Tales from Agnes available on CD

July 19, 2012 by

Tales from Agnes available on CD

Tales from Agnes, the podcast series from The ARTS Council featuring local stories of the 1972 Flood in the Chemung Valley of New York has been produced as a CD with liner notes. It’s available at The ARTS Council 32 West Market Street, Corning, New York for $12 tax included.

Tales from Agnes podcasts

June 25, 2012 by

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes, The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes has published a five part podcast series called Tales from Agnes. The podcasts can be heard at www.eARTS.org/Agnes.

The podcasts are straight-up story telling in the voice of the people of the Chemung Valley in the Southern Tier of New York who lived through the Flood. There are no sound effects or music – none of the bells and whistles we’ve become so accustomed to when we are “entertained.” The real rhythm and language of the people of the region are captured. The ARTS Council collected the stories for Tales from Agnes using a digital voice mail service. These stories have been shaped into brief, thematic episodes. Each podcast is between 9 and 16 minutes long.

Four podcasts of the five podcasts have been published so far, including:

1) Premonitions and Propaganda (11:19) examines the days leading up to the flood and the information (or lack thereof) received by local residents from government officials;

2) Danger and Devastation (12:48) describes the bizarre experiences and sense of isolation related by witnesses of the flooding;

3) Strandedness and Salvation (15:45) tells of people taking risks to help each other in the midst of the flooding. It describes community members trying to rescue stranded possessions and people; some were saved and some were not.

4) Anecdotes from Agnes (9:04) recounts some of the humorous and ironic tales that came from the Flood.

The fifth podcast, Ruin and Renewal, will be released on The ARTS Council’s website Monday, July 2, 2012. It tells some of the tales of the clean-up after the Flood.

Anyone who wishes to contribute a story can call the toll free voice mail service at 1-866-598-7273. There are no prompts, simply leave your story. There is no limit, so feel free to tell your whole story. Every story is important. The ARTS Council will archive all of the stories with the Southeast Steuben County Library and the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society in Corning, and the Steele Memorial Library and the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira.

Arts in Bloom: A Steuben County Arts Trail – Planning Meeting #1

April 18, 2012 by

We had great turnout for last night’s planning meeting.  Many thanks to everyone who attended!

Debbie and Marc started off the meeting describing the arts trail event.  Dates have been chosen – April 26 – 28, 2013.  The event will start on Friday evening, at several hubs throughout the county.  Performing artists and writers will be able to present their work, and visual artists participating in the trail will be able to exhibit a couple of pieces in the hub locations.  This will give visitors a good taste of what’s to come over the weekend, and will provide an opportunity for non-visual arts to be represented.

A question was asked if existing galleries could be included, and the answer was yes – they will definitely be asked to participate. Marc said that this is an event not only for locals, but for tourists as well, to encourage overnight visitors to the county.

Marketing will include a traditional brochure, Facebook page, etc. A web page would probably be a good idea as well, and will be coordinated with The ARTS Council, chambers and the CVB. A question was asked about communication between participants; a Facebook group was suggested.

Marc talked briefly about funding. The Trail will solicit corporate support, sell ad space in the brochure, and apply for grant and public funding.  This type of funding will keep artist participant fees low. Debbie and Marc have talked with leaders of the Allegany Artisans Studio Tour and the Greater Ithaca Art Trail; both organizations have been very forthcoming with information, so that we do not have to reinvent the wheel.

Debbie asked the group if anyone saw anything they’d be interested in taking on; a meeting attendee said that he’d be interested in developing signage. Marc then briefly discussed a possible logo. It was mentioned that letters to town governments will be necessary to ask about temporary sign restrictions.

Public venues so far: 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning; Waterman Center for the Arts in Bath; Watson Homestead (tentative); and Hornell YMCA. It was suggested that green ways of traveling to public venues should be explored, and carpooling to other venues. A question was asked about how the public venue events will be structured. It is hoped that these venues will have exhibits of participant visual art, as well as scheduled performances of music, dance, theatre, literary reading, etc.  How artists are assigned to each venue will be decided in the future.

A person who works on one of the existing art trails told Marc that there’s a perception that art trails are about selling artwork, but that this isn’t true – it’s more about exposure. Marc said that he thinks it’s probably a combination of both; there will definitely be business transacted on this trail.

