The Pop Up Gallery Group is an afterschool work-study program that sets out to get students involved in Mid-Town thru the Arts. Students learn Arts/Gallery management skills, as they create Pop Up Galleries on Broadway, in Mid-Town, Kingston, NY. The Gallery’s mission is to show the artwork of KHS Alumni. The PUGG students are learning skills in Arts/Gallery management, as well as the power of the arts to create community and engaged civic involvement.
Students began their work by visiting the “School”, a satellite for Jack Shainman’s, Chelsea Gallery, in NYC. The staff gave our group a back room presentation about handling, preparing, hanging and marketing, works of Art. All of the staff at the School, are artists, so the students got to see how their skills as artists can translate to good jobs in the arts, with or without a college education.
Of course the group of high school students first had to give their group a name. They settled on Pop Up Gallery Group (PUGG).
PUGG Students met with David Schell, the owner of GreenKill, a new Gallery in town. He helped them understand how to write a press release and how to use social media to get publicity and generate interest.
The PUGG Group also helped to install the Senior Seminar Show at the Greenkill Gallery, as well as writing the press release and working on the social media presentation.
PUGG’s first Pop Up show, on Broadway, shared the work of Amy and Scott Ackerman. Both students are graduates of KHS, Scott graduated in 2000 and Amy in 2002. 591 Broadway hosted our first show. The space was large and needed lots of work, so we decided to install walls that turned the windows into display units. Artists had their own window. There was no electricity. We had to find a way to display the work and light it. We used battery chargers as our electric source with plug in track lighting, and led bulbs. The students constructed painted and cleaned the walls, as well as the windows and visible interior. The show was up through the summer. We received lots of positive response. People walking by all stopped to look. Business owners noticed that it made the block seem active, positive and engaged. People attending UPAC events were able to see works of art, instead of papered over window. Chris Silva, director of UPAC positively commented about the changed perception.
This Fall was a busy time. Kingston worked with the Art Walk, and O+. We installed 591 with the work of 3 local artists, Stephen Nicolls, Susan Spencer Crowe and Carrol Struve. Students met Riley Johndonelle, AKA Uncle Riley, a visiting artist in town for the O+ festival. With Rilely the students hung and curated work done by a variety of artists using the Into-O-yellow paint, which is a paint developed by Riley as part of a larger project UMEWE, to bring awareness to suicide prevention and depression.
Riley also helped the students work on their branding by working with them to develop a logo and teaching them how the logo could be used for a variety of purposes, and how to alter the design but keep a brand visible. Students are responsible for creating the graphics, flyers, posters, cards for each event. The work with Uncle Riley went really well, so the students decided to collaborate again, this time on a Happy spot project, “Pollination”. With the help of community members, PUGG received 100 10” discs, which they painted with the Into-O-Yellow paint. They asked 100 KHS students to paint a flower on the front and to write an idea to make Kingston a better place, on the back. The Happy spots were then displayed at the Into-O-Yellow gallery, with the opening Oct 27th, to coincide with the Celebration of the Arts, where the mayor designated Mid Town as an Arts district, cut the ribbon on what is to become the Broadway Commons. The Pollination project remained up for over a month and is currently are on display, at the Made in Kingston site. The PUGG presented the ideas to the mayor On Dec 17. PUGG asked for approval to display the Happy Spots somewhere in Midtown this winter. The Mayor was also asked to visit the students who had participated and have a discussion, which took place Jan 17th at the Carnegie Bldg.
Ed Kang, The Owner of the Broadmoor building, on Broadway, where Into-O-Yellow lives, offered PUGG a space in an empty storefront, to use as a temporary gallery space of their own. Over the thanksgiving holiday, the grouped worked on fixing up the space. They had the help of the artists and local community members. They had to sheet rock, put up shelves, hang a door, install lighting, paint, spackle, repair the floors and then hang the work.
Kelli Sillik and Frank Pesko were our first alumni artists to show at the new space, Kelli graduated in 2010 and Frank in 2008. PUGG students wrote the press releases, curated and helped to hang the work. They organized the opening and hosted. Organized the social media and handed out flyers and posters. At the opening they kept track of visitors, making sure to get people to sign the book. Over 100 people attended the opening, with constant traffic throughout the night. Alumni came out to support the show and the artists. Many Art Alumni have been in contact with PUGG about possibility of showing in the future.
We decided to have workshops in the space to help us get more interest in the gallery and the program, while offering free art workshops for kids. Frank Pesko taught our first workshop, Relief Printing. Frank graduated from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in printmaking. It went well.
Our Current show, “Top Secret” the work of Matthew Pleva, will run from Jan 21 – Feb 28 with. Matthew Pleva graduated from Kingston High School in 1993; he currently has a small shop selling his jewelry, and dioramas, on John St. in Uptown, Kingston. The Opening reception was Feb 4, from 5-7pm. We were able to offer a recent graduate, and current Bard student, the opportunity to teach a Comic-Making workshop. Isabelle Simek published her first comic as her senior thesis for Senior Seminar. A series of 3 workshops, Jan 21, 28 and Feb 4, from 1-3pm, geared toward 12 – 14 age group, covering all aspects of comic making from character development to layout and design. The workshops went well, students were engaged and look forward to returning. To be continued.
As advisor for this group I have experienced the power of the arts to create community and enhance the quality of life in a neighborhood. People are noticing the new energy on Broadway. It is a form of respect, staking out space to create beauty and community interaction. We have been keeping Saturday hours and I have had the opportunity to talk with many people strolling down Broadway, checking out the new energy. Both Local residents, students on their way to and from school, curious visitors. It has been very exciting to have the opportunity to be at this crossroads, both figuratively and practically.
Art Teacher/ PUGG Advisor