For one night at least, Café 230 was transformed from its regular atmosphere of cozy dining into a hip, chic art gallery as the artists from the Downtown Arts Coalition displayed their work at the SuperFancy art show. The art on display, far from the usual work Albanians are used to saying, showed very different styles. From the neo-surrealist work of Cameron Malphus to Sean Mulkey’s painting of musical greats ranging from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa.
“It’s like being in New York,” one attendee uttered as they weaved their way through the large and diverse crowd. “This is Albany?” another asked. It was a fair question after all.
While Albany has a reputation for being stagnant when it comes to the arts, these artists are doing their best to change that. The event, which also included paintings by Durrell Lamar, Kris Letlow, and Brandon David, was at least in part to raise money to help the Downtown Arts Coalition purchase the old Napa building downtown to turn it into an arts park. The event also featured spoken word poetry performances by Tannur “Shewritez” Ali and performance art by Morgan Carson.
Hundreds of people piled into Café 230, which had cleared the tables out. The walls were awash in color as the artists’ work was carefully hung. People of various backgrounds –- from food service workers to surgeons — milled about, taking in something that was more than a little different from what they were used to seeing.
“The SuperFancy Art Show, as well as future shows like this, mean a lot to Downtown. This particular show was an example of the amazing transformation taking place Downtown. This event displayed the type excellence that we intend to maintain Downtown,” said downtown manager Aaron Blair. “I think when we look back in a year we will see that this was the “tipping point” for Downtown.”
The show is just the first of many the group has planned, with the next being at the Carnegie Library, home of the Albany Area Arts Council where they will have a mini-exhibition on November 30 through December 2 with a reception on November 29, 2011. “We hope to host many more events both similar and completely different,” said co-organizer Kris Letlow.
One purpose for the show was to raise money to help pay for an arts park downtown, housed in what used to by the old Napa Auto Parts building. Blair said that the park has been on the agenda for some time now. “The Art Park was one of the ‘keys to our success that we laid out back in the beginning of the year. Now, with the creation of the D’town Arts Coalition we have everything in place to make the Arts Park come alive at the beginning of the year.”
Several pieces original pieces were sold, as were quite a few prints based on original pieces on the walls. Much of the proceeds were to go towards that eventuality.
While the impression might have been that Albany transformed into Manhattan for a night, the D’Town Arts Coalition intends for Albany to be a beacon of art for the whole region. With many more events like SuperFancy, that goal may be easily achieved. “SuperFancy more than exceeded our expectations, and showed us just how important it is to keep going.,” said Letlow.
Several patrons could be heard discussion Albany’s history with art, most specifically the landmark Supreme Court case regarding a local theater’s showing of the film “Carnal Knowledge” and how this show might just be the sign of Albany moving beyond the sleepy town and into the future.
So what did the artists think of their debut event?
“The SuperFancy art show was a huge success and I am glad to have been a part of such a community changing event. The preparation, the hard work, the people that were involved,, everything was perfect. The best part, to me, in relation to the show, was how receptive the people were to the art. They didn’t push it away, but instead embraced it. This let me know that the people in this community desire change. I felt that SuperFancy has opened up a door to a future of endless possibilities for Albany, in a cultural sense and more,” said Sean Mulkey.
Brandon David, who is also a tattoo artist, “I was unsure about how much art we would actually sale at our first show but I was very certain we would gave a good turnout.” He didn’t need to worry for long though. “I looked down on the crowd from the second floor loft. Not only were there a couple hundred people flowing around the entire building, some sitting and eating, some standing and conversing with others, but the diverseness of the crowd just had me awestruck. There were people from the ages of 4 years old to 80 plus, rich to poor, and every ethnic group you could imagine. This is when I truly realized that art is one of the rare things in this world that can bring so many completely different individuals into one room and they can put all differences aside and relate to one specific thing, Art.”
David went on to say, “The response we had was just absolutely amazing and I don’t think we could have asked for a better turnout. Albany is hungry for events that throw segregation aside and allow our community to come together as one and this is it, D-town Arts Coalition. The artistic glue thaw here to help bond our cities community back together into one beautiful, cultural piece of art. Shout outs to Heart and Dagger tattoo parlour and fine art gallery, this is where you can find a combined collection of all of DAC’s artwork in one beautiful location.”
So what can a member of the community do to support this new arts movement? Letlow said, “Come to our open membership drive at the Carnegie Library Nov 29th, 6-8 p.m.”
The works of local artist Cameron Malphus, Brandon David, and Sean Mulkey adorn the walls of Café 230.
Dr. Price Corr and Café 230 owner B.J. Fletcher speak with one another as Dr. Corr takes a photograph of one of the works of art.
The party spread out onto the sidewalk as people flowed from out to in. For at least a night, Broad Avenue was the happening place to be.
The range of styles varied from the wispy forms of Kris Letlow (left), to the urban grit of Brandon David (second from left), to the realistic portraits of musical greats by Sean Mulkey (second from right and right).
Café 230 was a hub of activity as the near capacity crowd took in art styles not typically seen in the Good Life City.
A work by Cameron Malphus, this painting is in four parts and was a hit with many attendees.