The Grand Opening of The Foundry in Cohoes, 9/23/11
A Foundry for Ideas.
On a rainy Friday on Remsen Street in the Spindle City of Cohoes, a ribbon cutting took place for The Foundry. It is so much more than a new use for an old building. It is a “cultural enterprise” formed by the hopes and dreams of founding principals Alana Sparrow and Jessie Matulis, and their seven-year vision quest/labor of love finally turned into a reality.
One by one, the front row of politicians and community leaders speechified about the spirit of cooperation involved in making Foundry for Art Design + Culture possible with surprising affection for the founders. But it was the engaging words of artist and co-founding principal Alana Sparrow – silently anchored by co-founder Jessie Matulis – that ruled the day. Choking back her tears, she thanked the late Nadia Trinkala for pointing her to historic Cohoes. Amen! She went on to make the point, in terms most human, of what those that spoke before had done to make this unique multi-use work/gallery/living space possible. Her passion and humor were infectious, and optimistically, a good deal of her message of mission was of job creation for the arts community.
The moment for big scissors and crimson ribbons was afoot. Then the real fun began as We Are Jeneric took to the outdoor stage and gave a terrific showing of their original material in all its instrument-switching glory. But it was the second set – peppered with a handful of unexpected but bang-on covers of Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin – that really took off. As with all outdoor shows, this whipped the local street crazy into frenzy. And as an antidote, Eric chose a Jen-on-lead-vocal song to leap from the stage and issue a non-verbal dance-off challenge to said local. Bravo, sir, bravo.
An all-access open house, revealed a wide open gallery space upon entry, the walls of which displayed an array of photos detailing the before and in-progress renovations. In back on the first floor is a very cool artist residence apartment. The climb to the second floor proved worth it where the to-die-for loft living space of the founders is in full view. The kitchen is all brushed aluminum, smoked glass and marble, which sits above the open and inviting, warm living room area. The master bedroom does not disappoint either, although the closet seems to be unfairly dived heavily in favor of Alana over husband Jessie. The basement boasts an open work space suited for wood working and two adjoining rooms. One ideally suited for a fine or graphic artist or painter, the other a multimedia dream den.
Live music’s end flowed seamlessly from the street to after-party in the gallery space with very talented DJ OFI behind the wheels of steel. I found myself awestruck by the wide variety of styles in his arsenal and his merciful restraint in the use of sub woofer. In his hands, two turntables and a computer become an art form. Good bash!
The hope and vision of The Foundry is a space “dedicated to connecting the arts and creative sectors to the business, civic, education and non-profit community of New York State’s Capital Region. The Foundry strives to teach businesses, artists, institutions and community developers how to use arts and culture in enriching and strengthening the physical, economic and social revitalization of our region.”
Story and photographs by Matt Mac Haffie
Timothy Reidy’s photographs of We Are Jeneric’s performance