CHESTERTOWN - As of next week, there will be one more reason to visit Chestertown.
Although the downtown streetscape of Chestertown has lately hosted more than its share of empty storefronts, a new gallery is opening soon on Main Street and it is likely to be an attraction for residents and visitors alike.
On Thursday, July 15, the North Country Arts Center is opening a satellite gallery in the former Harness Shop which will feature the works of local and regional artists, Brant Lake resident Fred Holman confirmed Monday.
A gallery Grand Opening and exhibition reception is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, and those artists with works on display will likely be on hand.
Holman is on the board of directors of North Country Arts Center. He is a retired landscape architect now focusing on his artwork - painting and sculpture.
The shop will be open Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will offer dozens of paintings for sale - and browsers are welcome, Holman said.
"The purpose of this gallery is to get art back in the North Country and to get more activity in town," Holman said, noting that the Arts Center, a non-profit organization, was launched in Warrensburg in 1971, after which it was moved to Glens Falls.
Mary Jane Dower, chairwoman of the Chestertown Main Street Enhancement Committee, welcomed the news Monday of the gallery's opening. She and several dozen other local residents have been taking action this year in revitalizing downtown Chestertown.
"This is fantastic - just wonderful," she said. "This is just what we need - maybe it will give the revitalization effort a needed boost."
Barbara Thomas, President of the North Warren Chamber of Commerce also hailed the new enterprise.
"I'm excited - This represents the way Chestertown needs to go,' she said. "There are a lot of talented artists in the area, and it's a great addition to Main Street."
Holman said that the Gallery, "Art in Chestertown," will not only feature local artwork, but it will likely be staffed with an artist at work, so visitors can see artwork evolve before their eyes.
Preceding the Grand Opening will be a "Plein-air" Paint-Out event on Saturday and Sunday July 10 and 11, with various artists in Chestertown, rain or shine, at work outdoors depicting streetscapes, landscapes and other subjects. Holman said if the weather is good, a dozen or more artists are likely to participate.
The public is invited to observe the artists at work, and oil painters, watercolorists, pastel artists and others are invited to participate. Sign-in is at 9 a.m. either day at the new gallery at the Old Harness Shop, on Main St. across from the Church St. intersection, Holman said. Artists seeking to participate or those seeking to volunteer are welcome to contact Holman for details at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-4034.
Works created will go on display for summer at the gallery. For years, the Harness Shop was a store featuring artwork, gifts and fine crafts, but most recently the building was collection center for used goods on behalf of The Priory retreat.
This "Art in Chestertown" gallery is the first outlet for the North Country Arts Center that is dedicated entirely to art display and sales. Currently, the NCAC-sponsored displays are accommodated in the Glens Falls City Hall gallery, the Glens Falls Post Office, and the lobby of The Glen at Highland Meadows in Queensbury.
Barbara Wilson of the Friends of Chester Library expressed enthusiasm about the gallery venture, noting that Tom Hughes of Lazy River Garden Center in Warrensburg deserved appreciation for the donation of flowers which decorate the front of the new gallery, which will be open through Sept. 4.
Holman said the idea of establishing the gallery in Chestertown was propelled by a concern that not much was happening downtown as far as public display of art, with the exception of the Town of Chester Library.
The idea of launching the gallery in downtown Chestertown has been met with enthusiasm from artists around the region, as well as local officials and residents, Holman said.
"Everyone is excited about this," he said. "This is a win-win situation that may lead to something more."