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Grantee Features

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Posted June 26, 2024

MeeAe Caughey's "Visceral II"

We are proud to support innovative projects through our grant funding, and one such standout is "Visceral II" by MeeAe (Mandy) Caughey.

MeeAe is a local dancer and choreographer whose work is heavily influenced by Butoh, a theatrical dance form which emerged out of Post - WWII Japan. She has worked with musicians, dance companies and theatre companies across the US and Europe. (photograph of MeeAh by Jari Poulin)

Visceral II showcases MeeAh's unique approach to dance videography and choreographic editing and features outdoor dance video portraits of Jim Self, Janice Kovar, Kathy Lucas, and Amanda Moretti. 

A 26-minute screening of Visceral II (4 dance videos) is scheduled for Saturday, June 29th, at 3pm at the Tompkins County Public Library's Borg Warner Room East. Check out the 40 second trailer!

The series has evolved significantly since its inception in 2020. Supported by a CAP SOS (Strategic Opportunity Stipend) grant and the NYS Dance Force, Visceral I aimed to provide a creative outlet for dancers during the pandemic through solo performances shot outdoors. Each dancer was accompanied by a small audience, fostering a connection between performer and viewer despite COVID restrictions. (Photo left: Jim Self)

In 2024, MeeAe received another CAP SOS grant and NYS Dance Force grant for Visceral II. This new series takes a different approach than the first, focusing more on the relationship between the dancer and the videographer (MeeAe), rather than the one between dancer and audience. In fact, there is no audience.

MeeAe's role in Visceral II extends beyond filming to collaborative video editing with the dancers. She describes her editing process as akin to choreography, using the footage from multiple shoots to craft a cohesive visual narrative. This approach underscores her method of dance videography, treating the camera as an active partner in capturing the essence of each dancer's performance.

Take a look - in person on June 29th - or on YouTube. You can watch Visceral I now on MeeAe's channel, and the Visceral II videos will be there by July 1st.



Posted May 28, 2024

The Wedding Show, an immersive and interactive theatre experience!

The Community Arts Partnership (CAP) is proud to support innovative and inclusive projects through its grant funding, and one such standout event is The Wedding Show by Vie Cycle, funded with CAP's 2024 Artist in Community Grant.

Vie Cycle, a rotating group of actors, musicians, and artists, is dedicated to creating immersive and interactive community-building events that are LGBTQIA+ friendly. The group's commitment to inclusivity and collaborative creativity shines through in The Wedding Show, an event that invites attendees to become part of a joyous and heartfelt queer wedding celebration.

One of the creators of The Wedding Show, Sylvie Froncek, shared the inspiration behind the event: “I had been to a bunch of weddings and some of them were absolutely ridiculous and poorly planned. But some involved all of the guests helping to do something, but there was this amazing bonding that happened... I wanted to create a wedding where you can do all the things you can’t normally do at these kinds of events.” This vision of turning chaotic, yet bonding experiences into a structured, interactive theatre piece highlights the unique charm and inclusive spirit that Vie Cycle brings to The Wedding Show.

The event includes a variety of activities such as mingling with the wedding party, enjoying appetizers and desserts, playing lawn games, and dancing. The show encourages full participation, whether it’s making a toast, giving a speech, or joining a flash mob. Each performance is unique, driven by the interactions between the audience and the cast, ensuring a fun, inclusive, and unforgettable celebration.

A highlight of The Wedding Show is its commitment to accessibility and inclusivity and making sure audience needs are met and that everyone feels comfortable and included. Singles, couples, and groups of all backgrounds are welcome and there are alcohol free performances that cater to all ages. 

The Wedding Show is a great example of the arts uniting people and celebrating diversity.

For more information on upcoming performances from June 15th to July 14th, and how to participate, visit


Posted March 18. 2024
(written by Ithaca College intern Michael Sayre)

Brooktondale Community Center - community arts events!

In 1954, a local youth group known as the Skip and Joe Club originated within the Brooktondale community. But it wouldn’t be until 1964 that the club would find permanent residence in a community-funded building, which came to be called the Brooktondale Community Center (BCC). Now, with a focus on children, families, art, and the Brooktondale community at large, the BCC holds numerous events in loving support of its hamlet namesake.

During a recent interview, BCC board member and project administrator Emily Adams highlighted the addition of live music to the Brooktondale Farmers Market as both a means to provide “a welcome neutral ground”, as well as entertainment for attendees from near and far. “Adding live music to the Farmers Market a few years ago”, says Adams, “improved the atmosphere remarkably, and brought more people – with lawn chairs to sit and listen, not just shopping for vegetables.”

Funded by the 2024 CAP’s Grant for Art Programs (GAP) grant, the BCC Farmers Market live music takes place every Saturday (6/1-9/28) from 11am to 2pm and features a curated lineup of local musicians, some of which are returning from previous years. Musical genres featured at the Farmers Markets include swing, folk, jazz, blues, and light rock.

