Photo Credit: Tom Killips -The Record

Photo Caption: Chip Fasciana, Tommy Watkins and Mark Gregory sit behind the steel sculpture “Global Gobbler,” by artist Steven Rolf Kroeger, as they prepare for the Underground Artists show at the Albany Institute of History and Art.

Underground has its coming out


Tim Kane

The Record


ALBANY-- The Albany Underground Artists have been institutionalized.  

         “Yeah, I guess we should be after doing this for a while,” says Chip Fasciana, one of three artists who run the collaborative.  “It takes a lot of time, we do it with very little money, and we all have regular jobs.  And we all are practicing artists, too.  Maybe we are a little crazy.”  


“What a different experience.  We’ve always worked with odd place made not for showing art in mind.  It was not about where it was being show, but that it was shown at all.”  

Mark Gregory

Co-founder of Albany Underground Artists


         The nomadic rebel group of the local art scene specializing in one night art “events” was frantically preparing last week for their latest and biggest show yet, “The Institute Show,” which opened Thursday and runs through Wednesday.  

         But unlike other alternative spaces used in the past, the group has assembled 84 works of art created by 64 primarily local artists to be shown at the embodiment of the establishment: the Albany Institute of History and Art.  

         “It’s far from the space we’ve used in the past,” said Mark Gregory, another founder of the group.  “We usually spend most of our preparation time cleaning up and renovating old dusty spaces, but now we can spend time on putting the show together.”

         With 4,600 square feet, Gregory said they’ve gone from worrying about having enough space to wondering if they can fill it.  

         “What a different experience,” Gregory added.  We’ve always worked with odd places made not for showing art in mind.  It was not about where it was being shown, but that it was shown at all.”  

         Tamis Groft, deputy director of collections at the AIHA, described the show as “edgy” and filled with quite talented but relatively unknown artists.  “If you want to get a feel for what emerging artists are doing in the area, you want to see this.”

Photo Credit: Tom Killips -The Record

Photo Caption: “A Martyr’s Promise” by artist Tommy Watkins, one of the Albany Underground Artists who’s work is on exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art through Wednesday.

 The Albany Underground Artists was founded nearly two years ago when it assembled a small show culled from a network of fellow artists at the former Carostello’s bakery on Lark Street.

         “It was created by demand from young artists frustrated by not being able to be show,” Fasciana said.  

         With a growing following, AUA staged arguably its most successful show last winter.  Dubbed the “Mansion” show, nearly 2,000 people attended the event on a frigid evening, with the line to get in snaking around the corner well up State Street.  

         “We spent days cleaning up after that one,” Watkins said.  “There was mud everywhere.”  

         Don’t expect the group to change much since it has been accepted by the blue-blooded AIHA, and moved uptown.  

         In face, they very well might not put together another show at all.  Gregory, for one, is pretty sure he’s moving on.  Fasciana says there are no plans in the works, but that’s the way it has been after each show.  Things just kind of happen, he says.  

         And the group isn’t looking for home, nor will they anytime soon.  They did incorporate this year, and had, for the first time, a small budget of working capital to cover some expenses from the first-time entry fee, but they won’t come close to breaking even.  

         “This truly isn’t about money,” Fasciana said.  “It really wasn’t supposed to be a group, really.  It was about meeting a demand by artists who were frustrated by the lack of gallery space and the ability to show their works.”


If You Go...

WHAT: Albany Underground Artists’ Regional Art Exhibit of Emerging Artists

WHEN: Through Sept. 21, 10a.m. to 5p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; Noon to 5p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Albany Institute of History and Art, Washington Ave.