Crew of artists draws hundreds to old factory

Crew of artists draws hundreds to old factory

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sturdevant@poststar.com

GLENS FALLS - The white strip of paper from a Hershey's kiss stuck out of a bird's nest, which was tucked into a heart-shaped hole cut in the side of some barn planks.

The scene was a carefully dabbed pastel drawing hanging on the wall just above a paper with lines for bids in a hallway of the former Troy Shirt warehouse on Cooper and Lawrence streets. The artist, David Francis of Hudson Falls, stood near his nest-in-a-heart-shaped-nook piece Saturday afternoon greeting people as they meandered through the labyrinth of the old factory to look at artwork during a silent auction.

"It's called 'Love Nest,'" Francis said of the piece. "The farm I grew up on had a lot of barn swallows, and they will put anything in their nest."

The pastel piece was Francis' donation to "Heart Art," the second fund-raiser at the former Troy Shirt warehouse held to generate enough cash to renovate part of the factory into a gallery. More than 20 artists who rent space in the former factory had their work on display in the three-floor building. Most of them donated at least one piece to the fund-raiser. Each Valentine's Day piece was accompanied by a piece of lined paper to tally silent bids from passersby.

A similar fund-raiser was held two months ago. But at that event, instead of holding an auction, the artists donated 10 percent of profits from sales of their works to the renovation of a 3,000-square-foot area in the factory. That space will eventually be a gallery to display works by tenant artists of the former Troy Shirt plant.

The first fund-raiser generated about $500 toward a project that is expected to cost $10,000, said artist Frankie Flores, who helped organize the effort to install a gallery.

"We're going to have to put in lighting, we want to improve the entrance, and make it handicapped accessible," said Eric Unkauf, who owns the building.

Regardless of the financial goals, the artists were smiling Saturday afternoon as they talked about their work with several hundred people who walked through the building.

The space that Flores shares with his wife, Lisa Cirelli-Flores, was packed with people who stopped to look at his oil silhouettes of jazz performers - inspired by several visits to Mardi Gras.

Flores has been invited by the organizers of Mardi Gras to be one of a select group of artists who design posters for the event each year. On a separate occasion in 1992, Flores was commissioned to draw a pencil sketch poster for the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas, that year.

The drawing shows elephants lumbering around, swinging their trunks and roaring in front of the Houston skyline.

Looking at the drawing Saturday, Flores pointed and said, "I think you can see the Enron building. … There it is."

He and his wife moved to the Glens Falls area after living in Houston, where Flores was raised. Cirelli-Flores said they both had confidence in the move, and said they've found a lot of support for artists in this area - particularly in the community of artists in the Troy Shirt factory.

"We're doing well," she said with a smile.

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