Also funded by the 2024 GAP grant is the newly added Brooktondale Live Music and Dance Series which sees the return of performing artists Dave Davies & Friends,the Diana Leigh Quartet, the Ageless Jazz Band, and Wayne Gottlieb and the Pelotones. New additions to the series include Crookside String Band, Zingology, Cap Cooke & Friends, and the Greene Street Band, playing swing, square, and contra dance music. Many of these dance events are being co-organized by Vikki Armstrong, who provides instruction. In addition, TOiVo will perform a wide variety of dance music, and the Klezmer Kings will play klezmer and teach everyone how to dance to it. There are currently 10 scheduled dances on Sundays from 2-5 pm; lessons will be offered at the start of each event. Once the weather warms up, Adams plans to move the dances outside under one of the BCC's pavilions. 

And on the arts and crafts side of Brooktondale, the BCC continues the tradition of quilt making. Powered by the Brooktondale Community Quilters (now in their 50th year), countless hours are spent crafting a 94”x110” quilt with materials often sourced from community center founder Peggy Dunlop. When the process is finished, the quilt is raffled off at the annual Brooktondale Apple Festival. This year's Apple Festival will take place on October 19th. Funds allocated from this event are then used to fund future events and further develop the community of Brooktondale.

In 2024, the BCC is expanding its music and art offerings with new classes led by BCC director Nancy Hall, where participants are painting Barn Quilts. The first three classes filled up immediately, but more classes are planned for the fall. All the barn quilts will be mounted locally and become part of a Tompkins County Barn Quilt Tour. Pictures, schedules, and further information on the Brooktondale Community Center barn quilt project can be viewed on the BCC event page.


Posted February 22 2024
(written by Ithaca College intern Michael Sayre)

Holly Adams: Collaboration, Rigor, and Joy

“I believe in collaboration, rigor, and joy, and that the most important person in any scene is my scene partner(s)” says Holly Adams, a performance artist, voice actor, mask designer, and stage director whose work spans over two decades and four continents.

Formed in 2012 and led by Adams, Shearwater Productions and its physical theater company, Kakeru, continue to share the magic and innovation of live performance for all ages.

Kakeru is a word in Japanese, and with the inspiration of a Japanese-Canadian company member, selected it to be the company name. It means both "to soar, to fly, to run, to gallop, to advance, to hang, to construct, to sit, to wager, to bet, to risk, to stake, to gamble, to wear, to put on, to begin" AND  "a company of classically trained dance and theater performers, specializing in various forms of physical theater—mask, clown, dance drama, etc.—who gallop, soar, risk, construct, put on, and begin to fly."

Currently on their touring roster is the interactive play Museum Trip, based on Barbara Lehman’s acclaimed wordless picture book, MDSMR Nite’s DRM, a contemporary take on the classic Shakespeare play “with all the boring stuff cut out,” The Dance Class, and Further Adventures of Clown, an informative video of which can be seen here:

Adams and crew set out to have every piece they create not only fill the definition of Kakeru, but also be relevant, poignant, humorous, and highly interactive.

Adams is a recipient of the 2023 CAP’s Artist in Community Grant for her work with Kids Discover the Trail (KDT) board members and Ithaca City School District (ICSD) staff in an all new production called Survival Guide for Lost Discoverers: Middle School Edition. First proposed by ICSD Reading Specialist and KDT board member Joe Volpe as a means to help soon-to-be sixth graders, Adams and Kakeru furthered the proposal into Survival Guide, an immersive, fully interactive, musically scored, Choose Your Own Adventure style stage production.

Having put on 3 free performances in 2023 already— 2 for families in the Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art, and 1 at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center— Adams notes that, at the heart of the show, is a space that allows children to fully express their feelings and creative capacities during the often difficult and confusing shift from 5th to 6th grade.

Backed with an original composition by Alejandro Bernard-Papachryssanthou, complimentary music by Richard Montgomery, a booming thunder drum operated by a volunteering audience member, and other sequenced sounds, Survival Guide is intricately composed while also being susceptible to change.

During an interview with Adams, she referenced “the many layers of interaction” within the production. For example, at one point during the show, a volunteer from the audience may decide on the contents of an “invisible fossil” (responses range from prehistoric creatures, to doubts of the fossil’s very existence), and the script is designed to fully integrate and support these ideas.

Adams also made it clear during the interview that while audience participation is encouraged by design, it is by no means necessary for the story to progress. Those who want to sit back and enjoy the show can do so without feeling obligated or pressured to contribute. “Genuine empathy”, says Adams, is what fuels Survival Guide.


Posted November 15, 2023
(written by Ithaca College intern Hailee Daunis)

Circus Culture for Social Change & Justice

In 2015, Ithaca’s very own circus school was founded downtown, Circus Culture. The leading mission of the school has always been to provide circus education and opportunities for all, inviting anyone to participate in circus as an art form and life tool.

(Image: Circus teaching artist Shekinah Williams with student Gemma. Photo by Meryl Phipps)

Circus Culture is all about inclusivity and bringing everyone together, and one step of that process was a partnership with Village at Ithaca. This partnership was highlighted in a program that they built called Village Circus, a troupe of ten BIPOC youth who both learn and perform
circus together.

