Ticketmaster gets involved


Ticketmaster chose MFTA to be the host site for a day of service on Friday, April 19th.  Nearly the entire New York office came to help out in the warehouse, about 25 employees strong. They spent the morning color-coding and sorting paint cans (one of our most popular group activities), as well as boxes of tile , paper, books, trim and fabric.


The group was very enthusiastic in helping out, and they were even willing to don some funny hats from a recent donation in their group photograph, which you can see above. One volunteer remarked that “everyone really enjoyed themselves and the staff at MFTA was a pleasure to work with.” Ticketmaster, you were a pleasure to work with as well! We hope to see you again in the warehouse.


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At MFTA every day is Earth Day!

At the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop farm in LIC. Steps away from MFTA!

At the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop farm in LIC. Steps away from MFTA!

What do Earth Day and Materials for the Arts have in common?  Everything!  Reusing , recycling, rethinking, sustainable best practices and general love of this planet we call home are all part of our mission.  Creative reuse activities abound at Materials for the Arts all year long – from workshops for students and professionals, to in-school residencies, to our Third Thursday Open Studios to the glorious work creatively constructed by our thousands of recipients.  Here is a list of some of the activities that we are participating in during Earth ‘Week’: http://www.mfta.org/event?page=1

From RRR book

From RRR book

Apropos to today’s theme, we received this book as a donation. Identifying themselves as an international group of talented friends, they’ve created a collection of recycled art. This is what their intro page says: “We make waste for a living. So now we’re gonna make waste live….look around your environment, see what you can save, pick it up, turn it over, and look at it in a different way…”

Clip from Wasteland

Clip from Wasteland

We encourage you to do the same. Look around your environment. How can you do your part to make the earth a little better?

Some ideas for inspiration:


Wasteland http://www.wastelandmovie.com/

No Impact Man http://noimpactproject.org/

Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/

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Lions in the warehouse!


Don’t worry, they weren’t real lions – they were students from Columbia University’s student group Columbia Community Outreach (CCO)On Saturday, April 6, a group of 15 students volunteered at MFTA as part of their annual day of service. Every spring, CCO organizes a student-led day of volunteering during which over 1,000 students, faculty, staff, and alumni head out into neighborhoods all over the city and spend the day working together with community members and non-profit organizations like MFTA. We are proud to have taken part in this year’s day of service.


The group of 15 students who came to MFTA split up into smaller teams to sort and stock a multitude of donated items in the warehouse: hats, beads, trim, rubber bands, light bulbs, and fabric. They also helped out with one of our most popular group volunteer tasks: opening, labeling and sorting cans of paint. The students also enjoyed hearing more about what we do at MFTA. As you can tell, a lot was accomplished in a short amount of time. Overall, the day was a great success. Thanks again Columbia University!


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Materials for the Arts welcomes Artist-in-Residence Ben Pederson!

Ben Pederson is the new MFTA Artist in Residence for Spring 2013. Pederson is a New York City artist who creates unique assemblages out of a diversity of repurposed materials which are given a delicate and deliberate treatment of bright day-glow colors and surface textures. Pederson’s work has been shown in group and solo shows throughout the United States and he has an MFA in Sculpture from University of Massachusetts. Since partnering with MFTA, Ben has been accepted as a resident at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Opening Reception: May 16th from 6 – 9 pm
Long Forgotten Song, an exhibition of Pederson’s MFTA artwork, will be on view Mon-Fri from 10:00 am-4:00 pm until the end of August. Visitors are welcome to come and see how our artist-in-residence repurposes materials from the MFTA warehouse.
Artist’s Workshop: June 20th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm
You are also invited to join us for our June Third Thursday workshop taught by Ben Pederson. He will lead participants in creating an art project at the MFTA Education Center. All Third Thursday workshops are open to the public and encourage creative development through arts reuse.