A meeting attendee offered to coordinate volunteer recruitment.  I said that The ARTS Council would assist with identifying funding resources, artist recruitment, and marketing.

Marc said that he and Debbie have talked with an attorney who is willing to respond to questions about the eventual legal structure of the trail.

A question was asked about artist insurance for the trail weekend, and whether insurance companies will offer riders for the weekend, to cover liability. It was said that other arts trails have very good participation, so this issue must be able to be dealt with.

A meeting attendee volunteered to assist with development of an artist agreement and to work with participant artists. Artist fee structures for other arts trails were discussed. Some part of the participation fee will be due when an artist signs their agreement, and some of it will probably be non-refundable.

Marc said that they will start developing a budget in the next few weeks.

It will be very important to market the fact that the trail will be free to visitors. During the trail weekend, as much visitor information as possible will be collected, to assist with marketing in future years.

A meeting of the public venues will occur soon.  Once planning gets fully underway, committees will meet separately.

Debbie reminded everyone of her email address: debmychef1@gmail.com and she invited attendees to contact her with ideas and suggestions.  If you weren’t able to attend last night’s meeting and want to volunteer, please email Debbie today!

Steuben County Arts Trail Informational Meeting #4, Hornell

March 28, 2012 by

Tonight’s meeting was held at the beautiful new Hornell YMCA!  There were ten – count ‘em – ten! – attendees tonight!

As in past meetings, Debbie and Marc introduced themselves and their vision for the arts trail. The trail will be multi-disciplinary. It will start small and build, and be an annual event.

Debbie said that the community meetings have already started to shape the event, including the possibility of a Friday night event in public venues as a “teaser” for the weekend trail. The Friday night event would include performances, as well as exhibits.

Marc said that the trail should be fun for everyone – volunteers, artist participants, and the public. They’re very open to ideas and suggestions, and understand that the trail will grow and change over time.

Organizers from other art trails (Allegany Artisans, Naples Open Studio Trail, Greater Ithaca Art Trail) are being very helpful by providing tips and suggestions.

The group introduced themselves. Visual artists (including one who is a member of Allegany Artisans), musicians, and performers – fantastic! There were two representatives present from the Hornell Area Arts Council, and a reporter from the Hornell Evening Tribune!

Rebecca Weaver Hamm of the Hornell YMCA described the arts and cultural services being offered in the new facility (it’s gorgeous – click here to see photos).

Debbie expressed her excitement about all of the arts activities happening in Hornell.

Marc began a discussion about trail expenses. He stressed that the more artists and organizations that participate, the lower the cost to participants. Debbie said that the goal of the trail is to get artists’ work out into the world, give artists more exposure, and encourage tourism in Steuben County.  The tour is also a great opportunity for the community and small businesses to promote what’s happening.

Spring is a good time to do this, said one attendee, because it will give visitors a good taste of what happens here in the summer. It won’t compete with summer or fall events.  Debbie mentioned that they are developing a way for artists who may not be able to participate during the trail weekend to still be able to exhibit their work.

The trail will utilize social media and traditional marketing, and participating artists will be asked to communicate with their customers about the trail.

Many people in the group said they like the working name of the trail: Arts in Bloom: A Steuben County Arts Trail. Debbie talked about a logo idea she’s developing, and stressed that the planning committee will work together to finalize the brand.

Marc was asked if there’s anything they’ve learned through the previous community meetings, and he said that the Friday night event came out of the meeting in Bath.  Debbie talked about building a package at her B&B, around the arts trail.

Last night (in Wayland) someone mentioned the weather in spring – it’s 70 degrees today, in March, but there could be snow in April – we can’t control it, but it’s hoped that a late April/early May weekend should be relatively safe.

Marc said that the Allegany Artisans trail was the inspiration for their idea, but adding public venues will allow them to build other arts into the trail.

There was a discussion about regional tourism organizations, all of which are strongly supporting the concept.

We talked briefly about communication – The ARTS Council will maintain the database for the project, and I will send the second survey to attendees either tonight or tomorrow.

Rebecca mentioned the April 28 Hornell Art Walk, which is organized by Alfred University. I’ll make contact with the organizer and make sure the information is included in our website calendar.

A question was asked about the date for the arts trail – right now they’re looking at the last weekend in April; this will be one of the first orders of business for the planning committee.

