About Duncan

References & Testimonials

March 4, 2017


Filed under: Business,Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 7:01 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, (518) 274-2723

Troy Tub-Thumper Teaches The Art of Small City PR & Spectacle

Author, PR Pro Leads 2-day Course Geared Toward Community Builders & Small Business

MANHATTAN (02/27/17) — A PR professional who helped put a small Hudson River city back on the map is teaching a two-day course at FlowerSchool New York on “The Art of Small City PR & Making Spectacle,” geared toward small business owners, small city advocates and community stakeholders.

“Not long ago, the small American city where I live, Troy, N.Y., had a not-so-nice nickname: ‘The Troylet.’ The place had a PR problem. It had a lot of problems, but bad PR was holding us back,” said Duncan Crary, a media consultant and personality. “Now the place is hopping, and even the ‘New York City People’ are trying to get in on the action.”

Duncan Crary. Photo by Brendan KennedyDuring the past decade, Crary has worked to recast his upstate city in a positive light through scores of media stories appearing in big and small outlets, including NBC News, The New York Times and The New York Daily News. Politico‘s Jimmy Vielkind called him a “publicity artist,” while Joanne Kaufmann of The Wall Street Journal dubbed him “a gregarious public-relations consultant” and “Troy tub-thumper.” His commentary on urbanism has earned the praise of Freaknonomics‘ Stephen Dubner and The Columbia Journalism Review. Closer to home, The Albany Business Review pronounced him “Troy’s Other Mayor,” while Paul Grondahl, Albany’s preeminent reporter, described Crary as a “ginger-haired impresario, who has brought all manner of merriment and boosterish shenanigans to the Collar City.

Now the seasoned media mirth-maker is sharing his process in a seminar-style class this March 30 & 31 that aims to help students combine 21st century social technology with old fashioned marketing techniques to revitalize their community. The targeted audience includes small business owners, Business Improvement Districts (BID), Chamber of Commerce employees, economic development professionals, developers and other stakeholders.

Crary said the takeaway from this course is not limited to those who live, work or play in small cities, however, because even within larger, prosperous places there are underutilized neighborhoods, districts or blocks in need of genuine cheerleading. Most of the strategies and tools he will share will benefit any small business, as well, to help distinguish themselves from their corporate chain competitors.

TroyBot Press Conference. Photo by Erin PihlajaCrary will include case studies from real life, such as the “Mall-ternative” campaign he helped craft with the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District to inspire thousands of holiday shoppers, year after year, to choose the urban boutiques and streets of Troy over the enclosed shopping malls and parking lots of suburbia. He will explain, with great enthusiasm, many of the spectacles he has orchestrated over the years to charm reporters and their readers alike, resulting in memorable stories shared through mainstream and social media.

“The most successful press events I’ve organized are low-budget, endearing spectacles that feel like Middle School theater productions put on by adults in the street,” Crary said. “These are simple displays that communicate a message that stays with you: ‘This place has heart,’ or ‘This business is so creative’ or ‘That’s hilarious, I want to go see that.’”


Good PR, authentic PR, is an art, not a science, Crary said, but there are many tools and easy-to-learn formulas to turn anyone into a competent communications pro.  During the course, Crary will teach students the ability to mentally “paginate” and frame events before they happen by reverse engineering great media coverage.

New York Daily News“Great story telling has always been about good pictures and good words,” Crary said. “Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…. they haven’t changed the fundamentals of communication. When everyone has moved on to the next thing in social media, effective communication will still be about good pictures and good words.”

In spite of what many of his professional peers claim, Crary will make the case that the press release is not dead, and, in fact, reports of its death were greatly exaggerated. And contrary to popular belief (tl;dr), modern humans are capable of paying attention to content that is longer than 140 characters or 3 seconds of film.


Whether the objective is to attract tourists, or developers, residents or customers, Crary said people are either motivated by necessity or rewards, but not punishment.

“If they have a choice, no one is going to patronize your store — or move to your busted up city — because you badger them about their obligation to do so,” Crary said. “If you reward them, they will come. If you provide a positive experience, they’ll be back.”


Eat Crow PartyPart of what has made the Troy, N.Y. “Renaissance” so exciting is the willingness of the shopkeepers, the denizens, the institutions and the politicians to work and play together to positive ends, Crary said.

“Lately, downtown Troy feels like one big party that everyone is invited to,” Crary said. “It’s important for everyone in the community to be ‘in on it’.”

Some of Crary’s most memorable spectacles have included a full-blown courthouse mock trial to determine who really wrote the famous poem ‘”Twas the Night Before Christmas” (which was published anonymously for the first time ever by the Troy Sentinel newspaper), and an annual festival of red haired people complete with a mayoral proclamation dubbing Troy, N.Y. “Ginger City, USA.”


Crary will also encourage students to mine local history for quirky marketing and event ideas, while illustrating his point with several off-the-wall examples like an “everyone eats crow party” and a history pub crawl dedicated to “Bad Boys, Broads & Bootleggers.


“The Art of Small City PR & Making Spectacle” will be held at FlowerSchool New York, located at 213 West 14th Street, New York, on March 30 & 31, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. The cost is $550. To register online, visit:


For high resolution photos of Duncan Crary, visit the following dropbox link:


Troy's Other Mayor. Albany Business Review

In 2009, Duncan Crary founded a self-titled boutique public relations firm, Duncan Crary Communications, that strives to make big news for small entrepreneurs. He is best-known as the host of The KunstlerCast, a weekly podcast featuring best-selling author and urban commentator James Howard Kunstler (“The Geography of Nowhere,” “The Long Emergency” and “World Made By Hand”). After more than 250 episodes of that program, Crary authored the book  “The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler… the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl,” (New Society Publishers, 2011). His website is


Located in the heart of New York City, FlowerSchool New York is the leader in floral design instruction and is the most prestigious school to begin your education and exploration of contemporary floral design. FlowerSchool New York is dedicated to celebrating great floral design and designers.

FlowerSchool NY is expanding its course offerings to small business training with an aim to to support recent graduates in their endeavors as floral entrepreneurs as well as other local small businesses. FlowerSchool New York is licensed by Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS), overseen by New York State Board of Education.

For information, call (212) 661-8074, email or visit:


Duncan Crary, (518) 274-2723


May 23, 2016


Filed under: Business,Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 2:48 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Aaron

Montreal-Trained Circus Headquarters in Troy, NY – Touring Region
Marquise Productions Gives 10 Performances Starting June 10

TROY (5/23/16) — A Montreal-trained circus artist has established the region’s only professional touring contemporary circus company, headquartered in Troy, N.Y.

“Troy has an excitement and a synergy unlike anywhere else in upstate New York,” said Executive Artistic Director Aaron M. Marquise, 24, of Marquise Productions. “We have already demonstrated that there is audience support here for this style of entertainment.”