The program is an example of “social circus,” a decades-long tradition of circus being utilized as an agent for social change and justice. Village Circus began just a few years ago during COVID- 19 as an outdoor program and has since grown into a larger collaborative effort. Not only this year but in previous years as well, Circus Culture has received CAP’s Arts Education Grant to support the endeavor of this program.

Amy Cohen, director and founder of Circus Culture, said “This grant literally has made this program! Without the Arts Education grant, there would be no Village Circus… it has allowed us to build on something truly incredible and we will do everything we can to keep this program

Village Circus has been taught by Cohen and her co-teacher Shekinah Williams since the start of the program. They have always been committed to Village Circus being about community, artistry, care, and expression while building trust between themselves and the kids. Both see how this program has positively benefitted children within our community.

(Photo: Village at Ithaca Student. Photo by Joslyn Smith)

Williams said, “I find this unique experience influencing the children greatly in the long run… having a choice, having a space at such a young age to showcase themselves and what they’ve been through can shape a seriously unbreakable individual.”

The two love how the program has changed and been shaped throughout the past few years. Just recently, the Village Circus group has turned into a committed “troupe,” traveling to perform the skills they learn together. Cohen finds that the students are most eager to learn aerial arts and are even starting to learn complicated partner acrobatic moves as a group.

Village Circus runs both fall and spring each year and is free for youth to participate in. It’s in such demand that the program has a waiting list of kids eager to join in! Circus Culture continues to actively fundraise alongside Village at Ithaca to ensure the continuation of the program to
provide a fun and and welcoming space for the children to express themselves — in the circus way.


Posted October 23, 2023

Stand Up Women: Older Women and Social Activism

Local filmmaker Sue Perlgut received CAP's 2023 Artist in Community Grant and our Strategic Opportunity Stipend (SOS) for her project: "Stand Up Women: Older Women and Social Activism In Tompkins County: Their Art, Their Words, Their Activism, Their Passion."

Watch this great trailer!

In workshops led by artist/activist Caryl Henry Alexander, six local women expressed their social activism through the creation of visual art, and were filmed and interviewed by Sue.

Participants (left to right in photo below) Yvonne Fisher, (leader Caryl Henry Alexander), Joan Adler, Leslyn McBean Clairborne, Myra Kovary, Nicole Carrier-Titi and Sue Perlgut) will have their art and/or their filmed interviews exhibited at Lifelong (119 W. Court Street, Ithaca) from November thru December.

Sue Perlgut formed CloseToHome Productions to reach a wide-ranging audience with videos that feature topical and socially relevant issues. In 2012 she added production of theatre and other events to her mission. Learn all about sue at



Posted September 20, 2023
(written by Ithaca College intern Hailee Daunis)

Transpose: Ithaca Queer Singer's Alliance

Formerly known as the Ithaca Gay Men’s Chorus, Transpose: Ithaca Queer Singer’s Alliance has a new performance in the works for the community this November.  The group has been gathering more members, and now sits at about 25. Their mission is to “create music in a supportive and accessible environment which empowers LGBTQIA+ singers.” 

Transpose received CAP’s Grants for Art Programs for their upcoming performance, Roots and Branches, which is planned to feature not only Transpose, but trans composers and another local chorus, the Children’s Chorus of Ithaca. 

When asked if this project could expand to new horizons for the group, Nunley said, “With newly composed music, it opens us up to something that we can continue to perform for different audiences! And working with another chorus is also something we hope to do again!” 

Nunley expressed his excitement for the project. "Some of the music will be written and rehearsed with the composers in residence.  And we plan to have music using both choruses."

The show is planned for November 12th at 3 p.m. in the First Baptist Church in downtown Ithaca, so clear your calendars! There will be a suggested donation at the door for $15 and it is open to all.

(Image from early in 2023)


Posted May 18, 2023

Nicole-Bethany Onwuka

Nicole-Bethany creates experiences for multi-generational audiences to feel transformed when they’re pursuing radical healing in their lives. Her artistic skills range from performing; Acting and Singing, to producing; Writing and Directing for both the stage and screen. Originally from Queens, Nicole-Bethany is a proud Ithaca College graduate (class of ‘22) and the Theatre Arts Director of the Community Unity Music Education Program here in Ithaca.

She recently received a CAP Arts Education grant for her ReLIT (Reviving Literacy) Theatre Program where she will be creating new literacy experiences with 2nd grade students at Beverly J. Martin Elementary and Cayuga Heights Elementary, who are struggling to read and/or learn differently in the classroom. Through the use of Theatre education, students will have the amazing opportunity to add new fun and exciting ways of writing reading, drawing, speaking, to what they’re learning in the classroom. They will also develop their own stories based on their imaginations and experiences. Nicole-Bethany’s goal is to aid in the development of their literacy skills, while introducing a theatrical solution to students who may have painful relationships with reading, writing and speaking.


Posted May 18, 2023
(written by Ithaca College intern Caleb Grassi)

Bree Barton's Naming the Unnamable: Youth Stories of Resilience and Survival

By encouraging 10 young artists to share their unique mental health journeys through art, Bree Barton (left in photo) is helping the Ithaca community hear the voices of those who often go ignored and feel less alone.