Debbie asked people to contact her at debmychef1@gmail.com.

Another fantastic meeting! Yay! Lots more to come, so stay tuned!

Steuben County Arts Trail Informational Meeting #3, Wayland

March 28, 2012 by

Last night’s meeting was at the Wayland Free Library, aka The Gunlocke Library. A lovely space on a lovely night!

In addition to Debbie, Marc and me, there were four attendees at this meeting – three artists and a tourism professional.  Marc and Debbie started things off describing their vision for the trail, including that it will be multi-disciplinary. How that will take shape is still unknown, but the idea is to match artists of different disciplines with each other and with public venues.

A Friday night event might kick off the weekend, which will occur in the spring. Hopefully, the tour will become an annual event which will bring tourists to the community and invite locals to explore the county.

It was stated that there are world-class artists living in Steuben County, and there are many other artists and arts groups who will be interested in participating.

A question was asked about whether artist studios might be open on Friday night, in addition to public venues. Marc stated that this would probably be optional. Morgen McLaughlin, from Finger Lakes Wine Country, suggested that we contact the Keuka Lake Wine Trail for information on their events and possible partnerships.

The Greater Ithaca Art Trail is now offering First Saturdays, to encourage studio visits in addition to the annual Trail weekends. Participation is voluntary for art trail artists, but many are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Debbie spoke about funding for the trail, including corporate and business sponsorship, and grants. Planning will be volunteer only. Artists will be asked to market the trail to their existing contacts.

Major costs for marketing will be brochure printing and distribution, signage and other wayfinding, and a website. There will also be a Facebook page. It was suggested that we look at the other regional art trail websites (Allegany Artisans, Naples Open Studio Trail, Greater Ithaca Art Trail) for ideas.

It was asked whether it would be a good idea to hold the trail on more than one weekend, but for now Debbie and Marc want to start small, with one weekend, and build from there.

Diane Rivers from Cross My Heart announced the “Where’s Wallace” event on April 21, which will include seven businesses in or near the village of Wallace.

When asked about B&B bookings in April and May, Debbie said that it’s very hard to predict bookings.  She hopes B&Bs and hotels will create packages around the arts trail, to encourage visitors.

Where does it go from here? There is one more meeting informational meeting, in Hornell (tonight, 5:30pm at the YMCA!), and then an invitation for an initial planning meeting will be issued.

It was suggested that the brochure and marketing materials state that artist studios are open all year by appointment. It will be important for visitors to be able to access the art year-round.

Will there be a way for artists who can’t participate on the tour weekend to be included in the trail brochure/website? Perhaps as affiliate artists? Marc said that they’re looking to include as many artists as possible and will be working on this.

An attendee said that she is concerned that she might not be able to afford the fee to participate in the trail. Marc related a story about cooperative advertising in Hammondsport, stating that the more artists who participate in the trail, the lower the costs will be. They are looking at corporate, business and public funds to assist in the effort, to keep costs down for participating artists.

Morgen McLaughlin said that she will research what it takes for a trail to be designated by the state, which would allow DOT-approved signage.

When asked what kind of help they’ll need, Debbie responded “everything!” The next step will be a planning meeting to discuss needs and volunteer strengths.

Marc asked meeting attendees about the possible name for the trail, “Arts in Bloom: A Steuben County Arts Trail”. The group liked the name. Marc said that a logo will be created, and signage could be color coded by discipline, etc.  It will be very important to build the brand.

It was asked if the trail will eventually be incorporated as a non-profit. Debbie said not this year, but most likely in the future.

Debbie stressed that volunteers won’t be left on their own, that she and Marc will be the go-to people to assist and provide support.  They invited everyone to contact them if they have questions and/or comments: debmychef1@gmail.com.

On to Hornell!

The Teacher Who Inspired You

March 24, 2012 by

I grew up in a music and art-loving household, and was probably born inclined to art and music, but it was my elementary school music teacher who strengthened my love of the arts and started me on the artistic path I travel today.  Mrs. Coffey was a passionate and dedicated music teacher.  She recognized my love of music and encouraged me to pursue my main instrument, my voice, in addition to piano and clarinet.  With her guidance, while still in elementary school, I performed in high school musicals and community theatre, sang solos in chorus, and was accepted into regional choral groups.

