Artwork Inspired by Social Justice Issues focus of Lace Mill Art Exhibit

Lanette Hughes painting abstractOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and coincides with artwork focused on human rights, domestic violence, and world hunger. This is Lanette Hughes’s social activism movement in the form of an art show. This exhibit will take place in all three Lace Mill galleries, 165 Cornell Street, Kingston on October 7 from 3-8 p.m.

Hughes will show 30+ paintings reflecting social issues; all of which, upon their sale, will benefit local organizations that deal with human rights issues. Local nonprofits slated to receive artwork sales include Family of Woodstock, New Paltz, Kingston, Ellenville; the Darmstadt Shelter; Caring Hands Soup Kitchen; Clinton Avenue Methodist Church; MyKingstonKids; O+ Festival; Safe Harbors; and RUPCO. Global organizations include Women in Black and The Haitian People’s Project.

Hughes’ pieces directly relate to real life events. Her abstracts convey deeper messages without being overly explicit. Many pieces depict victims physically harmed, though the paintings don’t graphically portray clear wounds or detailed damage. Each portrayal speaks volumes about issues that are underneath the surface of so many lives — including her own — and nobody would know just by quick observation.

For example, “Human Beings are Not Created for Target Practice” has military undertones. The message conveys a simple thought: if military personnel were stripped of their uniforms, would enemies still shoot them? “Women Running” features women fleeing from human trafficking groups, a worldwide issue that defies ethnicity, gender, and age. Another piece portrays children affected by nerve gassing bundled in blankets; only their faces show, their bodies eerily shrouded mummification-style.

“My hope is that more artists will contribute (to the larger conversation), to include in their work social awareness for change,” says Hughes. “I’d like to see a whole day, week, or month, when artists everywhere do a whole show on a particular social issue.” She also hopes this art show stirs local activism by providing curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes in lives of our acquaintances, co-workers, family, and friends.

Throughout the exhibit’s run, speakers will talk about relevant issues that affect communities. Guy Kempe, Vice President of Community Development at RUPCO, will speak on “Housing, Creative Placemaking, & Community Development” on October 7 at 4:30 p.m. “Aligned with social justice, ‘creative placemaking’ is the proposition that arts and cultural expression, joined with housing, helps to energize community and revitalize disinvested places for minority and disenfranchised populations,” Kempe says. Poet Nancy Smith follows at 6 p.m. with readings from her works that concern human rights.

Filmmaker and veteran Marty Klein will talk about veterans’ issues on October 14, showing his film entitled, “Why Can’t We Serve.”

All artworks are for sale, with 75% of the proceeds donated to organizations that support social justice efforts. The artist retains 25% to cover material expenses associated with making the artwork. Painting prices are negotiable, with no reasonable offer refused. For more information, contact Lace Mill artist-resident Lanette Hughes at (845) 532-3538 or visit her Facebook page LK Hughes.

Senior Resident Finds Peace of Mind At Theater Workplace

Ever go to the Rosendale Theater to watch the latest film? In the booth, the projectionist is a humble man dedicated to his work. Anthony Cacchio, a Park Heights resident at RUPCO’s senior housing campus in Rosendale, NY, casts glimmers of life through his own lens. He’s glad to be serving the community, and intends to keep working as long as he is able.

For over 40 years, Cacchio has been working in the theater business to ensure the sound and video quality are up to company standards. He works closely with an engineer who shows him how to operate the equipment, and if there is a technical issue, he can bank on the engineer to fix the problem in a jiffy—even from home. Indeed, growing up without lightning speed electronics that send signals in milliseconds makes living in this era a bit foreign, but he manages to learn new skills and train every once in a while to keep up with the ever-changing technological advancements.

Growing up in a much different period of film and TV, Cacchio remembers his favorite shows from the 1930s, at the beginnings of the film industry. He laments that he does not watch recordings of them because they remind him of young celebrities who embodied vigor and have since passed away or have consummated their years of acting. So Cacchio gets his drama fill from working night shifts six to seven days a week, and prefers his home life to be quiet and serene.

He has been living at Park Heights for 5 years now, “and was lucky to get in right away.” Cacchio describes the home-finding experience as an easy process. “RUPCO gave me a nice comfortable place, in a nice area, and I am content here.”

Back when he was living at his parent’s home, he was also content with the peace that large plots of land could afford. Cacchio remembers his father used to cut the grass with a John Deere tractor. Every once in a while, neighborhood grandchildren would visit and provide noise that the day-to-day environment lacked. When his parents passed away, he and his brother inherited their childhood home. But, he explained, it just wasn’t suitable for happy living; the reminders of his parents were just too much when he walked past their room. Apart from the constant emotional tug, Cacchio decided that one person doesn’t belong in a six-room house, when a family could easily enjoy the space. Selling the property, he ventured on to rent an apartment at Park Heights, where he lives close by ladies who are familiar faces in his daily routines. “We treat everybody as buddies,” he says; if the ladies don’t see him for a day or two, they worry.

