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The Institute Show

Back in the day (Feb. 26, 2004, to be exact), Albany Underground Artists cofounder Chip Fasciana was quoted in these very pages as saying, with frustration, that conventional art venues like the Albany Institute of History and Art are “not going to show any local artists” [“Everything’s Happy Underground”]. However, more than a year later, and after a half-dozen underground one-night-only art openings (not to mention a ton of promotion and organization on the parts of Fasciana and fellow AUA cofounder, Tommy Watkins), this scene will now come above ground—somewhat. The Albany Institute of History and Art will play host to the organization’s new show, aptly named—you guessed it—The Institute Show. It will be a four-day-long exhibit, highlighting about 70 works by local and regional artists.

In many ways, it seems that the original goal of the AUA—to build and support the local arts community—has not only been reached, but surpassed.

The Institute Show will open tonight (Thursday, Sept. 15) at the Albany Institute of History and Art (125 Washington Ave., Albany) with a reception from 6 to 9 PM. The exhibit will be up at the institute through Sept. 21 (note, though, that the museum is closed Sept. 19-20). For more information, call 463-4478 or visit To learn more about the Albany Underground Artists, visit their Web site at www.albanyunder

Larkfest 2005

Say adieu to summer with this annual Lark Street jamboree. While in the past it has rained more often than we’d care to remember, our Weather God consultant assures us of nothing but sunshine and blue skies this Saturday (Sept. 17).

Speaking of nothing, that’s what it costs to enjoy all the fine music that will be presented on three stages all afternoon. There’s a “hometown” stage, where (among others) MotherJudge and Dr. Jah and ’70s prog-jazzers Ten 27 will do their respective things. There’s an FYE stage at the Madison end of Lark where the headliner will be DVD faves the Dandy Warhols, and the sub-headliners will include the Icelandic faves 5 Alpha Beatdown. And last, but certainly not least, there’s the Metroland stage at Washington Avenue end where the bands will include the Wait, Monkey Gone Mad and Raisinhead.

And let’s not forget the Kidsfest stage near eba on Hudson Avenue, where jugglers and belly dancers and eba’s Everything But Anchovies dance theater will entertain from noon to 4:30 PM.

You can also bet that your favorite craft and food vendors will be selling crafts and food, alongside the many fine Lark Street restaurants that will be open and ready for your appetite (and money).

Larkfest 2005 will be held this Saturday (Sept. 17) from 11 AM to 5 PM on Lark Street (Albany). See the Larkfest special section in this very paper for even tinier details.

Jesus Hopped the A Train

Stephen Adly Guirgis has been named by The New York Times one of the best playwrights under 40, and has multiple awards to buttress this opinion. His play In Arabia We’d All Be Kings was selected by Time Out New York as one of the best plays of 1999, and Jesus Hopped the A Train—which begins its run at Stageworks/Hudson on Wednesday—nabbed him Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival award and was included in the anthology Best Plays of 2001. He’s written for NYPD Blue and The Sopranos, and appeared as an actor in films such as Todd Solondz’ Palindromes. Not too bad for a guy who took only one playwriting course at the University of Albany—and that pass-fail.

Guirgis, who’s been paraphrased describing himself as the worst student ever, has made the most of his haphazard route. Collaborator Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who has directed several of Guirgis productions, goes so far as to say that it’s exactly this untraditional education that allows Guirgis his power. Hoffman points out that Guirgis never learned the rules, and therefore—out of naiveté or genius—is free to break them at will. And it’s not just the playwright’s friends who praise him so. The Times describes Jesus—the story of a 30-year-old bike messenger jailed for shooting a cult leader responsible for “brainwashing” his friend—as “firebreathing.”

Jesus Hopped the A Train opens at Stageworks/Hudson (41 Cross St., Hudson) on Wednesday (Sept. 21), and runs through Oct. 9. Tickets are $11-$27. For more information, call 822-9667.

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