January 15, 2012
Art exhibit opens at Chemung transit center
Photography explores scenes in surrounding counties
By Ray Finger
A recently opened photography exhibit at the Chemung County Transportation
Center is the first public programming along the Elmira Promenade downtown.
Jan Kather said the exhibition of her photographs taken in Chemung, Steuben,
Schuyler and Tioga counties was originally part of her project "An Intimate View,"
which explores the familiar to discover the unfamiliar that surrounds us every day.
She is excited to kick off programming in connection with the Promenade, noting the
potential of the space along and under the railroad viaduct between West Water and
West Second streets.
"I think it's really exciting for Elmira, and I think there can be music and dance. There
can be all kinds of events in that area," said Kather, who teaches photography, video
art, humanities and women's studies courses at Elmira College and photography
courses at Cornell University.
"An Intimate View," intended to display art where people are not expecting it, was
initially exhibited at Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, Waverly Free Library,
Dorman Library in Bath and Arnot Mall in Big Flats in August and Elmira College in
"I thought, 'Man, this is the best place,'" she said of the transportation center.
"Most bus stations are not where you want to be hanging out," Kather said. "I liked
that, that it brought an aspect of the art world to people who might not think about
going over to the Arnot Art Museum -- and, in fact, then maybe they would go to the
Arnot Art Museum after seeing that, and then create art themselves."
Tina Hager, mobility manager at C Tran, formerly Chemung County Transit, said she
was looking down the long hallways in the transportation center and thought they
really needed something to brighten them up.
"The county painted and it looked nice, but I thought artwork would really work well
there," said Hager, who was museum educator at the Chemung County Historical
Society for 11 years.
Kather's images of regional places and everyday things are accessible and a natural
beginning point for having art in a public space, where people are waiting 20 or 30
minutes for a bus, she said.
"This is a good kickoff now that the Promenade is finished. What can you do in
January? Well, you can install an exhibit," Hager said.
"To me, it was a way to bring something to that space that wasn't there before," she
said. "Sometimes the arts don't get the importance that they need. Especially when
you're in tough economic times, it's hard for people to see the value in something
that can seem superfluous."
Former Mayor John Tonello is very happy that the photo exhibit is launching public
programming at the Promenade, a project that was a priority with his administration
but took several years to get under way.
"It sets the right tone for our goal," said Tonello, who earlier started the practice of
rotating public art displays on the walls of City Hall.
"The Promenade is a perfect venue for allowing people to not just experience art but
other activities and things that people want to show off about the region, about the
city," he said. "I think people will see this is a great place to showcase not just art but
other activities and things that are part of their mission."
In addition to revitalizing the viaduct and making it clean, bright and safe, the goal
was to provide space for community partners to do programming independent of the
city, Tonello said.
"The viaduct, whatever you think of it, is a major part of downtown. It's a part of the
city's core. The first step was cleaning it up," he said.
Next was making it a destination, rather than a place that people turned away from,
he said. "That would then lend itself to the other kind of programming that this
photography exhibit is a great example of."
This display will be up through June, and the hope is to follow with exhibits by other
artists, Hager said.
» For more information or to post a comment: www.jankatherphotography.com.