Thursday, August 20, 2009

Out of the Ashes.... Contompasis Gallery

Update on the fire at the gallery... I got a thank you note from Sam last night. He is so grateful for what didn't happen and feels terrible about loosing their beautiful dog in the fire. But he said, "I will paint and i will have shows in my gallery again. Tomorrow we go in and start to rebuild." That my friends, is the strength and power of the human spirit. Here is the story from our local newspaper...

Local artists' work damaged by blaze
Damage at Albany building just "small bump in the road'

By HUMBERTO MARTÍNEZ, Staff writer Click byline for more stories by writer. First published: Thursday, August 20, 2009
ALBANY -- An artist's apartment caught fire on Tuesday evening, burning several paintings and leaving others in the attached gallery with smoke and water damage. No people were injured, but one dog died.
Samson Contampsis' apartment was empty at around 6:20 p.m. when what police believe was an electrical fire set off two alarms. The blaze was contained within the apartment by sprinkler systems and the Albany Fire Department, saving most of the approximately 30 pieces of work by 25 artists held in the gallery space.
"I lost everything inside aside from a couple of photos," Contompasis said of the apartment.
His venue -- previously known as Contompasis Gallery but renamed to MarketPlace Gallery this month -- was one of the 40 stops on Albany's 1st Friday art tour, where he had a lot of support from other artists, said Michael Weidrich, organizer of the event. A fundraiser for the gallery, Contompasis and his brothers who also lived in the damaged apartment will be held at Lark Tavern at the next 1st Friday, Sept. 4.
"He was a great addition because it's not a regular gallery," Weidrich said.
"It's in a rustic, old building in a different part of town, it diversifies the venues."
Among items lost to the fire were at least six paintings, including several in a series called the "100 Guns Project" by Contompasis himself.
Also gone is photography done by his brother, Max Contompasis, of deteriorating buildings in the Capital Region. Most of the other works just had smoke or water damage, while some were completely unharmed, Contompasis said.
While no one was harmed by the fire, Contompasis said his family lost a highly valued member.
"She was the coolest dog in the world," he said of his 4-year-old American Bulldog, Xena. "She was probably the most travelled dog in Albany, we took her across the whole country ... She was the closest a dog could ever get to being a person."
Located at 40 Broadway, the gallery was in the Greenbush Tape and Label building, near the Port of Albany. The building has long been popular with area artists because of its generous studio space. It was also the site, in May 2003, of a $2.1 million heist of bearer bonds and cash from the tape and label company.
The building did not sustain any serious damage in the fire, police said.
Contompasis said he was set to put on an art show later this month, but now he will have to find another venue for "Epic."
He plans to have his gallery open again soon.
"Yesterday was the past and tomorrow we're going to go back in there and start rebuilding as soon as we can," Contompasis said. "We're going to have a show as soon as possible, this is just a small bump in the road."
Fund-raiser for the MarketPlace Gallery
When: 8 p.m.-close Sept. 4, to coincide with 1st Friday Albany.
Where: Lark Tavern, 453 Madison Ave., Albany
Note: Salvaged art will be sold to the tune of live music. All proceeds will go to the gallery and family.


Donna said...

This was SO sad...bless his heart. Not only to loose a business, but a Close little friend as well...hughugs

Melissa and Emmitt said...

oh my gosh mare!
the strength and postive attitude of this story is life affirming and inspiring.
thank you so much for sharing it!
happy sunday my friend!
m & e

Mare said...

Thank you Donna. I think they can use all the hugs and good wishes they can get!

Mare said...

Hi Melissa! Sam is one of those people who doesn't let things keep him down for very long. He is already starting to rebuid the gallery and apartment space. And there is a fundraiser planned for them too! People are so good...