Displaying items by tag: saratoga ny
BALLSTON SPA – In August 2012, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to create the formation of the Saratoga County Capital Resource Corporation, or SCCRC, and named Anita Daly the organization’s chair.
Charged with promoting community development and the creation of jobs in both the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors, the local development corporation this week announced it had facilitated more than $200 million in financing since its formation.
That financing benefitted health care, education and affordable housing organizations headquartered or operating in Saratoga County. Projects have included enabling low-interest financing for a segment of a new science building at Skidmore College, the expansion at Saratoga Hospital, updates to the Raymond Watkin apartments and for a St. Peter’s Hospital project.
“In the case of Saratoga Hospital, they expanded their ER and the size of their OR, and (at the Watkin apartments) they did a huge renovation to the facility that enhances the quality of life for residents there,” said Daly, who continues to serve as chairwoman of the not-for-profit SCCRC.
“By being a conduit for tax-exempt financing, it helps not-for-profits maintain low costs in financing or re-financing a project. By keeping the cost down, it allows them to save money for their operation or do an expansion, or whatever their goal may be,” Daly said. “Sometimes it makes the difference whether they go ahead with their goal or not.”
In a new initiative for 2019, the agency is providing grants to small businesses and organizations which may not otherwise have the resources to participate in the newly launched Saratoga County Institute of Management. The program is designed to help local incumbent staff members develop leadership and management skills.
“It was created at the request of different business people in the area who expressed the need to better advance certain skill sets of existing employees and new hires,” Daly said of the partnership forged between SCCRC, the county Chamber of Commerce and Empire State College with the idea of grooming future leaders. “We created a program that was directly the result of requests made by businesses, so that we can help our businesses with their workforce development needs.”
The program is organized into three different three-month tracks: sessions in Operational Management - such as recruitment and retention, and knowledge of HR and legal issues; Self-Awareness - which includes time management and effective listening, and sessions in the Management of Others, which features motivation and conflict resolution techniques.
The cost for businesses to send employees to the management program is $1,500 (Chamber members) to $2,000 (non-members) per employee, per track.
“What the Saratoga County Capital Resource Corporation was able to so with some of its funds is to invest in the project by way of scholarships,” Daly said. “Particularly for some smaller not-for-profits that may not have the funds available in their budget to send some of their employees to this management institute, we underwrite the cost for them to attend.”
The agency – comprised of seven members at full capacity - is self-sufficient and doesn’t rely on any taxpayer or government funding, Daly said. The group’s annual budget calls for contractual CEO and administrative expenses but is comprised of a volunteer board. Fees associated with application charges provide revenue, Daly added. Bond administration fees typically account for $75,000 in annual revenue, according to the agency’s budget.
“The whole purpose of creating Saratoga County Capital Resource Corporation was to give our not-for profits in Saratoga County an opportunity to work with a local development corporation as opposed to having to go through the state Dormitory Authority - a much more cumbersome and expensive route for them,” she said. “We’re very proud of the organization we put together and pleased that we have been were able to offer this avenue for financing and we believe it’s come back to benefit everyone across Saratoga County, and even beyond.”
SCCRC holds public meetings on a quarterly basis at minimum, and with more frequency when working with an application or project that needs further review. For more information, call 518-435-5903, or go to: https://www.saratogacountyny.gov/departments/saratoga-county-capital-resource-corporation/.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – 5G. AI. Blockchain. The possible eradication of disease and abolishment of poverty. The potential wiping out of your job. So many questions. A free, city-based “Lunch and Learn” event with a focus on artificial intelligence will take place Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
“The AI Opportunity: Developing an AI Ecosystem in Upstate New York” will include a panel discussion, and a Q & A session: What is artificial intelligence? Why does AI matter? What opportunities does it present locally and regionally?
Panelists will share ideas, experiences, and viewpoints about AI technology, research and development, ethics, and policies and will be moderated by Michele Madigan, city Commissioner of Finance and chair of the Saratoga Springs Smart City Commission.
“This series—on topics such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, innovation, and energy—works to position the region to spur economic development by leveraging applications of emerging technologies to practical business challenges,” Madigan said, in a statement.
Marty Vanags, president of Saratoga County prosperity Partnership, and one of the sponsoring organizations of the event, points to things like the Apple Watch, robot vacuums and Alexa as things inside the home that depict AI is already here.
