City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
This Is Not A Drill: City Emergency Plan Put to Real-life Test
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Inside the gymnasium, on the south side of the city, a basket and backboard tower over a long row of white tables. Sturdy swivel chairs and a mesh of computer wires stretch across the foul lines. A filing cabinet stands at the top of the circle abutting a bookshelf that extends to center court.
“All the inner workings of City Hall,” says Mayor Meg Kelly, gesturing across the 30,000-plus square feet of gymnasium space where city employees are busy at work. These new temporary quarters will act as their offices for the next 12 months.
A Friday night lightning strike upon City Hall in mid-August acted as the catalyst for the change, after a drainage pipe on the roof was struck and melted, causing heavy rains to pour into the building which has served as the center of Saratoga Springs’ government since 1871.
The city’s new and previously untested emergency management plan was put to a real-life test.
“The Emergency Management Plan was put into effect immediately when the lightning struck,” Mayor Kelly says. “As soon as it went into effect, we had all the people converge. Everyone’s got a job to do and everybody has their role.” City Fire Chief Bob Williams was designated incident commander. Marilyn Rivers, director of risk and safety, and Assistant Police Chief John Catone had boots on the ground – a job they basically took over for 24 hours, Kelly says. The city's emergency dispatch center was relocated to the county's facility. “We moved it that first night, because we just didn’t know how much damage there was going to be. The water just kept coming, all over the place.”
The commissioner of public safety is charged with developing and periodically updating the city’s Strategic Emergency Management Plan. In 2016, assistant Police Chief Catone completed the near-two-year project of compiling potential disaster concerns in Saratoga Springs and how to best address them. The plan is comprised of approximately 500 pages of documents and annexes and was the first new comprehensive plan for the city in a decade. It includes risk preparedness, response, and recovery in the aftermath of potential catastrophic weather events, terrorism incidents, school shootings, workplace violence, and public exposure to hazardous materials, among other things.
“The plan worked very well,” Mayor Kelly says. “The biggest thing with our plan was – number one - that we had a plan. A lot of cities don’t, and I would recommend that if you are a city you do need to get one. We’re not under that plan anymore, because now we’re up and operating. We were up and running in six days.”
Like any first-time implementation, there are lessons to be learned, Kelly added. “You do learn. A lot of things worked, some we’ll go back and look at. One area we need to improve was the court system, which wasn’t in the plan. We need to get that in there because they’re in our (City Hall) building.” Court sessions are currently being held in the Lincoln Bath building on South Broadway.
City workers were initially displaced in a variety of locations across the city, with DPW officers at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park, legal staff and commissioners of Finance and Public Safety at The Mill on High Rock Avenue and Risk and Safety located at the Lake Avenue Fire Station. There is a move to consolidate most of the workers at the Recreation Center on Vanderbilt Avenue, which when fully relocated will house about 65 employees.
The $6.5 million recreation center – which faced some public opposition as well as an unsuccessful court action prior to its development – opened in 2010 and was wired to be computer-friendly.
“We have the fiber in this building, which made it easy for people to just come and plug right in: bing, bing, bing and we’re up and running,” said DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. “That’s important because it’s not all over town. When they built this, they put infrastructure in here to accommodate the new technology.”
“We did look at several places all around the city, but very few are large enough to hold us, and if they were they didn’t have the fiber,” Kelly says. “It would take four to five months to get the fiber (for communications) to the building, and it’s so expensive to have that happen. So, that’s why we’re staying here.”
The city is working with the YMCA, Skidmore College, and the Saratoga Springs School District to relocate as many of the city programs that had been held at the center as possible. “The programs are going on if they can, if not then they’ll be brought back in a year when we’re moved out of here. This is an emergency situation,” Kelly says. To that end, the city Recreation Commission will host a Recreation Master Plan Public Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Mabee Building, 2nd floor Community Room, on 31 Church St.
While the gymnasium section of the building is for employees only, a separate section of the building holds offices the public is likely to need, such as those seeking licenses and other information. A “greeter” has also been placed at the center to help direct people where they need to go and is something that has officials thinking there should be a similar point person installed when City Hall reopens.