Bree Barton is the author of several young adult novels published in seven countries and four languages. Bree teaches dance and writing and loves connecting with readers of all ages. Zia Erases the World is her middle grade debut.

Barton received our Strategic Opportunity Stipend grant for her project Naming the Unnamable: Youth Stories of Resilience and Survival that was shown in the CAP ArtSpace in January of 2023.

Through an open invitation, she found young artists who have struggled or are currently struggling with homelessness, political migration, violence, racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Using artistic forms from film to writing, these artists created works for the larger exhibit which would focus on the personal fallout of these often too-abstract-to-identify-with themes.

Today, the news makes many feel desensitized to the sorts of stories Naming the Unnamable addresses. When asked how we can overcome this desensitization, Barton said,

“For me, the answer is always about empathy and connection. If I'm at home scrolling through my daily feed of heartbreak, I feel hopeless. But if I'm out in the world connecting with live human beings, hearing their stories in their own voices—told with wisdom and vulnerability and truth—it gives me hope. That's what I felt, working with these ten young artists. Hope. They reminded me that stories have raw power, and the more we can give marginalized youth (and disenfranchised people more generally) space to tell those stories, the more we wake up. Action begins with awareness. Stories are so much more effective than statistics at catalyzing change.” 

Reflecting on the artists she worked with, Bree noted,

“I'd love to be in their lives for a long time—to see them take the world by storm. My priority with this project was to make each participant feel 100 percent safe and supported; I checked in with them often to make sure they felt that way. It's a big ask, to bring in ten artists between the ages of 11 and 23 and say, ‘Hey! Talk about your mental health journeys, your most vulnerable personal stories—and do it in a public forum!’ I felt very protective of them every step of the way. My sense was that the opposite happened: they felt seen and heard. My dream was that it would be a validating, uplifting, hopeful experience—and from what they've shared with me, it seems like it was.”

Art like Barton’s continues to foster these sort of connecting experiences in Ithaca and grows not only awareness for our community’s marginalized, but a hopeful ambition to make systemic changes.  


Posted April 11, 2023
(written by Ithaca College intern Caleb Grassi)

West Fox - Reclaim the Dancefloor Project

Ithaca, not only a college town, but frequently rated the best college town in America, is not a stranger to nightlife.

There are many bars with regular and guest DJ spots; what’s lacking for local artist West Fox are DJs who deviate from the largely white mainstream culture.

Fox is the recipient of CAP's Artist in Community Grant for their Reclaim the Dancefloor DJ Project, which will train artists in live mixing, leading up to the Reclaim the Dancefloor inaugural event in summer of 2023 at the Forest City Lodge.

The project will be a part of the Dia Spora Collective, a group of queer, transgender, and non-binary Black, Brown, and indigenous Ithaca artists whose goal it is to represent their cultures through the arts.

West notes the existing legacies of these cultures in the venue they chose for the event: “Performing at Forest City Lodge #180 (and attending events there) is what inspired me to pursue this vision - as a Black fraternal organization, there is a hallowed air to its halls, its history is of resistance, community, and joy. Being able to host events at FCL #180 where Black, Brown, Indigenous, Melanated Peoples (BBIMP) are able to share their joy and in doing so cultivate spaces for freedom of expression is as close to my vision as I could get.” 

West, who likens their musical vision to that of the Soulquarians from the late 90’s (an artist collective including such prolific musicians as Erykah Badu, Questlove, and D’Angelo), seeks to train artists who are already engaging in the duality required of BBIMP artists to hold unabashed joy and righteous anger, in the technical skills of live-mixing music. Their vision is for the Dia Spora Collective to learn how to produce music collaboratively.

When asked about their ideal nightlife experience, West shared an anecdote: “The other day a friend and long-term resident of Ithaca shared a memory with me of the active, accepting, and abundant dance community here in Ithaca centered around ecstatic dance that existed pre-pandemic. When describing how those events made them feel they said “liberated!” The dance-floor was the first place I felt free & it delighted me to hear tales of how Ithaca cultivated its own version of the 90s and 2000s dance revolution. It also tells me that Ithaca is a space where intentional, transformative, and liberatory dance events can thrive.”

“I’m drawing from my own lineage,” West says “while also shining a light on how structural racism works to divorce non-white people from the joy and freedom we created amidst persistent and intentional tribulations. This ideal I’m referencing comes from my experience attending warehouse events in the Lower East Side of Manhattan as a teen as well as ballroom events at the LGBT Center in the West Village. There was a shared purpose, determination, and desire to experience freedom and joy, or so it seemed.”


Posted November 13, 2022
(written by Ithaca College intern Ellie Brewster)

A Book Tour Made Possible

Local author Sorayya Khan was awarded a SOS Grant to embark on a tour for her latest book, "We Take Our Cities With Us: A Memoir."

While Sorayya has published 3 novels, this is her first book tour. Khan was encouraged by peers to tour and she wanted to put 100% effort into promotion in the first month post-release. Sorayya applied for the grant to help cover costs for her 1990 mile journey.

