South Troy Through Outsider Eyes

Photo courtesy Katria Foster
Outsider Eyes Exhibit Opens
The Outsider Eyes— Eden Alaxanian Allison Clarke, Olivia Fay Britney MacKinnon, and Emily Gustin
Along with paintings by John Hampshire and John Connors, their work can be seen at Carmen’s through the year.
The show will close with Carmen’s annual Christmas Eve Community Potluck, open to all.

During World War II, soldiers in Germany (and all over the world) would talk.  “Where are you from?””South Troy.””I know that place.  ‘South Troy Against The World!!’ “

Seventy years later, what’s happened to the home of blue collar in the Collar City?  Carmen Gonzalez of Carmen’s Café asked artist Scott Foster if he could translate what he saw into paint.  He asked his five of his top art students at Siena for help.  The result is the show, “South Troy Through Outsider Eyes,” opening Thursday, October 25 at Carmen’s Café in—  you guessed it—  South Troy.

Carmen herself is a transplant to South Troy.  She found herself trapped in her office in downtown Manhattan on 9/11, wondering if her children were safe, thinking, “I’ve got to get out of here.”  A couple years later she discovered Troy and fell in love.  “I knew right away I wanted to move here,”  she said.  “But there was a real estate boom, and the only place I could find in my price range was a restaurant.  I’d always cooked for friends and family, so I figured, how hard can it be?”

Hard enough, it turned out.  One renovation followed another and another, transforming the former Isabel’s on First and Adams Streets into a hip bistro, Carmen’s Café.  “People come up from the City and say,’Wow, this is like Brooklyn,’ ”  said Carmen.  “I tell them, ‘ No, it’s just like South Troy!’  Now, that’s a compliment.”  Rotating art shows and live music on Fridays make the Café both a neighborhood hangout and a regional scene.

Carmen’s partner, Jim Lewis, also runs Springwood Studios (formerly Icarus Furniture), known for sculpture and high end church furnishings.  He built the counter of native Troy ailanthus.  “That’s the ‘weed tree’ you see in vacant lots everywhere,” said Lewis.  “It’s a great furniture wood, everyone asks about it, but you have to cut it yourself.”  Lewis curates the exhibits and helps book the bands.

“I used to dread South Troy,” said Lewis.  “Now I love it.  A lot of young folks are moving in and starting families.  Housing is cheap, lots are large, access is good, and there is a growing sense of community plus a lot of local color.  We wanted to see what these artists would make of it.”

“South Troy through Outsider Eyes”  can be seen at Carmen’s Café, 198 First Street Troy.  It closes on Christmas Eve with Carmen’s annual Community Potluck, open to all.

Eden Alaxanian
Watervliet, NY
Senior (Class of 2013)
English Major, Creative Arts Minor

Allison Clarke
East Greenbush, NY
Senior (Class of 2013)
Creative Arts Major

My art is influenced by the raw beauty all around us.  I draw upon personal emotions, feelings, and their resultant actions as an inspiration for my work.  I also find the quietness in nature and myself, and draw out the elements of life that go unnoticed.
I love art because it is not just creating.  There is a process involved that is just as important as the end result.  For me, the process is a release that temporarily relieves me from the outside world.

Olivia Fay
Clifton Park, NY
Senior (Class of 2013)
Creative Arts Major

In my work I have incorporated aspects of the local iconography that symbolizes an idealized vision of Troy.  This simplified subject mater lends itself well to formal and technical manipulations. By using untraditional painting implements implements, and optical color mixture, I create a multifaceted and multidimensional image of a single subject.

Emily Gustin
Troy, NY
Senior (Class of 2013)
Psychology Major, Creative Arts Minor

Being born and raised in the city of Troy I decided to draw my inspiration from my parents specific memories of living in the area. The best way to capture the essence of community is to understand how it is seen through the eyes of the people. Therefore, I interviewed members of my family so that I could accurately represent their most memorable experiences of growing up in Troy. The everyday routines of going to the market or playing in the alley are but a few of the simple yet meaningful aspects of living in this community. Troy contains areas of beauty and areas of decay. For some, that tilted, broken-down stoop represents their entire childhood. My pieces work emphasize the beauty within these gritty details.

Britney MacKinnon
Ballston Spa, NY
Junior (Class of 2014)
Psychology Major

“My artwork is usually actualized from the most basic concepts from which  humanity and society are constructed. I bring beauty out of the macabre and mundane, and I disfigure popular ideals of beauty.”

Scott Nelson Foster
Colonie, NY
Assistant Professor of Studio Art

Absence and loss, not presence, shapes my definition of beauty. An aspect of this conception of beauty is memory, the anticipation of change, and the struggle to fix a moment in the mind. My paintings are reflections of changing ideas about the societal relationships to the land, the American experience, and the American dream. The landscape is an arena in which many different dramas of the American dream are played out. Trailers, houses, and strip-malls evoke shared experiences. This common denominator gives my work a broad resonance that allows even fragmentary visions to evoke complex narratives. My watercolors and oils eschew the particulars—what makes a location unique—and focus on the iconic—what makes disparate subjects universal.

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