The work environment at the rec center – essentially a city government without walls – has gone well moral-wise, Kelly says. “I think everybody seems to work a lot more together in this environment. I’ll tell you, we have a very strong group of employees here to pull this off, because it doesn’t happen easily. Everyone we asked for help has jumped right in.”
THE STATUS OF CITY HALL
“We’re shooting at re-opening in a year from now,” Scirocco says. “We met with engineering architects last week and we’ll be moving forward on our master plan for City Hall. Right now, we’re in the process of doing demolition and there is some testing on where the asbestos is. Once that happens, we’ll get an abatement contractor and we’ll probably do the abatement and any other demo work that needs to be done.”
The configuration of offices at City Hall is anticipated to change. A second courtroom, which is required, is targeted for the second floor where currently a single courtroom is located. That would effectively force the relocation of the public safety offices and the law library. The Saratoga Music Hall, which is located on the third floor and sustained the most damage, will be reconstructed and will remain a music hall. Cost estimates regarding the damage is anticipated before the end of this calendar year.
“It’s a good opportunity to make changes – some which we’re obligated to do, some to be more efficient and safer. So, that’s the goal,” Scirocco says.
UPCOMING MEETINGS, which will be staged at the Saratoga Springs City Center. The City Council holds a pre-agenda meeting 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1 and a full meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday; The Design Review Commission meets 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, and the Planning Board meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4. Additionally, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, the city will publicly open and read sealed bids for preliminary and final engineering for the Complete Streets Saratoga Greenbelt Downtown Extender as it relates to Lake Avenue bike lanes.
Create: Celebration of Wellness & The Arts at Pitney Meadows Farm Saturday
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A family friendly kickoff to fall featuring food, music and individual and group art projects will take place Saturday afternoon at Pitney Meadows Community Farm. Attendees will have the opportunity to create kites, flower crowns and a collaborative sculpture project - which will be installed at the farm.
The event is hosted by C.R.E.A.T.E Community Studios, a nonprofit organization that works with children and adults to promote freedom of expression, personal growth, and community connection through art.
“We were formed by a group of art therapists and art educators,” says group co-founder Julie Lewis. “Our mission is really about bringing the expressive arts to an underserved population and working with communities to bring health and wellness - through the expressive arts - as a medium through which community togetherness can happen.”
The focus is on the process of art-making, which includes interacting with subjects, creatively working from a feeling, or becoming inspired by community issues. It is about using the creative process as a vehicle for personal growth, communication and social change.
“My interest came from my background of working in schools and specifically working with some low-income at-risk populations,” says Lewis, a NY State certified teacher.
“I saw half of my students struggling so much with the academic side of things and what I realized is they weren’t struggling because of academic needs – they’re extremely bright – but because there was so much change and trauma and difficulty in their family lives. And they didn’t have a proper outlet for that in school,” she says. “The kids were clearly showing me that there were ways they wanted to utilize activities in terms of the arts and physical activity, music and the movement to express themselves. I felt a little powerless trying to change that in a school structure. I realized I really wanted to find a way to make a space for that.”
Inspired to seek like-minded collaborators, Lewis connected with Heather Hutchison – a state licensed creative arts therapist, and Aili Lopez, a licensed mental health counselor. “They both had a similar dream of opening up some type of community center focused around using all the arts – movement, music, visual, performance everything to help bring communities together and to heal,” Lewis says.
C.R.E.A.T.E is located on Broadway in Saratoga Springs in the Collamer Building and on State Street in Schenectady and offers a variety of affordable art-based workshops for all age groups. The organization has also partnered with veterans’ groups and agencies such as the Franklin Community Center, Wellspring, and Shelters of Saratoga to offer programs for specific populations.
“We’re really focused on trying to meet all the needs of our community members,” Lewis says. A list of programs may be found on the organization’s website at: http://www.createcommunitystudios.org/.
Saturday’s events take place 3 to 6 p.m. at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, 223 West Ave. Tickets are $30 per family and $15 per individual and may be purchased in advance on the organization’s website, or at the farm on the day of the event.
Funds raised support C.R.E.A.T.E.’s mission to serve everyone who walks through their doors by providing a space where the benefits of art-making impact each person’s overall mental, emotion-al and physical health through free and low-cost open studio time, expressive arts groups for kids, teens and adults, arts workshops and community wellness activities, community building events and imperative outreach programming.
