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Arts & Entertainment

Bethany Arts Community’s ‘Magical’ Fundraiser Frees the Creative Spirit

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November 14, 2023

By W.B. King–

Now in its eighth year of operation, the progressive and inclusive Bethany Arts Community (BAC) looks to further enrich its creative programming efforts by hosting its fifth annual fundraiser.

“Bethany’s community outreach and engagement continues to expand with our partnerships with neighboring river towns through participating in numerous events, farmers markets, and festivals, and partnering with school districts and local organizations from Ossining, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow to Yonkers,” said BAC’s Executive Director Bonnie Bradley.

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The event takes place at BAC on Friday November 17 at 7 p.m. and will include specialty cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, art viewing and a silent auction. Attendees are encouraged to dress in “festive” attire.

As stated in its mission statement, BAC, located in Ossining, welcomes artists, from young to old, and all levels of skill, to explore and create art that the community can engage with. The organization, founded by David Lyons, fosters sharing, connection and collaboration. To this end, a culture has been created where people experience the power of art to improve lives and deepen their perceptions and perspectives of the world. This concerted effort also creates an infectious sense of wonderment, Bradley noted.

“The magic is seen everywhere from our residents that cross-pollinate creative dialogues, form lasting friendships, and engage with our local community, to the ever-evolving idyllic campus that consists of wildflower gardens, an orchard, a sculpture park, and meditation trails that set the stage for an abundant creative practice,” said Bradley.

The Manipulation of Time

Representative of the magic that BAC continually creates, renowned magician and mentalist Ken Salaz will be on hand at the fundraiser. When asked what the difference is between a magician and a mentalist, the Hudson Valley resident offered:

“It is fairly common that magicians can also become mentalists, but more rare for a mentalist to become magician. A magician performs impossible feats with physical objects – transforming them, vanishing them, teleporting them” he continued. “Mentalist performs impossible feats with people’s minds which include such things as telepathy, mindreading and the manipulation of time.”

Over the years, Salaz has performed on television shows such as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and at various events where he has befuddled notable folks from Jennifer Lopez to Colin Powell. For Lopez, he made her bracelet levitate off the table into her hand. He stole Powell’s watch off his wrist under the watchful eyes of the secret service (the time piece, of course, was returned to the dazzled Secretary of State).

Salaz’s career trajectory began at the age of eight when he realized the world was being “defined” by adults who held, in his opinion, a narrow perception of reality.

“My mother took me to a new magic shop that just opened in our town of Huntington, West Virginia. My mind exploded with amazement. She bought me one trick that day, which I still have,” Salaz, 53, said. “Since we were rather poor, she then took me to the Marshall University Library and I checked out a stack of books on magic and the history of magic and started getting to work.”

Years later while performing at The Tarrytown Music Hall, Salaz was noticed by Nancy Zallow, who then worked at the Music Hall but is now director of development at BAC.

“She reached out to me this year to perform at the fundraiser,” he said, adding that as a classically trained landscape painter, he was familiar with BAC and what he referred to as its “outstanding” artistic and creative programs.

For this event, however, he will not be wielding a paint brush but instead has planned an alluring night of unusual entertainment.

“Those attending should expect to have an absolutely astonishing evening filled with wonder, amazement and some good humor,” he said. “They can expect to be captivated from the very beginning with effects that start in the realm of the amazing and build to the realm of the absolutely impossible.”

Art, a Powerful Medium

Bradley, who is curiously anticipating Salaz’s performance, said the entirety of the event allows her to be in the company of people that “value art as a meaningful and powerful medium.” And if previous fundraising events are an indicator, she anticipates this year’s gala will provide for even greater artistic programing in the years to come. During its fourth annual fundraiser in 2022, for example, she shared that $30,000 was raised.

“We use the funds to provide scholarships for summer camp for kids, subsidies art studios, artist residencies, and programming in response to community needs and interests,” she said. “With so many increasing barriers and obstacles for people to engage in art, we have made it our mission to work towards breaking down those barriers and obstacles. We believe everyone should have access to the arts regardless of means.”

For ticket information, visit: https://bethanyarts.org

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