Khan is known for her three previous novels "City of Spies" (winner of the 2015 Best International Fiction Award), "Five Queen’s Row," and "Noor." She has published 13 essays and had writing featured in several anthologies.

When asked about the grant’s impact, Sorayya said: “The SOS grant makes possible my book tour for my memoir. It's often said that the first month after the publication of a book is pivotal, which makes speaking at bookstores and meeting readers important. I'm using the funds for my East Coast travel -- DC, Boston, Cleveland, Portland -- where I'll be in conversation with writers Claire Messud, Lily King, and Dan Chaon. I'm excited about the adventure, which wouldn't have been possible without the generous CAP funding!”


Posted October 11, 2022
(written by Ithaca College intern Ellie Brewster)

The Power of Creating Public Art

For over 40 years, OAR of Tompkins County has been protecting the civil liberties of those incarcerated in the Tompkins County Jail through their ReEntry services, Assigned Counsel intakes, and charitable bail fund.

This past summer, OAR applied for and received a CAP Creative Recovery Fund (CRF) grant so that residents at their Sunflower House and Endeavor House could go on a guided tour of Ithaca’s beautiful public murals. After the tour, residents designed and painted their own mural. (CRF's focus is on racial justice, economic recovery and improving the lives of people in our County.)

The tour and the mural was guided by Caleb Thomas, coordinator of IthacaMurals. The mural was painted by four residents on the Endeavor House and depicts a phoenix & features a poem written by an OAR client, Jason W.  

OAR’s goal for these projects was to build relationships with OAR residents to help them feel more socially involved.  Sunflower House resident Keegan Y said “It made me feel like I was being included in the community. I think it’s important to feel that way, to be a part of something. It gave me a reason to get out of the house, socialize, and see/make cool art. The project helped me feel more like a regular person. I believe there should be more of that in the ReEntry Community.”

Richard S, a resident of Endeavor House, remarked “It made me feel good to keep my word by helping out the mural project and socializing with all the other residents and volunteers.” 

Douglas P, another Endeavor House resident, said “ It was awesome to know that an idea of mine came into fruition (the phoenix bird). It gave me a sense of worth and it was cool that my friend Josh was able to add his own poem to the mural piece.” 

Michael F, also a resident of the Endeavor House, commented “It influenced my creativity and inspired me to do similar work at a different level. I would like to be a creative development consultant. The grant helped us get closer to our clients by offering something fun and inclusive to collaborate on. The mural project was a good bonding experience that gave us an opportunity to be creative by painting a mural that we were all proud of. By working together out of the office, it strengthened the client-worker relationships we have with our Endeavor House residents and other OAR clients.”

OAR continues to provide housing and supportive services to formerly incarcerated individuals, seeking to reduce recidivism and improve members’ ways of life.


Posted September 6, 2022
(written by Ithaca College Writing Intern Grace Condon)

The Best Curriculum: The Value of Collaboration 

CAP's Creative Recovery Fund grant has a primary focus area of arts events that address racial justice. The Village at Ithaca is one of 12 grantees and received funds for "Seats at the Table."

Young people (ages 13+) used their creativity, passion, and research skills to reclaim 12 found/used chairs and through decoupage, paint, and other techniques, transforming the chairs into the testimonials and depictions of the Black agents of freedom who came before them.  Finished pieces for this ongoing project, were displayed this past July at the Ithaca City School District Diversity Symposium. 

Sarah Wolff, Program Educator, came up with the idea while she was walking down her road and noticed an old chair up for grabs in her neighbor’s front yard. Her experience as an educator mainly revolves around teaching poetry and writing, but she has actively been exploring new forms for metaphor beyond the written.

Her idea was to transform waste (old chairs) into a symbol of empowerment detailing a complex history of oppression. The chairs serve as an accessible metaphor for reworking biased systems in the pursuit of providing, protecting, and nurturing all people so... seats at the table come to fruition.   

The group of teenagers, mostly young Black men and women, worked out of Sarah’s garage and yard. It was reassuring for Sarah to see young men use their artistic expression to tell their shared history and communicate ongoing challenges their community faces. “I love seeing moments like that happen; It showed me the value of collaboration,” Sarah said, “A table came to exist...We had our table.” 

The chairs serve as a reclamation of a history that has neglected to be included in much of the curriculum in today's education. Sarah mentioned this might be the best curriculum she has used as an educator, which goes to show just how involved and impactful the project was. This was “A chance for them to practice advocacy on a small scale,” she said. 

Merging history with abstract expression, some of the chairs, such as the “Ida B. Wells Throne of Truth and Justice,” were celebratory of Black agents of freedom. Others, such as the “Maternal Mortality Chair,” confronted past and current challenges the system creates. The CDC published a statistic which found black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than white women. The reality is there are racial disparities in access to and quality of healthcare.  

This project bears many questions: Can chairs representing truth and justice have their place at the “table”—current social and political structures—or are these chairs meant to provide a seat for the community they represent at a table that is coming to exist irrespective of the “table” that for so long they have not been welcome to?