Court Rules Against Permanent Code Blue Homeless Shelter on Walworth Street
SARATOGA SPRINGS - A decision has been made in the lawsuit against the City of Saratoga Springs which seeks to block a permanent Code Blue shelter from being built on the property of Shelters of Saratoga, Inc. at 14 Walworth St., according to S.O.S.
In an order dated Sept. 17, a Saratoga County Supreme Court judge has vacated and nullified all City approvals granted to SOS in response to a lawsuit filed by surrounding neighbors. The order vacates and nullifies the determinations by The City of Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Planning Board in 2017 and 2018 which would have allowed the shelter to be built.
Shelters of Saratoga, or S.O.S., oversees the Code Blue program, and siting an emergency shelter at a permanent location has been a high priority following a series of temporary shelter venues that have been staged at St. Peter’s Parish Center, the Salvation Army building and the Soul Saving Station Church.
In early 2017, local business owner Ed Mitzen, and his wife Lisa, stepped forward to announce they will pay for the costs of a new, permanent Code Blue homeless shelter to be built on the current Shelters of Saratoga property on Walworth Street.
The 2017 and 2018 approvals from the ZBA and Planning Board were challenged based upon the opposition to the City’s administrative determination that the proposed Code Blue shelter met the definition of a “neighborhood rooming house” as set forth in the Saratoga Springs City Zoning Code. Following the administrative decision, the ZBA voted in favor of the interpretation that the proposed shelter was zoning compliant. The decision revoking the most recent approvals resulted from the combination of two lawsuits filed by the neighbors in 2018 which is in addition to a 2017 lawsuit neighbors filed following the ZBA dismissal of their case as untimely.
Code Blue, a program of SOS, is a restriction-free winter shelter that operates from November until April when the temperature drops below 32 degrees or more than 12 inches of snow is predicted. The temporary shelter was located at Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs for the winter of 2017-2018. During the 2017-18 winter season, Code Blue provided meals, clothing and support to 144 people. An average of 53 people used the shelter for 162 evenings and 44 daytime openings. Forty-five individuals transitioned into treatment, reconnected with family, entered another program, or found permanent housing.
The Franklin Street residents opposed to the shelter being developed on Walworth Street, released a statement through their spokesperson subsequent to the ruling by Judge Robert Chauvin. The statement reads: "Given the order and judgment of the court that the proposed Walworth Street shelter expansion was not an appropriate use of zoning, it is our hope that the Shelters of Saratoga, the City, the neighbors, the County, and involved parties can work together to carefully address homelessness and Code Blue services in our community. Alternate sites have been offered and should be considered as part of a meaningful, long-term solution."
“Our plans to shelter people for the upcoming winter season are well underway thanks to the commitment of Soul Saving Station Church and Presbyterian New England Congregational Church as temporary locations for Code Blue.” said Marcy Dreimiller, SOS board president, in a statement. “We are disappointed in the decision and will now need to evaluate what options exist for a permanent, long term solution for the Code Blue program.”
Saratoga County Jury Convicts Local Man of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals
BALLSTON SPA – A 31-year-old Saratoga Springs accused of causing serious physical injury to his Boston Terrier, was convicted Monday by a Saratoga County jury of one count of Aggravated Cruelty to Animal, according to Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen.
The man, Aaron Brinkley, was convicted of brutally beating his 29-pound Boston Terrier “Riko,” with a hammer, inflicting injuries that ultimately led to Riko’s death.
“We are pleased that the Jury held the Defendant accountable for this especially depraved conduct,” Heggen said.
The trial began last week with jury selection, continued with more than 7 witnesses and over 50 items of evidence. Heggen commended the efforts of the Saratoga Springs Police Department for their work investigating the case.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14. Brinkley faces a maximum of two years in the Saratoga County Jail.
Ringo in Saratoga
“They're gonna put me in the movies... They're gonna make a big star out of me…”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Fifty-three years to the day since the Beatles recorded a live performance of their song “Act Naturally” on the Ed Sullivan show, Ringo Starr revisited the tune at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center during an appearance with his All Starr (sic) Band.
