The Creative Connections Community Art Center smelled of fresh paint and gourmet appetizers Monday afternoon.
Dozens of area creative types and ordinary locals alike drifted through the old church building on the corner of East Main and Vrooman Avenue, commenting on the art that lined the walls.
The center held its grand opening Monday in conjunction with the Capital Region’s MoHu arts festival. There was a strong turnout, but for the event organizers, it was much more than a successful art show — it was the culmination of many months of volunteer efforts.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Creative Connections Board President Thom Georgia, “but we’re nearly there.”
The project began in March with a meeting called by Mayor Ann Thane in the basement of the old building. The idea was simply to make a place where Amsterdam residents could come and create art.
In the months since, volunteers have rallied, cleaning, painting and setting up a board to run the place, all on private donations.
A sky blue wall along the second-story stairway remains only half painted as proof of the recent work, but the joy of accomplishment gave the show a truly festive air.
Thane paused on her rounds to stand a little longer before one very large, blue painting.
“It’s striking to see it firsthand,” she said, searching for the best words to describe it.
The piece, called “Peacock Pride,” is the work of Amsterdam artist and creative agent Janet Tanguay. Bits of broken musical instruments form the bold feathers of a peacock across an epoxied canvas.
“Someone gave me a box of piano guts,” she said. “I thought, why waste it.”
Tanguay was only marginally better at describing her work than Thane.
“I don’t really know what it’s about,” she said, “but I know this piece has brought people from a bad mood to a good mood, and I like that.”
The work of a number of other area artists was also featured. Watercolors by Carol Jordan, a series of macabre paintings on the pages of Edgar Allen Poe novels by Susan Lovelock and prints from a handful of photographers.
“I just like that this place exists,” said Robin Kappler. “I think every city needs a place where people can come and expand their creativity.”
The art was on display, but the center itself was perhaps more under the public eye.
The city owns the building, but all the hours have been volunteer, and all the dollars donated.
Monday was the start of another stage for the center.
According to Georgia, the center will generate future revenue from art classes and membership drives. They’re already writing curriculum for a pottery class and poetry workshops.