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Founders of the UAG +
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Saturday, May 27th, 2017 +
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Our Inception
The Upstate Artists Guild was originally formed by a group of ten artists. Over the course of our first six months, before we opened our doors to members, this core group planned and organized our events, worked to fund our expenses, helped to locate our new HQ, and defined the UAG's identity. This group of artists remain active on all levels of the Guild's interests and constantly provide direction and resources.

Our Founders
Nina Stanley

Nina Stanley
+ Joined in 2004
A native Californian, Nina suddenly found herself inexplicably in the cold and inhospitable Northeast of the country. But Albany hasn't been completely unkind to her -- she has found many kindred artistic souls and some truly amazing friends. Together they have turned a humble figure drawing group and occasional exhibition event into a full fledged Artists Guild.

Trained as a classical figurative painter, she enjoys turning her friends into archetypes of the Tarot, gods and goddesses, and characters out of faerie tales. Nina loves to share her knowledge, so be sure to ask about classes and workshops offered through the UAG on figure drawing and oil painting!

Robyn Diaz

Robyn Diaz
+ Joined in 2004

Christa Dijstelbergen
John Weiler

Christa Dijstelbergen &
John Weiler, crasis d:zyne

+ Joined in 2004
Christa Dijstelbergen and John Weiler have worked together as Crasis D:zyne since early 2004. Christa applies her experience as an event planner and her background with Chicago's Red Moon Theatre, a street theater troupe employing large scale puppets while John has an associates degree in art from Columbia Greene Community College, briefly attended SUNY Purchase and worked as a writer and underground comic artist for various Capital District 'zines. Both have worked together in Capital District community theatre as both actors and as production designers. Christa and John are among the ten founding members of the Upstate Artists Guild.

Together with the other Crasis team members, digital video artist/VJ Jason Cosco (also a UAG founding member) and pan-Asian fusion chef Goutam Rajput, they have conceived, designed and executed avant-garde events and environments with the UAG at their former location, Art4Central.

2005 saw Crasis install large scale work at Albany Underground Artists shows such as the Community Arts United Show in a 19th century mansion on the corner of State and Englewood and the Institute Show at the Albany Institute of History and Art. The New Year was rung in with the installation of Col. Gustav and Lady Annabella, larger than life puppets, in the lobby of the Palace Theatre as part of the UAG's First Night installation project.

More recent work includes a pair of seven-foot tall fully functioning puppets of the Giant and his Wife for Confetti Stage's children's production of Jack and the Beanstalk, two installations for Illuminations at the UAG Gallery and The Narthex, a room size installation at the recent B.Sides art show at Scarlet East Recording Studio on North Pearl St, Albany. The group seeks to create eclectic atmospheres encouraging total immersion where observer becomes both participant and component of the work.

Colin Wilkinson

Colin Wilkinson
+ Joined in 2004
Colin grew up in Columbia, Maryland, and showed an affinity for the arts from an early age. After graduating from high school with a focus in art and music he went on to college, specializing in multimedia, and now holds a BA in Visual Arts from Oberlin College and a BM in Technology in Music and Related Arts from Oberlin Conservatory. His work has been shown at the Getty Center in Los Angeles as well as numerous local galleries and one-night shows.

Colin currently designs video games by day and develops websites by night. Somewhere in the middle he finds time to perform his duties as the acting president of the Upstate Artists Guild.

Jason Cosco

Jason Cosco
+ Joined in 2004

Tommy Watkins

Tommy Watkins
+ Joined in 2004
As a little boy growing up in Rochester NY, Tommy Watkins often could be found perfectly contented with a crayon in hand, spending hours creating and drawing. As he grew and experienced the trials of adolescent, he found that the hobby he enjoyed as a child could now serve as an outlet for expressing the troubles and pain of coming of age. Now, as an adult, art has not only changed his life, but defines it.

Since arriving in The Capital District, Tommy has slowly transcended into a highly recognizable and respected artist. His style is distinct and his abstract modern paintings can be seen in several area businesses, with many more commissioned paintings created for individuals' private art collections.

Beyond his talent as a painter, Tommy has intense passion for uniting local artists and has been working to build a dynamic and cultured art scene in upstate New York. This has culminated in a myriad of events and exhibits that have realized his vision. As a co-founder of the Albany Underground Artists and the Upstate Artists Guild he has been part of a wonderfully supportive community of artist, but has also has stepped out on his own in organizing events showcasing area artists. A very memorable example of this was the mansion show, as it was the largest local art show, with over 1500 attendees on a single night in March of '05. In addition to the fine arts community, Tommy has also taken a strong role in the local fashion scene, organizing and taking part in fashions shows that allowed him to showcase talented local designers, as well the signature glam punk style of his own line, Liability.

Rebecca Schoonmaker

Rebecca Schoonmaker
+ Joined in 2005
I think of my paintings and raku tiles as windows or glimpses into another place. Each piece invites the viewer for an intimate look at a meditative process of mark making, often including a box or square as the dominant shape (a multitude of small windows making up one larger window). The designs in each painting are inspired by beauty and pattern in nature. Each layer is created by reacting to the surface or layer beneath, influenced by the pattern or design below it, either working with or against the layer before. Pattern and layering on the surface cause an abstract perfection and serendipity simultaneously creating emotions.

Rebecca received her MFA from SUNY Albany and has exhibited her work all over New York State. She also is an adjunct Professor at SUNY Cobleskill where she teaches drawing and design classes.

Curtis Canham

Curtis Canham
+ Joined in 2005
You know, I haven't always been a viking. For me, it's not all about the pillaging as one might think, but more about the mythological status. The status that was once reserved only for unicorns and jackal-opes.

I moved to Albany, New York from Oslo, Norway several years back to help form what is now the Upstate Artists Guild. I gave up my horns and the sea for my true calling, vector art.

I would like this time to thank a few individuals for their passion and support of the arts: Stephanie (wife and mother of our new born Chloe), Trent Walker, Bernard 'Beanie' Campell, Drunk Asa, Wes Mantooth, the Captain and Tennille, Pete La Fleur and of course, all the founding members of the UAG.

I would like to end my bio with an old viking song (Monty Python's Flying Circus):
Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam
Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam
Spam, Spam, (Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam!) Spam, Spam

Chris Horton

Chris Horton
+ Joined in 2005
Chris grew up a Los Angeles ocean lover, but at 18 fled the sprawl for rural New York where he went to Colgate and studied sculpture.

His love for green eventually took over his ocean-lust and Chris decided to take a job teaching art at the Doane Stuart School. This turned out the first in a series of fortunate events, which of course includes his introduction to the then Art 4 Central crowd and rapid inclusion into the Upstate Artists Guild.

Professionally, Chris works as a designer, photographer, and educator. However, his passion and undying artistic expression is generally in the form of steel sculpture. His current focus is on bar-based, linear sculpture of human forms in a variety of poses and scales, focusing mainly on male figures at a two-times life size scale.

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