The two-hour-long, 24-song set was evenly split between a dozen Ringo-led tunes, and three songs apiece performed by each of the four main other players of the ensemble.
Ringo assumed vocal duties on songs once performed, if not written by The Beatles, including: Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” “Boys” – popularized by The Shirelles, and the previously mentioned “Act Naturally” - a tune originally recorded by Buck Owens.
From The Beatles canon, Ringo tinkled some on the keyboards and sang “Don’t Pass Me By” and took mic in hand at center stage for “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “What Goes On” – which he introduced as “the only song written by Lennon, McCartney and Starkey,” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” – which in 1963 the Beatles wrote for, and gave to, the Rolling Stones. Perhaps the night’s greatest joy was delivered in a full theater sing-a-long of “Yellow Submarine.”
Starr, with a little help from his friends, returned to the venue for the first time since August 1989. At that time, his All Stars Band consisted of Joe Walsh, The Band’s Levon Helm and Rick Danko, Dr. John, Billy Preston, and Clarence Clemons and Nils Lofgren, who were on hiatus from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
This time around, the ensemble featured prolific studio musician and Toto guitarist Steve Luthaker who led a performance of that group’s hits “Rosanna,” “Africa,” and “Hold the Line.” Guitarist Colin Hay revisited his time with the band Men at Work, singing “Who Can It Be Now,” “Down Under,” and “Overkill.” Original Santana keyboard player and vocalist r Gregg Rolie revisited the songs “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen,” and “Oye Como Va,” and 10cc songwriter Graham Gouldman added “I’m Not in Love,” “Dreadlock Holiday,” and “The Things We Do for Love.”
Starr, when he wasn’t at the lead mic at center stage, played drums throughout, aided by a second percussionist. Culling a quartet of ditties from his solo albums, Ringo revisited “It Don't Come Easy,” “You're Sixteen,” “Photograph,” and “Anthem” – the latter signifying one of the evening’s few tracks, if not the only one, written in the current century.
Looking decades younger than his 78 years, the one-time Beatles drummer sported a colorful off-center screen T-shirt depicting a face reminiscent of Nina Hagen, a black blazer and jeans and pyramid-studded belt, a slew of bangles on his right wrist, a timepiece on his left and a gold “Peace” symbol around his neck.
Caffe Lena to honor Al McKenney with Launch of Community Lunchtime Listening Hour
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Some people called him “Captain Fun,” others the “unofficial mayor of Saratoga Springs,” but the one sure thing of which you could be certain when running into Al McKenney on one of his strolls along Broadway, was you would hear a story you had never heard before. And he had a wealth of lifetime experiences from which to draw.
McKenney had managed concert tours featuring musicians from David Bromberg to Clannad and performed emcee duties for the Smithsonian’s annual National Folk Festival, and Pete Seeger’s Great Hudson Revival. His voice is forever immortalized at Kent State University on their KSU Folk Festival Recordings, which date back several decades. Beyond McKenney’s omnipresent suspenders, purple Caffe Lena T-shirt and similarly colored beret were the tales of musicians Utah Philipps or Rosalie Sorrels and memories of Lena Spencer, owner of the coffeehouse on Phila Street where so many memories have been made.
When the then 26-year-old hitchhiked a ride from his native Massachusetts to land in Saratoga Springs in 1971, there was no going back. When McKenney died in the summer of 2015, he had amassed more than 1,000 vinyl records and hundreds of CD’s and music-related books.
This week, volunteers at Caffe Lena began unpacking the first 18 boxes containing the vinyl collection and placing them alphabetically in specially designed purple shelves, each standing nearly seven feet in height and located in the café’s entry area.
First out: Joan Baez’s self-titled debut on Vanguard Records – in mono, no less and released in 1960, the same year Lena and Bill Spencer opened the doors of their café. Next came a slew of Louisiana Cajun compilations led by the 1934 Lomax Recordings and a handful of platters by Clifton Chenier. There was a large collection of albums by Joni Mitchell, by Hank Williams, and by Bruce Springsteen. More than a half-century of Bob Dylan recordings spread across the lobby floor.
