When it comes to creating art, the process doesn’t end with the final brushstroke.
For Craig Petreikis, presenting work and sharing it with others is an important piece of that process. It’s part of the reason the Schenectady artist created the Electric City Arts Contest, which begins on June 1.
“One of the reasons for doing art, at least in my opinion, is to share it. You share it so people can enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing. I want to encourage everybody that no matter what you’re doing, there’s somebody that wants to see it. It provides pleasure to people reading it and viewing it,” Petreikis said.
The contest was held online last year, featuring songs, stop-motion animation, poems, paintings/drawings and short stories/novel excerpts. Open to any amateur artist in Schenectady County, five artists were selected as winners and given $200 as a prize. Their work, along with others who entered, was featured on electriccityartscontest.org.
During a year with limited opportunities for performances, exhibits, etc. it gave Schenectady artists a chance to showcase their work. It’s something that Petreikis had wanted to do for a few years now, well before the pandemic began.
“I’ve thought of different ways of participating in art and making that more a part of my life. This seemed like a way to do it and communicate with other artists and make more of a community,” Petreikis said.
While he has a career in engineering, he’s painted as a hobby for more than 30 years. He’s mainly self-taught and favors creating portraits using oil paints.
“Oil has such a richness of color and possibilities associated with it. You’re not so limited in time in working with the painting because oil doesn’t dry right away. At first, it intimidated me,” Petreikis said. “I realized that it’s more flexible in that way and you can just get such bright colors with oil.”
He also has a community of fellow artists to reach out to for guidance or encouragement.
“I have friends that do oil paintings and of course have conversations with them about what they do. So that certainly helps,” Petreikis said.
That community is especially connected in Schenectady.
“There’s other people to talk to, there’s other people to get ideas from and find out what they’re doing and it creates synergy, I think, and . . . it encourages people to create, at least for me personally,” Petreikis said.
Through the Electric City Arts Contest, he hopes to give more people a chance to partake in that sort of community.
The second year of the contest kicks off on Tuesday. He’ll accept entries from Schenectady County amateur artists for two months or until he receives 100 submissions. Submissions can be anything from paintings to songs to animations and beyond. They only need to be submitted electronically for a fee of $5 per entry. There are no age restrictions.
“I did have some last time that I think it was a kindergarten teacher that submitted her students’ artwork or first grade. It was great. All the way on up to people in their later years,” Petreikis said. “There were pictures of rainbows and unicorns that I was reviewing that were super cool. It was fantastic.
Each submission will be displayed on the website and there will be a separate section for the winning entries, which will be announced later this year.
“Part of the attraction I hope is that no matter what age you are, you can submit something and you’ll see it up on the website, along with 50 other works that people can read and then you can share that with your family and can be a source of enjoyment,” Petreikis said.
One of the challenges that Petreikis encountered last year was that some artists were hesitant to put their work out there.
“There are a lot of people that are creative but not in a sharing way necessarily so . . . I don’t want to push somebody to do something they don’t want to do, but if this is something they ever wanted to do, I wanted them to have that. That’s nice to see when somebody shares something that they’ve never shared before for the first time,” Petreikis said.
For more information and to submit work visit electriccityartscontest.org.