Painter Laurel-Le Lipski is a member of many local art societies, from the Southern Saratoga Artists’ Society to the Colonie Art League.
But as a Schenectady resident, her main focus is the Schenectady Art Society, which has helped local artists promote their work since its founding in 1967. For the past three years, Lipski has been the society’s vice president.
“This is local, this is Schenectady, and I live in Schenectady County,” she said recently from the Moon & River Café, where the Schenectady Art Society has been exhibiting work since the beginning of August. “I try to frequent businesses that are in my own county. And I would really, really like to see the arts grow here.”
Schenectady Art Society reception, with PW Mallory, Ryan Yaddow
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Moon & River Café, 115 S. Ferry St., Schenectady
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 382-1938, www.moonandrivercafe.com
Finding venues for the society to exhibit its members’ work is a major part of Lipski’s job as vice president.
More so than surrounding cities like Saratoga Springs and Albany, Schenectady presents a challenge for local artists looking to exhibit their work in a gallery, due to a lack of traditional art galleries in the city.
“If you think about Saratoga, they have their own council for the arts, and they have their own gallery there,” Lipski said.
“We don’t have a gallery of our own in Schenectady — it would be great if we did somewhere. And the Colonie Art League used to have its own gallery, but it doesn’t now. Galleries everywhere are pretty much struggling, so we find different venues to hang our artwork.”
Hence, the Moon & River Café, which will hold a second reception for the exhibit on Friday night to coincide with the return of Art Night to Schenectady. The first reception was held at the cafe on Aug. 23 and featured a performance by Kitchen Jazz; this reception will feature music by P.W. Mallory and Ryan Yaddow. Additionally, new Art Night coordinator Christopher Brown will be creating a 3D black light installation for the event.
“We intended to stay a month, and Richard [Genest, Moon & River owner] asked us if we could extend it another month, because he was happy with how this looks,” Lipski said. “We had one reception . . . [and] this place was packed.”
The artwork, which will hang on nearly every wall of the small cafe through the end of the month, represents nearly all two-dimensional media — there are watercolors, oil paintings, pen and ink drawings, pastel drawings and prints. Subject matter also varies, from landscapes to abstract works. The varied offerings reflect the society’s mission as a whole.
“When we have a demonstration at our art society meetings, . . . we try to have a variety of demonstrations, so that it might be one night that somebody does something about oil painting,” Lipski said.
“Another time we had a demonstration about different ways to make marks on paper and do some printing kinds of things. So we really have a variety of demonstrations. Everybody’s interested in everything anyway — give us a piece of paper, give us a brush and we’re happy campers.”
The society has about 45 members, and meets September through May on the second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Stockade’s First Reformed Church. Each of the meetings includes a demonstration of a different art form or technique, along with critiques of members’ works. Membership is $30 per year.
While the majority of the society’s members are age 45 and up, according to Lipski, membership is growing. The society has been working hard to recruit younger members just out of art school.
“I worked at MVP Health Care for 18 years, and when I came home from work — yes, I did some artwork, or yes, I did artwork with other people, but I was often too tired to be really creative,” Lipski said.
“I really, really started producing a lot of artwork after I wasn’t working. And I think that’s why in the art leagues you have a lot of people who are older, because they find that they have more time and actually more energy to be creative. But in our art society, we have a couple people who are art teachers who are still working; we have graphic artists; we have people who are still working, too.”
In addition to the Moon & River show, the society will be exhibiting in Schenectady County Community College’s fall art show and has an ongoing exhibit at the Glen Eddy Retirement facility through the end of the year. Also, The Stockade Inn exhibits works by a single artist every four months; currently, Lipski’s work is up.
“I think that we’ll continue to grow — we have some very ambitious people,” she said. “There’s some newer talent in the Schenectady Art Society, and I think we’re excited about it. And we would like to find more venues in Schenectady, and I’ll keep looking.”