Marquise wowed hundreds of audience members last winter with his original circus production, “Running,” staring an international cast and performed in South Troy’s awesome gasholder building without heat during painfully frigid temperatures.

Now Marquise, a professionally trained clown and graduate of The National Circus School in Montreal, returns to the gasholder in warmer weather with another original contemporary circus production titled, YOL.

“This is not the circus I think most American audiences are used to. They’ve most likely seen ‘Ringling Bros.’ big top circus. Some might have even seen ‘Cirque du Soleil,’” Marquise said. “But I want to bring the audience in a different direction and push boundaries, or at least the preconceived definition of circus here in the states. So far that goal has been well received.”

The company does not use animals but puts the focus on the incredible capabilities of the human body demonstrated through acrobatics, juggling, and more. The venues, too, are smaller and more intimate than the typical American arena productions where large-scale circus normally occurs.

“There is a well-established history and culture for this style of circus in Europe that isn’t as strong here in the states,” Marquise said. “But the timing couldn’t be better to start a contemporary circus company in Troy. At the same time that this small city is having a renaissance, small contemporary circus is undergoing a renaissance of its own all across the U.S.”


The title of the Marquise’s latest production is YOL, which means “road” or “way” in Turkish. YOL is a mixture of circus and theater that tells the story of one girl on a mystical journey through the afterlife, exploring a path formed by her own curiosity and imagination.

“YOL is about this idea of The Journey or the road we’re going to take in the afterlife,” Marquise said. “This is not a linear story, from A to B, but rather a series of tableaux and images that audiences will walk away from with their own understanding of what they think they saw. I am drawing some inspiration from the beautiful imagery in ‘What Dreams May Come,’ where the afterworld was connected to this life through a painting.”

The seven-member cast of YOL features artists from Quebec, New York City and the Capital Region specializing in music, dance, handstands, juggling, unicycling and acting.

Niskayuna native Shayna Golub stars as the main character in YOL. The 22-year-old dancer graduated from Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Penn., this morning and immediately headed to Troy to begin rehearsals later today.

“I’m a ballerina who is never going to be a ballerina, but the technique has served me well by helping me with all of the other different styles of dance I’ve trained in,” said Golub who went to school to major in dance. “While at school I discovered aerial acrobatics and said ‘Hey this is really cool.’ Then my friend decided to start a circus and I started to think this is something I’d like to do for the rest of my life!”

This autumn, Golub will continue her education at NECCA, the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vt. She says her parents are cautiously supportive of her career choice.

“They get a little nervous when they see me doing these dangerous looking things 30 feet up in the air,” Golub said. “But the more they see my performances the more familiar and comfortable they become with it. It’s not as scary as it seems.”

Golub’s performance in YOL will be dance only without aerial work.

The show also features Kristoph DiMaria, a musical clown with local roots. Two years ago, after hitchhiking across the country, DiMaria moved back to Troy, where he was born, and discovered himself as “Ragliacci.” Since then he has collaborated on as many creative efforts as he can in the city. In addition to clowning, he will be composing original music and orchestrating intriguing sounds from across the world for YOL.

“I’m really glad this is happening in Troy and that Aaron is drawing talent from around the world to work with homegrown artists here,” DiMaria said.

“There are now dozens of French circus artists who know of the City of Troy,” Marquise said, amused. “It’s crazy.”

In addition to four performances at the Troy Gas Light Company Gasholder, the circus company will bring the show to the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, The Round Lake Auditorium in Round Lake, PS 21 in Chatham, and the GE Theater in Proctors in Schenectady.

Marquise said the show will run somewhere between 75 and 90 minutes. The cast will be crafting and fine tuning the scenes starting today as they begin rehearsal and a three-week residency at PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, N.Y.

This unique show will be stimulating and satisfying for all ages, Marquise said.



Troy Gas Light Company gasholder*
1115 5th Avenue, Troy N.Y.
June 10 – 7:30 p.m.
June 11 – 3 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
June 12 – 4 p.m. (after Flag Day Parade)

Saratoga Dance Museum*
99 S Broadway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
June 17 – 7:30 p.m.

Round Lake Auditorium*
2 Wesley Ave., Round Lake, N.Y.
June 18th – 7:30 p.m.

* Tickets: Adult $20; Students & Seniors $15; Kids Under Age 12 – $10; Age 5 & younger are free on lap of adult
Purchase at the door or online at:

PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century
2980 NY-66, Chatham, N.Y.
June 25– 7:30 p.m.
For ticket information, visit:

GE Theater in Proctors
432 State St, Schenectady, N.Y.
July 1 & 2 – 7:30 p.m.
Ticket info TBA at


Marquise is finishing an eight-week SEED (Small Enterprise Economic Development) program at University at Albany Small Business Development Center. The program is designed to give new business owners the skills and resources to secure funding and manage a successful company.


For information and tickets, visit:

On facebook:


To download a YOL poster and high resolution publicity images of Marquise’s previous circus productions in the gasholder, visit the following dropbox link (use Photo credit upon publication):


Aaron Marquise was born and raised in Round Lake, N.Y. He spent his senior year of high school as an intern at the former New York State Theater Institute in Troy, N.Y. He studied musical theater with a minor in playwriting at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City but he dropped out to enroll as a clown major at the prestigious National Circus School in Montreal, Canada. He graduated there in June 2015. Since joining the Circus world Aaron has performed in Quebec, France, and most recently in Switzerland where he performed with the acclaimed Circus Monti during a six-month tour.


The first venue on the Capital Region tour of YOL is the Troy Gasholder. Built in 1873, the Troy Gas Light Company Gasholder building is one of only a handful of such structures remaining in the U.S. The imposing circular brick building once housed a telescoping iron storage tank for coal gas. The tank has been removed, creating a cavernous space and dirt floor beneath the tin roof. The result, Marquise said, is that the building now resembles something very much like the circus buildings he observed while performing in France.

“When I saw that building my jaw dropped and said ‘I have to see inside,’” Marquise said. “When I saw inside, it confirmed my belief that it is a circus building. It continues to inspire me.”

Though it never actually was a circus building, the gasholder was owned and used for storage by the “OC Buck Shows,” a mid-century traveling circus in the region. A sign for the OC Buck Shows hangs above the office of Bill Sage, whose Sage Brothers Painting Company purchased the gasholder from OC Buck in 1969 and uses it to store lifts and other equipment.

“We do the best we can to keep up this building. We know it’s one-of-a-kind,” Sage said. “Most everybody who walks in there says ‘wow,’ ‘awesome’… words to that effect. I’m still impressed by it.”

Over the past 45 years, the company has allowed the space to be used for special dance and music performances as a way to give back to the community. Sage’s son Kevin Sage is helping Marquise with the logistics of setting up the space, rigging, etc. and plays a big part behind the scenes.

“Everybody should take the opportunity to see and experience this building,” said Michael Barrett, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Industrial Gateway. “This type of building is becoming endangered in America, and Troy is very lucky to have one in good condition.”

