By Judy Garrison
By Judy Garrison
In choosing to use her address, 61 Main Street, as the name of her shop, Karen may have been buying time as she zeroed in on a more targeted name. But it is-maybe inadvertently-very fitting that she kept the definition of her evolving venture loose. For Karen, a former professional modern dancer with Paul Taylor, has spontaneous invention and flow in her bones. She is most at home finding her way through time and process in an organic and unfolding journey. To have prematurely constricted her and her store or gallery or, shall we say, her space, would have been way out of character.
Karen Levey and her husband, Larry Breakstone, bought property in 1974, on Davis Hollow Road off Dingle Hill, where they camped out on a tent platform while Larry started a post and beam construction of an off-the-grid gambrel-roofed barn. When the Jack Fulton house became available, Karen and Larry, who had long had their eye on it as well as the fantasy of being part of the community, bought it at auction. Loving its bare bones, they felt good about saving this “beautiful gem.” With contractors Kevin and Pat Sullivan, they restored and renovated, alive to the magic of the floor-through, from mountains to stream at the rear.
While contemplating what kind of venture she would initiate, Karen was urged by visiting artist friends to open a gallery to which they’d contribute pieces. The idea resonated with Karen, who felt a kinship with these artists, their sensibilities and artistic process. The mission jelled; show artists she knew and find others of upstate New York or the northeast who transmitted a deeply felt attachment to the natural world, whether in pottery, sculpture, photography or painting.
Karen states that she is learning day-by-day how best to represent them. She speaks of having an ongoing conversation with each of them wherein it becomes clear what to add or subtract of their work, how to best show it. What is apparent to anyone entering the gallery space is her affinity with each artist, their process, subject and medium; and that she is a passionate advocate, for whom the sale of an artist’s work is an exhilarating event, but not necessarily the focus.
The gallery currently represents 15 artists, typically with long and distinguished careers. For all of them, Karen displays folders containing bio and artists’ statements. These include Andes own landscape painter George Ballantine; part time Dingle Hill resident Lynn Preston; Ingrid Guider, who produces Amancay pottery; Sally Jones, a fabric designer onto silk with an Oneonta studio; Karen Graces, a local watercolorist; Cindy Kelly, a multi-media artist whose mosaic work is currently on display; and Carla Bauer, who creates limited printings of woodcuts taken from bas-reliefs. Also shown are photographers Marc Kaczmarek, and Chuck Levey, a member of the Soho Photo Gallery who will be having a one man show in 2009, painter Paul Rowntree’s grasses and reeds, Sean Hartnett’s stone sculptures, Larry Breakstone’s ceramic sculpture, and Russell Speer’s furniture.
Kate Knapp, the most recent artist represented, is characteristic of those showing at Sixty-One Main. Her oil paintings of rural scenes are expressive and lively, in response to her own intimately felt relationship with nature and country life. Come see for yourself. Summer gallery hours: Thursday through Sunday, 10-5, or by appointment. 845-676-4020. ~