Mrs. Coffey’s influence helped this high-strung perfectionist excel not only in music, but also academically.  Studying music calmed me, strengthened my self-esteem and provided a strong foundation for the rest of my life.  Today, as a visual artist who still sings and plays a 12-string guitar, I am grateful for Mrs. Coffey’s dedication and direction.  Without her, I wouldn’t be the passionate artist and arts advocate I am today.

Who was the art, music, dance, theatre, or literature teacher who inspired you?  Please share your story!

National Youth Art Month and the Importance of Arts Education

March 24, 2012 by

Every March, The ARTS Council installs hundreds of pieces of student artwork in businesses throughout Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties to celebrate National Youth Art Month (NYAM).  This year, thanks to a grant from the Doris Bovee Foundation, the celebration is bigger than ever before, with more students, teachers and businesses participating.  And it couldn’t be more timely.  Because as we celebrate the artist in every child and the importance of arts education, school districts throughout our region are planning to fire art and music teachers.

Many elementary schools in our region will lose their art and music teachers at the end of this year due to mounting budget deficits, say local school boards.  They can eliminate these positions because New York State, while mandating art and music education at the elementary level, does not mandate that the subjects be taught by art or music teachers.  According to New York State, classroom teachers can teach these subjects. What does this mean? Art and music classes will disappear, and gone will be the art club, chorus, band, orchestra, and instrumental and voice lessons.  I am appalled by this shortsighted response to a budget problem when research clearly shows that participation in the arts contributes greatly to student success.

Students who participate in the arts for at least three hours a day, three times a week for at least one year are:

  • 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
  • 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.
  • 4 times more likely to participate in a math or science fair.
  • 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools.

Though often perceived as an “extra,” and thus expendable when budgets are tight, arts education is a fundamental part of any school curriculum. Arts education:

  • Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
  • Positively impacts the developmental growth of every child and helps level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.
  • Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
  • Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
  • Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.

According to a public opinion survey conducted by Americans for the Arts, 91% of respondents believe that the arts are vital to a well-rounded education and 96% agree that the arts belong to everyone, not just the fortunate or privileged.

If local school districts cut elementary art and music programs, only the fortunate and privileged will be able to access the arts.  They’ll purchase classes and lessons outside of school.  But what about students whose families can’t afford this luxury? Don’t these students deserve a creative education, which has proven time and time again to contribute to academic success?

I urge everyone reading this post to become an advocate for arts education. Here are some steps we should take right now:

  • Talk with school leadership and attend school board meetings, to ask questions and voice your support for arts education.
  • Parents, talk with other parents about the difference the arts make in your children’s lives.  Students, talk with your friends. And then, contact your elected officials – state and federal lawmakers and school board members – and ask them for more arts education funding from local, state and federal levels.
  • Get involved with local arts organizations, to encourage partnerships between schools, community organizations and local artists.

It’s more important than ever for all of us to be vocal about the need for and benefits of arts education.  In these uncertain times, we need to speak up, ask the hard questions, and demand results.  Let’s get out there and support arts education.  Our children are depending on us.

Steuben County Arts Trail Informational Meeting #2, Bath

March 22, 2012 by

Tonight’s meeting, March 21, was at the Dormann Library in Bath.  Thirteen of us crowded around the table for a great conversation!

Marc and Debbie began the meeting by introducing themselves and their vision for the Steuben County Arts Trail: county-wide, multidisciplinary, held in the spring (unlike other trails in the region). The intent is to be inclusive – it will not be a juried event, with very few restrictions. They want to include artists of all disciplines from throughout Steuben County.

Funding for the Trail will be sought through grants (The ARTS Council’s Decentralization program and others), Steuben County Tourism Assistance funds, corporate sponsorships, and artist fees.  The intent is to keep artist participation fees as low as possible. Main costs will be printing and distributing brochures, printing signs, and other paid marketing.

Debbie and Marc said that they’re looking for people to join the planning committee who may have done this kind of work before, and who can make a commitment to stay the course, to make the trail happen.  They’re looking for guidance at these introductory meetings, on how to make the trail successful.