Contact: Aaron Marquise,

April 24, 2015


Filed under: Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 1:12 am

For Immediate Release

Contact: Karin Krasevac-Lenz (716) 868-0069

Troy’s Hidden Garden Tour is May 21, 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Annual Event Showcases Livable City’s Private Slices of Paradise

TROY (4/24/15) — Troy’s popular annual Hidden Garden Tour invites the public into the private sanctuaries of city dwellers.

Lafayette Courtyard at Russell Sage. Photo courtesy of Tamara Hansen/The Sage Colleges“Most people only ever see the facades of our brownstones from the streets,” said Peter Grimm, president of the Friends of Prospect Park. “This is a special kind of event that invites visitors into the hidden, green spaces of our city. It really showcases the humanity and livability of Troy.”

Now in its 16th year, the Hidden Garden Tour is a fundraiser to benefit Troy’s Prospect Park held rain or shine on Thursday, May 21 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In the past, the event has consistently attracted more than 200 tourgoers. Organizers believe this year could bring record numbers because of the growing excitement and interest in Troy.

The self-guided walking tour features approx. 20 private backyard gardens in the Historic Sage College, Washington Park and adjoining neighborhoods of downtown Troy.

While most of the gardens are approximately the same size, about 20 feet by 30 feet, they vary greatly in style. Some of the gardens feature charming pathways, fountains and pools. Some are filled with flowers, while others have more plants and vegetables. At least one garden on this year’s tour was professionally designed, while others are lovingly tended by gardeners of all skill levels.

“I think the garden is the mirror of the personality,” said Grimm, whose lush green plantings make use of the shade. “Every single garden is unique and gives you a glimpse of what that person is all about.”

Nina Pattison’s garden is the first stop on the tour and thrives in sunny conditions.

“I have what people refer to as an English Cottage Garden, which means it’s ‘designed’ according to my personal tastes,” Pattison said. “If I like it, I grow it. And if it doesn’t like me, we part company. Last year I had a tomato plant with the best little hybrid fruit that you’d ever tasted. It planted itself right in the middle of the flowers.”

Now an octogenarian, Pattison had been living in Boston when, in 1987, she decided to return to Troy, the city of her youth, and purchase her house on Second Street. “You could not find a piece of property like this in Boston even if you could afford it!” she said.

Pattison and her neighbors had been showing off their gardens for a few years before they decided to formally organize the Hidden Gardens event for the public.

“Two people actually bought houses in downtown Troy as a result of this event, because they could see what was possible,” Pattison said. “Until they saw the gardens, they didn’t know you get more than a pile of bricks for a backyard.”

Grimm said the Hidden Garden Tour has evolved into a “Troy Livability Campaign.” He believes it has the potential to become the summer equivalent of Troy’s Victorian Stroll, an annual winter event that draws more than 20,000 visitors to explore and enjoy the businesses and historic buildings of downtown Troy.


Admission to the Hidden Garden Tour is $10. Tickets are available in advance online at or on the day of at the check-in-table at the Russell Sage College Parking lot.


Note: The gardens are small and may include stairs and unpaved or cobblestone paths. Dogs are welcome in Troy’s neighborhoods, but not directly in the gardens.


Free event parking is provided at the Russell Sage College lot, located at First and Division streets. Additional free parking is available in lots farther south on First Street.

A Private Hidden Garden in Downtown Troy, N.Y. Photo courtesy of The Friends of Prospect Park.
[Photo caption: A Private "Hidden Garden" in Downtown Troy, N.Y. | Photo courtesy of The Friends of Prospect Park. (Top) Lafayette Courtyard at Russell Sage | Photo courtesy of Tamara Hansen/The Sage Colleges ]


The Hidden Garden Tour is presented by The Friends of Prospect Park, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. All proceeds from the Hidden Garden Tour benefit ongoing improvement projects in Prospect Park, located on Congress Street in Troy.

Since 1996, The Friends of Prospect Park have worked to enhance enjoyment of the Park through annual brush-ups, playground improvements, updated signage, increased musical programming, bulb and tree plantings, new benches, with further upgrades planned.


The Hidden Garden Tour map is also a ticket for free light refreshments, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Carmen’s Cafe, located at 198 First Street.

Later at Carmen’s, there will be a dinner benefit for The Friends of Prospect Park, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The $33 Prix Fixe Menu will be posted at (For dinner reservations call 518-326-2064.)


For information regarding the Hidden Garden Tour, visit:, call (518) 874-1303 or email

On Facebook:


For high resolution photographs from previous years’ Hidden Garden tours, visit:


Karin Krasevac-Lenz, (716) 868-0069,


March 10, 2015


Filed under: Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 11:15 am

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Ciaravella 518-217-8282

Peck’s Arcade to Host Rock ‘N’ Roll Musical, March 17

Troy Civic Theatre Presents “Murder Ballad” in Real Bar

TROY, N.Y. — Troy’s newest restaurant will be the setting for a rock ‘n’ roll musical next week.

Cast of Murder Ballad at Lucas Confectionery. Photo by Jolana NicotinaOn Tuesday, March 17 at 7 p.m., Troy Civic Theatre will present “Murder Ballad” at Peck’s Arcade, located at 217 Broadway in downtown Troy. An off-Broadway rock musical sensation, “Murder Ballad” features a four-member cast who sing and act using wireless microphones along with a live house band.

Audiences at the Peck’s performance will be immersed in the story, set in a working bar in New York.

“Peck’s Arcade is the perfect venue for a show like this,” said Michael Ciaravella, managing artistic director, of Troy Civic Theatre. “This show was originally performed in a working bar in New York City and it will really come to life for audiences in a real tavern setting here in Troy.”

Actors in the one-night only performance at Peck’s will make use of the working bar on the first floor as their set and stage, while servers will provide limited table service to theatergoers during the show. (Showgoers can also order from the full Lucas Confectionery wine bar menu before the show and during intermission.)

**Please note: Peck’s Arcade is not normally open on Tuesdays and this event will be staffed by employees of the adjacent Lucas Confectionery wine bar. A limited food and drink menu with table service will be available during the performance, featuring wine, beer, sparkling water, meat and cheese and small plates by Lucas Confectionery. A credit card is required for table service during the performance. Theatergoers are encouraged to arrive early and enter through the Lucas Confectionery at 12 Second St. in downtown Troy.**


Murder Ballad is the dramatic story of a love triangle gone wrong centering on Sara, an uptown girl who seems to have it all, but whose downtown past lingers enticingly and dangerously in front of her.

Writing for the New York Times in 2012, critic Ben Brantley said of the show: “If you find yourself guiltily mesmerized by Lifetime killer-of-the-week movies, then ‘Murder Ballad’ should be just your ticket.”

