Opalka Gallery began curating Art at APL in the Spring of 2019. Art at APL is a fine arts exhibition program at the Pine Hills Branch of the Albany Public Library showcasing the work of contemporary artists connected to the Capital Region. The program, which began in 2013, integrates professional artwork into public spaces within the library, enriches the library experience, and gives visitors something interesting and educational to look at while they browse the collections. Art at APL is funded in part by the Friends & Foundation of Albany Public Library. The Pine Hills Branch is located at 517 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203.
Pieced Together on view October 1, 2021 through April 17, 2022
The exhibit showcases artists who transform cut paper and other discarded materials into new compositions. Whether through model making or collage, these artists find inspiration in scrap paper, fabric remnants, old maps, photos, or magazines. For some, the allure of a commonplace material like cardboard is the freedom inherent in it—it isn’t precious or perceived as valuable so anything goes. For others, it’s the history of the material—all the other stories it has told and can yet tell. Often it’s simply the economy of re-using scraps. Ultimately, the satisfaction comes from piecing it all together into something new.
Watch a video about the exhibition here:
Creative Curbsides December 2021
During the COVID19 pandemic, the library was closed to the public, with only curbside service. Instead of an indoor exhibition at the Pine Hills Branch, we proposed a public art initiative to feature local artist’s work in the windows of two branches, the Bach Branch on New Scotland Ave. and the Arbor Hill/West Hill Branch on Henry Johnson Boulevard. A public call was issued and out of 14 proposals, two were chosen. Eight Plums (Gracelee Lawrence and Ben Seretan) created the Bach Branch installation while Dana Sela in collaboration with Kim Tateo of the Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm created the one for the Arbor Hill/West Hill Branch.
See the Albany Times Union article about the project here.
And on Albany Made, an Albany Public Library podcast, Opalka Director Judie Gilmore and Exhibitions and Marketing Manager Amy Griffin, spoke with APL’s Head of Branches (Bach & Pine Hills) Deanna DiCarlo about the project. Listen here.
Rear View: Life Examined December 6, 2019-May 2, 2020
Rear View: Life Examined featured artists whose work begins with memory. Whether starting from oral histories, (Daesha Devón-Harris and Paul Miyamoto), from old snapshots (David Austin, Steve Rein, and Gail Skudera), or from actual memories (Leona and Gavin Christie, Meighan Gale, and Kenneth Ragsdale), these artists examine the ways we try to hold on to, reconstruct, and reckon with memories throughout our lives. This process knits together our past to our present, forging a narrative of a life, examined.
Read William Jaeger’s review of Rear View in the Albany Times Union here.
Rear View coincided with the installation of Kenneth Ragsdale’s “A Melody with Embedded Harmonies,” a temporary installation by artist Kenneth Ragsdale, made possible by an Upstate Coalition for a Fairgame Arts Grant. The installation was extended due to the pandemic.
Picture This June 7 through November 2, 2019
Picture This was the first Opalka/Art at APL collaboration. Dive into any good book and vivid imagery appears in the your mind. Great authors use words to create new worlds, guiding readers through carefully chosen descriptions, metaphors, and the rhythms of language. Similarly, artists can create stories and characters through pictures, using color, style, and scenery to suggest imagined places and narratives. In both cases, the reader (or viewer) plays a part in the creation of the fictional world.
Picture this: a young girl learns about her grandfather, a cacao farmer in the Ivory Coast; a fan gets the opportunity to sit with his idols; a girl asks her older sister what to dream about; a cat presides over a multigenerational family. These are some of the stories told by the artists in this exhibition, all whose work has a whimsical or fantastic quality, suggesting larger stories for authors or viewers to fill in with their imaginations. Some of the exhibited artists are indeed book illustrators and writers (Jeff Mack, Matthew McElligott, Giselle Potter, Stacey Robinson and Elizabeth Zunon), and some are painters (Darcie Abbatiello, Brian Cirmo, and Ann Wolf) whose work is not created primarily for books. But these artists all share a similar studio practice–creating pictures that tell a story, introducing us to new places and characters. We, as viewers, get to fill in the blanks.