Welcome to Going For it, a new series where we talk to regular people – not big companies or long-established local nonprofits, just ordinary Albanians – who have decided to go for it and create something new right here in Albany, right now.
For our first interview we spoke to Christine Allen, a graphic designer who recently moved here from NYC with her boyfriend, Peter Ossi. Christine and Peter saw an example of a local problem – underutilized real estate – and decided to turn it into an opportunity for fun, community-building, and art.
Albablog: Hi, Christine! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Christine: I'm a graphic designer; my boyfriend and co-host for the Pop-Up Party, Peter, is an industrial designer. We both went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to study design and we lived there for 7 years. We build tree houses and live in one when we're not in Albany. We started The Root Community, which is a tree house community and arts organization, with our friends about 6 years ago. Developing that into a smoothly operating, true 501c3 non-profit is taking most of our attention at the moment. We have two of the best dogs in the entire world and an adorably confused and disgruntled tabby cat.
What the heck brought you to Albany? How do you feel about the town?
After living and working in NYC for that long we needed to move. We wanted to be closer to The Root and we love being outdoors. Albany is a beautiful city with so much potential. Its diversity, the architecture, the people and the proximity to so many amazing parts of New York state made moving here seem like a no-brainer. We both want to start businesses and starting in a city like Albany provides a lot of flexibility.
Can you tell us something about this event you’re putting together? What is it, where did the idea come from, etc?
Peter was looking at this beautiful vacant apartment in our building that we're trying to rent and wanted to do something with it. It's such a great space and we have so many talented friends it seemed like the perfect opportunity to meet new people and start something really unique. Basically the idea is to turn vacant apartments into a one-night gallery. Throw a party, have some live music, look at art, have some food. This first one has been put together pretty quickly but I think that it could happen all over the city in the future. We're reaching out to local businesses to sponsor the event and have had some really positive feedback.
Can you tell us who else has gotten involved so far?
So far, Nighthawks in Troy has offered to help with food, along with a fantastic chef, Townsend Smith, who is coming up from Brooklyn. Alacrity Frame Workshop is letting us borrow some hanging supplies and is giving a 20% discount for framing pieces bought at the show. We're still waiting to hear back from quite a few other people but, either way, I think it's going to be a fun party.
What’s your long term vision for this empty-apartment-popup idea?
I would love for it to grow into something that occurs every few months all around Albany. I think that working with realtors and building owners to find spaces and creating a network of artists, musicians and businesses around the area could be universally beneficial. Connecting people through the arts is important to to me and providing the community with a fun event where they can meet and appreciate the talent that Albany has to offer feels like a wonderful thing.
What’s one thing you’d like to see in Albany?
I would love to see more space for live music and more art-centric events like this one.
Any advice for someone who wants to put together a new event in town but doesn’t know where to start?
Just pick up the phone. People are really friendly and want to be part of interesting things. If you're not afraid to reach out and ask questions then you can get a lot done.
Anything else you’d like to tell Albablog readers?
Support the arts, be nice to each other, take advantage of this beautiful city and don't be afraid to start something new.
Christine and Peter are still actively seeking art submissions for the pop-up party. If you'd like your art to be featured at the pop-up, or are interested in contributing to the event in another way, please email Christine at email@example.com.