MAD Celebration of the Arts in Kingston

Jamie Saft and New Zion

Midtown Kingston is seething with arts-related activity, finally making a vigorous comeback from the downturn that followed IBM’s exit from the local economy nearly a quarter-century ago.

Besides long careers of working with local youth and personal investment in the neighborhood’s renaissance, Lara Giordano (Department of Regional Art Workers and Pop-up Gallery Group) and Bryant “Drew” Andrews (Center for Creative Education) have something else in common just now: They’re this year’s chosen honorees for the Red Goat Awards, bestowed annually by the Kingston Midtown Arts District (MAD) to recognize outstanding contributions to the arts in Kingston. The awards ceremony is but one component of MAD’s summer extravaganza known as the Celebration of the Arts, which happens for the fourth time on Friday evening, August 3.

Besides affording a concentrated opportunity for the uninitiated to sample the smörgåsbord of art stuff that’s currently going on in Midtown, the Celebration of the Arts is touting such enticements as “Food Trucks! Air Conditioning! Free Admission!” How strong a motivator the middle point of that sales pitch may become depends on Friday’s weather. But one factor that won’t vary is the cool new venue: the Cornell Creative Arts Center, located at the ARC of Ulster-Greene at 139 Cornell Street. The Center is slated to officially open in 2019, but this event will give attendees a chance to get an early peek inside the new facilities.


Once completed, the 10,000-square-foot space will house ten artist studios including a dance/movement studio, community room workshop and 800 square feet of open space for membership co-working and event rental. It will provide many opportunities for ARC’s aspiring artists – people with developmental disabilities – to express their artistic abilities, gain confidence, showcase their works and sell their artwork online to help support their financial independence.

The Celebration of the Arts 2018 will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a sign-unveiling ceremony at the Deep Listening Plaza at Broadway Commons, which at last year’s Celebration was officially dedicated to the memory of internationally famed avant-garde composer Pauline Oliveros, one of MAD’s founders. These solemnities will be followed by a boisterous parade to the Cornell Creative Arts Center, led by huge papier-mâché processional figures from Arm-of-the-Sea Theater and accompanied by the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK) and the Energy Dance Company.

Musicians, dancers and performance artists who live and work in the Arts District are headlining the annual celebration of the reinvigoration of Midtown, curated by pianist, composer, recording artist, music educator and writer Peter Wetzler, who earlier this year was named the City of Kingston’s Distinguished Artist Awardee. The musical lineup includes singer/songwriter duo the Hipstones, reggae/dub performers Jamie Saft and New Zion, pianist Andrea Shaut, singers Eleni Reyes and Donny Mapes. A Balkan-inspired band called Greek Night promises “lively music in odd meters and unusual scales,” which should prepare attendees’ ears nicely for the microtonal singing of Grammy-nominated Kingston resident Yungchen Lhamo, slated to perform at the opening of fellow Tibetan artist Kunsang Tenzin’s photography exhibit.

Broadway Commons, where the festivities get underway, is located at 615 Broadway, where it intersects with Henry Street to the south and O’Neil Street to the north. The entrance to the Cornell Creative Arts Center is at the corner of Bruyn Avenue and Cornell Street, just one block north of the main Kingston Post Office. For GPS navigation, use 80 Bruyn Avenue. To find out more about the MAD Celebration of the Arts, visit or

Fourth annual MAD Celebration of the Arts, Friday, August 3, 6: 30 p.m., free, plaque unveiling/parade, Deep Listening Plaza, 615 Broadway, performances/exhibition, Cornell Creative Arts Center, 139 Cornell Street, Kingston;