Cast of Murder Ballad at Lucas Confectionery. Photo by Jolana NicotinaTHE CAST
For Peck’s Arcade, March 17

Peter Darling as “Michael”
Laura Tortorici as “Sara”
Ken Kasch as “Tom”
Lauren Kerr as “the Narrator”

The house band is Schenectady-based Knights Revival. Members include: Maurice Calis on drum; Ronald Mayfield on guitar; Domicik Petrocci on keyboard; and Carl “Dr. Funkathumpolus” West on bass.

Capital Region Bars Invited to Book Touring Performance

“Murder Ballad” is the theater group’s third consecutive show in a nonconventional performance space in Troy. Last spring the troupe performed Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” in Troy’s downtown Barker Park, a small pocket park at a busy urban intersection. This fall the group presented “Evil Dead: The Musical” in the Uncle Sam Atrium, an enclosed shopping mall in the heart of the city.

Now, Troy Civic is touring “Murder Ballad” throughout the Capital Region, with a future performance date to be announced, at The Rustic Barn in Speigletown.

Restaurant/bar owners are invited to contact Troy Civic Theatre to book performances at their venue.

“This is our first show available for touring,” said Ciaravella. “We’re wiling to go as far as people are willing to see it.”

Ciaravella said he’s particularly eager to find a venue in Schenectady, where the show’s house band, Knights Revival, is based.


Tickets for the March 17 performance of “Murder Ballad” at Peck’s Arcade in Troy are $15 for adults and $13 for students/seniors. Purchase at the door or online at:

Note: Patrons are encouraged to arrive early through the Lucas Confectionery wine bar at 12 Second St.


For information about “Murder Ballad” and to hear one of the songs from the show, visit:

For show specific information, contact Troy Civic Theatre at: 518-217-8282

The website for Peck’s Arcade is:


For high resolution publicity photographs by Jolana Nicotina, visit:


Michael Ciaravella 518-217-8282


March 9, 2015


Filed under: Business,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 10:59 pm

Contact: Avner Ben-Natan

Spectacular Troy-Made Lamps Take Kickstarter By Storm

Patented “Iris” Design Inspired by Vegetable Steamers

TROY, N.Y. (03/05/15) — A Troy lighting company has raised more than $32,000 so far through Kickstarter to expand its production of unique lamps.

Handmade by Troy-based Lightexture, the “Iris” lamp has two apertures of overlapping metal leaves that can be adjusted to control the amount of light and reflections it casts. The patented design draws inspiration from a stainless steel vegetable steamer.

“At first, we used actual vegetable steamers in our Steam Light series line of lamps,” said Avner Ben Natan, who co-owns Lightexture with his partner Yael Erel. “After years of studying steamers, we developed the Iris shade using 30 stamped metal leaves that are assembled by hand in our Troy studio.”

As one aperture on the Iris lamp opens, the other closes. When the lower aperture is fully open, light shines directly down, casting textured golden light onto the surface below. When the upper aperture is open, patterned light shines upward and bounces off the ceiling to fill the space with a warm, indirect light. The transition between these two provides a variety of reflections and light atmospheres. The Iris lamps give the user the ability to charge the light and create the atmosphere in the room.

Ben-Natan and Erel have developed prototypes of four Iris lamp styles, available in brass or stainless steel: a floor lamp; a desk lamp, a small pendant; and a large pendant. Now the couple is seeking online funders to help take their production to the next level.

From now until March 23, these lamps can be pre-ordered online for a special discounted price through Kickstarter. After the campaign ends, the prices for these incredible lamps will rise 40 to 50 percent.

When fund seekers create Kickstarter campaign, they are required to set a financial goal and deadline. Pledges are only collected if the campaign reaches its goal before the deadline.

In less than two days, the Iris lamp campaign met its $12,000 goal, meaning that all pledges will be collected later this month. Yet supporters can still take advantage of the discounted prices for the next 17 days by visiting and searching for “Iris Lamps.” (Direct link: )

There you can also see photos of the lamps and watch video demonstration of how they work.

The Iris Lamp campaign has been selected as a “Kickstarter Staff Pick.”

“We were very moved by the support this project has been getting,” said Erel. “We never imagined we would reach our goal in only 31 hours.”


Ben-Natan and Erel are an architect and a lighting designer couple that started collaborating by making a lamp out of a vegetable steamer and loved it so much, they founded Lightexture in 2008. Ceramic artist Sharan Elran later joined the company. Lightexture is located at 2501 Fifteenth St. in Troy.

Erel is a licensed architect in New York and registered architect in Israel. She graduated with honors from The Cooper Union School of Architecture in Manhattan. She earned her masters in architecture with an Emphasis on lighting from RPI, and has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, The Cooper Union, Columbia University and Pratt Institute. She is currently teaching at Rensselaer School of Architecture, where she received the 2015 Brown Travel Fellowship for her research project “Constructing Reflections.”

Ben-Natan has been working with light as material since the early 90′s in his work as a lighting designer in films and television. After he moved to New York, he began to extend the work with light into the design of light fixtures and environments for art and dance installations, residential and commercial projects. He earned a bachelors degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Tel Aviv University.


For information about Lightexture, visit: or call (518) 274-0214.


Later this month, four Lightexture lamps and objects that project “light drawings” will appear in a group exhibition titled “Lit” at the Albany International Airport. The artistic installations are the product of Erel’s graduate research in architecture and light at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Architecture School. The show opens to the public on March 28 with a grand opening on April 10.

More information about Erel’s graduate project “Subliminal Transcriptions,” and a video, visit:


For high resolution images of the Iris lamps, Avner and Yael, visit the following Dropbox link:


Avner Ben-Natan


February 5, 2015


Filed under: Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 7:39 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Dunckel

Troy Steampunk Festival Call For Mad Genius Inventors

The Enchanted City Seeking Entries for Inventor’s Challenge, 9/25 & 10/3

TROY, N.Y. (2/5/15) — Last Oct. 4, a new steampunk-themed festival transformed downtown Troy into a Victoriana wonderland that attracted nearly 1,000 people.

The Enchanted City 2014. Photo by A Slyer Image Photography

This year, The Enchanted City steampunk festival will be held on Oct. 3, 2015 and event organizers are currently accepting entries for an “Inventor’s Challenge” with cash prizes.

Enchanted City Inventors Challenge“Troy has a history of out-of-the box thinkers who did things, at the time, that seemed crazy — like George Ferris, an RPI graduate who modeled his Ferris Wheel after Troy’s famous Burden Water Wheel!” said Enchanted City organizer Susan M. Dunckel. “We are seeing that inventive spirit reemerge in Troy today, with groups like the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, PRI and companies like Apprenda. The Enchanted City is all about showcasing that spirit in a fun way — bringing it into the streets, so people can see it and put their hands on it and rekindle our ‘future-past.’ That’s steampunk.”

The Enchanted City Inventor’s Challenge asks all “inventors, makers and mad geniuses” to devise and execute a “mechanical conveyance” (a vehicle) to transport “Queen Mab,” the festival’s costumed figurehead. The mobile machinery must be able to safely carry the queen a distance of a quarter mile.

