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Selling to Soledad

It’s a Thursday afternoon at Elissa Halloran Designs on Lark Street in

Albany, and proprietor Elissa Halloran is sitting on the floor of her back room. It is packed with boxes, materials, and various kinds of art supplies: evidence of creations in the works. She seems very content with her recent success. In front of her first-floor shop, several customers peruse the artsy necklaces, earrings, accessories, funky lamps and artwork that pack the store, which opened last March. It’s become a very popular, acclaimed boutique—and recently, Halloran and her shop were even discovered by a national celebrity.

Weekend Today Show anchor Soledad O’Brien recently noticed an NBC producer (a regular Halloran customer) wearing one of Halloran’s necklaces and asked to see more of her work. The producer brought in several pieces to show O’Brien, who was instantly sold. O’ Brien loved what she saw and bought all of the pieces; she also invited Halloran to come to her apartment in New York City to show her some more. “It was pretty amazing that someone of that stature was interested in my jewelry. I was definitely nervous,” says Halloran, when asked how she felt watching O’ Brien look at her jewelry. “But she made me feel pretty comfortable. . . . She’s very sweet.”

Halloran says she hopes to continue her interactions with O’Brien in the future. “I keep saying in my head, ‘This is so cool,’ ” says Halloran.

Fans of Halloran’s jewelry design needn’t worry that she will pick up and move her shop, however. Halloran, who has lived in the area for most of her life, doesn’t plan on leaving the region anytime soon. “I would love to possibly have a line and possibly a store in New York. But right now, I like living in Albany,” says Halloran. “It’s really a great feeling to see people walking down Lark Street wearing my jewelry.”

—Ben Sher

Don’t Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Local artist Luke Williamson has a bone to pick with the city of Albany—particularly the Lark Street Business Improvement District. The Lark Street BID hired him to paint a banner advertising Art on Lark, an event which took place in Albany’s Lark Street neighborhood two Saturdays ago. The banner was to hang from a trolley which would drive through downtown Albany offering free rides. The banner Williamson submitted was mildly risqué, displaying four bare-chested men and women with “ART ON LARK” written across their hats and chests. Saturday morning, when he looked for the banner on the trolley, it was nowhere to be found. “I have to admit, I kind of knew they might take issue with it, because it was a family event,” says Williamson. “[But] I was really disappointed. . . . I think that that kind of thing should be something that could be seen.”

From the time Williamson submitted the banner, it was the subject of debate. Initially, the BID rejected it. However, after several people involved with the BID and Art on Lark argued in Williamson’s favor, he was told that they would use it after all. Shortly before the Saturday morning when Art on Lark was held, it was decided that the banner would not be displayed on the trolley. “We wanted to be fair to the artist,” says Joe Cunin, executive director of the BID. He says that much discussion went into deciding whether or not the banner was appropriate to display on the trolley.

“We initially thought it was kind of fun and an interesting take on Art and Lark . . . [but] since the event has a fairly significant family component with a kids’ area, we thought we’d err on the side of being more conservative,” Cunin says. Cunin also points out that the banner was, in fact, displayed at the Art on Lark festival outside Web of Threads clothing store. “But not in such a public forum,” he notes.

Williamson says he understands the BID’s point of view, but believes that the situation reflects something inherently “backwards” regarding our society’s view of nudity and sexuality. “I always turn on the TV and see people being shot and beat up, but they’ll never show nudity or sex,” he comments. “If you could have one of those things happen to you—being shot, being beat up or being nude—which one would you pick?” Williamson also believes that the situation goes against downtown Albany’s generally liberal attitude. “I take it personally, but it affects everyone in the city,” Williamson says. “Downtown Albany likes to promote itself as liberal and open-minded. . . . If it’s so great, this shouldn’t even be an issue. I would hope that people in Albany would be upset by this.”


Opening Night

Martin Benjamin

It was an exciting night for the Trink Gallery on Remsen Street in Cohoes.

Upstairs at Trink, a hip, little retro store that recently movedto a larger location on Remsen Street, up the block from its former location, owner Nadia Trinkala (pictured) was celebrating the opening of a new art gallery with a group show by 12 artists. A crowd of more than 400 people passed through the three large gallery spaces, quickly using up the 300 blank name tags available for gallery goers. Cohoes police had to direct traffic, as so many members of the Capital Region art scene descended on the opening.

Champagne flowed, munchies were devoured and hundreds of well-wishers, including Assemblyman Ron Canestrari, took in artwork and live harpsichord and guitar music.

The opening exhibit, which contains paintings, photographs, video, sculpture and mixed-media works of art, runs through Aug. 11.

—Martin Benjamin

In With the New

Leif Zurmuhlen

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and many others gathered to celebrate the opening of Park Playhouse’s new headquarters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony/sign unveiling on June 11. Park Playhouse’s offices and technical shops have relocated from 60 Orange St. to the former No. 3 Fire House at 895 Broadway. The two-floor, 6,000-square-foot building will house offices, a small rehearsal room, a new costume-construction shop, and an extensive costume-storage area. The garage space in the rear of the building will be converted into a new scenic-construction shop. The move was conceived after Capital Repertory Theater purchased the former City Arts Building at 60 Orange St.


To celebrate Jacob’s Pillow’s 70th anniversary season, a revised edition of the book A Certain Place: The Jacob’s Pillow Story has been released, which includes new pages of updated history, new photos and a new foreword by executive director Ella Baff. A Certain Place traces the Pillow’s history from its beginnings as an 18th-century farm, through its role as a station on the Underground Railroad, to its current status as the United States’ oldest-running dance festival. Originally published in 1997, the revised edition includes a new chapter “Dance for a New Century” which extends the historical narrative from 1997 through the present. Also included are new appendices of the artists, teachers, premieres and works created at the Pillow. It also boasts a new cover with an illustration of Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn by artist Al Hirschfeld. A Certain Place: The Jacob’s Pillow Story by Norton Owen, the Pillow’s director of preservation, is available at www.jacobspillow. org and select outlets. . . . The Sisters of St. Joseph Swamp White Oak tree in Latham has recently been nominated to the National Register of Historic Trees. The 350-year-old white oak, which stands on the grounds of Provincial House, the home of the Sisters of St. Joseph, has witnessed the American Revolution, nobles seeking refuge from the French Revolution and the building of Provincial House in the late 1960s. The tree will be featured in a soon-to-be-published volume produced by American Forests, an organization dedicated to conservation and environmental restoration. American Forests maintains the National Register of Historic Trees, the first comprehensive reference of trees with historic significance. The book will be published by Crown Publishing (a division of Random House) in 2004. . . . Got Art Beat items? Send them to

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