Seagrove, NC and its Potters Association were mentioned as a good model. The town is home to many ceramic artists, and has a museum which serves as the starting point for studio visits.  I stated that this could be problematic because Steuben County is so large.  Debbie stated that public venues in some of the county’s population centers could serve as starting points in those areas.  The trail’s Facebook page (hopefully will be live by the end of April) and website will also direct people, as well as a printed brochure. Technology will be key to the success of the trail – Facebook, Twitter, smart phone apps, QR codes, will encourage people to visit studios and purchase art, which is, after all, the point!

There was quite a bit of discussion about the decision to make the trail county-wide, whether that’s too big an undertaking, and whether it will be difficult for visitors.  Debbie and Marc stressed that promotional materials will encourage people to visit an area they may not be familiar with.  A concern was voiced that the county may be too large to handle for a group of volunteers; Debbie stated that this is why they’re holding community meetings, to recruit a solid group of volunteers.

The group did a round of introductions.  Several visual artists, musicians, and a writer! Wow!  Everyone agreed that a trail is a good opportunity to build the community of artists and encourage collaboration.

Marc said a few words about the cost to artists to participate in the trail. He spoke about 22 businesses coming together to purchase advertising celebrating Hammondsport’s “America’s Coolest Small Town” award. Not a single business was mentioned in the ad, but the collaboration kept the cost down for each individual business.  He’s looking at the trail in a similar way – the more artists who participate, the lower the individual cost.

When asked about timing, Marc said they’re looking at April or early May, but will need to consult many community and organizational calendars.  It was mentioned that it’s okay to schedule along with another event, like the Dairy Festival (which occurs in June), etc.

It was suggested that the trail event begin on Friday night, with musical/performance activities, to get people here early and ready for the weekend.

Marc asked for some general feedback, and a meeting attendee said, “it’s awesome!”

Marc asked about the working title for the trail, Arts in Bloom.  People seemed pleased with it.

A question was asked about frequency of the trail; will it occur more than once a year?  Debbie said no, this will be an annual, one-weekend-a-year event.  It might be a springboard for other activities.

The meeting ended with several small conversations, lots of good energy, and several commitments to assist with planning.  Excellent!

Upcoming meetings will be held as follows.  Please RSVP to me if you plan to attend!

  • Tuesday, March 27, 5:30 pm at the Wayland Free Library, 101 West Naples Street, Wayland
  • Wednesday, March 28, 5:30 pm at the Hornell YMCA, 18 Center Street, Hornell

If you can’t attend next week’s meetings but want to help plan the trail, please contact Debbie and Marc at the Black Sheep Inn!

Steuben County Arts Trail: Informational Meeting #1, Corning

March 21, 2012 by

Planning for the Steuben County Arts Trail has begun!  To follow are my notes from the first informational meeting, held on March 20 at The ARTS Council in Corning.  Please watch The ARTS Council’s blog and Facebook page for notes from upcoming meetings.

Upcoming meetings will be held as follows.  Please RSVP to me if you plan to attend!

  • Wednesday, March 21, 5:30 pm at the Dormann Library, 101 West Morris Street, Bath
  • Tuesday, March 27, 5:30 pm at the Wayland Free Library, 101 West Naples Street, Wayland
  • Wednesday, March 28, 5:30 pm at the Hornell YMCA, 18 Center Street, Hornell

And now, my notes!

Debbie Meritsky and Marc Rotman, owners of the Black Sheep Inn in Hammondsport, kicked off the evening by introducing themselves and their reasons for developing a Steuben County Arts Trail.  A trail will draw tourists from outside the area, which will benefit the local economy, bring exposure to local artists, and build community among artists.  They said they’d like to hold the trail in the spring (“shoulder season” in tourism-speak).

The informational meetings are designed to assess interest and begin the planning process. The goal of the informational meetings is to form a committee to plan the first trail event to be held in the spring of 2013, to minimize conflicts with other trails and events.  A first survey collected data during January and February, and a follow up survey is currently open and will close at the end of March.

Fundraising will be a major concern.  Costs will include brochure printing and distribution, signs, web presence, etc.  A question was asked about hiring vans to transport people.  Another idea is a mobile app to assist in locating venues.  It was suggested that the trail employ public venues to house multiple artists.

A question was asked about including artists of all disciplines and how that would work.  Marc responded that this is something the group will need to explore.

The nine participants introduced themselves.  They’re a diverse group – representatives of possible venues, visual artists, writers, and arts advocates.

A question was asked about how artists would be chosen for the trail, and Debbie responded, “you will choose us.”  Any artist who wants to participate will be able to.

