CORNING, N.Y. (September 28, 2016) – Director of Education for The Rockwell Museum, Gigi Alvare, presented at the annual Global Mural Conference on Saturday September 24 in Fairport, NY about The Rockwell’s Alley Art Project. Additionally, project collaborators Dave Quackenbush, lead teacher at the High School Learning Center of the Corning-Painted Post Area School District and Bradford Leiby, artist-in-residence, discussed their collaboration with The Rockwell and the popular mural program.  As a sought after professional resource for educators, The Rockwell is recognized for educational contributions toward student achievement.  In particular, the 10+ year collaboration with the High School Learning Center of the Corning-Painted Post School District will serve as a model of excellence at the conference.  Alvare, Quackenbush and Leiby discussed their shared experiences working with students in Corning to create an expansive and ongoing mural project titled “The Alley Art Project.”

The timing of this conference coincides with the kick-off to the 2016 40th anniversary mural project with special guest artists, Virgil Ortiz. Heavily sought out by celebrities, royalty, collectors and museums, Cochiti Pueblo artist Virgil Ortiz combines art, décor, fashion, video and film in his artwork.  While busy with new business ventures (just opening a retail store in Santa Fe in July), Ortiz continues to round-out his artistic portfolio with a new outdoor mural in Corning, NY in collaboration with at-risk high school students and The Rockwell Museum. 

Designs are underway and Ortiz is in Corning from September 26 – September 30, 2016 to paint the mural alongside student artists.  The mural will be located on the back building façade of Captain Morgan’s, a restaurant on Bridge Street in Corning’s Gaffer District.  During an Urban Arts Crawl event, the mural will be unveiled and a public reception is planned for Friday September 30 from 5-8 p.m.

The Global Mural Conference brings together perspectives of artists, community organizers and planners and address the role of art in economic development and tourism.

2016 Global Mural Conference speakers included:

  • Gigi Alvare, director of education at the Rockwell Art Museum in Corning, New York, who will relate her experience working with students in Corning to create an expansive and ongoing mural project with the Corning-Painted Post Area School District High School Learning Center, titled “The Alley Art Project.”
  • Serge Malenfant, president of the Global Mural Arts & Cultural Tourism Association
  • Kady Perry, an artist from Tennessee, who will address grassroots organizing, relationship building and resource sharing at the local and state level in her speech “Roadblocks and Red Tape.”
  • Timothy Madigan, associate professor of philosophy at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, who will share how Frederick Douglass became a figure of peace through the murals of Danny Devenny.
  • Erich Lehman, co-curator and lead organizer of Wall/Therapy, who will discuss the process for curating artists and locations in his speech “A Visual Intervention through Muralism.”
  • George Fritz, who will present “Navigating the Path from Idea to Community Treasure: The Story of the mural ‘Guardian of the Waters.’”
  • Joe Concra, co-founder and executive director of O+ Festival, a national nonprofit headquartered in Kingston, New York, who will focus on the impact of art on a community's overall health.
  • G. Peter Jemison, manager of the Ganondagan Historic Site and Seneca Cultural Center, who will relate the idea of the Message of Peace through the story of the origin of the Seneca.
  • Ellen McHale, executive director of the New York Folklore Society, who will present “Art: A Catalyst for Change.”
  • Michele Truett’s presentation “Three murals: One historic Utica neighborhood,” which will share her experience of using a grant from National Grid to make the murals in Bagg’s Square and the resultant revitalization of the neighborhood possible.
  • Anastasia Pratt, who will share how community art projects can bring various groups together to understand their history and define their community, in a presentation titled, “Public History Meets Public Art.”

About the Alley Art Project
Called The Alley Art Project, Corning’s murals are the result of a special collaboration between The Rockwell Museum and the High School Learning Center of the Corning-Painted Post Area School District.  Since 2009, The Rockwell and the school district have worked together in conjunction with downtown planning agencies and business owners to make this project a reality. 

Each academic year, students fulfill mandatory Art and English Language Arts (ELA) credits during their time spent at The Rockwell.  Guided by Rockwell educators, students use the American art collection at The Rockwell as a catalyst for creative writing and art making.  Then, students create individual pieces of art that work as elements of a larger mural.  Designs are later painted on the alley facades of downtown businesses by the students. There are now a total of seven murals and plans are underway for another this year.

The Alley Art Project supports student learning about art, design, and the research associated with the process of art making – all the while cultivating a sense of pride in the community.  The High School Learning Center is a small learning community for high school students not succeeding in a traditional school.  Located on the campus of Corning Community College, the school’s focus is on the development of academic, social, and vocational skills, resulting in a New York State Regents diploma.   And as most cosmopolitan museums are doing, The Rockwell in Downtown Corning is expanding beyond their gallery walls – serving as a cultural center by administering arts education to people of all ages and backgrounds.   This perfect storm of creativity and care for our local community has sprouted an important program that connects at-risk youth to their town.

About the High School Learning Center
The HSLC is a collaborative effort among C-PP School District, Corning Community College, the local business community, local museums and area not-for-profit organizations. Since its inception in 2003, the alternative program features a curriculum that is directly aligned with the District’s learning goals.  >more information.

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