Gilbertsville summer arts program ends with gallery show

Teresa WinchesterArea residents and participants in the Gilbertsville Summer Art Workshop look at the art exhibited at a gallery show held Friday. 

Gilbertsville residents gathered Friday to see the results of a popular summer arts program.

Since its inaugural year in 1989, the Gilbertsville Summer Arts Workshop has grown considerably, said Rev. Randy Palada, who started the program while serving as pastor of Gilbertsville Baptist Church. Now retired, he still lives in Gilbertsville and remains art director of the church’s program.

According to its mission statement, the program strives "To learn to grow individually as creative persons, sharing the blessing of creativity as a spiritual expression. We also seek to create, enhance and share our artistic talents with one another and to appreciate the process and rewards of such creative expression."

“When I first came here, there was not a lot going on in arts in the community. Because of my passion for art, I reached out and got the summer program going,” Palada said.

The workshops, held from Aug. 5 to 9 this year, are open to all ages from kindergarten students to adults. In addition to the core painting classes taught by Palada, Noelle Da Silva Holdredge, art teacher at Unatego High School, taught digital photography. Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School art teacher Ashley Hughes taught weaving and Joe Richheimer taught tie dye.

Another Gilbertsville arts endeavor, the Gilbertsville Expressive Movement offered at no cost a two-day sculpture workshop as part of the program. The sculpture classes were led GEM resident sculptor Kelly Cave, who asked students to use plaster and wire to sculpt objects capable of receiving and passing a ping pong ball.

The program has gained broad community support and enjoys a degree of monetary support from the village of Gilbertsville.

“The village built easels and display boards for us and they include us in their budget,” Palada said. He said other support comes from family members of enrollees, volunteer retirees, student interns and donations from individuals and businesses.

On Thursday, five-year community volunteer Kimberly Schaeffer was helping to mount paintings.

“I love seeing the kids go through the process of creating each of their paintings and seeing the finished product. Their creativity and talent shines through in their work,” she said.

Also on Thursday, Holdredge was showing students how to cut matte board for mounting photos.

“The Gilbertsville art workshop is an excellent community activity and I’ve been happy to be a part of it for the past several years,” she said.

Beside local participants, summer vacationers from outside the area also sometimes enroll.

“We’ve had people from Japan, France, Germany and other states in the United States taking our classes,” Palada said.

Originally from the Philippines, Palada is a self-taught artist who specializes in watercolor and acrylics. He has also offered community classes in calligraphy. 

On Friday, a gallery showing was held at Gilbertsville Commons, the campus of the Gilbertsville Expressive Movement. Work from all classes was displayed. The gallery walls featured works of vibrant color, depicting toucans, dolphins, sailboats, carrots, lighthouses and landscapes.

Jill Stevens of Bainbridge, a sculptor and potter who prefers abstract art, said she was surprised to find herself producing a realistic acrylic of a sailboat.

“The class was fun, not difficult or scary. I’d never had professional classes, so I learned,” she said.

Emma Peck, 11, who attends Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School, said her sculpture class “highly exceeded my expectations.” She enjoyed the freedom to create anything she wanted, she said.

A closing ceremony, during which all workshop participants received certificates of recognition, followed the gallery exhibit.

Contact Palada  at 607-783-2044 for information about registering for next year's summer art program.

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