The Capital Region is teeming with artistic talent. We’d like to introduce you to some of the local creatives who are making a name for themselves:
AMC Jewelry, Troy
Three years ago, Albany natives Ashley Cooper and Carmen Agrusti started a jewelry business out of their home in Troy. The pair launched an online store and now have a brick-and-mortar shop on Troy’s Second Street. Cooper’s work is available in five other stores in and around the Capital Region as well.
Though Cooper, now 27, has been making jewelry most of her life, it wasn’t until a few years ago that she considered turning her craft into a business. Agrusti, also 27, manages the business side of the operation. The two met in the bar industry where they both used to work about four years ago.
When asked “Why Troy?” Cooper replied, “We chose Troy because we love the area and the rise of the artist community there. The Troy Maker’s Market was our first market and [we] have had an amazing following in Troy ever since.”
Cooper’s work is primarily inspired by the natural world. “We love to use natural stones and turn them into one-of-a-kind pieces of art you can wear. We use sterling silver, gold and rose gold-filled metal to hit as many different styles as possible.”
The Stockade Kids, Schenectady
A favorite among the local college crowd since their days as a high school band in Schenectady, the Stockade Kids have managed to blend the sounds of hip hop with that of the Dave Matthews Band. They formed in 2006 as a five-piece band called Filming Ohio. In 2012, rapper Scottie Monaco approached the band about working together and the Stockade Kids were born.
The band is made up of Schenectady High graduates Justin Friello on lead vocals and guitar; Aden Brooks on trombone; Will Dobson on bass; Josh Mlodzianowski on saxophone; Scottie Monaco on rap vocals; and Vinny Fazio on drums.
The band plans to put out a new EP this spring.
It was her love of sculpture that led Albany native Siobhan Byron to discover her knack for making elegant one-of-a-kind jewelry.
“I started by accident. I’ve always loved putting things together and taking them apart,” Byron said.
She attended Rochester Institute of Technology for Fine Arts and concentrated on large-scale sculpture. She needed an elective before she could graduate, so she decided to take a beginner’s jewelry making class.
“It’s just what I had been doing but small and decorative.”
After spending some time in New York City, Byron moved back to Albany to take care of her ailing grandmother. She got involved at the Arts Center of the Capital Region and started wearing the jewelry she made to work. It wasn’t long before her employer commented on her jewelry and encouraged Byron to begin selling.
Nine years after she first began selling her jewelry, Byron, now 36, says the business is her main form of employment though she works part-time jobs on the side. Her studio is located at 265 River St. in Troy. Byron’s work is available at a number of Capital Region stores including Anchor No. 5 in Troy, Circles in Stuyvesant Plaza and The Golden Trout in Granville.
Byron makes a point to create jewelry that a wide range of individuals can afford. “As a local artist, I’d rather be more accessible to people and reach out to as many ages as I can. I’d rather see 50 women wearing my jewelry than five,” she said.
Bathrobe Robots, Greenwich
The upstate New York brother-sister duo of Devon and Linnea Seegers has hit the ground running with their first release “Cannibals.” Bathrobe Robots’ first tracks are reminiscent of the Strokes mixed with the XX.
Commenting on their first show at The Mercury Lounge, 24-year-old Devon said, “It went pretty well! This whole project has been so much problem-solving and the biggest problem we have encountered with shows is monitoring [hearing ourselves properly]. Since cutting our teeth on our first few city shows we have learned what to ask for from the sound engineer, which has made everything much, much better.”
When asked how the pair manages to support themselves while pursuing their artistic endeavors, Seegers said, “Barely . . .” Linnea, 19, is a student at SUNY Purchase while Devon works in marketing part time. The band was fortunate enough to play a pretty hot gig with Let’s Be Leonard and Wild Adriatic earlier this winter at the Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs.
Takeyce Walter, Clifton Park
Takeyce Walter captures scenes of the natural world through her paintings in a way that puts photographs to shame. Originally from Jamaica, Walter moved to the United States at age 13.
