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Aiming High

by Elyse Beaudoin on April 6, 2011

For the last two months, the former Cheeky Tiki Monkey gift shop underwent a radical remodeling and has re-emerged as the Icarus Dreams gallery and studio. Seth Sanger, Casey Walsh, and Nathaniel Innes, with the help of other Albany-based artists and volunteers, transformed the space. Everything was stripped down, from the hot pink walls to the four layers of flooring, in order to create another space for art on Lark Street.

Entering the new Icarus Dreams is like walking into someone’s apartment.

“It’s supposed to be a little more laid back” said Seth Sanger, a self-taught artist and the owner of Icarus Dreams. “It’s like an adult playground where everyone can just get funky.”

It’s a gallery and working artist’s space. Tools are out and in use for ongoing projects. Paintings and photos by artist friends and community members hang on hand-made brackets. Bare bricks pop out of the plaster and hold small, flickering tea light candles. A stage, decorated with wine corks and the Icarus wing logo, is front and center, and looks out over Lark Street through a broad picture window.

“The curtains in the window are kind of like our open/closed sign,” said Sanger. “When people on the street see someone painting up here, they’ll ask, ‘What’s going on in there?’ and come in to see.”

The workspaces in Icarus Dreams are open to artists working in a variety of media. There is a four-color duel workstation screen printer, in addition to airbrush kits, tattoo guns, saws, drills, and various other tools. A photography darkroom is also in the works.

“We want to have open house nights were people can try out tattooing on pork skins,” said Sanger. “We have them in the freezer. Or you could use a grapefruit. It works the same way.”

Icarus Dreams had its official opening last Friday, April 1—1st Friday—and between 300 and 350 people walked in to enjoy work from six artists, wine, and food.

“We didn’t use any formal advertising for the opening,” said Sanger. “It was all word-of-mouth.”

Fourteen pieces were sold during the opening. Sanger’s 12-year old nephew, Duncan Enering, sold $600 worth of artwork that night. Enering bought a burrito from Bombers and donated the rest of the funds to the art department at Parson’s Center for Children.

Aside from gallery revenues, Sanger also uses funds from donations, making business signs, airbrushing motorcycles, and designing album covers to enhance Icarus Dreams.

All of this has spurred ideas for new artwork and events. Plans for live-action art, painter’s jam sessions, and poetry slams are all in the works. Icarus Dreams is also looking to formally participate in local community events, including 1st Friday and Art on Lark.

“I draw a lot of similarities between myself and Icarus. My dreams fly high and sometimes that can be my downfall,” said Sanger, “but it’s that idea of being attracted to something bigger.”