Ar+Work, September 26, 4-7 PM Spring Street Gallery

It would be great to see more people expressing themselves through the arts, to put away fear and self-doubt and to create for the simple act of creating itself. It is powerfully liberating. The journey of any passionate artist is one of both refinement of skill and changing conceptions. This is another point that needs to be made and remain top-of-mind when seeing the show, skill and creativity do not necessarily travel hand-in-hand. Some of the artists are much more advanced in their skill level than others but this by no means diminishes the power of their self-expression.

I’d like to personally thank the following people and organizations for their help and support in bringing this show together; Charles Wait, Chairman and CEO of Adirondack Trust Company, Mayor Joanne Yepsen of The City of Saratoga Springs and Angelo Calbone, President and CEO of Saratoga Hospital, their employees and in particular their internal communications, HR and marketing people who’ve been instrumental in getting the word out. Lori Goodale was not only one of the catalysts in the creation of the show, she has also been integral to the successful of implementation, execution and coordination all communications with the participating organizations as well as external media relations. Thank you Lori, for wearing so many hats, including the time coding of the video edits.

I also have to give thanks to Augie’s Restaurant for agreeing to supply their great food so we can all sup while we enjoy the show.  Thank you to Gabby Delattibodier Wright for her art promotion and event planning support in bringing needed resources to the show. To Benj Gleeksman for picking up the ball and running with the design of the promotional materials to bring further awareness to the show — go Benj! Thanks also to Belinda Colon, for her excellent sense of story and translating that to the mounting and exhibition of the show. This is no easy task with a mix media show such as this. I hope you take the time to appreciate not just the work but the presentation as well.

Thanks as well to Ed Murphy, Executive Director of Workforce Development Institute for the enthusiastic support of his team as well as their financial assistance to offset some of cost of the show.

Thanks to these members of the extended Brandforming team,  Erica O’Rourke and her team at Social Radiant for taking on the task of sharing the idea and promotion of the show through social media channels. Thank you to John Wager and his team at Galileo Media Arts for lending their talents to film the leadership interviews and other certain aspects of the show. Thanks in this regard must also go to Hudson Payer a very talented senior at Saratoga Springs High School, who jumped in last minute and agreed to film some of the individual artist interviews.

In many ways this is a show about community, about the people and organizations that make Saratoga Springs the wonderful place that it is. Spring Street Gallery is a unique space in that it is entirely not-for-profit. This makes it at once very liberating but also challenging for Maureen Sager to achieve the kinds of results that she does, which is to say, the shows that she has brought to this community are wonderful examples of art, artists and the relationship of art to our lives. Shows that wake you up to the power of the arts, that challenge thinking and that inspire you to walk out a bit differently then when you walked in. This is one of the great purposes of art curation, if not of art itself. I, for one, walked into Spring Street Gallery a different person than I am today and for this I can not thank Maureen enough for her trust and her steady hand as she continues to guide, challenge and inspire me in all aspects of this show.

Last and most certainly not least — but in fact most of all  — thank you to the brave and creative artists who put their heart and soul into everything they do — they truly Head For The Heart.

We all know the story about how creative we are as kids and by the time we’re adults most of us lose it all. The arts in our schools are often the first thing to go when budgets are tight and the emphasis has always been in favor of the other core disciplines. But now it seems we’ve taken it all a bit too seriously and downgraded the arts in school, maybe a blind spot on the national agenda. Time will tell.

The effort in our schools is to really ground our children in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM for short. This is a great curriculum with a noble goal, to make sure our future leaders are at the top of their game to help keep our country and our economy a vital global resource. There is only one thing missing from this concept and that is the arts. STEM to STEAM is the mantra many have adopted to overcome this direction. But are the arts and creativity really missing altogether, or just under appreciated?

To put the Arts back on the table as a priority for our children we need to recognize the arts as essential in driving creativity across all disciplines. I hope when you see the show and read about these artists that you will see for yourself the important connection between the arts and these other forms of knowledge that are represented by STEM. By leaving out the Arts we are in fact doing a great disservice to our children and our future. It is for this reason that the show will benefit our local schools through a matching donation to the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning.

The program is the spearheaded by Michael Piccirillo, Superintendent of Saratoga Springs City School District, and it was borne out of the need he and his team identified to push the envelop and constantly look for ways to innovate in the education of our children.  I had the chance to spend some time speaking with Mr. Piccirillo and I can say we are very fortunate to have him at the helm of our schools. Mr. Picirrillo is full STEAM ahead. You can see the discussion here. I hope you’ll come to the show and drop a few dollars in the bin so the foundation can keep doing great things for our kids.

In addition to seeing Mr. P’s video, check into our social media and keep an eye out for a series videotaped discussions with a few of the artists in the show. These video discussions will become available during the lead-up up to the show, follow the story here.

We solicited participation of artists from three large employers here in Saratoga, The Adirondack Trust Company, The City of Saratoga and Saratoga Hospital and we started with the leaders of the organizations. Through a series of one-on-one conversations with the executive leadership it was immediately apparent that not only did they enthusiastically support the idea and the participation of their employees in the show, but that they were highly attuned to the benefits of the arts and creativity in the lives of their teams and their organizations as a whole. You can see the conversation here.

To date we have work from more 50 artists enrolled in the show with a healthy mix of creativity from original music to painting, photography, poetry, quilting — a tour-de-force of artistic and personal expression.