School administrators and educators who had the opportunity to view the chairs at the symposium were impressed by the students’ craftsmanship, collaboration, and scholarship. The assistant principal of Ithaca high school was in tears after the chairs were presented.  

Though they have made great progress, transforming twelve chairs, the project is not over. “It is not a done deal,” Sarah says. “It’s still evolving.” Ideas for the chairs continue to emerge and there is the possibility of future exhibitions.


Posted July 10, 2022
(written by Ithaca College Writing Intern Grace Condon)

The Kids Were Spellbound

State of the Art Gallery (SOAG) is a cooperative fine art gallery located at 120 W. State/MLKL Jr. street in Ithaca, and they have been recipients of multiple CAP grants for many years! 

SOAG is a cooperative, operated by 25 artist members  Their exhibits change monthly with May featuring a show titled “Wings, Petals, and Leaves” by Margy Nelson, Carla DeMello, and Diana Ozolins, which captured observations of nature in paintings, digital prints, photographs, and paper sculptures. 

One of SOAG’s intentions for the use of the 2022 CAP "GAP" grant was educational outreach. They achieved this in cooperation with Beverly J Martin elementary school and local artist, Katrina Morse. The students of Ms. Jessica Custer-Bindel's kindergarten class visited SOAG in early May for a tour of the exhibit.  Ms. Custer’s class did an art detective activity created by Katrina which made for a fun and engaging tour! 

 On their way out of the exhibit “The kids were spellbound,” Nancy, an SOAG volunteer says. “They asked, ‘who gets to show their art?’ and ‘can we show our art in a gallery?’” 

This ignited the idea for the students to have their very own show. For the three weeks following their visit, the kids worked on their art projects with materials supplied by SOAG. Their work was displayed for gallery night on June 3rd.  The kids got to proudly share their capability with their parents who came to see the show.  

“What a project!” Nancy said, “It was transforming for the kids and others at BJM.”  

The imagination and ability of Ms. Custer’s kindergarten class— pottery and sculptures incorporating recycled materials, nature paintings, nature photographs, and insect huts— all of which pertain to their science curriculum— are on display at the Community School of Music and Arts. The exhibit is titled “L'atelier” (French for studio). 

The CAP grant covered costs for SOAG’S educational outreach project and materials for Ms. Custer’s students' art projects.  

“I would hope to have more of these outreach projects,” Nancy says, “since young children are at an impressionable age when they can be stimulated by a memorable involvement. I would predict that several of the kindergarten children either pursue art or incorporate it into their lives as they grow older.” 

This is a project that encouraged creativity and curiosity. It is important to make kids (and adults) feel like their expression is valued; kudos to Ms. Jessica Bindel-Custer and SOAG volunteers for achieving this.  

SOAG will continue to introduce students of all ages to the world of art. Their next program will be in the fall with the New Roots school high school students.  


posted June 3, 2022

Yen Ospina’s Mystical Colors

Yen Ospina  recieved a 2022 CAP Artist in Community Grant to paint a mural at the Women's Opportunity Center. More information is below.

(by CAP Board member Judith Pratt)

If I weren’t out of walls to put art and books on, I would want at least four of Yen Ospina’s paintings: her “Aqua”, her “Mariposas”, her “Escarabajo”, and her “Bosque Oscuro.” And that’s only from page one of her website that shows her fascinating art.

She turns these paintings into greeting cards and T-shirts. She also paints murals, and sells bead earrings that she imports from a Colombian indigenous tribe from her hometown, the Embera Chami, the “people from the mountain.” They are a hunting and harvesting group who are suffering from colonization, climate change, and forced displacement.

On her website, Ospina writes: “I will create almost anything! Portraits, Family Portraits, Animal Portraits, Icons, Posters, Album Art, Logos, and more!”

Ospina describes her painting style much better than I can: “My work centers on themes of power, mysticism, and visibility. I use a core color palette of ochre, chocolate, cinnamon red, earthy orange, and a deep dusty teal.”
See these colors on her paintings at

Ospina is the daughter of Colombian-born immigrants, and a “proud latinx queer artist.” She is self-taught, honing her style over “a period of deep introspection.”

Then she created a mural, “Justia,” for OAR (Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources for incarcerated people.) Of that mural, Ospina wrote, “We need to keep fighting because there’s so much happening right now - people being murdered in the streets, kids in cages, Colombia... This mural is a reminder to myself & others that art can be powerful. I didn’t get political until painting this mural. Now I’m inspired. I hope everyone feels it when they see it. Keep fighting.”

I care about people that are targeted with injustice,” said Ospina. “I care about the treatment of women and people of color, and I want equality for all.  I find it important to give because it is the right thing to do. Being united and supporting each other is what helps to fight against the people that are constantly making us turn on each other.”

Her murals can be seen all over Ithaca, including at the Sciencenter, Press Bay Alley, even on a fence along the South Hill Recreation Way. Now she’s working with the Paul Schreurs Memorial Program to paint a mural in the Women’s Opportunity Center. It will have an unveiling on Wednesday, June 17, from 5-7 p.m., at the Women’s Opportunity Center. There will be a silent auction and refreshments.

