In Saugerties, where the visual arts scene has struggled to maintain for a decade now, the new Oddfellows' Atelier, located above the Saugerties Antique Center at 220 Main Street, opened earlier this month with its first show, "Pure Catskills." It featured oil paintings of the local scenery by friends Athena Billias, Patti Ferrara, Mara Lehman, Michelle Moran and Ellen Perantoni - all of whom have kept at their attempts to recreate the glory days of the old Hudson River School for years now. Gallery-owner Geri Halpern, a city chef and caterer, seems to have picked up on the town's focus over the years on enterprising professional artists seen in group settings.
In New Paltz, meanwhile, the new Van Buren Gallery is also in its first month in the Medusa Building at 215 Main Street. But, unlike Halpern's experiment, it's more in keeping with its own home community's penchant for single-artist focus. Here, the work on view - at least for now - is all by local landscape photographer Kevin Van Buren, who will also be offering classes and workshops on digital technology and aesthetics.
Similarly, in Phoenicia, the new Cabane Studios on Main Street, located across from Sweet Sue's, opened last weekend with a new group show alongside owner Andrea Cabane's thoughtful and evocative black-and-white photos - putting it in keeping, with its open submission arms and hanging fees, with the town's other current gallery at the Arts Upstairs and former denizen Limner (now moved upscale to Hudson).
All may not be on a par with City art or the region's top-selling venues. But they keep the scene alive. And hey, the more openings and chances to see what's up, or hang what's getting created, the better.
"Art sustains" is how Halpern has put it, explaining her reasoning behind starting a gallery at this time. "The ability to appreciate, on any level, an expression equal to one's own core understanding of a common existence is one of the few gifts which separate us from the other beasts. Art validates."
She, like the other new gallerists in the area, calls her Oddfellows' Atelier a work-in-progress. For more on the Atelier, at 220 Main Street in Saugerties, call (845) 684-5167 or (845) 246-3316.
For more on Van Buren Gallery, at 315 Main Street in New Paltz, call (845) 256-8558 or visit www.vanburengallery.com.
For more on Cabane Studio, at 38 Main Street in Phoenicia, call (845) 688-5490 or visit http:/cabanestudios.wordpress.com.