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Art Beat

Glory days: Toys, Trains, Dolls! at the Schenectady Museum.

ALL ABOARD: Pity the trainspotter. Once upon a time there were dozens and dozens of North American railroads, each with its own flashy color scheme for locomotives. Back in the day, even the boxcars were distinctive. Now there are 6 or 7 major lines left—on the entire continent—and each is too cheap to decorate its engines with anything resembling flair. If you want to see an aesthetically pleasing train today, you either have to track down a historical society operation, buy model trains or go to a museum. Which brings us to the Schenectady Museum’s current exhibit, Toys, Trains, Dolls!, which continues through Jan. 5 and celebrates the beauty of train-related toys and memorabilia. Starting this weekend (Dec. 11-12), volunteers from Upstate Train Associates will be exhibiting and operating a “newly updated” layout of model trains. This Saturday and Sunday, train hours will be noon to 4 PM; future days and hours can be accessed at the Schenectady Museum’s (Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady) Web site, For more information, call 382-7890. And don’t forget to stop on Nott Terrace (just down the hill from the museum) and check out that Schenectady-built Alco locomotive on permanent display—it’s the one painted in the groovy old Great Northern Railroad color scheme with the mountain-goat logo.

WOULD YOU LIKE ART WITH YOUR JAVA? Caffeine junkies and art lovers alike have a new destination: the Daily Grind’s new location in Troy. Located at 46 Third St., the coffee mecca’s new space is, well, huge. (I don’t get to Troy much, but everyone says so.) The owners decided all that wall space was a perfect place to hang art, too, explained Chris DeMarco, the coordinator of the current exhibition of works by Paul Shapiro (photographs), Deborah Chess (paintings) and David Brickman (photographs). Metroland contributing critic Brickman helped DeMarco hang the show. “It’s a great spot to have a two- or three-artist show,” said DeMarco. “It’s a beautiful space.” If you want to check out the art, just visit the Daily Grind when they’re open and pouring coffee.

OUR ENDOWMENT’S BIGGER THAN YOURS: Bard College, which has the newest world-class performing arts complex in the Northeast (the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts) and a significant music program that hosts one of the most innovative summer arts-and-music programs in the region (Bard Summerscape), is expanding again. A full-fledged Bard Conservatory of Music will formally open in the fall of 2005. Part of this will be a vocal and vocal-dramatic program that will begin in fall 2006; earlier this week (Monday, Dec. 6) Bard announced that Dawn Upshaw, one of the leading sopranos in, uh, the world, has signed on to design “a course of study” for that program. According to the press release, Bard president (and American Symphony Orchestra conductor) Leon Botstein said the college was “profoundly lucky to have an artist of such wide-ranging accomplishment” join the new conservatory. No argument here.

OUR ART IS LESS EASILY PIGEONHOLED THAN YOURS: Let’s play a game. I’ll relate an informational quote about an art event at a local university or college; you guess which institution it came from. Here we go: “Once inside the building it is recommended that people pick up a map in the 1st floor near the fishtank area and begin the exploration of Electronically modified spaces in the building.” You shouldn’t need a Jeopardy! musical minute to guess Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This Wednesday (Dec. 15), RPI will host an Electronic Arts Show at West Hall from 5:30 to 9 PM. There will be digital video, digital graphics, “tactical media”, etc., on view. For more info visit

—Shawn Stone



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