‘MillerCoors Makes Art’ opening at Albany Area Arts Council

Sep 04, 2015

By Brad McEwen, Albany Herald

ALBANY — While employees from Albany’s MillerCoors plant have already proven they have a talent for making beer, this month many will be showing off skills of a different kind by providing art work for the September exhibit at the Albany Area Arts Council’s Carnegie Library headquarters in downtown Albany.

The exhibition, which opens to the public today, is titled “MillerCoors Makes Art” and features work created by employees of the Albany plant and their family members.

According to Cindy Gravois, the utilities and waste water treatment plant unit manager at MillerCoors and a member of the Albany Arts Council board, the exhibition is a way for associates of the company who have an interest in the arts to get more engaged in the community while showcasing their artistic talents.

“The purpose of the arts council is to promote the arts, but it’s not just for professional artists, it’s for anyone who is interested in the arts,” said Gravois. “We have such a vibrant and talented artist community and they don’t get any recognition. These are every day people that you meet on the streets that have a vision and are able to communicate that vision.”

Gravois, who doesn’t consider herself an artist despite her “dabbling” in pottery, said that just as there are several talented amateur artists in the community, there are also many talented artists who work at MillerCoors, and their works deserves to be seen.

That group of those artists including Gravois, Lonnie Taylor, Jim Ball, Chris Timmons, Tim Stafford and Jim Graham formed a committee that came up with the idea of doing an employee art show and then presented the idea to the company’s local management.

“It’s an employee-led initiative,” said Gravois. “We decided what it would be and what it wouldn’t be.”

What it ultimately turned out to be is a month-long exhibition which will feature over 40 different works in a variety of different media including photography, pastels, pencil sketches, wood carving, acrylics, watercolors, and wood burning.

“We may even have a pot or two thrown in,” Gravois said. “We didn’t make any conditions.”

In addition to the work being displayed at the Arts Council throughout September, the exhibition is also a juried art show. Gravois said the work will be judged by an impartial judge, Abigail Bellard, who is an associate professor of humanities and fine arts at Darton State College.

Recognition will be given for first, second and third places across three different age groups and the winners will be announced at a private event hosted by MillerCoors later in the month.

While the “MillerCoors Makes Art” show serves as a way to celebrate the talent of MillerCoors employees, Gravois said it’s also a great way to get employees involved in an often unpublicized part of the community.

“Before I moved here I kept hearing negative things about Albany,” said Gravois, who relocated here three years ago from the New Orleans area. “Really, this place is a treasure trove; the area is fabulous. There’s this whole arts community that no one knows about. It’s not just art, it’s the symphony, it’s the entire community. It’s just not publicized. It’s a very interesting place. I can’t tell you how many talented people you have here.”

Gravois added that from her perspective as both an employee of MillerCoors who is involved in recruitment, and as a member of the Arts Council board, showcasing a part of the community that can enrich the lives of employees is vitally important.

“As a board we constantly struggle with how we reach out to the corporate community,” said Gravois. “We’re not really promoting those after work activities that really enrich quality of life. We’re really excited about this.”

The exhibit will open with a small reception that is open to the public tonight at the Carnegie Library from 6-8 p.m. that will feature light refreshments and a chance to meet some of the artists. The work will remain on display until Sept. 25 and can be viewed any time during the Arts Council’s regular hours.

The Carnegie Library is located at 215 N. Jackson Street and the gallery is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday from 2-4 p.m., and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To learn more about the Arts Council and its programs visit www.albanyartscouncil.org.

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