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Castellani Art Museum shifts to casual for fundraiser

NIAGARA FALLS – The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University is putting a new twist on a storied event as it presents “CAMfest” from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Conference & Event Center of Niagara Falls.

This new, fun and casual fundraiser replaces the formal gala held annually, in order to offer broader appeal, according to organizers. Classy, casual attire is expected.

“This event will be very welcoming and open, which is much the same feel we have at the Castellani Art Museum,” said Susan Clements, CAM’s coordinator of community relations. “We believe art is for everyone. And we’ve been getting a very good response to this.”

Proceeds benefit public programming at the Castellani Art Museum, including; Kids ‘n Arts Summer Camp, Art Express Family Workshops, school tours, exhibitions and the Meet Me at the CAM lecture series.

CAMfest will feature few speeches, but plenty of hearty hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and live music by the Custode and Parisi Jazz Duo.

The CAM will also celebrate the works of artist and educator Thomas Kegler at this event, honoring him with its Legacy Award. Kegler’s exhibition, “Painting Niagara,” is at the CAM through Jan. 21. The Legacy Award is given annually to perpetuate the legacy of Armand and Eleanor Castellani.

“We have a gorgeous exhibition of Thomas Kegler’s works,” said Clements. “He is a well-known artist in the Western New York community and an educator in the East Aurora schools and we are lucky to have his exhibition here. He’s a big supporter of the Western New York Land Conservancy and Buffalo/Niagara Waterkeeper, and the preservation of the natural beauty of our area.”

CAMfest will offer guests the opportunity to bid on luxury items, experiences and original art during silent and live auctions. The live auction will feature a five-course gourmet dinner with wine for 12 at the glamorous Lakewood Castle, as well as tickets to a Syracuse vs. Notre Dame basketball game at the Carrier Dome with overnight accommodations. The silent auction will offer such items as Kate Spade designer bags; a week’s accommodation in San Miguel Allende, Mexico; Buffalo Bills and Sabres tickets, “Burgers for a Year” from Hard Rock Café; fine dining certificates; original artwork; and much more.

Other fundraising activities include a $10 bourbon tasting and a $20 chance to “Stock Your Bar” raffle.

A highlight of the evening will be a giant Niagara Falls painting to be completed by the guests, who will paint a small portion of the design, which has been outlined on a large canvas. This painting will be presented to the City of Niagara Falls in commemoration of its 125th anniversary.

“Michael Beam, our curator of exhibitions and special projects, has re-created an outline of a scene based on one of the historic prints of Niagara Falls that we own at the CAM,” said Clements. “We own the largest collection of Niagara Falls prints in the world – over 900 – and we have a few on exhibit at a time."

“Michael has drawn the outline and guests will be able to fill it in. It’s like a big paint-by-numbers painting. It has to be about 4½ feet by about 6 or 7 feet and it looks like a big postcard from Niagara Falls,” Clements said.

“When it’s finished, we will give it to the City of Niagara Falls and we hope they will display it in City Hall as part of their 125th celebration,” she said. “This is going to be a really fun activity. We’re finding people like to participate at events these days, they want to be up and active, rather than just sit and listen to speakers.”

Cost is $75 per person. For a $100 patron ticket, a donor will be able to “provide a little more support and include a message of 25 words or less in our program,” Clements explained. Tables of 8 are $600. Clements said reservations would be appreciated by Oct. 4. All seats will be reserved. Purchase tickets online at, or call Clements at 286-8201.

Valet parking will be available at the 101 Old Falls St. entrance to the Conference and Event Center.

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