“My work is mostly made from the detritus of the gallery world. I see the smashed crate fragments, cardboard, canvas, paint, and foam that’s thrown away daily as usable building blocks for my dreams and ideas. I find it interesting that these materials areinitially repurposed by me out of financial necessity, but end up playing a defining roll of the over-all spirit of a piece due to both their physical attributes and limitations. The resulting works are not only markers of this building process, but I hope are culturally relevant objects, telling stories about our collective fears, joys, desires and sorrows. I’m in love with, and weirded-out by, life. I thank MFTA for this wonderful residency opportunity and look forward to seeing what new avenues I’m taken down through their treasure-trove of materials.”
– Ben Pederson 2013
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The Healing Powers of Donating

night song detail 2

Night Song, detail, 1997, enamel on aluminum, by Dorothy Gillespie

Making a donation of money or materials is an act of altruism – a way of connecting to others and helping to ‘repair the world’.  An unforeseen outcome of donating is how therapeutic it can be. This is not surprising if you think about our attachments to things and the way they carry associations to people and memories.

On many an occasion we have been moved by receiving donations from people mourning the loss of a loved one. We are repeatedly told that donating to MFTA proves itself to be an affirming and comforting way of paying tribute to a loved one’s legacy.

fantasy garden

Fantasy Garden, 1986, ink on paper, by Dorothy Gillespie

gillespie lincoln ctr3

Lincoln center Poster, 1989, silkscreen on paper, by Dorothy Gillespie

We got word of the late Dorothy Gillespie (featured art below) when her son reached out to us about making a donation. His admiration and affection were apparent, as he proudly shared some of her accomplishments:

“ The Patrons of the Boca Raton Museum of Art joined friends and family this past Monday evening at the reinstallation of Dorothy Gillespie’s “Celestial Presence” in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden in commemoration of my mother’s life and work.

The Director of the BOCA Museum described “Celestial Presence”, its importance to the museum and thanked the Dorothy M. Gillespie Foundation once again for the gift. I had the honor to say a few words about my mother the artist/sculptor.

 A special thanks to those who were part of this night to remember.”

Warm regards,


dorothy gillespie installaton

dorothy gillespie text2

 This came from another donor, John Mason:

“… I did find the experience of donating my late mother’s arts and crafts supplies to be therapeutic because it kept me busy doing something rather than feeling bad about what had happened.  While going through her things it also made me realize what a talented artist she was…..I’ve filled up my car more times than I can remember and brought my donations to MFTA and on one trip I was invited to a donor luncheon taking place that day.  I was able to tour the impressive warehouse and see what happens to donated items when they are received….In addition I get many thank you letters via email from the people who “shop” at MFTA.  How nice  to know what you’ve donated was already “scooped up” and put to good use, especially in these  difficult economic times when schools are not allotted a sufficient budget for their art programs…. having received so many thank you notes I realized that a part of my mother has lived on in a way she never could have fathomed.  Her creative energy has influenced all these other projects which came to MFTA looking for supplies and  found something I donated on her behalf.  That is very fulfilling to me …”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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Daring to do more

MFTA staff, board and donors, from left to right, Barbara Korein,  Harriet Taub, Anelle Miller, BD Wong, Matthew David Hopkins, Bonnie Weissblatt Weill, Stacy Papas, Andrea Schaffer Photo Credit: Kevin Alano

MFTA staff, board and donors, from left to right, Barbara Korein, Harriet Taub, Anelle Miller, BD Wong, Matthew David Hopkins, Bonnie Weissblatt Weill, Stacy Papas, Andrea Schaffer
Photo Credit: Kevin Alano

It is always great when people we know are publicly recognized by the press and media outlets for their good work. That happened about two weeks when the NY Times did a piece on our friend and Friends of Materials for the Arts board member, Anelle Miller – the Executive Director of the Society of Illustrators – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/arts/artsspecial/director-enlivens-new-yorks-society-of-illustrators.html?pagewanted=all


Anelle is a dynamo who has transformed the Society since taking over as Executive Director in 2007.  The Times piece thoroughly explains the history of the Society and Anelle’s work over the past six years.  What’s missing is the volunteer and community work that Anelle does with a number of organizations – Friends of Materials for the Arts and the High School of Art & Design (of which she is an alumni) to name just two.   It is hard to imagine how she finds time in her busy life to help other non-profits but she does and she does it with generosity and passion.  If you have never been to the Society of Illustrators, head over there and if you are lucky, you may just get to meet Anelle Miller and see for yourself the fabulous arts leader in action.

