By Benjamin Joe
The Carnegie Art Center in North Tonawanda will be celebrating the beginning of fall with its event called “Uncorked for Creativity” in the outdoors right outside the building on the art center’s lawn.
Originally an art contest for Carnegie’s members, the winner will be announced during the event and have his or her design printed on a wine can from Enchanté Rose and then distributed throughout the state by Cuvee Imports.
“The winner gets their work on there and they also get compensated by Cuvee,” said Natalie Brown, program coordinator. “That’s between them two, Cuvee and the artist.”
However, not to let a good party go unnoticed, Brown and her coworkers decided the event shouldn’t be limited by any one particular winner. Brown said that the event was then approached as a fundraiser for the Carnegie and hopes to bring a big audience to the art center that weekend.
“That’s how it all got started, then we all realized; we should make this a fundraiser for the Carnegie,” Brown said. “All the submission fees and the membership supports the Carnegie, and now anyone who buys a ticket to ‘Uncork your Creativity’ supports the Carnegie.”
The event will include wine and beer tastings, food, art activities, the art contest winner will be announced, and there’s an exhibition in the gallery for event goers to admire.
“It’s a great way to bring people to our venue, but also raise some money and just have some fun!” Brown said.
The Carnegie Art Center was originally a library in 1903, built by the business magnate Andrew Carnegie. He gifted it to the City of North Tonawanda, but later the library outgrew the building and moved to where the North Tonawanda Public Library is today.
“In the ’70s the Carnegie turned into an art center,” Brown said. “It’s been an art center in one way or another since.”
Brown and her coworkers, many of them volunteers, hold exhibitions, workshops and classes.
“In the past, we’ve done dance classes,” she said. “Theater performances. We’re open to any kind of art expression. This past year, since January 2019, we’ve really been trying to build our membership and host high-quality artistic events. We recently had a really gorgeous art show featuring all these sculptures. The artist was Win Han, and he’s a Buff State student, but he is an amazing ceramic artist, and we just had his show about a month ago. Now we have the collection of Gerald Mead on display. … (We host) mostly local, New York artists, although Win is originally from Burma. … We try to be diverse in the type of artist, but also the type of art they do, as well.”
Brown said artists come to her attention quickly.
“It’s such a beautiful gallery,” Brown said. “People really want to do a show there. So, it’s just a matter of making sure it fits within people’s schedules, and it’s the type of high-quality work that we want in the space. We also try to mix in community events, so every year we have a show that features all of the artwork by the NT City art classes. That’s free of charge for them, and it’s a time for them to show off their artwork. We have a family night where families can make art for free, so we also do community events, along with high-quality art shows.
“It’s less of an issue of curating as it is getting money to fund all this.”
According to Brown, more people are being drawn to the arts, but there is still a solid, steady art community that buys memberships and attends all the events.
“I think it’s a mix,” she said. “Every time a new artist shows, I always see new faces. Like when Win just had a show; he brought in a wonderful array of people I’d never met before. Young, old, all different ethnic groups and backgrounds. It was really lovely to see fresh faces. So, I think it’s up to the gallery to bring in new people, but also the artist, themselves, bringing in new people. That’s always the goal: Bring new people in. Keep our members that have been around for a long time, but also bring in new people, too.”
Tickets to the “Uncork your Creativity” are $20 pre-sale, $25 day of the event. They can be bought at www.carnegiartcenter.org.