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Celebrating 20+ Years

20 plus years

Losing Track

of Time
It's easy to lose track of time, it happens every day.

Lately as I think of the passing time,  I find myself focusing on those people and things that remain constant.  Maybe it’s the feeling that we spent a couple of years on pause during the pandemic.  Maybe it’s all of the unrest in the world the last few years.  Whatever the reason,  I’m developing a new appreciation for those things that make it easy to lose track of time,  as their consistency creates a sense of security and permeance.  All too often their consistency makes it easy to take them for granted,  we don’t realise how much they give us until suddenly they’re gone. 

With that thought in mind,  we want to take a minute and acknowledge a few tenants.  There are a lot of folks who have contributed to this space over the years,  but right now we want to focus on those who have been here for twenty years or more.  It’s not often anyone does anything twenty years anymore,  that in and of itself is noteworthy.

These people are the original pioneers who saw the potential here long before others and helped set the building on it’s current path.  Without them, we can’t say what might have happened here,  but there is no denying,  it would not have been the same without them.  Each has made an impact in their own way,  some more noticeable than others,  all significant.  Their constant presence over the years has helped keep us going,  made it possible to take chances and try new things.  We appreciate their effort to improve this space,  to bring in new people,  to make it a welcoming space…We appreciate them,  all they have contributed here,  and the opportunity to get to know them over the years.

Kat Griffin

January 15, 2001

Kat is one of those people who other’s describe as marching to the beat of her own drum.  She is a passionate woman!

Long before it was the cool thing to do,  she made fairy furniture.  The real deal, lovingly hand made with found objects.  Not because it was cool,  but because the magic of it brings her joy!

If you talk to her at the building,  she might bring you over to show you her gingerbread house awards,  (which she has many of).  If she gets an inkling that you’re a fan of Phish or a protector of feral cats,  then she’ll bond with you over that.  Even if you don’t have any of those experiences,  I feel like any interaction with her will impart a sense of  magic and joy!  Kat Griffin is a warm smile,  someone who always tries to spread joy and happiness to others,  who looks at the world through the rosiest of rose colored glasses.

Years ago,  when our son was still a baby,  we used to come in on Sunday mornings to clean the building.  On one of those mornings,  Kat came out of her studio to find me holding him while dusting the stairs.  She ran back into her studio and returned,  smiling,  with a pink plastic wand. She proceeded to wave the wand over us while pressing a button to make lights flash as it played a little tune.

That morning exemplifies how I always think of her,  how every interaction with her always seems to go.  Kat brings a unique perspective and sense of joy to the building!

Stephen LeBlanc

July 1, 2002

Over the years,  Stephen has moved around the building a bit.  At this time,  the Garden Level is the only floor he hasn’t had a studio on.  Maybe someday he’ll decide to move again…

You can usually tell when he’s in the studio.  His music is turned up,  and is often accompanied by a rhythmic banging as he shapes metal into beautiful jewelry.

Like Kat,  Stephen is a bit of a character too.  Stephen is passionate about how he lives.  He built his home to be off the grid,  and makes conscious decisions about life.  From his training as a blacksmith that allows him to create jewelry inspired by the natural world around him  to researching the clothing brands he buys to ensure they’re organic and sustainable,  Stephen does not strike me as the type to make impulsive or rash decisions.  As much as Eric can tell you about things,  even he has found himself learning something new in a conversation with Stephen. 

Over the years,  Stephen is one of the folks here who repeatedly catches the attention of others,  which is no surprise if you’ve seen his jewelry or watched him at work.  A variety of folks have done features on him,  his work and his studio here.  Not to mention hypnotic videos showing his process that turns a piece of metal into beautiful,  delicate earrings like those to the right.

His good natured smile and laid back attitude have become synonymous with the building for us. Plus we love the beautiful pieces that he and his suite mate,  Adam Brown make here! As someone who cannot even hammer a nail in straight,  I am in awe of folks have gone far beyond such a basic skill to manipulating metal. Taking the mundane and teasing out a shape, color, texture etc. that only existed in their mind before. 

Victoria Palermo

December 15, 2000

Vicky’s studio is one of those closed doors here that makes people curious.  When she’s here, she’s focused on her work,  you don’t often see her visiting.  In addition to making her own  art,  she’s also a visiting assistant professor at Skidmore.

For those curious about what she does,  check out her bus stop in Massachusetts.  We haven’t gotten to see that in person,  but our kids loved her 2017 exhibit on the front lawn of the Hyde Museum called Camp Iris.  I’m not sure they understood it,  but they loved the huge colorful panels in front of the  historic building.  Our youngest daughter said it looked like something from a cartoon,  which was high praise from her at that time. 

Over the years,  Vickie has brought many of her students and fellow artists to the building,  which I can’t help but feel is a natural move for her. 

For me,  the name Palermo is special.  Vicky’s mom,  Florence,  was my grandpa’s cousin.  Florence and her husband John were the reason my grandparents moved from Long Island in the 1970’s.  All of my life I’ve heard stories about their kindness.  How they helped my grandparents adjust to life in an old farmhouse in Minerva.  Without the Palermo’s, they probably would have stayed in Northport,  and my parents wouldn’t have met. 

