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HAC taps artists to dress up Huntington bus shelters

Above, Renee Andolina's 'Late for the Party,' an illustration using marker and ink. Below, Cynthia Lau's 'Transfer,' a mixed media using colored pencils and oil pastels. Images from Renee Andolina, above, and Cynthia Lau, below
August 07, 2013 | 06:33 PM
Cynthia Lau has been an artist her whole life.

The University of Hartford sophomore from Hicksville uses personal experiences from her life and from the lives of her loved ones as the inspiration for her work. She said that although she is studying illustration at school and has created many works, her pieces have never really been publicly displayed — until now.

Lau's piece, "Transfer," a mixed-media image of colored pencils and oil pastels that abstractly depicts the transportation system in Boston, known as the T, is one of 12 artworks selected by the Huntington Arts Council to be displayed in Huntington Area Rapid Transit bus shelters throughout Huntington town as part of the council's Post No Bills competition. Lau said her friend transferring to a college in Boston inspired this particular winning piece.

The 12 works selected from the competition will be displayed for the first time Aug. 24 at Off the Walls, a block party-type event hosted by HAC's new program SparkBoom. SparkBoom provides opportunities and venues for young emerging artists to get their work out in the public realm, according to the program's website.

SparkBoom was created back in April after HAC received an $80,000 grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Michelle Carollo, the program's grants coordinator said in a phone interview on Friday.

Post No Bills and Off the Walls are both the first events of their kind in Huntington, Carollo said. The contest received more than 50 entries, and the winning pieces range from computer graphics and photographs to paintings and sketches. The purpose of Post No Bills and Off the Walls, she said, is to help local residents recognize what is going on throughout Long Island's art scene.

"Art is happening, period," Carollo said. "These opportunities are readily available in the city. On Long Island, you don't see that too much. And we have a lot of talent out here."

Off the Walls will take place in the lower parking lot behind the HAC building at 213 Main St. from 2 to 6 pm and will feature live music, artist vendors, food trucks and live mural paintings on the HAC building by street artists Sonic, MasPaz and Phetus. Following Off the Walls will be a reception unveiling the winning Post No Bills artworks.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for any artist," said Molly Sampson, curator of the events. "I think it's just going to give them a lot of publicity. There should be more opportunities like this in other towns."

And the artists agree. Lau, who said she was surprised her worked was picked because she is on the younger end of the 18 to 40 age requirement for the contest, is excited about the opportunities her displayed piece will bring, as she hopes it will help establish herself in the local art scene.

Another winning artist, Renee Andolina, said that although her work has been in art shows in Manhattan and on Long Island, Post No Bills is the most unique way she ever attempted to have her art shown. The Smithtown native who recently relocated to Ridgewood, Queens, submitted several pieces, but her "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired sketch of a rabbit holding a watch was the one HAC picked.

"I think it's a pretty cool way of displaying artists," Andolina, 29, said. "It's more public than sitting in a gallery."

Lau and Andolina's works, along with those of the 10 other winners, will replace advertisements at different HART bus shelters throughout Huntington starting in September and rotate locations throughout the next year. Sunrise Outdoor Advertising, the company that owns the shelters, has partnered with HAC for the last 10 years on many different projects, said Nancy Tracy Johnson, vice president director of sales for the company.

Johnson said the company's lending the shelters for the competition is equivalent to a $5,100 donation, which equals up to the cost of renting 12 shelters.

"We just decided that this would be the best way … to support local artists," Johnson said. "We're looking forward to posting the art."

For Andolina, who is already an established local artist, Post No Bills offers her a chance to display her work in Huntington for the first time. But for Lau, it brings exactly what SparkBoom is all about: A platform for up-and-coming artists to get their work out there.

"I'm really excited," Lau said.

Post No Bills and Off the Walls are funded by SparkBoom, fundraisers and individual sponsors. Carollo said donations are encouraged as well and can be made at sparkboom.org.

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