“The ‘D‘ space will probably have to be larger,” surmised Caffe Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig, eyeballing dozens of record jackets whose vinyl grooves contained the original strains of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like A Rolling Stone,” to "Silvio" and "Gotta Serve Somebody," live performances of "My Back Pages" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," to cover renditions performed by The Byrds, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
The plan for the collection – named the Captain Fun Listening Library - is to share with the community the kicks the music delivers. Caffe Lena will host a Lunchtime Listening Hour one Friday each month, with the tentative hope to kick off the series the first Friday in October. The listening hour will take place 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be a completely free event, curated by Chuck Vosganian aka Rochmon, and attendees are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch.
Super Dark Monday: Make This A Night to Remember
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Fronted by swatches of catchy, smooth, distort-o-chords with a snappy rhythm section and tuneful vocals to boot, Blockhouses are making their way through the northeast to stage a show in Saratoga Springs on Monday.
The band - Guy Lyons with guitar and vocals, Christopher Peifer with bass, keyboards and vocals, and Jim Balga on drums – is touring in support of their debut album, "Greatest Hit Songs of All Time."
The group says their plan was hatched in a bar in Washington Heights in late 2013. Their local connections to this region run deep. Lyons was an original member of the Spa City’s own Figgs, and Lyons’ former bandmate, Pete Donnelly, is tabbed with producer credits on Blockhouses debut album.
The band’s mission, they say, is to bring high-energy, catchy, punk rock and roll tunes to the masses of N.Y.C. and beyond, and they wear their sonic glories on their collective sleeve, mixing together a varied inspiration via The Ramones and The Who, and Husker Du to The Only Ones, not to mention healthy doses of everyone from the Beatles to the Stones. A sonic sample and bio may be viewed at : https://www.blockhouses.net/.
Blockhouses will perform Monday, Sept. 24 at Desperate Annie’s on Caroline Street as part of the Super Dark Monday series.
New City Charter Heads to Public Referendum in November
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The mayor-appointed City Charter Commission has completed their work on a 38-page document which proposes a new City Charter. The proposition goes to public referendum on Nov. 6. If approved, the new Charter becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2019 – effectively repealing the city’s existing 2001 Charter.
A second part of the referendum seeks to increase the voting members of the City Council from five to seven. If that second proposal is approved by voters – that referendum also takes place Nov. 6 – the addition of the two council-members-at-large will become effective Jan. 1, 2020. As such, city voters in November 2019 – the next scheduled vote to elect the council – could be headed to the polls to vote for seven council members, instead of the traditional five. It is anticipated there would be a list of candidates for council members-at-large on the ballot, and the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes would then serve as council members-at-large.
Specifically, the Nov. 6 ballot will contain two separate questions about the Saratoga Springs City Charter.
1. Shall the Saratoga Springs City Charter be amended as proposed by the 2018 Charter Review Commission?
2. Shall the Saratoga Springs City Charter be further amended to provide for two (2) additional City Council members whose authority shall be legislative only?
Voters who choose to approve the first question – changing the City Charter – may also vote on whether to approve the second question. The initiative – adding two council members-at-large, cannot be enacted without a “yes” vote on both questions.
The 2018 Charter Review Commission was formed on March 6, 2018 by Mayor Meg Kelly with the goal of finding efficiencies and organizational improvements to better serve the people who live and work in the City of Saratoga Springs. The ten-member City Charter commission is comprised of the following members: City Attorney Vincent J. DeLeonardis, Chairman; Deputy Commissioner of Finance Mike Sharp, Vice Chairman; Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety John Daley, Secretary; Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan; Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco; Commissioner of Public Safety Peter Martin; Commissioner of Accounts John Franck; Deputy Mayor Lisa Shields; Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Joe O'Neill; Deputy Commissioner of Accounts Maire Masterson.
City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis served as chairman of the Commission. This week, he sat down with Saratoga TODAY and discussed some of the proposed changes.
- What is the status of the proposal?
- We have completed our review, drafted our proposed recommendations and filed that (on Sept. 6) with the city clerk. The document will now be forwarded to the county Board of Elections and it will be on the ballot on Nov. 6. It will be on the ballot, by the way, as two separate questions.
Through our process of drafting proposed amendments, we have all of those incorporated into a draft charter relating to the first question that the voters will have: whether they will approve the Charter as amended by the Charter Review Commission.
A separate question is whether they will further amend the Charter to incorporate the two additional at-large council members.