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Spring volunteering at MFTA gets a boost from Jumpstart


If you shopped at MFTA this week, you probably noticed that our fleet of shopping carts was much easier to steer. You can thank Jumpstart for that! Last Friday, a group of eager volunteers from Jumpstart came to MFTA to help us out for the day. Like the students from Birmingham-Southern College the week before, this program offers an alternative spring break for its corps members to give back to the community while out of school. They spent most of the day giving our carts a little TLC. Working in an assembly line, the group cleared masses of threads that had tangled into little nests snared in the wheels and gave the carts a thorough wipe down. After lunch, they sorted boxes upon boxes of trim (a popular group activity at MFTA).


The 22 college students who came to MFTA last week are just a small fraction of the 816 Jumpstart corps members in the tri-state area. This branch of the program serves more than 2,000 preschool children from low-income neighborhoods in New York City. In addition studying at one of 15 local partner colleges, corps members work to close the education gap for help these young children by helping develop their language and literacy skills before they head to kindergarten.


If you have a group that is interested in setting up a special community service project, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Masella at emasella@mfta.nyc.gov or 718-729-2047.

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“Pleased to Meet You” : The Art of the MFTA Staff

If you’ve visited Materials for the Arts before, you’re aware of the treasures lurking in our warehouse, and you know about our educational programs spreading the word about creative reuse. You have heard about or even attended the Third Thursday open art-making workshops, provided to the public for free through support from Friends of Materials for the Arts. You may not, however, be so familiar with the staff who dedicate their time and energy to making sure everything at MFTA runs smoothly behind the scenes.

gallery photo_staff show

“Pleased to Meet You” is a gallery show introducing the public to works created by the staff members who make the magic happen here every day at MFTA. Works for the show are made of the kinds of materials commonly found in our warehouse. Fabric, paper, beads, and more are present in the mixed-media art on display. Some of the artwork is by our professional teaching artists and some by staff exhibiting art for the first time. Come take a peek at what we’ve been up and meet our staff members when our show opens on Thursday, April 11 from 6:30-8:30 pm. Refreshments will be provided and you will have a chance to find out more about Materials for the Arts. If you are unable to make the opening, “Pleased to Meet You” will be open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 10am-4pm until May 10th. We look forward to meeting you!

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Hypnotized at Grand Central Station

Photo of the artist Nick Cave, with one of his horses. Photo courtesy of  Creative Time

Photo of the artist Nick Cave, with one of his horses. Photo courtesy of Creative Time



Today we took an early lunch and headed over to Grand Central to see Nick Cave’s amazing performance piece – Heard NY.  This combines all of our favorite art forms – dance, visual art, music, site specific performance art, creative material usage.  MFTA recipient Creative Time has partnered with students from The Ailey School (also MFTA recipient) to bring to life these festive, frolicking horses.  Accompanied by both harpists and percussionists, the daily crossings will delight and enchant.  Bring the kids – go early since it gets very crowded.   The piece runs through March 31st and the daily performances are at 11:00am and 2:00pm. Gallop- don’t walk over to Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall.


heard dance (2)heard dance 3

Presented by Creative Time and MTA Arts for Transit as part of a series of events celebrating the centennial of Grand Central.

Harriet & Marna at Grand Central Station

Harriet & Marna at Grand Central Station


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Alabama and New York, working together at MFTA


This past Wednesday, we had a group of students from Birmingham-Southern College stop by the MFTA warehouse for a few hours of volunteering.  They came to us all the way from Birmingham, Alabama, as part of the school’s “Alternative Spring Break” service learning program.  Instead of heading to the beach for a few days like many college students do, the group braved the unpredictable snow, rain, and cold wind to help others during their free week.


Over the course of four hours, the group bagged two shopping carts’ worth of colorful art sand, sorted and color-coded not one but two palettes of house paint, stacked carpet, and folded fabric.  In addition to their work at MFTA, the group performed mold remediation in Hurricane Sandy-stricken houses on Staten Island, planted trees in Manhattan with Million Trees NYC, and worked on a project with Habitat for Humanity.


Thanks again to the students from Birmingham-Southern College for their hard work and positive attitudes!

If you have a group that is interested in a one-time volunteer project, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Masella at emasella@mfta.nyc.gov or 718-729-2047.

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