Anthony Cacchio, senior resident at Park HeightsLuckily, 85-year-old Cacchio has good genes. His father lived until he was 91; his mother, 90. He has clear intentions to keep on working, and “to make the best I can out of it.” Perhaps his hard work ethic is the family trait that keeps them so young; Cacchio used to assist his father in the tile and marble industry, working for other businesses to provide construction work.

With years of experience behind him, Cacchio continues to play an important role in the community, including being a happy parent to his cat, “Princess.” She lets him know what foods she does and doesn’t like, and insists that he stay in the room until she finishes eating. Her melodramatic personality entwined with a need for attention lends unique companionship, and Cacchio appreciates her taking center stage in their Park Heights home while he works behind-the-scenes.

Local Artist Finds Solace in Lace Mill, Continues Artistic Journey Despite Setbacks

Lace Mill resident-artist Dawn BisioDawn Bisio’s home environment is stable now, but that was not always the case just two years ago. Recently divorced and motivated to redirect her life path, she moved to the Hudson Valley from Westchester, coincidentally at the same time RUPCO announced a call for artists to #WhereArtistsLive. After financial upset with divorce legal fees, she found opportunity at The Lace Mill to be the silver lining in turbulent times.

“The Lace Mill has been motivating for me artistically and the creative community has helped me feel secure and supported, and turned around the worst times,” she remembers.

However, landing an apartment wasn’t straightforward. At first, she missed the first lottery round of new tenants. But she stayed within the area, stayed positive, and reflected on possibilities that might arise if an applicant dropped out or didn’t follow through with a lease. So she waited, and checked in with RUPCO from time to time. Luckily, during RUPCO’s second lottery wave for the newly finished East end—which was under final construction—she got the call. Ecstatic, she agreed to move in and start fresh in her career and home life. She now shares memories with fellow tenants who moved in the same time she did, and they bond over communal living quirks and resident building meet-ups.

Besides sharing the trickle-down effects of administrative check-ins and construction work during the renovation period, Bisio shares other fond thoughts of residents at Lace Mill. “I run into people who are truly fascinating, kind and supporting, and if we [my husband and I] were out by ourselves, we would feel isolated and lonely sometimes—here we can have a glass of wine outside with people we live with, and that’s really nice to have.”

Of course, there are periods when communal living is a bit overwhelming, and Bisio states she sometimes “just needs to retreat and find my own source of peace. I personally like peace and quiet, but I wouldn’t trade this living.” She finds serenity in her own company when she is not spending time collaborating on art shows or conversing with neighbors.

The outside world beckons her attention in between these solitary times for exploration and discovery. “Shapes, people outdoors, moments of reflection, and also things that happen to me personally,” provide sparks of insight into subjective reasoning.

In the larger social domain, things that may not make sense immediately are great catalysts for creative energy. The mystery is what may be alluring to contemplate, like an unsolved riddle that provides more questions than solutions. Bisio notes that maybe things—and people—can convey interesting truths to examine without making sense. “I always try to find a way to process things, especially things that I can’t figure out. Art and writing helps translate experiences or questions, and leads me to an answer—not the answer—but it helps me to make sense of the world and to create things of beauty.”

Allowing herself to branch out is also a large part of being inspired. She finds that while she is toning down on writing, she is able to explore other art forms that clue in on aspects of herself that weren’t revealed before. A recent piece entitled “Mobile Home,” made of a globe that is evocative of the Sun, explores her identity being a Korean adoptee. Another piece featured in the upcoming Dirty Laundry exhibit is a mixed-media work on a canvas box that opens up and allows viewers to see “inside her dreams,” which are written in text on a tree background. Many of her pieces are a result of abstract ideas that echo memories, and are difficult to convey in the real world.

“A lot of my pieces involve construction, and part of the challenge is knowing ‘how do I suspend it correctly, what materials do and don’t work, and how do I translate the pure idea into a work of art?’”

Though home is “like a base,” the foundation that promises security while figuring out the mechanics of her ideas, she hopes to travel in the near future, and have Lace Mill as a part-time home. But with Kingston’s arts district on the rise, she may have incentive to stay here and develop further. “It’s exciting to see where we are going. People are doing all sorts of events: kids events, different workshops, and Midtown Kingston’s growing arts district, so in 10 years from now, who knows what will be happening.”

For now, Bisio continues to shine her light in The Lace Mill gallery, displaying works that reflect her background and experience. Her pieces are testaments to what she has seen and felt, and the light she often utilizes in her works parallel the beauty and strength in her journey of self-knowledge.

Getting to a place of comfort and acceptance isn’t always easy. Bisio has been criticized for being an artist, a general stereotype and stigma still surround the “artistic” label. Those labels — lazy, disorganized, scattered — weigh on her confidence. Instead of focusing on the negative that would drain her livelihood, she states, “I think it’s best to be true to yourself—you have to do what inspires you and not be influenced by other’s opinions. People will think differently about what’s good and bad. So just do the work, no matter how slow the process, even if it’s just one step a day.”

Applying to and inquiring about The Lace Mill proved to be winning leaps in a lottery draw of applicants, and her current endeavors in participating at gallery exhibits are antecedents for growth in a supportive setting—who knows where these little steps will take her next.