To be continued…

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Earlier this year I was asked to curate an art show. I’ve never done this before, and leapt at the opportunity to get involved.

Over lunch with Maureen Sager of the Spring Street Gallery and Lori Goodale of PALIO we talked about creativity.

In all my years of work in creative fields, people who don’t work in traditionally defined creative roles are quick to point out how little creativity they have, in a very self diminishing sort of way. This became the inspiration for our show.

We are all inherently creative and even those of us who work in jobs and careers that are not defined as creative, use creativity every day. To be human… is to be creative…

Many people go through their day-to-day lives without noticing just how creative they are and how their creativity helps them with everything from washing dishes, to driving the car, to helping their children with their homework. Creativity, in one very big sense of the phrase, is problem solving and how we innovate. Certainly this is how it is thought of in commercial terms. But in a purely artistic sense, as a mode of expression, it gives us so much more and not enough of us engage our senses in the sort of self-expression that makes the arts such an incredibly rich part of world culture.

Some people are much more tapped into the energy of their creativity and express themselves in all the ways that society enjoys so much through the arts.  Most of us though sit on the sidelines because it takes a great deal of courage to express ourselves in this way. Perhaps by drawing out the connection between the arts and creativity and the jobs and careers so many of us have, we may gain deeper insight into who we are and inspire more people to express themselves through the arts.

The creative works in the show is the product of individuals who are inspired by their own need to create.  These are individuals that have overcome the self-doubt and the insecurities that hold so many people back, especially when we’ve been taught from a very young age that perhaps we are not very creative (more about this in a minute). The show is going to explore that their creative work is not only connected to who they are as individuals but also to the work they do 9-5.  I’d like people to think about this when they see the work because the show is going to feature the creativity of people who are not normally considered creative, especially in their day-to-day roles. We’re going to explore how the creative works they produce informs their day jobs, be they bankers, surgeons, nurses, tellers, engineers…whatever they do during the day…they are artists through and through.

To be continued….

In late June Brandforming was in engaged by Maserati of Albany to help launch their dealership. There are currently only 18 dealerships across the US that represent Maserati of North America. Compare this to Chrysler which by one account has 2,390 Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealerships in the United States or BMW with 350 and right away you see the exclusivity of the offering. Maserati is one of the great marquees of the auto world, well established for their combination of high performance and luxury.

The challenge for  Maserati of Albany is that the dealership officially opened with the arrival of their first cars in June, however, the dealership retail store will not be completed until some time next year.

So how do you launch a dealership without a destination worthy of the cars themselves?

The Brandforming team sat down with the owners of the dealership, the DePaula family, to discuss some ideas and gain some insight into their approach to running one of the most successful Chevrolet dealerships in the entire country. During our conversation we were interrupted a number of calls from customers. Every call was answered and every need attended to by one of the DePaula family. This was a great example of why the DePaula’s were awarded one of the few Maserati Dealerships in the US, impeccable service.

As members of the community, the DePaula family supports a number of charitable organizations and in particular they have a love of all things horses. From these insights was born the idea for the introduction of the Maserati brand to the Albany Capital Region.

La Dolce Maserati and the #DePaulaDriveForCharity were conceived as a way to link up the charitable works of the DePaula Family with their love of automobiles.

The program consists of an auction prize, La Dolce Maserati, presented at a series of Gala events in Saratoga as part of an on-going charitable program call the DePaula Drive for Charity.

La Dolce Maserati features 2 packages for 4 people, a total of 8 from each event, to experience the sweet life. On Oct. 4 participants will board the scenic Saratoga-North Creek Railway in Saratoga. They will ride in a vintage art deco dining car with a glass viewing roof as they travel north into the mountains and the beauty of the fall season. The train ride was donated by the Saratoga and Northcreek Railway. On board the train, participants will be served fine Italian delicacies compliments of Mazzone Hospitality. Upon arrival guests will be greeted by members of the Maserati team and checked out on their cars before setting off for a spirited drive through the mountains. On the return trip guests will receive more food and beverages and a gift bag to continue their sweet life experience while at home.

We developed the package and set work work creating the content to drive the engagement. Activation consisted of placement of content about the promotion in Gala event brochures, placement of cars at key venues around Saratoga, an exciting public relations package that included test rides for the media at opening day of the the horse track in Saratoga, and a compelling social media strategy built on Facebook, that pulled all the assets together.

The Brandforming team executed this with near flawless precision. The DePaula Drive For Charity continues to receive enormous support from the community with nearly $20,000 raised for various charities, including Saratoga Hospital.  The Oct 4 train ride is sold out with nearly 50 participants, (we had to allow for a few extra seats) Maserati of Albany went from near zero awareness to being top of mind and the talk of the season. And perhaps best of all for this business, they have already sold a number of these very fine automobiles and at the same time have elevated support for the charities involved.

In general people love knowing they can have fun and do good at the same time, we couldn’t agree more.

A great deal of what the team achieved can be found here on the event Facebook page

The page and various posts reached well over 3 thousand people, achieved 450 likes and it’s been followed by local media. In addition we achieved media pickup during a national horse racing broadcast, primetime news coverage and front page press coverage —  you can find it all on the Facebook page.

This case proves once again that when you #HeadForTheHeart, great things happen. Look for another blog post about this project as we move into the fall.