Art after dark returns to Schenectady on Friday.
Artist Christopher Brown is resurrecting Art Night, the program that puts painters, sculptors and musicians into downtown locations.
The program, which began in 2007 as a monthly event, ended its original run in May. When Brown heard about the cancellation, he talked to Art Night founder and organizer Mitch Messmore and began planning a comeback.
As new coordinator, Brown is changing the schedule. Art Night will no longer be held monthly, but take place four times a year — always on the third Friday of a month. After this weekend’s gathering, the next Art Night will be held Jan. 17. Other artistic nocturnals for next year are being planned for April 18, July 18 and Sept. 19.
“It gives more time for artists to get their works in order and to be able to get off work and so the venues can do promotion, give them a little more time to get the word out there,” Brown said, explaining his preference for breaks in the schedule.
Brown, a dimensional painter, musician, photographer and writer, has always favored the Art Night concept.
“I moved back to Schenectady probably within the first two months of when Art Night started,” he said. “I had been doing a lot of art in Manhattan and Buffalo for the past 15 years, and I always remember coming home to Schenectady and there was nothing going on, so it was like a breath of fresh air that this was starting off.”
100 Artists expected
About 100 artists are expected in more than a dozen venues on Friday. Exhibitions will begin at 5 and end at 9. One participating venue, Kreusi Ave. Pub, will host artists during the evening hours and extend the party into the early morning.
“There are going to be a lot of fresh faces who really haven’t been out there,” Brown said. “I’ve tried to open this up, reaching out to anyone who normally doesn’t show their works.”
Messmore, who said he ended Art Night because he could no longer devote time to its organization, is happy to see art will once again have a Friday night spot in Schenectady.
“I’m very happy with the fact that Chris is taking up the mantle,” Messmore said. “He has the drive and energy to make it even bigger and better than when I was running it.”
Messmore said he has received emails from people over the summer, asking when Art Night would return. “People have been clamoring for it,” he said. “They’ve come to love it over the past six years.”
Something to Hear, too
Art Night will not be limited to visual media. Open microphone sessions are also being scheduled, for spoken word and acoustical music presentations.
Lisa McMurphy, who opened Upstate Corals at 127 Jay St. earlier this summer, will host an artist on Friday.
“I think it’s a great idea; I think it’s going to liven up downtown Schenectady,” McMurphy said. “It will bring foot traffic to my store and also to the artists.”
Richard Genest, owner of The Moon & River Café, is also glad to see art Fridays return. But he’d like to see more of them.
“I wish it was monthly instead of every three months,” he said. “People will forget about it during the three-month interim. I wish there was somebody who could head it up and it could go every month.”
Genest will have artists in his space on Friday — he’ll be hosting a reception for the Schenectady Art Society and will be showing works of art. In addition, musicians PW Mallory and Ryan Yaddow will perform.
Linking artists, audience
Brown says both artists — and art lovers — need Art Night.
“There are a lot of artists in Schenectady but there’s not really a lot of formats or venues or forums where they can actually bring their works out and express themselves,” Brown said. “And it’s for the community to get people out and start visiting downtown because downtown . . . I’ve just seen this renovation of downtown and how it’s evolved and it’s just amazing to me in comparison to what it used to be.
“I think that should be continued, especially with the opening of new businesses like Johnny’s and Bombers, I think it’s really starting to jell together really well,” Brown added. “I’d like the arts community to be a part of that.”