“On my phone I have The Weather Channel App. Algorithms are generating information and pretty darn accurate information about what the weather is going to be like into the future, from temperatures on an hourly basis to how much and where snow is going to fall,” Vanags says. “I was at a consumer electronics show last week and Samsung has something called The Hub - this giant screen on the refrigerator that organizes your family activities, totally interactive.
Do you watch movies on Netflix? That data is put to use for the next time you want to watch a movie and shows up in recommendations: because you watched THIS movie, try THESE movies. “It may not be an exact fit, but the technology, that algorithm will learn over time,” Vanags says. “Machine learning, which is part of Artificial Intelligence. It keeps re-defining until it really begins to know and understand what it is you like.”
It is anticipated that the deployment of 5G will lead to the mainstreaming of autonomous, or self-driving vehicles.
Asked whether there may be a danger with all the gathering of data that may lead to humans not being exposed to new things, or perhaps other downfalls, Vanags says, “technology needs to have limits and controls, just like anything. It’s an interesting conundrum. We like our technology we like our conveniences and at the same time we don’t want to be felt imposed upon by companies that are using that technology.”
An “Open Letter” penned in 2015 and signed by the likes of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, the late Stephen Hawking and thousands of others, the importance of focused research to maximize the societal benefit of AI was stressed. “Our AI systems must do what we want them to do,” the Open Letter states. “The potential benefits are huge… the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.”
The future impact of AI is also anticipated to cause the elimination of some jobs - taxi drivers and truck drivers as examples among them - when self-driving vehicles become mainstream.
“It’s hard to predict. I’m not predicting this, but some people have predicted that you will go to a restaurant and essentially robots will take your order,” Vanags says. “I don’t know, I think the human element is still important and I like my waiters and waitresses at Cantina, so I don’t see that necessarily, but there could be applications in AI that predict what I might order, an Artificial Intelligence application that actually generates the food that I’m going to eat, but there are a lot of costs involved and I think that’s well into the future.”
“The AI Opportunity: Developing an AI Ecosystem in Upstate New York,” a Lunch and Learn session of the city partnering with IgniteU NY, will be held noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Saratoga City Center. Lunch will be provided. Panelists include Bob Bedard, the President and CEO of the software company deFacto Global, Inc., Dr. Craig Skevington, CEO of managed service provider STEADfast IT, and Colin Garvey, a Ph.D. student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) specializing in AI risk governance.
The event is free and open to the public, but it is limited to 100 attendees. For more information, GO HERE.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – There are three Land Use boards in the city, its members comprised of local citizens, who are privy to and make recommendations regarding the architectural changes, designs and developments in Saratoga Springs. As 2019 gets underway, city Mayor Meg Kelly is looking to appoint new members throughout the year to each of the three boards.
“The Land Use boards are established by volunteer citizens - who are on each of the three boards. Their job is to review applications before them and make the best, most comprehensive decisions that progresses all the ideas the City Council has already adopted,” explains Saratoga Springs City Administrator Bradley Birge, who specifically advises the Design Review Commission. The DRC, Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals make up the three boards.
“So, how do we develop as a city? Large-scale that’s done through the Comprehensive Plan. You’ve got the larger objectives of wanting to encourage growth downtown, and we want to protect the natural resources in the outer areas. Applications come before the board for a project and they go through one, two, or sometimes all three of these Land Use boards,” Birge explains. “The Comprehensive Plan provides the policy goals, the objectives. The Zoning ordinance is the law that implements and causes the Comprehensive Plan goals to occur.”
Planning Board – Meets 1st & 3rd Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. The Saratoga Springs Planning Board is a 7-member citizen board appointed by the Mayor to 7-year staggered terms. The City Council gives the Planning Board the following independent authorities to review development activities within city boundaries: Floodplain Variances, Site Plan Review, Soil Erosion and Sediment Control, Special Use Permits, Subdivision Review.
Kate Maynard, Saratoga Springs Principal Planner, advises the Planning Board: “Typically, the Planning Board will see almost any application of any development that is proposed. As a citizen it really gives you a central spot and view into what’s coming in as a proposed development in the community. It’s very diverse, and very busy in terms of volume with applications coming through. Private, residential, managing things such as Open Space conservation… You have goals such as how the lots are laid out, and a really important thing is the context: how it ties into the community as a whole. So, the Planning Board is very comprehensive in terms of what it looks at.