If they vote yes for question 1 to amend the charter, they will then vote on whether it will be further amended to address the two at-large council members, but if question 1 does not get approval, then question two does not go into effect.
How would the two at-large council members work?
- If approved by the voters, the two at-large council members will have legislative responsibility only and would not have any administrative or departmental responsibilities at City Hall.
Will they be paid positions?
- They would be, but salaries are to be determined by council. The amount of the salary is not contained in the Charter itself. The amount of any salary to be provided to the council members at-large would be established by the City Council in accordance with Local Law. That would be decided after the vote passes. (Note: at-large members would not have deputies).
Would the council members at-large attend every council meeting?
- They would be expected to. They will be full members of City Council.
What influenced the idea to consider expanding the voting council from five to seven members?
- I think as a commission we were aware of certain public concerns that the responsibilities of the five council members may prevent qualified citizens from seeking public office. So, there is an opportunity to serve in city government as a member-at-large, and not be responsible for running a city department. It would enlarge the opportunity for individuals to participate in city government. They are charged with being fully involved in all voting procedures. They will be full members of the City Council, they just will not run a department.
Would there be a specific criteria or requirement for members at-large?
- No, it’s an elected position and it’s up to the people to decide who they put as members of the City Council.
What are your thoughts about the overall review process with the commission?
- I thought the process was positive. The commission worked well together, and we had a level of respect and professionalism that assisted in the process of getting things done.
What are some of the proposed changes to the Charter?
- Generally we’ve re-numbered and re-organized certain sections, provided amendments to the existing Charter - including new sections. and of course, there’s the separate and distinct question submitted in respect to council members at-large. More specifically, there are a number of things we did not change (such as) term limits. That was one thing that had been raised, but we did not make changes to it. In a number of areas we eliminated things like specific job titles and outlined department functions. We’ve incorporated requirements related to the State of the City (Address) – that it be presented by the entire City Council, rather than just the mayor. We have also required that appointments to the Land Use Boards – including the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the DRC – which are still to be made by the mayor, will now be made with the advice and consent of counsel and will require a vote. And, the Rec Commission and the Recreation Department was moved from the Mayor’s Department to the DPW.
Will there be Public Hearings?
- We did receive an invitation from SUCCESS – who is hosting an event at the Library on Oct. 3 – and so we accepted that invitation and we’re looking forward to presenting at the library on that date. We’re also reaching out to other organizations and entities for meetings.
Note: The Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission will give a presentation on the proposed charter changes at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3 in the H. Dutcher Community Room of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. A Q&A session will follow. This meeting is being sponsored by SUCCESS and is open to the public.
Neighbors: Lawrence White & Saratoga Fantastique
Who: Lawrence White
Where: The Grove, on Lake Avenue.
Q. Where are you originally from and when did you come to Saratoga?
A. I’m originally from California. I was living in New York City and first came up to Saratoga in 2002. I was very sick from the terrorist attacks and there was no business (in downtown New York). At that time, Jacques Burgering, who was the director at the National Museum of Dance had been my neighbor in Soho for about 10 years. He gave me an exhibition at the museum. At the same time, my doctor said “you’ve got to relocate,” so I was like: well, this is beautiful here. It reminded me so much of where I grew in Northern California.
Q. Artistically, what have you found in Saratoga?
A. The level of culture here is just so high and has been for so long, that you can hook into that line of heritage very easily. As a photographer, I’m always looking for the light and Saratoga is the ultimate light-catcher. Such beautiful qualities of light here, so it makes my job easy. I just go around and visually feast on how light falls here. Another one of the great things about this area is the history. It goes way back but comes right up through the Industrial Age, so you have these great buildings that were once flourishing and now have this incredible texture.
Q. What is your background as an artist?
A. I went to the San Francisco Art Institute and got a master’s degree in ’75. When I was there I worked with some great artists – everybody from Imogen Cunningham to Eugene Smith, Robert Frank and Kenneth Anger. As artists we got to work next to them. Robert Mapplethorpe. Can you imagine seeing them printing seeing that technique and realizing, basically they’re all a bunch of knuckleheads like the rest of us, but they were able to develop their own technique that worked for them. They understood the rules, but the rules were bent to their shape and not the other way around. That was the key of being an artist: to get within the rules, understand them, become a master, but then break the rules in ways that created art.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming exhibition “Saratoga Fantastique.”
