Tupper Arts will open on Park Street

The facade of Tupper Arts will need to be replaced next year, but until then the artwork of nine high school students will be displayed on wooden sheets along the rooftop of the Park Street building. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — On Aug. 7, Tupper Arts will open the doors on the largest arts center in this town, starting a flow of creative ideas, trade classes and shows through its new Park Street storefront.

It has long been Louise McNally’s ambitious dream to have a place in town to explore artistic expression and learn about the many different media used by local creators. Some of these media — such as wood, metal and clay — will be on display at the center’s opening gala in August, along with the Tupper Lakers who mold them.

McNally, the director of Tupper Arts, said she wants to provide Tupper Lake kids with the classes they can’t get at school or other education centers in the area. She hopes to have instructors teach ballet, pottery and even glass staining in the downstairs classrooms and street-level studio space.

The center will feature a store in the front where local artists’ paintings, sculptures and photographs can be purchased, a studio space behind a wall where dance, music and theater performances will be scheduled year-round, and a handful of downstairs classrooms.

“I think that’s a shared vision of many people in the community, artists and everyone,” McNally said.

In February, McNally shared her dream with a Tupper Arts member who recommended the location at 106 Park, between the State Theater and Guido’s Pizza. After McNally talked with Tony and Lynn Quinn, who own the building, they offered to rent the building to Tupper Arts.

“They got it. To do this means you’re doing something for the community,” McNally said.

Three weeks ago, McNally said she made the decision and agreed to rent the 9,000-square-foot building. The property only needs cosmetic changes before the arts center moves in, and since the church that occupied the building last left the place empty, cleaning and painting are already underway on the street-level and basement floors.

“It’s going to be a big, white box,” McNally said. “We can create within it whatever we need. A big, white canvass.”

The building will need a new facade on the street side, but that can’t happen until next spring. So for now, the center will contract the design out to nine Tupper Lake High Schoolers tasked with painting 4-by-8-foot sheets of wood across the top of the building. Each board will represent the students’ unique, expressive style and could be anything from graffiti to landscapes.

Since McNally took over an annual art show three years ago, she has been working to get the now-defunct Arts Council back on its feet, renaming it Tupper Arts and starting it on the path to getting its nonprofit status back. Last year’s arts show was paired with a street fair, closing off Park Street for vendors, games and exhibits. McNally said that with planning the new center this year, she has decided not to do the street fair, but she hopes to bring it back for future events.

Attendees of the opening gala will be able to get a preview of pieces submitted for the annual art show, which opens to the public the next day.