Arts Council’s Annual Gala Honors the Best of Orange County

GOSHEN — The Orange County Arts Council annual gala, The Art Affair – Hacienda du Cards,” saluted the contributions of Atlas Studios, former Times Herald-Record executive editor Barry Lewis and Guidecraft on Oct. 5. Over 250 people attended this sold-out event at the Palacio in Goshen, and offered an evening popular casino games, an escape room, a life-sized version of the board game, “Life” and a raffle.

In a departure from past OCAC galas, this year’s gaming theme proved to be a real winner. Those who attended received $10,000 in “fun chips” to play poker, roulette and black jack. Players cashed in chips to take chances at gift baskets. Centerpieces created by local artists made from cards decorated the tables. An escape room masterminded by Amy Lewis-Sweetman challenged the wits of those who dared to enter. And to add a bit of whimsy, a special version of the game of “Life” – complete with life-sized play pieces of Barry Lewis, Gary Bilezikian of Guidecraft and Joseph Fratesi and Thomas Wright of Atlas Studios – was created by artist Janet Howard-Fatta.

To signal the end of the evening’s games, the Newburgh Enlarged City School Empire Drumline, led by Dion Placencia made a thunderous entrance with a powerful display of percussive energy. Fifteen students from Newburgh Free Academy snaked through the crowd and captured everyone’s attention with an amazing demonstration.

Afterwards, OCAC board president Steve Sachs spoke and listed the organization’s accomplishments over the past year, including the opening of four satellite offices in Newburgh, Middletown, Port Jervis and Goshen, whose purpose is to provide artists with free consultations and to build community around the arts unique to each area.

Barry Lewis, former executive editor of the Times Herald-Record, stated what an honor it’d been to be chosen by OCAC as an influential person for the arts. As one who writes, he said, “I can’t explain why it is that I need to put pen to paper, but I do.” He went on to say this ability to create and to foster creativity enriches us all.

Gary Bilezkian, accepting the award on behalf of Guidecraft, shared with the audience a three-minute video demonstrating how Guidecraft’s products inspire creativity in children. Joseph Fratesi and Thomas Wright, of Atlas Studios in Newburgh, were honored for converting a 1920s industrial site into workshops and studios for artists, entrepreneurs and creative professionals who need a workspace.

Honorees were chosen by the Orange County Arts Council’s board in recognition for their contributions to the arts and their ability to make a difference in the lives of many people through their work.

For more information on Orange County Arts Council, The Art Affair, workshops, opportunities for artists, memberships and more visit or call 469-9168.

PHOTO: Former Times-Herald Record executive editor Barry Lewis, right, shares a light moment with Anthony Davidowitz, OCAC Board vice president. Lewis was one of those honored at the Orange County Arts Council annual gala on October 5. [Photo by William O’Keefe]