“We’re seeing a lot of proposals for mixed-use, or commercial applications or concentrated residential. We’ve seen a lot of growth in our transect districts – areas the city has slated for special development, really where new neighborhoods are being formed. An example of that would be Weibel Avenue, another is Excelsior Avenue.”
Design Review Commission - Meets 1st and 3rd Wednesdays each month at 7 p.m. The Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission is a 7-member citizen board appointed by the Mayor to 5-year staggered terms. The City Council gives the Design Review Commission the following independent authorities to review development activities within city boundaries: Historic Review, Architectural Review. In general, their role pertains to building exterior.
Bradley Birge: “Good board members need to be analytical. They need to understand it’s not their personal preferences of whether they like or dislike a particular project or builder. They need to look and say: how does this application meet the zoning law. It’s the City Council who pass the zoning laws. It’s the zoning laws that indicate how you develop within the city of Saratoga Springs. They need to understand they’re not there on behalf of themselves. They’re there on behalf of the community and to ensure council-approved laws are followed. All board members get training. Our job is to get new members up to speed.”
Zoning Board of Appeals – Meets 2nd and 4th Monday of every month at 7 p.m. The Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is a quasi-judicial 7-member citizen board appointed by the Mayor to 7-year staggered terms. State regulations require communities to have a Zoning Board of Appeals to review the following types of requests for waivers from any of the regulations in the zoning ordinance: Use Variances, Area Variances, Interpretations.
Susan Barden, Saratoga Springs Senior Planner, advises the ZBA: “We do have several attorneys on the board, or those who have been educated in law. That’s beneficial. It might be helpful to have some technical expertise: landscape engineers, architects. I think it’s helpful to understand how to read plans. Again, we do educate the board and have training opportunities, but that’s helpful knowledge.”
In general, the boards also provide advisory services, or referrals for advisory opinions to the City Council as well as other boards, agencies and departments in the city. Experience-wise, a diverse representation of the city is key, Maynard says.
“In general, what we really stress is representation of the community - whether it’s age, whether it’s what part of the city you reside in, whether it’s expertise you may have regarding your personal background or skills. So, generally speaking having that diversity and ensuring the representation of the community is one thing that’s very important. “
Residents interested in applying for either of the three city Land Use Boards may do so via an application forms posted on the city’s website. Go to www.saratoga-springs.org, and see section: Applications for Boards and Commissions.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A plan to develop a new six-story, 40-unit condominium complex is moving through the city’s Land Use boards this month.
The “Five-Three,” located at 53 Putnam St., would be constructed opposite the Saratoga Springs Public Library and feature one-bedroom and two-bedroom units at a price range of $400,00 to $800,000, said Laura Manning, of First Fairfield Associates.
First Fairfield Associates created Putnam Resources LLC - the applicant for the Putnam Street project - and first began negotiating with owners 53 Putnam St. Inc. in 2013 to purchase and redevelop the property. The initial intent was to develop a performance venue with a food service component. However, the site was revealed to be contaminated from its earlier use as a dry cleaning facility as well as sustaining oil contamination from an offsite source, according to a project narrative provided to the city by AND Architecture - a design practice located in Saratoga Springs. Due to the contamination, it was determined the existing structure could not be salvaged for re-use, and a revised program submitted by Putnam Resources calls for the six-story mixed-use structure.
The 40 condominiums would occupy space between the second and sixth floors, inclusively. The ground-level floor would feature a shared kitchen to be used as an incubator for restaurant start-ups, and a rooftop green space would feature a lounge area for residents. Parking would be provided for residents through an agreement with a nearby lot, Manning said.
According to sketch plans filed with the city for review, the roof deck would start at 69 feet above the sidewalk and be fitted with a pergola (the top of which would rise to 78-feet above the sidewalk), and a stair tower – which would top-off at 84 feet, above ground-level.
The purchase and subsequent development of the site by Putnam Resources would follow demolition of the existing building on the site and environmental remediation via the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program –an alternative to greenfield development and intended to remove some of the barriers to, and provide tax incentives for, the redevelopment of urban brownfields.
The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation - advocates for the preservation of Saratoga Springs’ architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage - issued a statement to say that while it does not object to the demolition of the existing structure and supports a new use for the site, the Foundation has “significant concerns” about the project as it is currently proposed, specifically citing the proposed project height, scale, and mass, as well as claims that it is “not compatible with the neighboring structures and the character of the historic setting.”
The Five-Three project was placed on the respective agendas of both the Design Review Commission and the Planning Board this week regarding a sketch plan review for the mixed-use building proposal.
