Downtown arts event draws small crowd with big creative aspirations

“Groovin’ at Gateway" promotes public art
Paul Spencer of Ballston Lake paints at the Groovin4 Gateway Park at Key Hall in Proctors Tuesday.
Paul Spencer of Ballston Lake paints at the Groovin4 Gateway Park at Key Hall in Proctors Tuesday.

Categories: Life & Arts, News

SCHENECTADY — Rainy weather pushed a small clutch of art enthusiasts indoors downtown for the debut of a public arts event on Tuesday.

People trickled into Proctors’ Key Hall for “Groovin’ at Gateway,” an event inviting community members to contribute to public art projects. The event, originally scheduled for Gateway Plaza but relocated indoors due to the inclement weather, comes as part of Downtown Schenectady ArtsWeek, a week of performances and arts events around the city.

Brooke Bardwell, 5, was putting the finishing touches on a colorful gust of wind at Key Hall. 

Asked about her favorite part, the aspiring art teacher said “the colors,” purple in particular.

She attended with her sister, Morgan, who is 2. 

Their mom, Caroline Bardwell, is involved in the creative field and said the event provides a good networking opportunity, as well as a chance for her children to get creative. 

The family, which lives in Schenectady, was stationed at a work station organized by C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios, which is creating art to be installed along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail next month as part of the Color the Canal project.

Public art plays a vital role in contemporary society, said Charlotte Mack, the group’s operations manager.

“We think it’s a big unifier,” Mack said. “It brings people together to work on something they care about, and make decisions together.”

Betsy Sandberg, chairwoman of Kids Arts Festival, wasn’t dour about the change of venue, which saw kids painting furiously as a jazz guitarist played licks accompanied by a pre-recorded backing tape.

Her group was painting hands, which they will incorporate into a broader public art project to welcome the Tony-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” to Proctors next year.

Sandberg said public art initiatives fill the void left when public schools reduce their arts programs in the wake of budget cuts.

“I love doing free stuff for people,” she said.

Downtown Schenectady ArtWeek

Other ArtsWeek events include “Jazz on Jay” from 12-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, featuring the Teresa Broadwell Quintet.

Shortly after the Jazz on Jay concert, members of the Kyrgyzstan cultural delegation will be at New York Folklore (129 Jay St.) and community members are invited to meet there. 

New York Folklore also invites the community to come celebrate its 75th birthday on Thursday. 

Electric City Barn will stage “High School Musical” at the facility on Friday and Saturday.

Also on Saturday: Discover Schenectady’s Kick Off to Summer event runs from noon-7 p.m. at Music Haven, and an outdoor performance by the Albany Symphony Orchestra at 5:30 p.m. at the Mohawk Harbor Amphitheater. 

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