Check out her murals at

While she paints, Ospina said, “I listen to the monologues of movies. I replay movies over and over again! All-time Favorites : Blade Runner, Alien, and The Big Lebowski.”

“I'm thankful that CAP exists, said Ospina. “It has given me the opportunity to network, and in the past, I have received grants that have helped me through some rough times. It has helped me when I lost my job during the pandemic. CAP helps artists in need, and I'm thankful for it.”

“The arts have been used to express what is constantly going on in the world. Creating something out of nothing is the most fulfilling thing to me. When I try to explain what arts mean to me, the thought is too overwhelming. Words can't describe how it makes me feel, I just express it the best I can with color.”

Yen Ospina has a gift for color. If you have space on your walls, consider buying some of her brilliant pieces.


posted May 11, 2022

Josh Oxford

(by I.C. CAP intern Madeline Mecca)

Josh Oxford is a composer and former musician, originally from Cortland, New York. Oxford, who received CAP’s Strategic Opportunity Stipend (SOS) grant, plans to use the funding to finish recording an album. The album will consist of recordings of his arrangements for trumpet, horn, tuba, and trombone sonatas, as well as the Concerto for trumpet, bassoon, and strings. It will be released through PARMA records.

In 2010, Oxford experienced a near-fatal car crash, which left him with severe complications from an internal decapitation, a broken hip, and shattered humerus. As a result, his performing career was swiftly ended, and he dedicated himself to writing music. Since then, he’s written numerous compositions, one of which—an arrangement of the Hindemith tuba sonata recorded by Aaron Tindall for his album This is My House—garnered international attention. “However, people were primarily interested in performing it as a backing track; it’d be like classical music karaoke. After years of refusing to release just the audio, I’ve finally relented,” Oxford mentioned.

He cites the inspiration for his upcoming album as something deeply rooted in his life:
Back when I was in high school, I was obsessed with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. They used to reorchestrate and rearrange different kinds of classical music— from Bartok to Copland. Fast forward to when I was accompanying (probably at Cortland High School), I had to play the Hindemith trumpet sonata. I thought it would be cool with a drum beat behind it, so I arranged the first movement for my band The OXtet. Professor Frank Campos heard the arrangement and encouraged me to orchestrate the other two movements to perform on his recital. After the performance, the rest of the brass faculty asked me to arrange their Hindemith sonatas. I then sent the arrangements to Schott Publishing for permission to record but didn’t hear back affirmatively from them until after my life-changing car accident.”

Despite the setbacks, the project will still see the light of day, with great help from the SOS grant.

Oxford also recently received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Arizona State University.

Of his next endeavors, he said, “It’s looking like academia will be the next step,” in addition to the music he’s writing for his band, The OXtet, and a saxophone dance suite for alto and ‘tape’— “a prerecorded audio track made in Logic.”

You can hear Oxford’s music and purchase his compositions on his website,


posted April 5, 2022

Jim Self

Jim Self, an Alabama native currently based in Ithaca, NY, is an artist working in painting, performance, writing, and installation. He has received past CAP grants, and the latest is our 2022 Artist in Community Grant, funded by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. The grant awards artists funds to create new work, while also sharing that work in a significant way with a local community of their choosing.

With his work spanning decades, Self is determined fill a need in the community. He views himself as an ‘elder activist’ and this identity seems to help shape his art. Rather than shying away from becoming a beacon of representation, he embraces it and focuses on providing a warm, welcoming space.

Self’s inner world shifted upon his father’s death at sixty-six years old. As Self reached that age, he developed a deeper sense of his own mortality and noticed more similarities between his father and himself, both physical and mental. The shift began to inform this stage of Self’s career—a complex exploration of what it means to transform and develop oneself through the years.

Self’s current project, tentatively titled Walk, Talk, and Beyond, is focused on establishing a dialogue surrounding aging. He describes it as, “a multiple layered project including performed memories, community conversation, movement dialogues, and informal showings on the subjects of LGBTQ senior expressions, the aging moving body, memory and legacy.” Each performance of this project will see Self performing excerpts of his previous works, Override and Mama Mat’e. Those excerpts focus on the relationships between a parent and their child. Override examines a father/son relationship, while Mama Mat’e examines a mother/son relationship.

For the next portion of the performance, Self will be joined by Kathy Lucas, a dancer, trainer, and movement therapist also based in Ithaca. Together, they will hold a dialogue on social issues and incorporate expressive body language, sounds, and words. Following this, Lucas and other artists will be invited to share excerpts of their own work.

Combining his previous work with direct social dialogue is a testament to Self’s engagement with the community. He seeks to strengthen that connection, upholding their feedback and allowing it to become part of his creative process.

As he welcomes the opportunity to commune with others while still utilizing his introspection, we see how deeply his history is embedded in each piece of work he creates, ever expanding upon his artistic journey. It is a radical display in a time and culture where novelty and youth are valued over wisdom and lived experience.

Walk, Talk, and Beyond is set to be performed at the Cherry Art Space in June 2022.

