The Lace Mill, at 165 Cornell Street in Kingston, is an apartment, workspace and gallery complex renovated by RUPCO and offering subsidized, below-market rents for artists. (Dion Ogust | Almanac Weekly)
If your city has a neighborhood that suffers from urban blight – high rates of poverty, crime and substance abuse, abandoned storefronts and deteriorated housing stock, fires and vandalism – the quickest and cheapest way to turn it around is to leverage the natural tendency of working artists to seek out affordable spaces to renovate. Tax incentives and sweat equity mix beautifully to transform rundown industrial lofts into attractive living spaces and studios. Galleries, restaurants, service businesses and enhanced tourism inevitably follow in the artists’ wake, and before long, urban planners’ biggest remaining headache is making sure that local residents don’t get priced out by gentrification.
The City of Kingston has been watching that process burbling away in its Midtown neighborhood. It started out as a haphazard, unorganized thing, with a few artsy pioneers like R & F Handmade Paints, the Shirt Factory and Cornell Street Studios establishing artistic footholds. But momentum has built, and community coalitions have sprung up with the intent and the expertise needed to guide Midtown toward a brighter future for all. A recent milestone was the opening in July 2015 of the Lace Mill at 165 Cornell Street, an apartment, workspace and gallery complex renovated by RUPCO and offering subsidized, below-market rents for artists.
Kevin Frank, Untitled (Hummel), oil on canvas, 14″ x 17″, 2014. For more information on this Art Walk artist, visit http://kevinfrankpaintings.com.[/caption%5D
Now that its residents have had a year to settle in, it makes sense that the Lace Mill should be one of the showcase destinations for this weekend’s free citywide event known as Art Walk Kingston. Launching Art Walk Kingston was a community grassroots effort led by local resident Joe Gonzalez and Linda Marston-Reid, executive director at Arts Mid-Hudson, who saw a need and began talking about the idea to other residents and business-owners. The Art Walk has been planned during a series of monthly meetings that became networking events bringing together Kingston residents interested in civic improvement.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, October 1 and 2, more than 70 artists and performers will be participating throughout three distinct areas of the City of Kingston, and members of the public are invited to immerse themselves in a range of art and events. Paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures are just some of the media that will be on display at home studios and galleries all across town. The ARTBAR Gallery, Arts Society of Kingston, Broadway Arts Gallery, Cornell Street Studios, O+ Gallery, R & F Handmade Paints and Uncanny Gallery will all throw their doors open wide to the art-curious public. Participatory activities will include a chance to make your own tile at Bailey Pottery & Equipment, a wine-tasting at the Kingston Wine Co. and a live dance and drumming performance at the Center for Creative Education.
At the Lace Mill, two featured resident artists are showing work in their own living and workspaces. Charlotte Tusch Scherer is an abstract painter highly influenced by such Color Field artists as Rothko, Kelly, Lewis and Jenkins. “My work is atmospheric and mysterious in nature,” she says. “The paintings are sensual and have a slow, soft sense of movement. I enjoy watching the paints interact with the canvas and challenge me to move forward or to stop.” Tusch calls Art Walk “a perfect way to showcase my work and studio space and allow others to see and experience the energy that motivates my creativity.”
Also opening her workspace, which she calls an “ever-evolving secret sanctuary,” is Judith Z. Miller, who sculpts, writes, photographs, performs, plays percussion and dances under the name Zelda. She draws and creates primal sculpture and wearable art from trees, stones and found objects, which she fashions into ritual staffs and wearable amulets and employs in healing rituals. “I’ve lovingly transformed my apartment into a shamanic healing space with hand-carved trees and plants literally flying in mid-air from the vaulted ceilings, surrounded by photographs of nature and spiritual self-portrait collages,” Zelda says.
Outside these two artistic sanctums, in the Lace Mill’s Main Gallery, Art Walk participants can check out the residents’ group show, the first-ever to be open to the general public. Poet Holly Christiana will be hosting two shows each day: “Poetry and Poety Things,” scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday, will feature readings by poets Allan Stevo and Chris Wood, an a cappella singalong by Tobias Anderson and artwork by Joshua Stern. Peter Coates will play koto on Saturday and Amy Westberg performs on Sunday.
The group show, called the Lace Mill Sampler, begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Visual artists include Cheryl Crispell and her sister Tina Crispell, James Martin, Jordan Roque and Rubi Rose. There will be poetry from Ziggy Ziebell and Terrance Harris. Felix Olivieri will showcase some of his eclectic art-techno-toy fusion, and Daniel Rhinier will share the treasure-hunting required for his latest undertaking: a book about forgotten stars of the Grand Ole Opry.
Most of the Art Walk Kingston events and open studios will be accessible from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to all shows and events is free. For lots more information, including maps and schedules, visit www.artwalkkingston.com or www.facebook.com/artwalkkingston.
[caption id="attachment_32559" align="alignnone" width="700"] Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, Dawn on the Creek, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40.” For information on this Art Walk artist and longtime resident of Kingston, visit www.janebloodgoodabrams.com.
Kingston’s Midtown renaissance started with a few pioneers like R & F Handmade Paints, the Shirt Factory and Cornell Street Studios establishing artistic footholds. Shown above are R & F Handmade Paints founder Richard Frumess and its president of production Darin Seim. (Dion Ogust | Almanac Weekly)