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ADAMS looks ahead to year three

Submitted Photos Pictured are members of the DeLand family enjoying the gaming table, which was assembled in front of the ADAMS over the past several months. The piece will be installed on Main Street this spring.

“It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future,” said William Murtagh, the first keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.

Such is the conversation that the board of directors of the ADAMS are having as they look forward to the third year of preserving their unique building and promoting the future of all forms of art in the community.

Earlier this year, William Haskas, ADAMS board president, and Matei Denes, treasurer and executive director, announced the repurposing of the former Adams Art Gallery, located at 600 Central Avenue in Dunkirk. “The ADAMS is not a gallery; it’s a place to gather, to invent, to have your wedding, to teach a class, to play, to rent, to dream, to dance, to perform, to show your crafts, to feature your music,” Haskas told the OBSERVER. “It is a public building that we hope people will begin to use.”

The space, once Adams Memorial Church, was abandoned for several years before architects Haskas and Denes, co-directors of architectural firm plusFarm, purchased it. Ever since, the ADAMS has been dedicated to promoting art and creativity in the Dunkirk-Fredonia community, despite numerous challenges, not the least of which is an aged building in need of significant repairs.

The ADAMS opened its doors to the public in July 2018, and since then has hosted numerous events. Haskas is pleased to announce that in 2019, the ADAMS accomplished its top three goals. The first goal was to establish an ADAMS board of directors and Founders Group. Currently, the board consists of both Haskas and Denes, Rich Alexander, Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Civiletto, Secretary Alexander Guzman, and SUNY Fredonia Art Professor Alberto Rey.

The ADAMS on Central Avenue in Dunkirk.

Second, the ADAMS planned to support the local economy. “This year alone, the ADAMS spent $74,525 locally on vendor contracts, material supplies, food and lodging,” Haskas said. The third goal — to reach 1,000 visitors — was also accomplished this year.

One area of concern, however, still remains: the condition of the building, especially the deteriorating roof.

“Renovations is one area we fell short on our goals,” Haskas acknowledged. “…Obviously, the building requires massive renovations to restore it to how people remember. Also, they don’t build them like they used to — so it isn’t a cheap building to save. It would be a whole lot easier to clean the slate and start over, but nobody and I mean nobody wants to lose another historically significant building in the community.”

To that end, the ADAMS board is working diligently to find other ways to save the building. “With a little luck, our Dec. 7 Founder’s Night fundraiser will help,” said Haskas.

Indeed, next Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m., the ADAMS is pleased to invite all Inaugural Founders to a celebration in gratitude for their support. Haskas said that the Inaugural Founders’ group is open until Dec. 31. “We hope all friends, family members, supporters of the arts and the good folks that want to see the ADAMS saved will consider becoming a Founder,” Haskas told the OBSERVER.

For just $20, community members can become founding members to support the ADAMS’ continued drive for exciting arts, cultural, educational, and community programming. Those who join before the end of the year will have their name appear in the ADAMS on the Founders Wall and receive the following benefits: free admission to one special event, an ADAMS tote, Founders Card and holiday card.

Next Saturday, “The Inaugural Founders will be treated to building tours, music to warm the spirits while we share the State of ADAMS presentation, and feature a silent auction,” said Haskas. Importantly, the Inaugural Founders’ group is a one-time only opportunity. “It’s about preserving the integrity of the Dunkirk/Fredonia community,” said Haskas. “Founders are the foundation of the community — people that believe in cultivating neighborhoods worth living in and growing assets for people to visit — so please, help save the ADAMS, and become an Inaugural Founder today, and have your name enshrined on the Founder’s Wall!”

Goals for the fundraiser include a $20,000 campaign to complete stage two of roof repairs and a $9,650 campaign for arts education programs. All donations are tax deductible. To donate or become a founding member, visit www.theadamsny.org.

For 2020, the ADAMS board is hoping for another 1,000 visitors, as well as additional funding from New York state. The board is also interested in cloning Michael DeLand, their “favorite Dunkirk resident,” whose efforts have made and continue to make a lasting impression on the ADAMS and its surrounding community.

“The story of Michael is emblematic of our mission, and we never get tired of telling it,” Haskas explained. “He was riding his bike past the ADAMS when he spotted his SUNY Fredonia professor, Jason Dillworth, and decided to stop and say hello. Jason had come by to participate in our Digital WoodWorking Class and after talking awhile and seeing what we were doing, Michael decided to get involved in the project. Since that day, Michael has single handedly given hundreds of hours to the ADAMS and encouraged his friends, family, and classmates to join the efforts. For that we owe Michael a lifetime of gratitude, and to the DeLands our utmost appreciation.”

While cloning DeLand may not be possible any time soon, Haskas is looking forward to completing a very achievable goal: the installation of the community gaming table that has been constructed in front of the ADAMS over the past few months.

Haskas said the design of the table was the result of an architectural game that involved a piece of string and a boot, pencil, small table and six volunteer players. “After several rounds and hours later, we had our project, which is playfully titled: Love is a Losing Game,” said Haskas.

The project is made from about 55 sheets of plywood cut by computer into over 165 unique pieces, which were then assembled into the final piece at the ADAMS. Because of the material, the table must be sealed and preserved to withstand the weather. Currently, the project is housed in the city of Dunkirk’s warehouse for safekeeping this winter, while the finishing touches are applied. The table is scheduled to be moved to Main Street this spring.

Next weekend, Haskas encourages the community to take part in the annual ADAMS Cup 4 vs. 4 Street Hockey Tournament. The tournament is set for Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features a 20-minute round robin format, three games minimum. Teams consist of three players plus a goalie (playing) for $25 per team. To sign up, email info@theadamsny.org with the following information: team name, team captain (telephone and email contact) and team players.

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