“It’s an art exhibit.”
“No, it’s a puppet show.”
Wait! You’re both right. It’s an art exhibit and a puppet show.
Artist Ed Atkeson launched his love affair with puppets in 2004 with the premiere of “Right in the Oval Office,” a short political comedy by Gene Mirabelli that was staged at the beloved and now sadly defunct Firlefanz Gallery on Lark Street in Albany. He designed and built the puppets from scratch and gathered an ensemble of artists, poets, dancers, musicians and other like-minded folks to act as the voices and puppeteers. Thus was born Firlefanz Puppets, and Atkeson was off and running.
In the years since then, Atkeson and his puppets have mounted quite an impressive array of performances, including ambitious, full-length productions of Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” in 2006 and “Oakley Hall III’s Ubu Rex” by Alfred Jarry in 2010, both of which were mounted at the Steamer No. 10 Theater. Obviously, Firlefanz Puppets are proving that puppet shows aren’t just for kids.
Atkeson’s marvelous puppets are works of art in their own right, and they’ll be on display at Albany Center Gallery beginning on Tuesday in the exhibition “Ed Atkeson’s Firlefanz Puppets: An Art Show About Puppets.” In addition to the puppets, the exhibition will also include some of the puppet theaters that Atkeson has designed and an array of photographs by Timothy Cahill of the puppets and performances.
There will be an opening reception for the exhibition from 5-9pm Tuesday (November 8) at the gallery, which will also feature performances of two of Firlefanz Puppets’ productions – “The Frog Prince” at 7pm, and “Man at the Controls” at 8pm. Admission is free.
In conjunction with the monthly First Friday arts walk, there will also be an additional reception for the exhibit from 5-9pm on Friday, December 2, which will include performances of select scenes from “Rhinocerous.” The exhibition will continue at Albany Center Gallery through Saturday, December 17.