Now on the board of Saratoga Arts, Walter also works as a media producer at Cengage Learning, a publishing company in Clifton Park. She also teaches workshops at Saratoga Arts. “I tell my students, they’ve got to put those miles and miles in, I guess, to start hitting that sweet spot.”
“It’s really an irresistible urge you have, to create, that’s with you all the time, as an artist. I think most artists would agree with that,” she explained.
Tambourelli & her SuperTrips, Saratoga Springs
Jacquie Ginac of Argyle and Kyle Rodd of Greenwich started making music together in the summer of 2014. “We played open mics and started busking on the streets of Saratoga,” said 23-year-old Rodd. “We didn’t settle into our current outfit until March of 2016 when [22 year old] Jake [Hyland], our keyboardist, joined the band.”
Hyland, of Saratoga Springs, is the newest SuperTrip while 19-year-old Riley Vandewater of Greenwich is the band’s youngest member.
“Jacquie and I played our first show together at a little homegrown festival in Granville called Halestock. We’ve played it three years in a row and plan to this summer too! It’s an amazing experience. Full of friends and music and love. And free keg beer,” Rodd said.
“Our live performances have changed dramatically throughout the band’s short life due to the different members that have come and gone. But we’ve always tried to keep the energy up and have a good time. We try to take the audience away from all the mundane humdrum that fills all our lives. It’s freeing,” he added.
When asked how they balance their part-time jobs with their passions, Rodd said “We all work between 30 and 50 hours a week at our day jobs but it doesn’t keep us from trying our darndest to do what we love.”
The band draws inspiration from Phish, Dr. Dog, Janis Joplin and punk rock. Their latest album, “Melancholy Misfits,” was released Friday January 27.
Chef Leah Stein of Leah’s Cakery, Round Lake
Leah Stein has been baking “since she was big enough to reach the mixer,” according to the Leah’s Cakery website. Stein opened Leah’s Cakery in Round Lake in 2013. She has also worked as an instructor at her alma mater, Schenectady County Community College’s Culinary Arts Program.
Leah’s Cakery, an old-fashioned bake shop, is located in Round Lake’s historic West Side General Store building.
Delphino, Saratoga Springs
Self-described “lo-fi” garage rock band Delphino has one goal — “to get out of the basement and into your heart.”
The Saratoga Springs-based group draws inspiration from rock heroes like the Velvet Underground, the Strokes, the Pixies, the Talking Heads and the Clash.
The band is made up of Saratoga Springs High School students Aaron Scannell on bass, Adam Russell on vocals, Emma Sutton on drums, Jeff Halpin on guitar, Max Sanchez on guitar and Sam Dwyer on keys.
C.R.E.A.T.E, Capital Region
With locations in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, C.R.E.A.T.E Community Studios seeks to make art accessible for everyone in the Capital Region.
“We focus on inclusion of low-income community members, individuals dealing with mental health issues, teens, and other marginalized members of the community. We utilize art and the creative process as a way of self-expression, communication, psychological well being, and social change,” according to the organization.
The organization was created thanks to local art therapists, expressive artists, and community members who were determined to create the Capital Region’s first and only center for art therapy and expressive arts.
C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios offers individual and group art therapy with licensed professionals, open art studio hours, art classes and workshops.
Eastbound Jesus, Greenwich
The Washington County band has had locals dancing since their first release, “Greatest hits Volume 1,” in January 2011. Since its formation, the band has released four studio albums, their latest being 2015’s “Hollerin’.”
The band’s contagious energy is quick to infect any crowd — boots are stomping and drinks pouring from the very beginning. The band’s loyal fanbase make local shows a sight to behold with old friends dancing together and singing along with the band word for word.
At a November show at the Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs, the band invited Josh Carter of Phantogram, another Greenwich native, onstage to perform a bluegrass version of “Mouthful of Diamonds.” The band has embraced a unique sound they call Northern Rock, which blends bluegrass and rock n’ roll.
The band is made up of Greenwich natives Adam Brockway on guitar and vocals; Carl Anderson on drums; Luke Anderson on banjo; Dylan Robison on electric guitar; Zach Infante on lap steel and electric guitar; and Dave Wright on bass.
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