The public art event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Nasser Civic Center in Corning

A free Labor Day weekend event aimed at amplifying the Finger Lakes as an arts destination and as an art-filled community, named IMAGINE, will kick off on September 2 at the Nasser Civic Center Plaza in Corning.

The event, designed by Meghan O’Toole as a demonstration of the Civic Center’s potential as a public art site, opens at 6:30 p.m. and continues through Sunday, with a celebration of “the diversity of our region “.

“Art opens hearts and allows us to build community across divisions,” O’Toole said. “That’s why public art is so important. It’s an amazing space for an art park. For me, it’s about having art in the public. [space] and accessible to all.

Connie Sullivan-Blum, executive director of the Southern Finger Lakes ARTS Council, said the event envisions the Civic Center Plaza as a future public art park, in line with the city’s long-term park strategy.

What’s going on this weekend at the Nasser Civic Center?

The public is invited to bring a chair and a picnic to IMAGINE, which will feature local artists, street performers, temporary art installations, dynamic outdoor theater, music and dance performances.

O’Toole said a ribbon cutting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on September 2 and will be accompanied by an African-American gospel music performance featuring John Walton and his family.

Walton has played piano and drums in local congregations since his early teens and currently serves in the music ministries at Monumental Baptist Church and Frederick Douglas AME Zion Church in Elmira.

O’Toole said at 7 p.m. Thursday, a dance performance sponsored by Corning Price and created by Mark Schmidt and Remi Harris, named the Civil Social, will be presented by American Dance Asylum at the Civic Center. The event is sponsored by Corning Pride.

“Originally from the Corning area, Mark Schmidt is a choreographer, performer, and educator who first found solace on the dance floors of New York’s underground house music and the LGBTQ club scene in the 1990s.” , O’Toole said. “This performance is part of a larger project to bridge the urban / rural divide and allow Mark to share his art with his hometown.”

Teams of volunteers began setting up the stage on Tuesday where local artists will perform at IMAGINE, an arts festival that runs Thursday through Sunday at Corning's Nasser Civic Center Plaza.

Municipal authorities support the IMAGINE event and the promotion of public art

City Manager Mark Ryckman said it was great to see the arts community funding this event.

“An art park was one of the ideas of the staff who made the final parks strategy,” Ryckman said. “The Civic Center Plaza has been historically underused. Having art and artist exhibitions is a perfect use of space.

Alex Hamilton, the city’s recreation director, agreed.

“I’m happy to see that the Civic Center Plaza is being used in a way that has been mentioned in the city’s overall parks strategy,” Hamilton said. “The Arts Council has worked hard to organize this public art event for the enjoyment of the community. “

Mayor Bill Boland called the event a wonderfully constructed and diverse public art event that showcases and delivers art in its many forms.

“IMAGINE promises to be creative, uplifting, engaging, inclusive, positive and entertaining,” Boland said. “Art nourishes the soul. Come everyone and feed your soul in Corning this weekend.

O’Toole said the weekend event will feature works by SatyaVani Pippalla Akula and Jharmi “Cuba” Leach, along with many more.

A full schedule of events is available at

Major sponsors of the event include the Elmira-Corning and Finger Lakes Community Foundation, the Corning Foundation Inc. and Elmira Little Theater.

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