bach, an MFA student in electronic arts at RPI, will be premiering his documentary short on the lives of transgender people at the 51 3rd Street Gallery.

Ethan says he wanted "Reclaiming the Pieces" to go beyond politics and anatomy to show transgender people who have found their sense of place in life. The 17-minute film interviews four people from across the country. Ethan plans to turn the film into a full-length documentary.

He told AOA that he "wanted to show that we're more than just bodies and chemicals, that we also have things to give back to the community."

"Reclaiming the Pieces" will have its Capital Region debut for one night only. Screenings are scheduled for 5:30, 7, 7:30 and 8:30. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. An accompanying art show will feature works by Ethan and artist Aryn Zev.

Still: Ethan Bach

The scene from the Troy free speech protest

It's a quick clip that captures the scene from the protest in front of Troy City Hall over the code enforcement action taken against The Sanctuary for Independent Media after it showed Wafaa Bilal's "Virtual Jihadi." Uploaded by YouTube user brettuthius.

Harry Tutunjian, the mayor of Troy, has said the code enforcement didn't have anything to do with the Bilal exhibition.

Also, if you'd like to hear Wafaa Bilal talk at length about his experiences dealing with RPI (where the exhibit was originally to be shown), filmmaker Jim Finn has posted an interview on YouTube. Here's RPI's statement about suspending Bilal's work.

Wafaa Bilal update

wafaa bilal protest in Troyupdated March 14 -- see below

A few websites have popped up to support Wafaa Bilal and the exhibition of his work "Virtual Jihadi." has posted pictures and other media from the one-night exhibition at the Sanctuary for Independent Media.

And Free Troy Letters is, well, we'll let them explain:

Sparked by the blatant censorship of Wafaa Bilal's artwork in March 2008, Free Troy Letters illuminates attempts to limit democratic governance and discussion at RPI and in the city of Troy by mapping responses to authoritarian practices.

There are already a number of letters posted there.

And if you'd like to hear (or, rather, read) Bilal at length, here's an interview with him.

By the way, we couldn't find the off-campus RPI College Republicans site where someone reportedly called the institute's art department a "terrorist safehaven." If anyone has the link, please send it along or post it in the comments.

Here's the off-campus RPI College Republicans site that's been playing a role in all this. The site doesn't seem to include the "terrorist safe haven" remark.

(Thanks for the link, skfl!)


Frequency North

Frequency North posterThere are a couple author appearances this evening at St. Rose that look interesting. The Frequency North series is bringing Darcey Steinke and Gregory Pardlo to the campus for an open-to-the-public reading.

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Wafaa Bilal's "Virtual Jihadi" finds a home

wafaa_bilal_virtual_jihadi_characterLast week RPI closed the exhibit of artist-in-residence Wafaa Bilal's "Virtual Jihadi," a video game mod that casts Bilal as a suicide bomber out to kill President Bush. Now the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy has taken in the work and will exhibit the installation a various times throughout the next month.

The first chance to see "Virtual Jihadi" there will be tonight. Bilal will be there for a reception at 6 pm, followed by a showing at 7. Admission is a suggested $10 donation.

There also seems to be a protest against Bilal's work planned for tonight outside the gallery.

Earlier on AOA:
+ More about that artist at RPI who had his exhibition suspended

image: Wafaa Bilal

More about that artist at RPI who had his exhibition suspended

wafaa bilalAfter seeing the article this morning about RPI suspending the exhibition of "Virtual Jihadi," we were curious about Wafaa Bilal - - the artist behind the work. And it turns out he has quite a story.

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The WEXT Top 15

Exit 97.7 WEXT logo

From our friends at Exit 97.7 WEXT, the 15 most-played songs on the station during the last week:

  1. If I Had Eyes - Jack Johnson
  2. Whose Authority - Nada Surf
  3. Love is Free - Sheryl Crow
  4. New York - Cat Power
  5. Invisible Man - Joe Jackson
  6. Broken - Tift Merritt
  7. Jigsaw Falling Into Place - Radiohead
  8. No One's Gonna Love You - Band Of Horses
  9. Breakable - Ingrid Michaelson
  10. The Righteous Path - Drive-By Truckers
  11. 2080 - Yeasayer
  12. Papercut Hearts - Jason Collett
  13. Supernatural Superserious - R.E.M.
  14. Southside of Heaven - Ryan Bingham
  15. Funplex - B-52s

Last week's Top 15.

Two interesting exhibits at UAlbany Art Museum

Double Fantasy III (dream jobs) by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

"Double Fantasy III (dream jobs)" by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

UAlbany has an art museum? It does. And right now it's featuring two small, but interesting exhibits that examine scale, politics and our modern consumer culture. Or, at least, that's what we got out of them.

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Pay what you will at Capital Rep

capital rep logoIf you're looking for some midweek cheap fun and a place to come in out of the cold, tonight is "pay what you will" night at Capital Rep. You can catch the first preview performance of Taming of the Shrew for a donation. How much is up to you but remember, sneaking in for free is just not cricket. Curtain is at 7:30, but the tickets are available at 5:30.

