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Starlight Studio & Art Gallery leads art integration in WNY for 15 years

The open art studio for adults with disabilities celebrates 15 years with launch of online auction

Author: Parrish Gibbons Herzog, Board President, Learning Disabilities Association of WNY

Fifteen years ago this week, the Learning Disabilities Association of WNY (LDA) opened the first art studio in WNY to support adults with disabilities in their artistic expression. Starlight Studio and Art Gallery, located on Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo, has paved the way for similar programming in the region; leveraging even more space for artists to develop and enhance their art making skills.

The program, modeled after similar programming in the Bay Area of California, was brought to Buffalo, NY by Marc Hennig, now CEO of LDA.

“Fortunately for me, a mutual friend told Marc about the program I was running at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for people with disabilities,” says Carrie Marcotte, Director of Starlight Studio and Art Gallery. “We met and realized this was all a good fit. What was impressive to me was that this was not a therapeutic program but one about people developing their skills as artists and having the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work.”

Starlight Artists saying “Thank You”

Starlight Studio and Art Gallery is home to over 40 artists who specialize in a wide range of mediums including pottery, print making, fiber arts, painting and video. Teaching artists provide guidance and assistance as needed, but the open art studio allows participants to create and develop works without suggestion. Participating artists create and sell works out of the Starlight Studio Gallery and online website.

The organization has a strong focus on community collaboration, exemplified by their inclusion of guest artists from the community to exhibit “Side by Side” with Starlight participating artists for each exhibition throughout the year, and by working directly with community artists to enhance the experience of Starlight participants.

Starlight Artist Chase Lobley Artist Talk at SSAG

“One of our last formal collaborations was with Dennis Maher and Assembly House 150, called Starlight City Assemblies,” says Marcotte.  “Through workshops conducted by artist/architect, Dennis Maher, the Starlight artists were introduced to architecture of 2-D and 3-D designs, resulting in models and a display module for the Starlight Gallery and store.”

Ani Hoover Façade Mural

The WNY community may recognize Starlight Studio & Art Gallery from their vibrant murals that have covered the front façade of their building. In 2009, a direct appeal raised funds to hire community artist Ani Hoover to design and paint the front, in collaboration with Starlight artists. The pastel bubbles were an iconic mural on Delaware Avenue for 10 years. In 2019, the façade received a needed update and now displays the work of Starlight artist Steve Robinson.

This week, Starlight Studio and Art Gallery will launch an online auction entitled Co-Artifact that includes collaboratively made works by Starlight Artists and artists from the Buffalo community. Framed original façade squares of the Starlight façade painted by Ani Hoover will also be available for bid.

100% of the online auction proceeds support Starlight Studio and Art Gallery. The online auction starts August 6th at 4pm with bidding ending at 9pm on August 9th. Artists featured include:

  • Monica Angle
  • John Budney
  • Andy Calderon
  • Bobby Griffiths
  • Barbara Hart
  • Janet Harrison
  • Taylor Heald
  • Ani Hoover
  • Billy Huggins
  • Eric Johnson
  • Kyla Kegler
  • Chace Lobley
  • Shamika Long
  • Alicia Malik
  • Meg McCuen
  • Kimber Rodgers
  • Mary Schneider
  • Mathew Sharp
  • Donald Solberg
  • Chuck Tingley
  • Jocelyn Triggle
  • Edreys Wajed

The community can access the digital auction here:

Lead image: Steve Robinson in front of his mural

Written by BRo Guest Authors

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