Following all necessary approvals, the project would take about 14 months to develop at an estimated cost of as much as $30 million, Manning said.
In 2004, a six-level robotic parking garage and banquet facility to feature 189 vehicle spaces and street-level retail was targeted for the location. The proposal was created by Saratoga Parking and Banquet Inc., a group formed by Hank Kuczynski - who served as the deputy to former Mayor Kenneth Klotz, and John Franck, who is today the city's Finance Commissioner.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The cost to reconstruct and restore City Hall is anticipated to carry an approximate $11.2 million price tag, city officials said this week. Insurance proceeds are expected to cover roughly half of the total project cost.
City Hall was rendered unusable following a mid-August lightning strike 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 plans call for a new public elevator, which is not covered by insurance, to be installed in the building - with the existing elevator designated for employee use – the relocation and re-design of city department offices, and an audio/visual booth, concession area and entryway lobby installed in an upgraded Music Hall on the building’s top floor. Costs associated with the Music Hall and new lobby are estimated at $1 million.
Additional changes include state-mandated renovations of city courts and a new energy compliant heating and cooling system for all of City Hall. Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said there are rebates available from National Grid to help offset the utility costs on the back-end, and that the improvements will help reduce utility costs in the future.
MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) systems are expected to account for about $1.4 million of the overall costs, court-related development costs account for just over $1 million, and cost of the new four-stop elevator set at about $200,000.
The work is slated to take place in two phases, explained DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. The job of asbestos abatement, which will take four to six weeks to complete, will be put to bid in early December and awarded prior to the end of the calendar year, Scirocco said. The construction renovation phase of the job is anticipated to be put to bid in March, with construction to commence in the spring. The council is hopeful City Hall will be set to re-open by late 2019.
Since the building’s closure, city employees have mainly been relocated to the southside city recreation facility on Vanderbilt Avenue. Saratoga Springs City Court sessions have been moved to 65 South Broadway, in the Lincoln bath building house, and public city meetings are currently staged at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Broadway.
The building’s ground floor will largely be occupied by the public safety department; The first floor will be comprised of the Mayor’s office, City Clerks office, Finance and Accounts departments and City Council room – all of which have traditionally been located on the first floor, as well as the addition of the DPW offices. Floor two will showcase the city court, as well as house offices of the city attorneys, the human resources department and the public safety commissioner and deputy commissioner. The top floor will feature the Music Hall and lobby, as well as several building department and Land Use offices. The existing Saratoga Supreme Court Law Library will be relocated elsewhere.
Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, who this week brought to the council the proposed $47.1 million general operating budget for 2019, said the impact of the lightning strike was most evidently felt in the City's Capital Budget – with $5.3 million of the 2019 Capital Budget attributable to the reconstruction and restoration of City Hall. “The remaining $5.9 million for the reconstruction of City Hall will come from capital already bonded, city reserves, and insurance proceeds,” Madigan said. “The lightning strike at City Hall on August 17 resulted in a 2019 City Budget process unlike any I've experienced before.”
The proposed general operating budget for 2019 shows an increase of roughly 2.1 percent, or $960,000, over the 2018 budget. Contractual wages and new hires account for the bulk of the year-over-year change, with personnel up 4.4 percent in total in 2019, said Madigan, adding that the city is in excellent financial health.
Who: Jeff Goodell, Award-Winning Author, Energy and Environment Expert and Contributing Editor to Rolling Stone Magazine
Q. How long have you been in Saratoga Springs?
A. Sixteen years.
Q. How has the city changed during that time?
A. I like the progress in Saratoga and the changes that I’ve seen here. It’s become more prosperous, but it feels healthy and alive. I love the mix of nature and culture: I can go skiing at Gore, hiking in the Adirondacks and get on a train and go to Manhattan. I do wish there was more live music, besides SPAC.
Q. You grew up in California. How have you adapted to the change of seasons in the Northeast?
A. I always think of myself as a westerner, so I can’t figure out how I’ve spent the last 30 years on the east coast – but for work, at Rolling Stone, it’s the place to be. I do miss the west, but I travel so much so I get there a lot. And I like cold weather, too. I’m a freaky California guy. It still feels exotic to me: Oh, look, there’s snow!
Q. You spent some time with President Barack Obama in 2015 for a Rolling Stone interview piece. What can you say about the former president that people may not know?