This creation can be: carried like a litter; pulled like a rickshaw or cart; peddled; powered by battery; solar; aeolipile; or robotic. It can be built by an individual, team or club. It will be inspected by a professional engineer, and judged by a team of credentialed officials on Troy Night Out (TNO), Friday Sept. 25, 2015.

The winner selected during TNO will transport the Queen during the festival’s opening parade on Oct. 3.

The Enchanted City 2014. Photo by A Slyer Image Photography


All transport creations deemed to be worthy of competition (during the Sept. 25 TNO judging phase) will then be automatically entered into the “Queens Tourney of Mad Machinery” to take place during the festivities on Oct. 3. The tournament will feature a variety of races that will pit each vehicle into battles with time, space and gravity.

One thousand dollars in prizes will be awarded during Troy Night Out to those inventors who prove themselves exemplary. Additional prizes will be awarded in the Queens Tourney during the Oct. 3 festival.

Competition dates:

1) Sept. 25, 5 p.m. TNO judging
2) Oct. 3, 10 a.m. Queens Parade
3) Oct. 3, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Queens Tourney


Enchanted City 2014. Photo by A Slyer Image PhotographyThe early registration fee for Mad Genius Apprentices (ages 16 to 21 or with student ID) is $15. The fee will rise to $35 later in the year.

The early registration fee for Mad geniuses (Age 22 +) is $25. The fee will rise to $50 later in the year.

All entry fees are nonrefundable.


The Enchanted City Inventor’s Challenge is made possible through a strategic partnership with Tech Valley Center of Gravity and The Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway.

“We’re betting on the madcap offspring of art meets engineering. Velocipedes with wings. Self propelled pianos. A weekend of Inventors Gone Wild,” said Laban Coblentz, founder and chairman of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.


For information, rules and regulations, visit:

Or email:


The Enchanted City is a steampunk fair with faerie flare featuring cosplayers, a fashion show, culinary competition, live theater, storytellers and music. Its mission is to celebrate the industrial heritage and creative spirit of Troy New York’s past present and future. It is organized by Susan Dunckel, owner of Sweet Sues, located at 203 River Street.


For high resolution publicity images of The Enchanted City, 2014, visit:


Contact: Susan Dunckel


February 3, 2015


Filed under: Business,Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 3:16 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Aaron Marquise,

Montreal Circus Enlivens Two Historic Troy Spaces

FAQ Circus Performs Feb. 7 at Frear Atrium, Feb. 20 & 21 at Gasholder Building

TROY/MONTREAL (2/2/15) — A Montreal-based circus group will perform in two magnificent historic spaces in Troy this month.

F.A.Q. Circus. Photo by Renald Laurin
(Photo by RenaldLaurin)

This Saturday, Feb. 7, F.A.Q. Circus will perform three free 20-minute preview shows in the Frear’s Troy Cash Bazaar atrium and three 55-minute ticketed shows on Friday Feb. 20 & Saturday Feb. 21 in the Troy Gas Light Company gasholder.

“Troy has a synergy unlike anywhere else in upstate New York,” said Aaron M. Marquise, 23, artistic director of F.A.Q. “I believe there is audience support in Troy for this style of entertainment.”

Founded in 2012, F.A.Q. Circus is a collective of contemporary circus performers who push the boundaries of what Americans typically think of as a circus. The company does not use animals or feature large bright colored costumes. Instead, their focus is on the incredible capabilities of the human body demonstrated through contortion, gymnastics and juggling. The venues, too, are smaller and more intimate than the typical American arena productions where large-scale circus normally occurs.

“So many other countries throughout the world have an incredibly rich circus culture and respect for the art. The United States is just beginning to discover modern circus,” said Marquise, a finishing student at The National Circus School in Montreal. “We are bringing what we have learned from studying circus arts abroad back to our home country.”

For Marquise, the effort to bring contemporary circus to Troy is personal. From age 8 to 18, Marquise studied at The New York State Theater Institute including his entire 2008-2009 senior year.

F.A.Q. Circus made their Troy debut in the summer of 2013 when they performed at Theatre Institute at Sage, with another performance there in 2014. In October, F.A.Q. Circus returned to the Collar City for its first performance in the Troy Gas Light Company gasholder building during a Breast Cancer Awareness Month benefit called “Light up Troy.” That show marked Marquise’s first time as director/producer.

F.A.Q. Circus performs in Troy Gasholder Oct. 2014. Photo by Douglas C. Liebig
(Photo by Douglas Liebig, Optimum Exposure Photography)

This month, the circus collective returns to the gasholder with a 55-minute show, titled “Running,” produced by F.A.Q and Sage Brothers Painting Co. Inc. and co-sponsored by Circus Theatricks. Directed and created by Marquise, “Running” explores what it means to leave behind the familiar and explore the unknown.

“This show is about running from the mundane to explore the unknown, to leave the familiar—running toward an alternative reality, free to forge a new identity,” Marquise said. “Our performers will help the audience imagine starting a new life.”

Contemporary costumes will resemble what one would need to wear if running away — not too tight, not too loose, Marquise said. The show will feature hoop diving, acrobatics, juggling, hula hoops and a clown. One performer will manipulate her body using a “German Wheel,” fashioned from two giant metal hula hoops. Another act includes an acrobatic ladder.

The emphasis in “Running” will be on ground acts, because the gasholder building is not outfitted for trapeze rigging at the moment.


Troy Gasholder Before Oct. 2014 F.A.Q. Circus Event Built in 1873, the Troy Gas Light Company Gasholder building is one of only a handful of such structures remaining in the U.S. The imposing circular brick building once housed a telescoping iron storage tank for coal gas. The tank has been removed, creating a cavernous space and dirt floor beneath the tin roof. The result, Marquise said, is that the building now resembles something very much like the circus buildings he observed while performing in France.

“When I saw that building my jaw dropped and said ‘I have to see inside,’” Marquise said. “When I saw inside, it confirmed my belief that it is a circus building. It continues to inspire me.”

Though it never actually was a circus building, the gasholder was owned and used for storage by the “OC Buck Shows,” a mid-century traveling circus in the region. A sign for the OC Buck Shows hangs above the office of Bill Sage, whose Sage Brothers Painting Company purchased the gasholder from OC Buck in 1969 and uses it to store lifts and other equipment.

“We do the best we can to keep up this building. We know it’s one-of-a-kind,” Sage said. “Most everybody who walks in there says ‘wow,’ ‘awesome’… words to that effect. I’m still impressed by it.”

Over the past 45 years, the company has allowed the space to be used for special dance and music performances as a way to give back to the community. Sage’s son Kevin Sage is helping Marquise with the logistics of setting up the space, rigging, etc. and plays a big part behind the scenes.

“Everybody should take the opportunity to see and experience this building,” said Michael Barrett, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Industrial Gateway. “This type of building is becoming endangered in America, and Troy is very lucky to have one in good condition.”