A. It’s finding the incredible things that lurk beneath the surface. All these little nuances - things we may have seen before, but places where I lingered on and playfully manipulated the images. For me as an artist, I’m able to stretch my wings.
Q. Having come to Saratoga only during the past 15 years or so you have seen things with relatively fresh eyes.
A. I hope my photographs help people look at Saratoga in a different way than what they might normally see and that this interpretation allows them to absorb themselves even further into their own history. To see things differently - that’s really the key of life. It’s easy to get bored. We do the same mundane things every day, but as a photographer we see light and the way light falls on the same thing every day as always different. The further we dig into that maybe the further we learn about ourselves. And I think that’s the message here. And that’s why “Saratoga Fantastique,” because it is fantastic. It’s not mundane and we should be continually reminded of that.
As artists, we have different tools to express our voice, which comes from the ether, our muse. Our physical body is our instrument and we can have many different ways to express what this voice is. It’s a gift, but it’s temporary gift. My ability to see. My ability to move is very temporary and I can only use it for so long. That’s why I think it’s so important to respect it for what it is. Time. The sand is falling through the glass all the time and we have to be aware of that. It’s precious. Don’t just squander it.
Lawrence White’s “Saratoga Fantastique” will be on exhibit at The Grove, on Lake Avenue. An opening reception takes place 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Show hours will be 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, by appointment.
A City Remembers: Saratoga Springs Hosts 9/11 Ceremony 17 Years After Attacks
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The contradictions of the day and the desire to bring meaning to something 17 years later still incomprehensible, were on open display for anyone who sought to look for them: blue-sky morning versus gray cloud rain; trauma rebutted by survival, and the sudden extinguishing of life counteracted by blessings in the opportunity of being alive.
“9/11 was, is, and always will be a reminder that tomorrow is not promised,” keynote speaker Shawn Patrick told a crowd assembled at High Rock Park on Tuesday, Sept. 11 to mark the 17th anniversary of the 2001 attacks. Patrick’s brother, James, worked for the Cantor Fitzgerald financial services firm and was killed at the World Trade Center that day. The Schenectady native was 30 years old. A few days earlier he celebrated his first wedding anniversary. A few weeks later came the birth of a child whom he would never know.
This Tuesday’s morning rain presented a contrast to the blue-sky morning of that Tuesday’s September day. The annual remembrance event marked the third such Tuesday since 2001 - the others being in 2007 and 2011- a calendar connection that won’t happen again for another 11 years, in 2029.
The ceremony took place at High Rock Park, home to a 25-foot-tall sculpture titled “Tempered By Memory,” commissioned by Saratoga Arts and created by artists Noah Savett and John Van Alstine from five twisted pieces of Trade Center steel. Four pieces came from the North Tower, one came from the South Tower.
City Mayor Meg Kelly, her voice choked with emotion, collectively recalled the thousands killed that day and in the event aftermath: those who worked at their desks, those who responded to help, families separated, children killed, she lamented. The number of New Yorkers suffering post-traumatic stress, Kelly said: “immeasurable.” Similarly, city Fire Department Chaplain Rev. Thomas Chevalier paused to remember both - those killed while attempting to help strangers in need, as well as those who continue to battle physical ailments. “Those who still suffer the consequences of their generosity and care,” he said.
A member of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department rang a silver bell 17 times, one for each year since the 2001 attack. And Commander Christopher Tejeda, of the U.S. Naval Support Activity in Saratoga Springs, recited a timeline “to reflect and remember those who are not with us.” Each was followed by a moment of silence.
8:46 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 11 strikes the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
9:03 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 175 strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
9:37 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 77 strikes the Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C.
9:59 a.m. – The South Tower falls.
10:07 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 93 crashes in a field in Pennsylvania.
10:28 a.m. – The North Tower falls.
Stepping outside the somber remembrances of the day, even the music displayed the conflicted emotions. Alongside renditions of and "America the Beautiful," and Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans," Rick and Sharon Bolton performed both Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land" – the latter song composed ironically as an angry response to the former.