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Art Beat

SANTA’S NEXT STOP? LARK STREET Well, well, well. Funny how time slips away, isn’t it? Christmas Day is creeping ever closer, friends: Are you ready? You can finish up your shopping and have fun as if you yourself were a jolly old elf this Saturday afternoon at the Winter WonderLark. The 4th annual festival celebrates the holidays in that special Lark Street way: with shopping, eating and drinking, family fun and a half-naked street race. The latter is the 5th Annual Santa Speedo Sprint, in which “Santas” in Speedos race at 2 PM from the intersection of Madison Avenue and Lark Street; race registration begins at noon at the Lionheart Pub and Oh Bar. The will be free trolley rides; an outdoor winter market along Lark offered by neighborhood merchants including Elissa Halloran Designs; a Gingerbread House Fun Shop at Upstate Artists Guild (247 Lark St.) from noon to 4 PM; ornament making at the Albany Art Room (457 Madison Ave.), also from noon-4 PM; a “performance” art sculptor, Rich Koons, working his magic on blocks of ice from noon to 2 PM at State and Lark streets; and there will be traditional Oaxaca Mexican Pottery

Smashing at El Loco (465 Madison Ave.) from 12:30 to 4 PM. And you can also vote in the neighborhood window display contest. Winter WonderLark will be held Saturday (Dec. 11) from noon-5 PM on Lark Street in Albany. For more info, visit larkstreet.org.

ITALIAN, AMERICAN, RADICAL Being an advocate for radical change will get you sent to prison. That’s one of the lessons in the documentary Freeing Silvia Baraldini, which will be screened on Saturday night at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy. Baraldini was convicted and sentenced to four decades in Federal prison in 1982 for her help in freeing Black Panther Assata Shakur from prison; this documentary is about her journey to radical activism, and then her journey into the Federal prison system and international attempts to secure her release (Baraldini was born in Italy.)

Filmmakers Margo Pelletier and Lisa Thomas will be on hand for a Q&A following their film; I recently had a chance to chat with Pelletier by telephone.

“I came to New York City to be a painter. . . . and I landed in Brooklyn,” she said. Pelletier explained that she moved smack into the middle of one of then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch’s gentrification programs—“people were being thrown out into the street”—and that effected her political awakening. She became acquainted with the May 19th Communist Organization, which is how she came to know Silvia Baraldini, who was one of that group’s national leaders.

“This was a time period when lines were drawn, and a lot of people were passionate about doing the right thing.” It was also a time when the FBI was making a dedicated effort to dismantle what was left of the American radical movement. At the time Baraldini was arrested, Pelletier was doing carpentry work in Baraldini’s apartment.

The film is a fascinating document of its time, but it’s more: Some of the punishments meted out by the Feds on Baraldini are being employed in the war on terror. And they are not humane.

Freeing Silvia Baraldini will be screened Saturday (Dec. 11) at 8 PM at the Sanctuary for Independent Media (3361 6th Ave., Troy). Tickets are $10, $5 low income. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow the screening. For more info call 272-2390.

EXPERIMENTAL ACADEMY The must-attend art event of the weekend is Reverse Vertigo, the Rensselaer Electronic Arts graduate studio show being held Sunday (Dec. 12) in West Hall. This represents the RPI EArts and iEAR studios, which, they aren’t shy about pointing out in the program notes, “have courted contention and praise as leaders on the forefront of electronic arts, mixed media, video, performance, bio-art, design, engineering and emergent technologies.” The artists in the show will be Heidi Boisvert, Alejandro Borsani, Sena Clara Creston, Yehuda Duenvas, Anna Lindemann, Ellie Markovitch, Joshua Thorson and Clara Tomaz. The works will range from “experimental game design, to living installations to live broadcasts of camp burlesque.” Reverse Vertigo will be held from 4 to 7:30 PM in West Hall (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy) on Sunday (Dec. 12). Admission is free. “Legendary snacks and drinks will be served.” (Woah. That’s a big promise.) For more info, Google “RPI iEAR” and see what comes up.

CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS Big things are doing over at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass. Beginning Monday (Dec. 13), the museum will close its galleries and shop through Feb. 3, 2011, “to prepare for the exciting reinstalltion of its collection.” The project, which is “museum-wide,” will consist of eight exhibits in 10 galleries which will be on display for three years. For more info, visit wcma.org.

—Shawn Stone

sstone@metroland.net

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