Troy Gasholder Tin Roof From Inside (Gasholder circus photos by Douglas Liebig, Optimum Exposure Photography)


The F.A.Q. Circus free preview performances on Feb. 7 will also occur in an equally impressive space that few get the chance to glimpse, the atrium of Frear’s Troy Cash Bazaar. The spectacular open space dates to 1897, and features a double marble stairway with ornate cast iron railings, all beneath a huge glass skylight. The building is currently owned by Bryce Properties.

The performances will occur during the Troy Winter Farmers Market, which is held in the adjacent Uncle Sam Atrium. Market shoppers are encouraged to catch the shows. The Frear atrium is accessible via the second level of the Uncle Sam Atrium.


F.A.Q. Circus Preview
Feb. 7 at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m.
Duration: 20 min.
Frear’s Troy Cash Bazaar Atrium
Corner Fulton and Third Street
(Enter via Uncle Sam Atrium 2nd Level)

Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m.,
Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Duration: 55 min.
Troy Gas Light Company gasholder
1115 5th Avenue, Troy NY
Tickets: Adults $15, Students $10
Purchase at the door or online at:

* NOTE: This is a standing event. However, if you require or prefer seating, please bring foldable seating and aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show starts. “Running” is performed inside a minimally heated historic venue. It is STRONGLY advised that attendees dress in warm winter clothes. (i.e. hats, scarves, gloves, large jackets, long-johns, etc.).


For High Resolution publicity images of F.A.Q. Circus and of their Oct. “Light up Troy” performance in the gasholder, visit

F.A.Q. Circus. Photo by Roland Lorente


For information, email or visit: or


Aaron Marquise,


January 5, 2015


Filed under: Business,Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 11:46 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

Mayor Proclaims Enjoy Troy Day Jan. 6

Citizens Kickoff Troy 200th Anniversary

1789 Newspaper Advertisement for Naming of Troy, NYCeremony Celebrates 1789 Naming of Troy
Citizen Proposal: Enjoy Troy Business Route

TROY, N.Y. (1/5/15) — On the evening of Jan. 5, 1789, a group of “Freeholders” on the eastern banks of the Hudson River met in a tavern to officially rename the place “TROY.”

This Tuesday, Jan. 6, at Noon, a group of Troy citizens, business owners and city officials will commemorate the historic event on the second floor of Troy’s newest “old” tavern, Peck’s Arcade at 217 Broadway.


Mayor's Proclamation: Enjoy Troy DayDuring the ceremony, the Mayor will present a proclamation for Enjoy Troy Day, commemorating Jan. 6 as the first day that Troy NY had its name and honoring Linda Passaretti, creator of the “enjoy troy.” symbol and her business partner Tom Reynolds of The Enjoy Troy Co.

Passaretti and Reynolds will present a special “enjoy troy. 1816-2016″ symbol that may be used by community members planning events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the city’s incorporation. The symbol will be available for download at

(Note: The place name “Troy, NY” pre-dates the formation of the city by 27 years. )

Enjoy Troy 1816-2016 Symbol

Troy writer Duncan Crary will present a “citizen’s proposal” for an “Enjoy Troy Business Route.” The Business Route would offer an alternative to the Hoosick Street corridor for those travelling from New York to Vermont and The Berkshires. Crary will propose that the Business Route includes signs featuring the proprietary “enjoy troy.” symbol, which The Enjoy Troy Co. has given permission for.

Proposed Enjoy Troy Business Route

Those attending the ceremony will be afforded a sneak peek (Noon till 12:45 p.m.) at Peck’s Arcade, a new restaurant owned by Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine at 217 Broadway in downtown Troy. The 50 seat casual-fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar is set to open on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. It is located in an historic four-story, 10,900 square foot building that began as a boarding house, called Clark House, constructed in 1876. In 1883, the building was home to a ground-floor department store named “Peck’s Arcade.” Reservations for Peck’s Arcade are strongly encouraged. Email


Photo and video opportunities include:

- Mayor presenting Enjoy Troy Day Proclamation to Linda Passaretti and Tom Reynolds of The Enjoy Troy Co.

- The Enjoy Troy Co. unveiling “enjoy troy. 1816 – 2016″ symbol on enlarged signboard.

- Duncan Crary unveiling proposed “Enjoy Troy Business Route” on enlarged signboard

- Enjoy Troy Co. will distribute free “enjoy troy.” lapel pins

- Sneak peek at Peck’s Arcade, two-story restaurant and cocktail bar


Historic Advertisement for Peck's Arcade“Hosting this ceremony in our city’s newest ‘old’ tavern space is symbolic because our founders first held a vote in a tavern, Ashley’s Inn, to adopt the name Troy,” said Duncan Crary, who organized the event. “Our founders were ambitious and optimistic in their choice of place names: Troy, the great city from ancient Greek history and mythology. As we prepare for the 200th anniversary of our city’s formation, I would like us to renew that spirit of ambition and optimism.”

Crary said he is proposing The Enjoy Troy Business Route for the community to consider, “crowd source,” and hopefully implement by 2016. He has secured permission from The Enjoy Troy Co. to use their proprietary “enjoy troy.” symbol for signage should the route be established. The route directs travelers to take the Green Island Bridge through downtown Troy and then to Rt. 2, which eventually hooks back up with Rt. 7 farther out in the country.

“Loads of people travel through Troy on their way to Vermont and The Berkshires and only ever see Hoosick Street,” Crary said. “What they see there is no different than what you see on the outskirts of most cities. If we invite them to pass through our beautiful downtown, instead, I know they would feel more positively about our community. And while this alternative route is longer, it can actually be quicker at times. And the transition from urban to rural is much more abrupt.”

Not everyone is going to want to explore Troy while en route to New England, Crary admits, but some will and that’s a start. As “proof of concept” Crary cites Patrick and Denise McAvey, a New Jersey couple who purchased a house in Troy after taking a detour off of Hoosick Street and falling love with the place. The McAvey’s are unable to attend Tuesday’s ceremony but they are available to speak to reporters by phone or in person on Thursday.


The following was written by Patrick McAvey for use in this press release:

McAveys Troy House“One early Saturday morning about 10 years ago, Denise and I headed out on a trip from New Jersey to Vermont. It was a familiar ride that we had been taking for years. From 87 North and 787 we would take exit 9 E across the bridge to 7 E and then creep along Hoosick Street until the green country opened up again.

“However, this morning was different. When we crossed onto 7 E, cars were backed up by a traffic incident, and so we decided to exit onto 6th Avenue in Troy and perhaps find a way back going east. After all the years driving by it, we would finally see what the city was about.