Vicky introducing other’s to this space feels akin to her parents introducing my grandparents (and I’m sure others) to life in this area!

Peter Stake & Deborah Morris

May 15, 2002

Peter and his wife Deborah are the private type. They’re not just another of the mysterious closed doors,  many think their studio is vacant because they don’t see them.  They’re not the type to go around socializing,  their studio is their retreat.  There is a sense of quiet, self sufficiency about them (or at least that’s been our impression).

Both have taught art at Skidmore college for years,  although Peter recently retired.  While folks don’t often see them around the building, their presence here has brought others to the building over the years.  As teachers and artists participating in various art shows,  they’ve helped spread word of the building far beyond our local community.

More than any of the others,  not seeing them makes it easy to take for granted how much they contribute here.  Their presence has brought in new artists and art appreciators.  They have helped build the reputation of this space as a haven for artists.  Some of the people who have come because of them just visit,  but others have stayed,  getting their own studios and leaving their own mark. 

William McCarthy

February 1, 2003

Admittedly,  this is jumping the gun a little, but we just couldn’t wait!

You may not be aware,  but Bill is the founder of the South High Marathon dance! His ties to this community go back even further than that though.  Bill has stories about family who worked in the original factory.  He once told me that every so often, as he’s coming down Lawrence, he’ll look at the building expecting to see shirts hanging out the windows on the third floor.  A practice his aunt told him was to naturally bleach out burn marks from the irons.  But Bill is more than interesting stories about the past.

Like the others,  Bill is a creator,  working with clay to create beautiful functional pieces.  I personally love his work,  but never get to enjoy it for long.  Every time I’ve bought a piece, someone in my family makes off with it.  My grandfather, who took one of Bill’s mugs from me in 2017, uses it every day and swears it’s the best mug he’s ever owned!  

Bill can usually be found with clay on his hands and clothes as he immerses himself in his process. When he’s here,  he’s here to work.  I love Bill’s studio,  in part because he shares it with another artist,  Tom Myott.

Tom has been at the building nearly as long as Bill,  who was one of Tom’ teacher’s at South Glens Falls.  Tom is preparing to retire after years in the same department Bill once chaired.

Thanks to them, we have been able to hold a mini event at the building during the marathon dance the last two years. It may not raise as much as other efforts, but, especially during the pandemic, it helped spread the spirit and gave the folks here a reason to support an event that these two men care greatly about.

Greg Palestri

Russel Serriane

April 1, 2003

This is another one that is a little early,  but his impact here is so significant,  we couldn’t leave them out!

While Greg’s studio door is often closed,  when he’s here he seems to spend as much time wandering the property as he does working in his studio. Greg and his suite mate Russel Serrianne have had one of the most visible impacts on the building.

Over the years they have provided valuable guidance,  helping with a variety of projects.  From selecting the paint colors in the halls and stairwells,  to advising on the construction of the cases to display the dresses made here,  they have generously shared their knowledge and skills to benefit of the entire building.  For years, visitors walking by the gallery were surprised to find a large zoetrope.  As one of the first piece he had made here,  Russell allowed us to display it here for a couple of years,  creating a point of interactive art for visitors young and old.  For all of the ways they have helped,  all of the things they have done,  each has made a contribution that stands out more than the others.

Russell designed the building logo.  He created it years ago to help unite the building and it’s tenants,  to give an official name to the space.  It’s simple, clean,  and always looks good.  It’s easy to overlook the importance of a logo,  especially a good logo,  but the introduction of Russell’s logo feels like a turning point for things here.  It made it possible to move forward with a united identity.

Greg’s biggest contribution is a little harder to pin down.  Some might say his design and installment of the gallery space is his more significant contribution.  Don’t get me wrong,  it is beautiful,  but originally,  Greg’s work there was for Tom Myott,  who had an art gallery there first. Yes,  Greg helped us get the Shirt Factory Gallery set up too,  and as undeniably important as this space is,  he did something else that not many know about.  In addition to being an artist,  Greg is an architect.  He drew up some of the first maps,  detailing the building layout and showing how it was broken up.  To one degree or another,  all of the maps of the building are based on his initial maps (which are put away at home).  These initial maps also helped lay the ground work for numbering studios.  As much as people complain they get lost here,  it would be worse without Greg mapping it out early on!

The Tip of the Iceberg

Many Thanks

There are many others who have contributed to the building, who we should acknowledge and thank. There are many tenant who have been here fifteen years and ten years, who we appreciate too. Right now though, we wanted to take time to thank these folks, to acknowledge them and let them know we appreciate them, their contributions, their patience, and their faith. The building would not have been able to grow and evolve without them…And honestly, if it wasn’t for these early artists, there’s a good chance that Eric would have moved his machine shop to the building, it would be full of industrial tenants, and a lot less fun to wander around! Thank you for helping change the path here!

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