[Editor’s Note] This article was written by Alli West, Rye Arts Center’s Director of Development to share more information about the Center’s public art initiatives leading up to its annual fundraiser that celebrates these recent projects.
Over the past several years, public art has flooded the City of Rye, bringing the community together, engaging Westchester artists and raising funds for underserved populations. Now, Rye Arts Center is taking time to celebrate two of those public art initiatives, and the people who made them possible, during its annual fundraiser taking place this weekend.
In 2021, The Rye Arts Center (RAC) and the Rotary of Rye joined forces to create RyesAbove, a project that raised significant funds for children in need. Local community volunteer Sue Autry brought the idea to the groups which rallied more than 30 artists to paint iron butterflies in a variety of mediums and designs. The butterflies were displayed throughout that summer on the City of Rye’s front lawn, and were finally auctioned off in September. The event was so successful that it was repeated in 2022.
That same year, Amy Vijanaynagar, another local community volunteer and art enthusiast, brought the idea of a Poetry Path to staff members at The Rye Arts Center, who embraced the project as one that would not only engage the community, but provide working opportunities for area artists.
With the receipt of a $5,000 Arts Alive grant from ArtsWestchester that summer, the Rye Poetry Path was born. A volunteer committee was established in September, which was led by Rye’s Poet-in-Residence Iain Haley Pollock. The committee chose 25 poems to install in parks throughout Rye for the public to enjoy.
Due to the support and enthusiasm from its community, the committee made the decision to expand the Path and add an additional 57 poems, for a total of 82. With ArtsWestchester’s Restart the Arts grant of $25,000 received in early 2022, the committee began the selection of both additional poems to include and local artists to create art installations that would artfully display some of the poems.
On May 13, RAC will honor Autry and Vijayanagar, as well as Anne Fumasoli – RAC’s music and outreach director who is retiring after 30 years of helping to grow the organization’s music school and who headed many of its outreach initiatives. The “Studio 51’ fundraiser will transform at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester into their version of the iconic ‘70s nightclub Studio 54, while paying homage to the organization’s beloved building at 51 Milton Road.