2010-09-02 / News

JAC fundraiser to reflect spirit of island art community

By Cindy Cingone

It’s been said that communities that embrace the arts always flourish. That’s how it is here in Jamestown.

Thanks to the altruistic efforts of Kate Petrie and Elizabeth Congdon – along with five other women – the Jamestown Arts Center located at 18 Valley St. obtained a R.I. Foundation grant four years ago when it was decided that Jamestown would and could support an arts center.

“The arts bring identity collectively and individually,” said Congdon, vice president of JAC. “There’s no art without people and art always seeks to elevate your experience in life.”

JAC will provide internships, mentoring, outreach, education, summer camps, employment and entertainment, according to Congdon.

“It will also be a draw to the island, and increase patronage of local businesses,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Kate Petrie, president of JAC, said the new art center will be a vibrant hub where young and old can come together to learn and share.

“We have discovered over the last few years that the richness of artists, designers and appreciators in Jamestown is deeper than we ever thought,” she said. “We have new ideas suggested every week. Once the building is operating, it will be available to everyone. Build something, sing something, a job fair, a summer camp, a poetry slam, a class in garden design – the potential is huge.”

JAC’s vision is “we believe we can transform lives.”

Its mission is to foster creativity and inspire innovation by providing challenging opportunities in a wide range of artistic disciplines for people of all ages. According to the organization’s website, JAC recognizes that the life of an artist is an ongoing learning experience, regardless of age or artistic level.

JAC will hold open figure drawing nights, writers club, weekly critiques by visual artist peers, lectures, film screenings, dance, theater performance and poetry readings.

“When I moved to Jamestown from New York City about 20 years ago, I couldn’t quite believe that there was all this talent here,” Congdon said. “Artists, dancers, actors, writers, filmmakers, you name it – but no one permanent place for them to meet, teach, share what they do.”

The JAC cannot be opened officially, nor can programming begin, until it has paid back its loan from a generous benefactor.

“The donor made it possible for us to buy the building last year, perform general operations and make renovations to the building,” Petrie said. “We have already raised $350,000. Our loan is now down to $190,000, which needs to be paid back by Dec. 21, 2010. We are confident that we can get there and the generosity of everyone has been incredible in this challenging economic climate.”

One of the ways JAC plans to raise those funds is by sponsoring a “mirror auction” on Sept. 25. The fundraising event is called “Party Now: Seeing Is Believing.”

“The mirror auction will consist of about 40 mirrors, which have been transformed into works of art,” Congdon said. “We have a full range of people who have signed up, from professional artists to art lovers. All are creative souls who enjoy a challenge of taking a common household item and turning it into something special.”

When asked why mirrors were chosen, she said, “We chose mirrors because we want our community to see their reflection in art. There’s no art without people.”

The fundraising event will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Jamestown Art Center at 18 Valley St. Cocktails, music, light bites, dancing and a few surprises are on tap.

Tickets are on sale at the Jamestown Gallery and Conanicut Marine Chandlery, or online at www.jamestownartcenter.org. Price per ticket is $55.

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