MAD 2017: The Year in Review

MAD with its small army of volunteers has accomplished myriad things in 2017. We couldn’t have done this without them!

(L to R: Ione, Anne Bailey, Kevin O’Connor) Photo by Gloria Waslyn

A recap of 2017 begins with our official MAD launch party late last year. The Celebration of the Arts 2016 launch was a free evening of music and dance and consequently was followed by an even more successful concert in August of 2017. People came from all over to hear and see a diverse line-up of mostly Kingston artists on August 3, 2017. Center 4 Creative Education (CCE), Ione, Percussion Orchestra Of Kingston (POOK), Donny Mapes, Eleni Reyes and Future 350 NU Bossa were some of the outstanding Kingston performers who helped us to shine a light on Midtown as a vibrant and up and coming part of town. Kingston’s own well-known composer, Peter Wetzler, curated the concert and it was opened by Mayor Steve Noble. We presented beautiful Red Goat Awards to Kevin O’Connor and Ione for their outstanding contributions to the arts in Kingston and each gave a short speech about the importance of the arts to Kingston’s future. Media coverage was great, we packed the house, and the feedback excellent.

Besides hosting and organizing our Celebration, MAD collaborated with several important arts initiatives this past year. All of these initiatives created cohesion among the many arts organizations in the city and brought together some of the most creative minds in Kingston. Working with the Kingston Arts Commission, MAD helped to plan the Remembrance Celebration for Pauline Oliveros at City Hall in March. MAD organized and hosted her reception in the Great Hall, which attracted more than 200 people to Midtown. We are currently collaborating with the City and its Arts Commission to design and build The Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening Plaza in Midtown.

Ben Wigfall by Nancy Donskoj 1993
Photo of Ben Wigfall by Nancy Donskoj

In June of this year, one of our Board members organized a memorial service and reception for famed Kingston art teacher and fine artist, Ben Wigfall. The revered SUNY New Paltz professor, who was the first African American professor at New Paltz, made two huge contributions to Kingston: his Communications Village mentored the youth of Ponckhockie in the 1970s, and his elegant Watermark Cargo Gallery was a vibrant addition to Abeel Street during his lifetime. One of our board members is currently assisting Wigfall’s widow, Mary, in organizing his archives for a show, which will once again bring attention to Midtown in a very positive way. MAD’S Ben Wigfall Project is an umbrella for various projects being developed to involve the community, along with the artists and businesses, in owning the Midtown Arts District.

Another success was conceived by the MAD Communications Committee, which, after much hard work, reinstated Kingston’s 1st Saturday Gallery Guide. MAD organizes and produces it and pays for printing the map each month. With the greatest density of artists in Midtown, we are attracting a huge weekend crowd onto the streets of Midtown and throughout the City of Kingston.

MAD also worked closely with Arts Mid-Hudson to launch the 2017 Art Walk Kingston. This fall weekend event now includes more than 70 artists and once again shines a bright light on Midtown as an interesting place to visit, walk around in, have meals in and now invest in. We will be collaborating further with Art Walk again next year to roll out some exciting new initiatives.

MAD Board of Directors

For the first time ever, MAD opened up Made in Kingston to include fine art. With the MAD Pop-Up Art Fine Fair, we organized 17 artists’ works. The show garnered excellent reviews from both the public and the artists themselves. MAD also helped to sponsor the event, which was of course in Midtown! The Business Alliance of Kingston has agreed with us that Midtown will remain their most vital focus. Thank you for your help with this important work.

From a housekeeping point of view, MAD established its 501 (c)(3) status, hired a part-time bookkeeper and an accountant, expanded its board to seven directors, and holds monthly meetings with a very pro-active agenda. We also recruited a diverse and talented MAD Advisory Board.

Next year promises to be just as exciting with free (or nearly free) art classes being offered to the Midtown community through Pop Up Gallery Group (widely known as PUGG) which exhibits work by Kingston High School students and alumni. The Department of Regional Art Workers (D.R.A.W.) offers “pay-as-you-can” arts workshops and classes at the storefront next door. MAD will promote these initiatives and will continue to provide financial support. These pop-up art hubs have become important places for community outreach and conversation. Preliminary plans are also underway for our Celebration of the Arts 2018 with even more exciting performances than this year.

Our 2017 e-News initiative to feature arts events and MAD artists across a wide variety of artistic disciplines – including ceramics, photography, furniture making, jewelry, music, painting and more – has become a popular feature in our regular e-News. In 2018, we want to attract even more artists to participate in our artist interviews – if you haven’t already done so, please fill out the form here to be included in an upcoming issue of the MAD e-News.

Another goal we envision for 2018 is to improve our website. We plan to make it more interactive and to establish an artists’ registry that will allow us to highlight event listings for artists’ work and other Midtown arts-related opportunities.

Please show your support of this vision for Midtown through a financial contribution to MAD by the end of this year. Many of you have already joined our community building initiatives in Midtown through a previous donation and, in order for our efforts to continue to have a big impact, we need your ongoing support! Please join us as we work to improve life in Midtown.