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Albany Museum of Art unveils renovated auditorium

The Albany Museum of Art toasts its newly-renovated auditorium at a reception Thursday.

Artistic works created by Steve Penley and Ray Stephenson were featured at the Albany Museum of Art Thursday night. (Laura Williams)

Artistic works created by Steve Penley and Ray Stephenson were featured at the Albany Museum of Art Thursday night. (Laura Williams)

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Ray Stephenson

ALBANY — Summer showers did not dampen the spirits of art and music lovers Thursday night at the Albany Museum of Art.

In a stream as steady as the raindrops falling outside, a record-breaking crowd filed inside for an evening filled with festive cheer at “Penley and Stevenson,” a reception showcasing the works of Georgia artists Steve Penley and Ray Stephenson. The museum also unveiled its newly-renovated Harry and Jane Willson Auditorium, named for the Albany philanthropists who have heavily contributed to the local area.

According to AMA Executive Director Karen Kemp, “Jane and the late Harry Willson have been committed to supporting the work of our museum for decades. Without the steadfast generosity of supporters like the Willsons, a collection of 2,100 pieces of artwork in a nationally accredited museum would not be available to our community.”

Construction on the space began in February, and is part of a continuing expansion project to provide additional space and updated venues for the community.

A feast for both the eyes and ears, Thursday’s reception also featured local musical artists Jodi Mann, Ryan West and Stephenson’s band, Ray Stephenson and The Revival.

Stephenson’s dual love of art and music are reflected in his visual portrayals of rock music legends including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the Beatles. The Albany native now resides in Nashville, where he stays busy writing top-selling tunes for country music superstars such as Kris Kristofferson, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. This year alone, “Red River Blue” sung by Shelton and Lambert received Grammy nominations and “Leaning on a Lonesome Song” is up for seven Canadian Country Music Awards, including song of the year.

“Even though I’ve never been to Canada, I’m still up for an award there,” Stephenson joked.

Stephenson plans to include the song on the next album released by his band, “Ray Stephenson and The Revival.”

Mixed-media pieces created by Carrollton resident Steve Penley capture the spirit of America. Larger-than-life depictions of iconic Americans and monuments evoke a sense of American pride that is quickly branding Penley as one of the South’s most popular artists.

Both Stephenson’s and Penley’s exhibits will remain on display at the museum until Oct. 26.

For information concerning upcoming events at the Albany Museum of Art, visit its website at www.albanymuseum.com.