A. That time with Obama seems very surreal now, even though it was only a couple of years ago. I spent three days with him in Alaska and we spent a lot of time together. The thing about Obama that struck me was his essential humanness. He was so unpretentious in how he carried his power, the way he treated me and the way he treated people around him. There was no sense of: I’m the President and you’re not and so what I have to say is more important than what you have to say. That may sound like a such a simple thing and a cliché, but it was very powerful and true.
I spent a couple of hours talking with him about climate change and it was just amazing the degree to which he was engaged in the conversation – not checking his watch, not looking for aids to help him. He’s a very intellectually serious person.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. I literally just finished a story about the new EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for Rolling Stone, it’ll be out in a couple of weeks. And I am planning a trip to Antarctica in January, where I’ll be for two months with British Antarctic Survey scientists who are looking at the melting ice sheets there.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A week-long celebration of Saratoga culinary delights will take place Nov. 5-11 during the 14th Annual Restaurant Week, offering a glimpse into the unique dining options within Saratoga County.
Nearly 50 participating restaurants will participate in the event - presented by Discover Saratoga and Spa City Brew Bus – which serves up a variety of prix fixe menu options ranging from $20 and $30 three-course dinners to $10 lunch specials, plus tax & tip.
As opposed to last year, when the event took place Dec. 1-7, this season’s staging will be held prior to the Thanksgiving holiday and begins Monday, Nov. 5.
For more information about Saratoga Restaurant Week, go to: www.discoversaratoga.org/restaurantweek, or call 518-584-1531.
THE FOLLOWING RESTAURANTS WILL
BE PARTICIPATING IN THE EVENT:
BurgerFi - 460 Broadway
Diamond Club Grill - 86 Congress Street
Esperanto - 4 Caroline Street
Falafel Den - 10 Phila Street
Gaffney's Restaurant - 16 Caroline Street
Local Pub & Teahouse - 142 Grand Avenue
PJ's Bar-B-QSA - 1 Kaydeross Avenue West
Saratoga Stadium - 389 Broadway
Sweet Mimi's Café - 47 Phila Street
Thirsty Owl Bistro - 184 South Broadway
2 West Bar And Grille - 2 West Avenue
Boca Bistro - 384 Broadway
BWP Your Local Bar & Grille - 74 Weibel Avenue
Cantina - 430 Broadway
Chianti Il Ristorante - The Lofts @ 18 Division Street
Diamond Club Grill - 86 Congress Street
Dizzy Chicken Wood Fired Rotisserie - 102 Congress Street
Forno Bistro - 541 Broadway
Gaffney's Restaurant - 16 Caroline Street
Jacob & Anthony's American Grille - 38 High Rock
Local Pub & Teahouse - 142 Grand Avenue
Longfellows Restaurant - 500 Union Avenue
Olde Bryan Inn - 123 Maple Avenue
PJ's Bar-B-QSA - 1 Kaydeross Avenue West
Ravenous - 21 Phila Street
Saratoga Stadium - 389 Broadway
Scallions Restaurant - 44 Lake Avenue
The Brook Tavern - 139 Union Avenue
Braeburn Tavern - 390 Broadway
Chez Pierre - 979 Rt. 9 (Saratoga Road), Gansevoort
Hamlet And Ghost - 24 Caroline Street, Suite 1
Hattie's Restaurant - 45 Phila Street
Jacob & Anthony's American Grille - 38 High Rock
Lake Ridge Restaurant - 35 Burlington Avenue, Round Lake
Morton's The Steakhouse Saratoga Casino Hotel - 342 Jefferson Street
Mouzon House - 1 York Street
Prime at Saratoga National Golf Club - 458 Union Avenue
R & R Kitchen + Bar - 43 Phila Street
Salt & Char - 353 Broadway
Sperry's – 30-1/2 Caroline Street
The Blue Hen - 365 Broadway
Thirsty Owl Bistro - 184 South Broadway
Wheatfields Bistro & Wine Bar - 54 Crossing Blvd., Clifton Park
Wheatfields Restaurant & Bar - 440 Broadway
Wishing Well Restaurant - 745 Route 9, Gansevoort
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Friends of the New York State Military Museum will host its annual Veteran of the Year Ceremony at noon on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the museum, on Lake Avenue.
The 2018 Awardee is LTC (Ret) Nicholas M. Laiacona, who served as a Platoon Leader and Company Commander in the Mobile Riverine Force (MRF), 9th Infantry Division, Mekong Delta, Republic of Vietnam.
