When you enter the Franklin Street Gallery and Gift Shop, take a good look around. You’re likely to see a diverse collection of paintings, photographs, ceramics, handmade glass, beaded and silver jewelry, and even a larger than life mosaic and metal sculpture of a tropical fish. And if you visit the Gallery on a Friday morning, you’ll probably meet one of the Gallery’s regular volunteers, Michael Larkin.
Mike is an enthusiastic artist who wanted to get involved in a volunteer opportunity that matched his interests in drawing and painting. The Franklin Street Gallery is a community arts center established by The Arc of Schuyler to provide opportunities for regional artists, including artists with developmental disabilities. Gallery volunteers help extend operating hours and assist with exhibits and events. For Mike, volunteering at the Gallery was a perfect fit.
The volunteer position has become part of Mike’s Friday schedule. He walks into the Gallery, hangs his coat, and takes note of any new items that have arrived during the week so that he can point these new pieces out to visitors.
Cynthia Hill, coordinator of the Franklin Street Gallery, appreciates Mike’s assistance in keeping the Gallery operating smoothly and looking organized - using the leaf blower to clear leaves and debris from the entrance, hanging work in the window display, applying labels to gift bags and boxes, and helping to create displays for jewelry and smaller items. Mike also helps Cynthia prepare for guest presenters, opening receptions, or Saturday morning classes by setting up tables and preparing the coffee station.
“He comes up with great ideas about where or how to display pieces,” Cynthia said. “That’s a great kind of volunteer to have.” During his spare moments at the Gallery, Mike practices drawing lighthouses and barns. “Someday I want to exhibit my work at the Gallery,” he shared. Mike enjoys meeting new customers and having the opportunity to talk with exhibiting artists.
“I used to volunteer at the SPCA. I like dogs and cats,” Mike said as he points out some of his favorite pieces in the Gallery – all depictions of animals. “Now I like volunteering here.”