The WEXT Top 15

Exit 97.7

From our friends at Exit 97.7 WEXT, the 15 most-played songs on the station during the last week:

  1. BrokenTift - Tift Merritt
  2. Jigsaw Falling Into Place - Radiohead
  3. Invisible Man - Joe Jackson
  4. If I Had Eyes - Jack Johnson
  5. Southside of Heaven - Ryan Bingham
  6. Whose Authority - Nada Surf
  7. New York - Cat Power
  8. Love is Free - Sheryl Crow
  9. No One's Gonna Love You - Band Of Horses
  10. Giants - Ben Karis-Nix, Pompadour - The Kamikaze Hearts, Old Black Dodge - Sean Rowe (tie)
  11. Days Aren't Long Enough - Steve Earle w/Allison Moorer
  12. Breakable - Ingrid Michaelson
  13. Society - Eddie Vedder
  14. Free Life - Dan Wilson
  15. 2080 - Yeasayer

Grammy Nominees and you

There could be just a few little degrees of separation between you and a Grammy nominee. Niskayuna resident Jason Bittner competed for his second Grammy in three years last night. Bittner is the drummer for the metal band Shadow's Fall. Their song, "Redemption" was nominated for a Grammy for best metal performance. No, they lost to Slayer. But it's an honor just to be nominated, right? And twice in three years. Bittner says they still get a really cool medal from the Grammy people . And we get to say we get to say we're only a few degrees of separation from a Grammy nominee. Now how many degrees can it be from there to Kevin Bacon?

Free Day at MASS MoCA

a Spencer Finch installation at MASS MoCA

An installation by Spencer Finch at MASS MoCA

There's a bunch of free stuff going on at MASS MoCA tomorrow (February 9) from 11am to 8pm. Admission to the galleries? Free. Guided tours of the galleries? Free. Behind-the-scenes tours? Free. Kidspace? Free. Samples of freshly made ice cream (including "Cookie Dough Peanut Butter Swirl")? Free.

There's also a "Bollywood Dance Party" in the evening, with dance lessons arranged by Jacob's Pillow. That, alas, is not free (it's $14 in advance, $18 day of).

photo by Flickr user megananne, used under a Creative Commons Attribution / Share Alike license

A little more about Albany's floating, burning tulip. Because we just had to know.

WaterFire Providence

A scene from WaterFire Providence in 2006

Like Nicki, we too were intrigued by the thought of a floating, burning tulip. It turns out that floating, burning art is sort of a thing right now.

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Your movies on TV

wmht tvfilmSo what you really want to do is direct? Well now there's a new way to get your films seen by local audiences. WMHT is tapping into the growing indie film scene in and around Albany with a series called Tv FILM. The deadline for entry is March 31. Filmmakers must reside in the WMHT viewing area. Sorry Mr. Scorsese.

Indies at the Madison

indies_at_madison_poster.jpgThe Madison Theater is showing a collection of locally-produced indie shorts this week for just $6 (or as the poster says "Six films for $6"). The showcase runs Monday through Thursday, with showings at 7:15p and 9:35p. The Madison's site has more info.

Mame Faye: the inside scoop on Troy's second most famous figure


Mame Faye reportedly told young women of Troy, "Why work in a shop? Don't you know you're sittin' on a million."

Troy's most famous figure may be Uncle Sam, but its second most famous, Mame Faye, ran a string of brothels across from Union Station. Filmmakers Penny Lane and Annmarie Lannesy (that's them below) just completed a documentary on Mame Faye called, "Sittin' on a Million". They gave us the scoop on how this business woman became a wold famous madam to the greatest generation.

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Frozen River

frozen_river_still.jpgHere's a little more about "Frozen River," the film written and directed by Chatham's Courtney Hunt (and shot in Plattsburgh) that won the Grand Jury Prize this past weekend at Sundance. From the festival's site:

Two days before Christmas in rural upstate New York, Ray Eddy's husband has left her in an impossible situation--not only is he gone, but he has gambled away all of the family's meager savings. Ray's single wage at the Yankee One Dollar Store can't make the house payment, and the situation forces Ray to feed her two sons popcorn and Tang every day. When Ray strikes out to search for her husband, she encounters Lila Littlewolf, a tough, street-smart Mohawk woman who is dealing with her own struggle to make ends meet. But Lila has found a way to do it--smuggling illegal immigrants into the States. The tribal elders disapprove and attempt to stop Lila by forbidding anyone to sell her a car. Ray has a car, and although the two women don't trust each other, they team up and share Ray's Dodge Spirit to make a run across the frozen St. Lawrence River.

And here's a clip from a generally positive review in Variety:

A working mom's efforts to raise cash to buy an upgraded trailer home lead her into a strange netherworld of human smuggling in Courtney Hunt's solid debut, "Frozen River." No trendsetter or breakthrough, this is more than anything else a welcome chance for the fine actor Melissa Leo to finally dominate a film in a terrific and affecting lead role. Sony Pictures Classics acquired the pic at Sundance for under $1 million, spelling limited arthouse biz.

Pic reps a throwback to an earlier brand of Sundance indie film that combined personal touches, geographical specificity, feminist references and Native American social realism, though none of these factors are so foregrounded that polemics or even politics matter nearly as much as storytelling.

Film Threat also gives it a warm review. The IFC blog wasn't so into it, though.

The official site for "Frozen River" has a handful of pics from the production. (That's Melissa Leo up top.)

Bonus tidbit: There was a 1929 film that was also named "Frozen River" -- it starred Rin Tin Tin in his talkie debut.

Stolen state artifacts on EBay, local film wins at Sundance, Thruway Authority scolded, the oldest house in Saratoga

An employee from the state department of education has been arrested on the accusation that she stole hundreds of artifacts from then New York State Cultural Education Center -- and then sold them on EBay. [CBS6]

"Frozen River," a film written and directed by Chatham's Courtney Hunt -- and shot in Plattsburgh, took the top prize at Sundance. It's already been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. [TU]

The state comptroller says the NYS Thruway Authority shouldn't be raising tolls and that it "could manage its finances a whole lot better." [Business Review]

The McCain campaign has opened an office in Waterford. [Fox23]

The oldest house in Saratoga Springs is up for sale. The current owners say they'd like to find someone who will preserve the house. [Saratogian]

Siena came back from 14 to beat Iona 64-51 on the road. The men's hoops team is now 13-7, 8-2 in the MAAC. [Daily Gazette]

The Scoop

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