Laiacona entered the Army in 1966, graduated from Infantry Officers Candidate School in 1967 and upon returning to the US after Vietnam transferred to the Ordnance Corps. He served in a number of Ordnance assignments in the US, Germany and Korea. In 1985 he was selected as one of the first certified US Army Material Acquisition Managers and became one of the first officers in the Army Acquisition Corps. He retired in 1991.
The event is free and open to the public. U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is anticipated to make the award presentation.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The legacy of Alexander “Sam” Aldrich will be honored on Saturday with the dedication of a custom designed bench along the Geyser Creek Trail at Saratoga Spa State Park. It is a location that Aldrich enjoyed visiting with his wife, Phyllis.
Sam Aldrich was first cousins with Nelson Rockefeller and served as the then-governor’s executive assistant during the 1960s.
Aldrich was dispatched to Washington, D.C. in 1963 – where he was up on the dais during Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and was sent to Alabama two years later to join King on a historic 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery.
The speech - “so moving and so peaceful, extraordinary," Aldrich told this reporter, during a visit to his Saratoga home in January 2012. "I think (King) knew that he was a symbol, that he was at risk and that he would probably die on this mission."
The bench dedication ceremony in honor of Aldrich will take place at noon Saturday, Oct. 27 at Creekside Classroom, Saratoga Spa State Park – located on the Geyser Loop Road in the south end of the Park. Aldrich died in 2017.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Tim Davis roams the corridors of the Tang Museum, surveying the gallery landscape where the work is ongoing in preparation of this weekend’s opening of his new show.
“This is the first time I’ve ever really done a show on this scale of things - things that aren’t just pictures that I took on a wall,” he says, the sonic echo of swinging hammers and buzzing drills flowing all around him. “This has a lot more going on.”
There are photographs – which he calls cartoons, selfies captured in the South Sea, videos of radios that he filmed in Tunisia; There is a self-portrait sculpture composed of multiple copies of Bob Dylan’s “Self Portrait” album, and a multitude of grave rubbings of people with funny names. “I can’t believe that I spent all this time in the summer doing these grave-rubbings,” Davis says, with a laugh. “It just seems insane.”
“While I’m out there making photographs about the immediate moment, I’m also collecting stuff all the time,” he explains, posing for a photograph in front of his Library of Ideas. Here, the book shelves are lined with titles that boast the word “Idea.”
"It all started with the sheet music of the song ‘(When We Are Dancing) I get ideas,’ Davis says. “I started collecting printed matter that has the word IDEAS in it, thinking that if I ever needed more ideas…”
Davis had staged solo exhibitions in Italy and France, Belgium and Canada. He has been involved in group exhibitions in spaces like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “When We Are Dancing (I Get Ideas),” - which opens on Saturday at the Tang Museum - marks the first large-scale exhibit in Saratoga Springs for the artist who spent his childhood here.
Davis grew up in Saratoga where at a young age he went around town with his friends making home movies with a Super 8 camera. He played in local bands. He created handwritten stories that were published in a homemade newspaper created by his friends. The TV news was their inspiration. “We were all obsessed with this weekend news anchor in Albany named Joe Moskowitz,” he recalls. “We got his 8x10 glossy, signed. We were in his fan club…”
The artist’s father, longtime Saratogian Peter Davis, was the program director of the Flurry Festival and plays a variety of instruments with numerous bands in the region, from Annie and the Hedonists to Saratoga Race Course house band Reggie’s Red Hot Feetwarmers. Music also plays a prominent rule in the exhibition. A monitor inside the museum displays music videos the younger Davis created for each of the 11 songs that he wrote for an album titled “It’s OK to Hate Yourself.”
“It’s got many of Saratoga’s finest musicians on it,” says the artist who spent many years writing lyrics for his brother’s band, Cuddle Magic. On Dec. 6, Tim Davis will perform all new material with his all new band. “We’re called Severely Brothers. not THE. Just called Severely Brothers, OK?”
He is an artist, writer and a musician who makes photographs, video, drawings, sound, and installations. Humor plays a vital role.
One of his earlier videos - “The Upstate New York Olympics” - depicts Davis leap-frogging over lawn jockeys. Sixteen different lawn jockeys in fact and some of which would be readily recognizable to residents of the Spa City.
