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Art Beat

Local hero: Grammy nominee Stefon Harris.

HOPEFULLY, THE THIRD TIME WILL BE THE CHARM: Jazz vibraphonist, composer and Albany native Stefon Harris has earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for his disc The Grand Unification Theory. Harris’ composition was commissioned by the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, and premiered at the venerable concert venue on March 3, 2001. The 11-movement suite was so well-received that Harris went into the studio a month later, and recorded it with a 12-piece ensemble. (If you’re wondering why it took a couple of years to be released, that’s the record business.) Harris has described the experience of writing The Grand Unification Theory as “amazing.” Reached by telephone, his mom Euthia Benson was delighted: “This is the third time” her son has been nominated for a Grammy. She added that the folks at the Troy Music Hall are very happy, too. Now if the members of the RIAA would be kind enough to award Harris the Grammy, it will be a truly happy ending.

LAST EXIT TO SUNY: The University at Albany has found a new director for the University Art Museum. It’s Janet Riker, who has held the director’s post at Brooklyn’s Rotunda Gallery since 1989. The Rotunda features (according to their mission statement) “Brooklyn-affiliated” artists in all media; judging from the exhibits Riker has curated, she has a wide range of expertise and interests, from installations with accompanying literary readings to reinterpretations of works in an of array of visual arts. According to the official statement, UAlbany’s happy because Riker has as strong a background in fund-raising and community outreach. Riker’s happy because the UAlbany gallery is a “vibrant center of the visual arts and a place for active learning and intellectual engagement.” No word on whether she’s glad that the appointment doesn’t begin until April 1, when the worst of the Albany winter will presumably be over.

IT’S BETTER THAN AN OSCAR: No matter what you saw on Entertainment Tonight, the Sundance Film Festival wasn’t all bitching about Harvey and Bob and Ashton and Demi this year. The film competition went on as usual, and a regionally-made film took home a couple of big prizes. Down to the Bone, which was filmed in and around Woodstock, Saugerties and Kingston, earned the best director prize in the dramatic feature category for Debra Granik. Vera Farmiga (of New Paltz) earned a special jury prize for her performance in the film. Hopefully, this worthy feature will be coming to a theater (or pay cable channel) near you, sooner than later.

MAGIC CARPETS, THEY HOPE: This weekend you can redecorate your house and benefit the New York State Theatre Institute at the same time. In one of the more unusual, ongoing fund-raising schemes yet devised, there will be an oriental rug auction this Sunday (Feb. 8) at Russell Sage College’s Schacht Fine Arts Center on the Troy campus. This is NYSTI’s fourth auction of fine floor coverings, and they claim to have saved previous bidders big bucks. Preview the more than 250 handmade rugs beginning at 11 AM, and be prepared to bid on the merchandise from Egypt, Pakistan, China, India and Iran beginning at 1 PM. Actually, the NYSTI folks reference Iran as “Persia” in their information, but we all know that Persia is Iran—don’t we? Can’t we get past the whole “axis of evil” thing, at least when it comes to home décor? For more information, visit or call the NYSTI box office at 274-3256.

—Shawn Stone

Against The Odds

On Friday, Jan. 30, the Albany International Airport Gallery hosted a reception for their new exhibit Artists in the Studio: 30 Years at the Millay Colony for the Arts. This juried exhibition showcases works by over 40 artists who are former residents of the colony, which is on the former Columbia County estate of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. The turnout was swell, in spite of a post office glitch that held up the mailing of the invitations for several days.

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