Upstate Artists Guild

Upcoming exhibitions scheduled to take place at the Upstate Artists Guild in Albany include “Occupy UAG” in January and “Call of the Wild” in February, but as it turns out, those shows might never get the call.

The six-year-old, volunteer-operated, storefront gallery at 247 Lark Street is four months overdue in paying its $1,200-a-month rent, and the landlord notified UAG last week that legal action had been set in motion. The nonprofit art gallery is facing possible eviction at the end of December. The gallery is also behind in its other bills.

“The Upstate Artists Guild is a not-for-profit community arts organization fueled entirely by donated time and money – a collaboration of hard-working and single-minded volunteers,” the organization states on its website. “We have become known as a center for arts in Albany and a unifying force among the wealth of Upstate New York’s arts. We now reach out to the community for support to keep us here on Lark Street and ensure continued growth and support for your local arts.”

“We need to generate a continuous flow of money from as many sources as possible so that our organization can continue to keep a roof over its head,” UAG president Rebecca Schoonmaker Finnen
 wrote this week on the UAG website. “We hope that this new fundraising appeal will provide us with the financial resources to get us back on track and earning funds into the future. We hereby challenge our individual members and community friends to take a pledge with us and contribute $500 over the next eight months.”

Albany’s Lark Street area has been something of a long-time hot-bed on the indie art gallery scene, spearheaded by the gone-but-not-forgotten Firlefanz Gallery (which closed in 2006 after a three-year run) and the Amrose Sable Gallery (which closed in 2009 after three years just off Lark on Hudson Avenue).

So the Upstate Artists Guild – which opened its doors in January, 2006 with an exhibition of artwork by the Student Art League of the College of Saint Rose – has already outlived its predecessors by several years.

The question is, how much longer it can survive?

From 12noon til 5pm on Saturday (December 10), the Lark Street BID is hosting its annual “Winter Wonderlark” celebration – which includes the sixth annual Santa Speedo Sprint. If you’re visiting Lark Street on Saturday, please stop by UAG to see how you can help save a valuable grassroots arts organization.

Steve Barnes’ story at The Times Union

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Century Plants performing at UAG last Feburary (photo by Matt Mac Haffie)
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  1. Kevin Marshall says

    The question is, how much longer it can survive?

    Not very. Time’s up at this point.

    This news make me very sad. But also very frustrated, because the time to put the call out for help and assistance was the moment they knew they were in trouble and were going to need it. Not after four months(!) of not being able to make rent.

  2. Greg says

    Yes, you’re right, Kevin. But UAG has never been very media-savvy, so I’m not surprised that it took them so long to put out the call.

    I think the bigger question is, what is a non-profit indie art gallery doing in a space with a $1,200-a-month rent? Now that they’ve established a rep, why not re-locate to a more affordable space?

  3. -S says

    A good point Greg. Isn’t the smaller gallery on Hudson, where the Ambrose Sable was, then Dove Cote, (and now possibly Trifecta) half that price? It’s smaller, but that brings more focus too.

  4. -S says

    Also a kickstarter to help? Never been a fan of kickstarter (since they take a cut), but I’ve seen a lot of successful ones recently, I guess people like to donate when it’s under a “respectable” umbrella, and kickstarter may have reached that status.

  5. Jo says

    They could have also looked into Pepsi Refresh, both The Foundry and CAC Woodside did very well from that. The building they are in has been for sale for years now, it’s possbile they could have looked into buying the building outright.

  6. Jo says

    The main thing is that the location is a great one, practically in the middle of Lark Street.

  7. B says

    The main thing is that the location is a great one, practically in the middle of Lark Street.

    It really is. I don’t know what (if anything) would go in that space if they left, but with that huge window facing lark, UAG looks a lot better there than emptiness or a neon “we buy gold” sign. The current location (and the fact the 1st Friday trolley stops right in front) definitely brings in foot traffic for possible donations/purchases/memberships.

    On the other hand if it makes a good retail location for a business that fits in the Lark St aesthetic (I mean the aesthetic pre-Subway), that’s great. But UAG has been a vibrant, eclectic arts center and having it so prominently on Lark has benefited us all.

    I’m interested in pledging a membership but not if they’re simply closing up shop in a few weeks. If I knew they would still be around — even in another space — that would be great, but the message isn’t clear. Another example of their less than stellar PR, unfortunately. The ideas here are good — Kickstarter, looking for an alternative space, campaigning for more grants — and getting the PR machine going might help. Good luck.

  8. D says

    Will paying the past rent help ? I am worried that a contribution may end up in the same place mine did for the Lark tavern and the Marketplace gallery (someones pocket)

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