“We pulled into the parking lot of The Rensselaer Hotel on 6th Avenue (now a refurbished living space for RPI students) and walked up Broadway to Third Street where we turned right and then left on River Street. What struck us then was the fact that we were not just looking at isolated, and individual historic houses, but rows and rows of them — streets full of them. And now River Street opened into the City’s Square — a grand room whose walls were lovely examples of 19th Century architecture. In the center stood a tall, elegant monument dedicated to the sacrifices made in history by local soldiers. In one corner, a white, angular, modern structure of crumbling concrete was, because of its setting, an iconic example of poor planning and bad taste.

“But there was so much to be awed by as we continued down River Street past the Rice Building into ‘the antique section’ with its strong and stately buildings forming a curve protecting the neighborhood from the winds off the Hudson. Then it was back to Monument Square where Devane Realty in the Cannon building had posted a list of jewels for sale.

Patrick & Denise McAvey“Sitting on a bench in Monument Square, Denise and I questioned why we had not gotten off the regular path to visit earlier. The answer we think lies with us and the City of Troy. While we were always focused on reaching our destination, the City never extended an invitation to travelers passing through. Had we ever seen a sign of one, we would have gladly accepted and gone to enjoy those hidden parts.”


High resolution images of The Mayor’s Enjoy Troy Day proclamation, the “enjoy troy. 1816 – 2016″ symbol, Crary’s “Enjoy Troy Business Route” proposal, historic Peck’s Arcade advertisements, and the McAveys and their Troy home are available for download and reproduction at:


The Enjoy Troy Co.

Peck’s Arcade


Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723


December 15, 2014


Filed under: #TroyCrazy,Author,Events,Features,Troy NY — duncan @ 5:27 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

Jury: Moore Did Not Write Famous ‘Twas Christmas Poem

Courtroom Trial Verdict Challenges Holiday History in Troy, NY

HD Trial Footage & High Res Still Photos Available NOW

TROY, NY (Dec. 15, 2014) — A jury delivered a surprise verdict on Sunday that long-credited author Clement Clarke Moore did not write the most famous Christmas poem in history.

Trial Before Christmas Artwork by Ben Karis-NixThe holiday mock re-trial was held on Dec. 7, 2014 in the John T. Casey Ceremonial Courtroom at the Rensselaer County Courthouse in downtown Troy, the city where “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously, for the first time ever, in the Dec. 23, 1823 edition of the Troy Sentinel newspaper.

Six jurors, selected at random from the packed courthouse gallery, unanimously found that Major Henry Livingston Jr. of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. is the true author of those cherished verses that begin with the famous line “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

“The people of Troy do like to route for the upstate underdog,” said trial creator Duncan Crary. “But this verdict came completely by surprise for all involved.”


Now in its second year, “The Trial Before Christmas” is a full-blown mock trial to determine “Who Really Wrote ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” It is held in a real court, before a real (retired) judge, real attorneys, with real court guards and personnel.

The trial centers on a centuries-old authorship controversy between to old New York families.

Years after its un-credited publication in the Sentinel, in 1837, a wealthy Manhattan biblical scholar named Clement Clarke Moore claimed authorship and has been officially credited ever since. But descendants of Henry Livingston Jr., a gentleman farmer of the Hudson Valley, claim their ancestor was the true, unrecognized author. Backing their assertions is Vassar College professor and literary forensics expert Don Foster, whose 2000 book “Author Unknown” presented a strong case for Livingston. On the other hand, Dr. Joe Nickell thoroughly refuted those claims in his book “Pen, Ink and Evidence,” also published in 2000. Both works and other research serve as inspiration for the upcoming courtroom showdown.

“There’s no question that Santa is real — because children believe in him!” said event creator Duncan Crary. “The question is: who wrote this magical poem that first sparked our belief in a distinctly American Santa known and loved around the world?”

Attny. E. Stewart Jones during cross examination of Pamela McColl, publisher of best-selling book titled

Photo Caption: Attny. E. Stewart Jones Jr. during cross examination of Pamela McColl, publisher of best-selling book titled “Twas The Night Before Christmas: edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st century” (Grafton and Scratch Publishers). Court Stenographer Judy DelCogliano transcribes the proceedings. | Photo by Neil Grabowsky, Jersey Nerds.

After a hung jury on Dec. 18 2013, this year’s case of Livingston v. Moore was once again tried by E. Stewart Jones, Jr., upstate New York’s preeminent trial attorney, representing the interests of Moore. Reprising their roles for the Livingston claim were Troy novelist/sole practicing attorney Jack Casey, author of “The Trial of Bat Shea,” and his daughter, attorney Molly Casey of Albany law firm Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler & Monroe.

Retired New York State Supreme Court Justice Edward O. Spain presided over this year’s retrial.

Expert testimony was given by City of Troy and Rensselaer County Historian Kathryn Sheehan, as well as Canadian anti-smoking advocate Pamela McColl, who famously published a version of the poem with all references to smoking removed (during her testimony, McColl furbished a letter by Moore that deplored smoking, thus calling into question his authorship of a jolly, smoking elf).

Three ghosts took the stand to testify as well: Maj. Henry Livingston Jr. , played by Byron Nilsson; Sarah Sackett, played by Kathleen Carey; and Clement Clarke Moore, played by Patrick McKenna.

“If they can vote in Troy, they can testify,” said each of the Caseys at different points, in response to Jones objections to calling the dead to the stand — and in tongue-in-cheek reference to a long history of voter fraud involving deceased residents of that city.


The ghost of Sarah Sackett (played by Kathleen Carey) interrupts testimony by the ghost of Maj. Henry Livingston, Jr. (played by Byron Nilsson). Also shown are Rensselaer County Court Guards Colleen Casey and Brian Pettit, NYS Supreme Court Justice Edward O. Spain, Ret., Court Clerk Beth Muller and Court Stenographer Judy DelCogliano. | Photo by Neil Grabowsky, Jersey Nerds..

Photo Caption: The ghost of Sarah Sackett (played by Kathleen Carey) interrupts testimony by the ghost of Maj. Henry Livingston, Jr. (played by Byron Nilsson). Also shown are Rensselaer County Court Guards Colleen Casey and Brian Pettit, NYS Supreme Court Justice Edward O. Spain, ret., Court Clerk Beth Muller and Court Stenographer Judy DelCogliano. | Photo by Neil Grabowsky, Jersey Nerds.

Seated at Jones’ table was Chris Post, a descendant of Clement C. Moore. Joining the Caseys was Mary Van Deusen, a descendant of Henry Livingston Jr., who was responsible for bringing the authorship controversy to the world’s attention in 2000 by enlisting the help of literary forensics expert Don Foster.

“It shouldn’t be surprising that Troy adopted Henry Livingston so enthusiastically, since Henry’s authorship has been a matter of passionate belief by so many along the Hudson River for decades before I was ever born,” Van Deusen said after the verdict. “If Henry belongs to anyone, it’s to those people who grew up with Henry’s same love of this vital and energetic Hudson Valley region.”

Crary said he would not be surprised if this year’s re-trial were declared a mis-trial, and for the Moore party to come back ready to reclaim their ancestor’s author credit in the future.

