RUPCO's Lace Mill: Collaborative Catalyst | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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RUPCO's Lace Mill: Collaborative Catalyst

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When they heard the Lace Mill was opening its doors, all three applied, and were delighted to be accepted and win spaces. Now, they happily continue their collaboration within its walls. Most recently they've developed a series of shows exploring the idea of the artist community and playing with and within the Lace Mill's shared spaces. "All the exhibition spaces are so different," says Lockhart. "We can play in a way that isn't possible with a white wall gallery space."

The first show was held in an outdoor exhibition space last summer. The second show—a comic riff on workout videos—was held in the boiler room gallery space. The third show in their series, revisiting the birthday party theme, will be held in the second-floor mezzanine gallery space in February. The Lace Mill community has further inspired both their personal and collaborative work. "We get a whole new perspective—kids, adults, and other disciplines," says Culpepper. Lockhart agrees. "Watching other residents make shows, seeing them succeed, is inspiring and motivating," he says.

Creative Repurpose

"In the building I'm known as the mad scientist of art," Felix Olivieri tells me as he shows me around his lofted "maker space." Vintage video game consoles, recycled computer parts, old televisions, and antique radios line the walls of his living room, waiting to be carefully dissected and then repurposed into one of his creations. "There's a whole lost art to recycling old toys and electronics. You can make costumes, lamps, and even furniture," he says. A staircase climbs out alongside the two-story windows leading to two bedrooms and a bath. "It's a New York loft-style apartment without the New York price tag."

The New York City native shares a two-bedroom apartment with his preschool-age son. It's on a first-floor wing of the building—an area with other families and an easy sharing of space and play things. He appreciates the camaraderie of the other families as well as the artists in the building. "It's like 'Seinfeld,'" he explains. "People knock all the time to borrow supplies, or just let themselves in. We have a Kramer. I'm Jerry. We have a George—but George is a woman."

Olivieri has had a robust career in the arts. He started out making props for the theater, has made a documentary of Hudson Valley UFO sightings, and operated a cafe and maker space in the Rondout. Now he combines teaching with tech and the arts, leading workshops at the Center for Creative Education and the Rondout Neighborhood Center. He has two 3-D printers and hopes to soon employ them in a full-fledged Kingston Maker space. Olivieri's most recent creative work has involved turning old furniture into arcade games.

In June, Olivieri's show "The Penny Arcade: Featurette," displaying his handmade video games and marquee signs, will be exhibited in the Lace Mill mezzanine gallery space.

Enlightened Spaces

"I've been waiting for this all of my life, to be in a community of working artists. I got right into it," Lynette Hughes tells me. We are sitting in her studio apartment, which faces east over the train tracks and has wooden floors from the original mill. A row of windows lights up the white walls like a gallery, illuminating her four-by-five-foot abstract oil paintings, in various stages of contemplation and completion. "Every day I pinch myself," she says, referring to her current home at the Lace Mill. "There are so many talented people. You feel a bond; we are doing something that's vital."

Hughes grew up in Europe, where her father was in charge of the USO and hired tutors to teach her about the local art. "I had an incredible education," she says, "but I never saw modern art until I came back to the States. Then my perspective changed and I fell in love with Picasso." After returning home Hughes sold her art, ran a gallery, worked in human services, and taught women's workshops in art and journal writing. She also taught art to the developmentally disabled in Ellenville.

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