The group discussed possible dates – April or May – or even the end of March, given this year’s weather.

Debbie talked about the success of the Allegany Artisans trail, and how much art is sold there, at all price points.  It was mentioned that it’s important to get some data from the other arts trails as to sales.  I’ll look into that.

The cost of participating was discussed.  Public settings may cost something, there are insurance considerations, etc.  I reminded people that there will be other sources of funding for the trail, in addition to artist fees, including grants, corporate sponsorship, etc.

A question was asked about timing of the trail – the fall trails may be successful because they directly precede the winter holiday gift-giving season.  Debbie and Marc said that the committee would be consulting community and school calendars, possible venue calendars, etc.

The group agreed that including artists of all disciplines is important.  Also important is that the trail won’t be juried.

Debbie talked about a possible name for the trail – Arts in Bloom: A Steuben County Arts Trail – but it’s not written in stone yet.

Debbie explained that she and Marc are looking to form a planning committee. They will take the lead and be the “go-to people”, working with a strong committee.  Not everyone can be involved with the planning; Marc said that the trail will need far more artist participants than planners.

There was a discussion about how to reach people who may not be technologically connected. Word of mouth is very important, as are local newspapers, magazines, etc.

On the technology side, Debbie said she’d like to have the Facebook page created by the end of April.  She also asked artists who participate to notify their own contacts about the trail as things get going.

Debbie and Marc encouraged everyone to contact them and visit The Black Sheep Inn!

Business of Art Panel Discussion – Ginnie’s Blog

October 14, 2011 by

Tuesday evening, October 11, participants in the Business of Art (BOA) program, joined by a small group of interested friends, gathered at the Chemung Valley History Museum to talk about their artwork and experiences in the program.  BOA was sponsored by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (The ARTS) and Southern Tier Economic Growth (STEG).  Beginning in January 2011, 26 artists attended ten classes to help build their careers.  An exhibit of participants’ artwork can be seen at the Museum through the end of October.  Please click here to see photos of the exhibit and the opening reception.

Denny Smith, who facilitated the BOA classes, started things off by thanking everyone for coming, and asked the artists to talk a bit about the program and their experiences in it.

James McCarthy was the first person to speak.  He’s a self-taught artist who works in pastel, pencil, and silverpoint.  He joined BOA to take his work from a hobby to a job.

Diane Janowski introduced her current work, which is made with dirt from her family farm.  She joked about being coerced into joining the program, which gave everyone a good laugh!

Vickie Mike introduced herself.  She’s also a self-taught artist, whose work begins with pen and ink on paper.  She then imports the work into the computer and makes digital collages from it.  She took the class to make connections with other artists and the art community.

Debb VanDelinder is a scanographer who works with natural materials and has been exhibiting for 20 years.  She took the class because she wanted to kick her career up a notch.  She’s learned how to get her work into galleries, and learned more about the business end of things, which many artists are weak in.

Felicia Poes is a mosaic artist who has been doing this kind of work for 15 years.  She’s been selling her work for the past three years or so, and was very interested in the BOA series so she could learn more.  She took the NYFA MARK program at the same time.

Vani Akula is a painter who joined the class because she said that there were a lot of things she needed to learn.  Vani thanked Denny for sharing his wisdom.

Jennifer Fais is a watercolorist who worked for 30 years as a community planner.  She recently retired and took the class because she was ready to “become an artist for real”.

Karen Kucharski is a visual artist and dancer.  The work she submitted for the exhibit is related to an Artist à Crossroads grant from The ARTS.  She took the class because she sees herself as “the quintessential starving artist, who is really bad at business.”  She said she’s trying to figure that out, and taking the class was part of her plan.

Cynthia Hill is a painter and muralist, who has made 75-80 murals throughout the Northeast.  She learned over the years how to manage projects, and took the BOA classes to learn how to promote her smaller work.

Betsy Kent has experimented with many different art forms, but her goal after retirement was to focus on watercolor painting.  She wanted to learn more about business, and also connect with other artists.

Pat Jackson’s primary medium is pastel.  She took the class to focus on the entrepreneurial aspects of being an artist.  She said that meeting the other artists was a great benefit of the classes – “it’s nice to be part of a group that supports one another.”  The classes were beneficial on how to write an artist statement, learning about galleries, and discerning appropriate business opportunities.