“We may never know who the true author of this poem was,” Crary said. “But the controversy is nearly as old as the poem itself, and this mock trial is a fun way to keep interest in this literature alive for another generation.”

Friday Dec. 19, Noon Ceremony at Sentinel Bldg. Troy, NY

Proclamation: Henry Livingston Jr. DayTroy Mayor Lou Rosamilia issued a proclamation to honor the jury’s historic verdict, finding Maj. Henry Livingston Jr. as the true author of “The Night Before Christmas.”

The mayor will present the proclamation during a brief ceremony at noon, on Friday, Dec. 19 in front of the historic Sentinel newspaper building in Troy at 225 River Street in downtown Troy. The ceremony will be attended by both the Jones and Casey legal teams, as well as by event creator Duncan Crary, and members of Gramercy Communications, major sponsors of The Trial Before Christmas.

Also present will be Uncle Sam re-enactor Fred Polnisch and “Sax-O-Claus” Luke McNamee.

“Troy, New York is the place where two of our greatest American icons, ‘Uncle Sam’ and ‘Santa Claus,’ first took shape,” said Crary. “It only makes sense for them to attend our Friday ceremony to recognize our community’s role in the history of national symbolism and myth.”

Crary said a traditional St. Nicholas, or “Sinterklaas,” will attend to meet his successor, Santa Claus, and that the two figures will exchange special gifts. (Dec. 19 is celebrated ast “St. Nicholas Day” in orthodox countries.)


The Trial Before Christmas was filmed for a live simulcast and webcast by RPI TV. A special, edited and re-mixed video, featuring additional B-Roll footage, will be screened at Brown’s Revolution Hall on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. with suggested donation of $5.

Video editing and re-mixing is by Jersey Nerds. Revolution Hall is located at 425 River Street in Troy, NY. The edited video will be posted online at


High resolution stills from The Trial Before Christmas 2014, copies of the original hand-illustrated artwork for the Trial, a copy of the Mayor’s proclamation and much more can be downloaded for media reproduction at:

Note: Television producers may contact Duncan Crary for HD trial footage of the Trial for use in holiday news broadcast packages. (You can view a recording of the live RPI TV broadcast now at the link above, now).


For information about The Trial Before Christmas 2013 & Retrial 2014, visit:


For questions or to schedule interviews, contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723


December 9, 2014


Filed under: #TroyCrazy,Business,Events,Features,Troy NY — duncan @ 12:26 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jim Lewis 518-429-3909

Dec. 11: Troy Open Studio Raises Icarus to the Pantheon

Furniture Maker Celebrates Name Change from “Icarus” to “Springwood” With Theatrical “Fractured Fairy Tale”

TROY, N.Y. (12/9/14) — An internationally acclaimed Troy furniture studio will celebrate its new name and ownership with a ceremony of mythological proportions.

Rosebud Snow, plywood dome by Jim LewisIcarus Furniture is now Springwood Studios, an artisanal woodworking shop specializing in high quality hand-made furniture and wood sculpture. To mark the change in name and focus, owner Jim Lewis, 63, will be “Releasing Icarus to the Pantheon” in what he calls a theatrical “Fractured Fairy Tale” in the streets.

“It’s a Greek tradition that if you live in a place that is sacred to a mythological figure, you get to tell the story however you want,” said Lewis. “Our workshop in Troy, N.Y. was originally named in honor of Icarus, so we get to tell our own myth about him. In our version, he finally retires from Troy and reaches the Gods.”

On Thursday, Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m., Troy officials, neighbors and friends will congregate outside the studio at 154 Fourth St. Lewis will clip wings onto a toga-wearing Icarus idol (baby doll) and hoist it by pulley and line to the skies. A lightning bolt wielding Zeus (in the form of a Springwood intern) will receive Icarus at the top of his flight, and thus the boy who flew too close to the sun will finally enter the pantheon of Gods. If satisfied by the offerings presented to him, Zeus will then “magically” transform the studio sign from “Icarus Furniture” to “Springwood Studios.”

The ceremony is a playful nod to studio’s former name Icarus, inspired by the ancient mythological character. It is also the latest in a trend of increasingly theatrical alternative “ribbon cutting” ceremonies in Troy (including sausage links, quesadilla and board cuttings, as well as a miniature cannon blast ceremony).

An open studio at Springwood will follow, from 3:30 p.m. till 8 p.m. with catering by Carmen’s Cuban Cafe. The studio will showcase several pieces — some new, some old favorites — including a five-petal oak and wenge table in the form of a morning glory; a sculptural desk that looks decidedly like a jellyfish; and a model of Red Bud, a 12 foot-tall dome sculpture that was once in display in Albany’s Tricentenniel Park. Photos of Lewis’ architectural size plywood domes based on natural forms — seashells, mushrooms, fruit and flowers and even cabbages — will be on display during the open studio.


Rosebud Snow, plywood dome by Jim LewisIn 1977, Lewis co-founded Icarus Furniture in Troy. In 2010, he bought out his partner and officially changed the studio name. But a major five-year project to create furnishings and a carved mural for Sacred Heart Church in Edinburg, Texas took up most of his focus. After completing that commission, Lewis has been renovating his shop and working with Carmen Gonzalez on her restaurant, Carmen’s Cafe. Now, Lewis says, it’s time to formally “hang out a shingle” for Springwood Studios.

“One of the reasons for changing the studio name is that I’m slightly adjusting what I do,” Lewis said. “I still want to do liturgical and home furnishings, but my focus will be more on the sculptural. My work is furniture that shapes the space. I’m sort of straddling the line between furniture and sculpture, and sometimes touching on architecture.”

Lewis’ high quality, solid wood furniture has received multiple design awards from Modern Liturgy Magazine and praise from Architectural Digest. He has designed and built pieces for about 80 churches, chapels, synagogues and meditation spaces across the country — though many are located in the Capital Region.

Due to the large scope of his projects, most of his shows have been in his studio, where he exhibits projects before they are installed.


A native of Lancaster County, Pa., Lewis grew up on Springwood Farm where his family raised sheep and ducks. He moved to Troy in 1971 and fell in love with the historic architecture.

“There seems something wonderfully classic historic about Troy — living history. You can feel that it was founded on neoclassical idealism,” Lewis said. “It’s not just the Victorian but the earlier federal stuff, which seems to refer to an era when you could stop a man on the street and discuss the classics with him.”

One Troy figure inspires Lewis in particular: a cabinet maker named Elijah Galusha, who was one of the pioneers of plywood and veneer construction, whose work rivaled the best of his contemporary craftsmen in New York City.

“I like to think I channel Elisha and keep up his tradition,” Lewis said, noting that Galusha lived in a house four blocks from Springwood Studios.


For Information, visit: or


For photographs of Lewis’ work, visit:

For higher resolutions, contact Jim Lewis.

Contact: Jim Lewis 518-429-3909