Learn more about Jim at


posted March 3, 2022

Ann Reichlin

Ann Reichlin is a locally based artist and the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including two fellowships from the New York Foundation for Arts in the category of Architecture/Environmental Structures. She has been a professor, a university artist-in-residence, and her site-specific installations have been at sculpture spaces throughout the region. Her current installation, Transient Room, can be viewed at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadephia.

Ann received CAP's Arts Education Grant for two upcoming artist residencies at Caroline Elementary School. One, a Puppet Theatre Workshop will be in the first grade classroom. The puppet makng and theatre play will simultaneously supports their literacy goals and is designed to stretch the children's imaginations.

The other project is Ann's "Make Way For Play" project, originally created in 2015 for the kindergarden classrooms (funded by CAP in 2015-2017) as a way for art-making to foster creative thinking, problem solving, social skills, early literacy, and joy for the process of making art!

Ann's highly interactive curriculum gives her the opportunity to engage in one-on-one teaching with the kindergarteners. The 2022 curriculum, “Make Way for Play: Wilderness Case Study”, is intended to teach young students the art of sculpture. It involves each child selecting an animal from among the species they’re currently studying in kindergarten. The children create a small replica of the animal, constructed with materials including plaster gauze, wood, acrylic paint, and armature wire. Following the completion of their animal, each child is able build two habitats for it: one based in reality and the other based in imagination. Ann's project serves as a companion to Caroline Elementary’s Wilderness Case Study—an experiential learning-based program focused on six-mile creek, which is adjacent to the school.

Ann is passionate about this type of interactive learning, observing the difference in how the kids react to the relationship between play and learning:

“When the kids made things they could play with, they really engaged with the work in a different way. The sculptures became avatars of play, so the kids could go and play in each other’s environments and play with the animals. And then they made written stories out of them!”

She recalls one student in particular being excited about the opportunity to create his own art—he wanted to be able to wear his animal’s habitat.

"I helped him make a sash, so that he could carry the animal’s house like a backpack. I have this picture of him carrying it around, and I thought, ‘That’s joy, that’s satisfaction’. That’s what makes it worth it. That was really memorable because of his joy in having been able to accomplish that.”

The final stage of this project is the Wilderness Case Study Celebration, in which the students can present their projects to their families and school community. This last element is one of the most vital, as it transforms the curriculum into a family experience, resulting in memories the kids will surely remember for years to come. It also serves as a testament to the whimsy of children’s imaginations, allowing them to be completely free with their creative expression while learning about the natural world.

CAP’s grant provides the time and resources for Ann to thoroughly delve into teaching the students. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to witness a dedicated artist in action, offering them a taste of what learning and creating is all about.

More information on Ann Reichlin and her art can be found on her website,


posted February 7, 2022

Groton Public Library

The Groton Public Library has been a Community Arts Partnership grant recipient for over 20 years. Through this long-standing relationship, the library has been able to execute their vision of delivering wholesome entertainment to the community, focusing especially on the local youth.

As a nonprofit organization, the library relies on grants as their main source of funding. Through the grants, they are able to offer programs full of imagination and intellect, as well as opportunities to get children engaged in reading—all of which is offered to the public free of charge. “Without the Community Arts Partnership money, we couldn’t do those kinds of things,” noted Sara Knobel, Library Director. 

Making the arts accessible is a major priority of the library staff. “When people get stressed, they turn to art,” Knobel commented, “that’s the first thing they do.” She is aware of the obstacles people face when trying to attend events—most notably, lack of financing for travel, tickets, and food. Her goal has been to eliminate these costs and create an affordable, family-friendly space.

Prior to the library’s current offerings, which include reading programs and live performances, Knobel noticed a significant lack of arts entertainment available in the small town of Groton: “Quite often, the [Summer Reading] programming I did here in the summer was the only exposure.” She took the initiative to change this, gearing up the library to offer free theatre performances from groups like Merry-Go-Round Theatre. She highlighted the importance of exposing youth to the performing arts, especially in a time where opportunities to do so have become more limited.

The library is also committed to providing access to talented performers who can thoroughly enrich the experience of their audiences. Knobel cited Tom Knight the Puppeteer as one example, praising his ability to maintain the interest of an easily distracted young audience: “They were too young. Suddenly, he just stopped and said, ‘Hey, kids, let’s do something different’. He got down on the ground with them, and said, ‘let’s do a little dance, let’s do a little wiggle’. He just changed the whole thing. After that, parents came to me and said, ‘that was fantastic, thanks for doing that, my children loved it’. People were starved for things like that.”

These efforts have had a significant impact on the local residents, outside of just providing entertainment. Knobel observed that she has witnessed Groton children grow up to pursue theatre. “Sometimes, all it takes is a taste of something to go, ‘oh, I have an interest in this’, and they follow it, and they pursue it. I’ve seen it time and again,” Knobel said of the long-term effect arts accessibility can have.

Moving forward, Knobel hopes to continue creating more opportunities for kids to get out of the house and safely engage with creative endeavors. “I’m doing more things during the day for the kids—more with books, more with arts and crafts,” she explained. Information on upcoming events can be found on the library’s website,