Denny asked the artists if there were specific tools from the course they wanted to speak about.  Felicia said that one of the most important has been that she’s learned how to respond with “I am an artist” when people ask her what she does.  She said that she didn’t know that potential buyers would be interested in the artmaking process.

Debb learned the value of making personal contact with the client and gallery owner, to present oneself professionally, meet them and talk about the work.  After going through the BOA series, she felt that it was very important to visit the gallery in Santa Fe (where she was featured in a show this summer) and talk with the owner.  The talk with the owner was very helpful, because she didn’t really understand Debb’s work; now that she does, she has sold some!

An audience member said that it’s wonderful to see artists whose work she’s always admired being more confident and sure of themselves.

Denny asked Cynthia – who came to the program not only as an artist but a gallery director – how the program has affected her gallery work.  Cynthia said that the organization that supports the Franklin Street Gallery (The Arc of Schuyler), as a non-arts organization, didn’t understand how to operate a gallery.  This program helped Cynthia more professionally manage the gallery, and to assist exhibiting artists to help them be more successful.

Karen said this course has given her a better sense of how to handle contracts.  She said that in the past she ended up on the wrong end of contracts, so she wanted to learn how to accept money, and ask for money.  She said she now feels more confident in negotiating contracts.  Denny recounted a discussion we had in a class about rising gallery commissions, and that in taking control of contract negotiation artists could be fomenting a revolution of sorts.  Felicia then talked about wholesale/retail selling of work, and how consignment differs.

James jumped in and talked about how he learned how to value his time, and therefore his work.  Cynthia said that artists need to ask themselves “what are you worth?  What is your artwork worth?”  Young artists may not know how to price their work, or how to choose galleries appropriate to their work.

Jennifer Fais said that the best part of the series was that it helped her learn more about herself and her work, and how to market herself more effectively.  The goal-setting and statement writing sessions helped clarify these things.

Jennifer Seaman-Cook introduced herself.  She said that she’s worked in a lot of mediums, but is now primarily working in drawing, painting, and fiber arts.  She’s trying to balance her artmaking with teaching, and therefore isn’t a fulltime artist.

Jennifer Fais asked about the original goals of the program – if the organizers (STEG and The ARTS) hoped that some of the artists would band together and start a business in downtown Elmira.  Denny said that yes, there was that hope, and it still might happen.  Denny said that he and Sherri Geary (STEG) are going to look at a building this week, and that a local person has a rowhouse he’s willing to sell to an artist who would be willing to put in some sweat equity.

We then jumped into a discussion about arts development in downtown Elmira and other communities.

Colleen McCall, another BOA participant, introduced herself. She’s a ceramic artist whose passion is figure sculpture, but she also makes pottery.  She said she spends about nine months of the year making pottery, and three making sculpture.  With teaching, good pottery sales, and her family schedule, it’s difficult to go back and forth between the two.  Denny said that Colleen is well-represented at Handwork in Ithaca, and has quite a bit of success this year, getting into some good exhibits.

An audience member asked whether artists other than Karen are exploring controversial themes; Jennifer Seaman responded that she does a lot of feminist work.

Vani said that most of her work deals with Asian-based themes; how do you find galleries that focus on work like this?  Denny suggested that she ask her family and friends if they’ve come across galleries in their travels.  Also, he suggested that as she does more research, she’ll find phrases that might work better in Internet search engines.  Other artists suggested joining professional associations – Felicia belongs to a mosaic artist group, and Debb belongs to a group for scanographers.

Denny put a plug in for the Elmira Regional Art Society, an organization that gets together for social events, holds workshops, and exhibits artwork in various venues throughout the region.  The ARTS and Community Arts of Elmira are other good resources.

There was a wide-ranging discussion about upcoming events – check the Regional Arts Calendar at www.eARTS.org for a full listing.

To close, Karen asked Bruce Whitmarsh of the Chemung Valley History Museum to speak a bit about what he’s learned by having artists in the museum.  He said that a lot of people have come into the museum who might not otherwise have, and that he looks forward to more collaborations.  CVHM is going to work toward being more of a community resource and venue.

A fantastic discussion!  Congratulations to the BOA artists, and thank you to everyone who attended! Special thanks to the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes for its support of this program!