“On my 40th birthday, I said: I’m going to go out and just make something that’s super fun, something I enjoy. My birthday is Nov. 5 and it’s always cold and miserable and I came up with idea of making new sports. And I love playing sports, so I was like: Can I make art as fun as playing sports? For a year I made this thing – The Upstate New York Olympics - and I went all around upstate scanning the landscape,” says Davis, who is 48. “The lawn jockey leapfrog seemed logical. I get a rush out of doing something I’m not supposed to do. I never really got in trouble,” he says. “And I only went to the hospital once.”
Another early video features 12 minutes of various Dollar General stores that accompany the lonesome traveler on a journey across the upstate landscape.
“I was visiting a friend in Chenango County, out near Binghamton. You’re driving around an realize there are these Dollar General stores in like every town, these amazing glowing things where they leave the lights on really late at night. You’re like: Oh, there goes another one. He fixed his camera to the side window of his car and continued on his journey. ”I enjoy being out in the world and being dedicated to capturing something about the immediacy of the moment.”
In the Tang Museum exhibition, two fixed walls play moving images that showcase, respectively, the formative beginnings of the hope-filled power of creativity - called “Counting In” - and its successful conclusion, called “Curtain Calls.”
“This is all footage I shot. Counting In took a year of going to band practices and waiting for them to say: one, two, three, four. Filmed in their rehearsal spaces, I just take the part where they go: one, two, three, four and string all of those together, before the song even starts. Curtain Calls are of amateur theatrical plays. It’s the ecstasy of the thing being over. Different plays from all over the country, shot from the same vantage point,” Davis says.
“A curtain call is what everyone is aiming for in a play - especially an amateur play that’s three hours long. Everyone’s like: can we get it there without messing it up? And Counting In is something that’s necessary to make music happen. I feel these two pieces are the real American Dream – which is playing in a band in your basement and doing an elaborate theater production. It’s not making a million dollars on Wall Street. “
Another music-meets-culture depiction - Un-Easy Listening - takes up a glass housed section of the museum’s second-floor space.
“There are about seven or eight hundred easy listening record in here - records you pick up when you go digging through the Salvation Army,” Davis says. “Elevator music. Music meant to be in the background in a suburban house in the ‘50s, when people moved from urban ethnic-type apartment tenements to the suburbs, where they created all this music to fill up that space. That happened at the same time of the invention of the long-playing record and hi-fi stereo. So, it was the perfect storm of blandness.” A trio of record players simultaneously spin three different easy listening selections. “It’s interactive. People can come in and take records, put them on, change them out, take them home if they want. I would be grateful to get rid of them.”
Davis lives in Tivoli, N.Y., near Kingston and teaches photography at Bard College. He previously taught a different generation of students at Yale, from 2001 to 2004. It was an era before Google, before Facebook and prior to Instagram. The technological changes of the past 15 years have been massive.
“One thing that’s harder and harder is going out into the world (for a new generation of students). Computers and the Internet are things that make us… we know where we can go to get answers. Every question can be answered in one place. The idea of moving through the world randomly may lead you to your answers, and unexpected answers, but it’s harder for them to do that. So, I give an assignment that’s called ‘Let’s Get Lost’ and the idea is you have to be completely lost before you can take any pictures, and you can’t have a phone with you. For me, the idea is that there’s a heightened attention when we’re lost, a feeling of being hyper-aware,” Davis explains.
“On the other hand, the idea of their lives being something they want to share with other people is something that’s totally familiar to them. It’s easier for them to make work that’s more personal, that’s more connected, because they’re used to it. It’s something they’ve done their whole lives. Not only making art about their whole lives - but publishing it, for all to see.”
The exhibition reflects the wide variety of the artist’s works. “I’m paying attention all the time,” Davis says. “The thing is, we may run out of a lot of things, but we’re never going to run out of significance. We’re never going to run out of something to say. As long as there are human beings, there is going to be significance in a sense that: this is really important, let me tell you this. And that’s what I’m here for.”
(photo: the artist in the spotlight, at the Tang Museum, Oct. 17, 2018. Photo: Thomas Dimopoulos)
Tim Davis - When We Are Dancing (I Get Ideas), a solo exhibition opens Saturday. Oct. 20 at
The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. Opening reception is at 5 p.m.
On Tuesday, Oct. 30, Davis hosts an evening at the museum of storytelling about how and why people collect things. he will also stage a musical performance on Dec. 6. For more information, go to: tang.skidmore.edu.