By Shirley O'Shea
---- — The Smithy Arts Center is prepared to help the surrounding community weather the worst of upstate cabin fever with a full roster of new and ongoing programs designed to bring out the creativity residing in everyone, according to Danielle Newell, the Smithy’s executive director.
“This winter is going to be a lot of fun,” Newell said. “We’ve got a pretty complete community arts program planned.”
Community arts programs are open to everyone, free, and often cross-artistic disciplines, Newell said.
The Smithy’s mission is “to make art accessible, and to provide programming that will allow everyone is the community to come together and collaborate, to discover new talents and fine tune skills,” she said.
Community Art Night, beginning its third year in February, is a free program in which regional artists come to the Smithy to offer instruction in their discipline. “They teach a skill or craft,” Newell said. “We provide materials, snacks,and music. (Participants) get to take their artwork home with them.”
Newell said the Community Art Nights have increased in popularity since its inception, and is attended by people of all ages.
“We reach people in every demographic,” she said.
Community Art Nights will take place Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit http://www.smithyarts.org/community-arts for more information.
Also heading into its third year in February will be the Smithy’s Cinema Studies class, also a free program, which will meet alternating Saturdays from 7 to 9 p.m., Newell said. This year, the class will screen and afterward discuss films created by auteur directors — filmmakers who wrote as well as directed their films — such as Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, according to Newell, who will lead give a lecture before each screening. Registration for the class is required.
This February will see the introduction of a play reading series, also to take place alternating Saturdays. The Smithy will “bring together casts and rehearse once or twice, and then give a reading that is open to the public,” Newell said.
The plays featured will be Lillian Hellman’s “The Children’s Hour,” Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee’s “Inherit the Wind,” J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”
The play readings will be “open to anybody that wants to get involved,” Newell said.
In order to learn more or sign up to be a reader, call Newell at 547-8671 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
A new program, described by Newell as a “think-tank,” called “Smithy Rabbit Hole,” will launch in February. The program will focus on “subjects having to do with the arts,” Newell said, with participants sharing ideas about a designated topic. The first discussion will be “the source and value of creativity,” Newell said. Artists in the group will be asked to bring in a sample of their work for discussion, and the whole group will create an end product for the community, she said. “Smithy Rabbit Hole” will meet the first week in February and the first and third Tuesdays of each week thereafter, Newell said. Call the Smithy for additional information.
Newell said that Bruce Hall Home Center is sponsoring this winter’s Community Arts Program “by providing space all winter long. We’ve gotten to the point where we no longer fit in our space. It will be completely Smithy space all winter. It’s so generous,” Newell said.
The Smithy will continue to offer its pottery classes beginning Jan. 28. “Mondays on the Wheel” with Karla Andela will meet 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. On Tuesdays, Roy Kortick will lead “Tile Making” 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Leah Wilcox will offer “Tuesdays on the Wheel and off-the-Hump” 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. A children’s pottery class will meet on Jan. 8, 15 and 22.
Special workshops with area potter Elizabeth Nields will take place in January, as well. A pottery mentoring program will be available, also, in which an experienced pottery student will be paired with a newcomer, to guide him or her through the first stages of learning the art.
Acting classes will be scheduled upon request, Newell said. And the Smithy’s writers’ group continues to meet every Sunday, 4 to 6 p.m.
Newell said the Smithy’s subsidiary theater company, the Glimmerglobe, will tour “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, this winter and spring, at schools and other venues throughout central New York.
“It’s a hilarious show, a send-up of Shakespeare — with love,” Newell said.
The show will feature three actors, Steve Dillon, Michael Henrici and Tio Schluter IV. “They’re extraordinary,” Newell said.
Schools that book the production will receive a “comprehensive resource guide for teachers,” created by the Glimmerglobe, Newell said. She encouraged interested schools to contact her as soon as possible to arrange a booking.
Looking ahead to warmer days and nights, Newell said the Smithy’s gallery will be featuring art exhibits throughout the summer, and “a full season of theater,” with three full-length productions planned, as well as a visit by New York City’s American Renaissance Theater Company for two shows, a repeat of last summer’s “Midsummer Madness” Shakespearean acting workshop, and a 24-hour community play festival. In addition, summer will bring a concert series every Monday night, Newell said.
“We’ve got so much planned! I’m really excited,” said Newell.