Newberry’s revived!

(Photos by Dion Ogust)

When Jen Dragon organized the second iteration of a Saugerties exhibit in honor of International Sculpture Day last year, she spread the event and deepened its cultural cache by inviting in some of the artists she’d made part of her stable at Cross Contemporary Art on Partition Street.

For this third annual Saugerties Sculpture Show, which opens a one-month run with a reception at the former J.J. Newberry’s department store on Main Street this Saturday evening, March 30, Dragon has brought in an even larger list of artists, and coordinated the opening day with the opening of a new exhibit at the refurbished 11 Jane Street space owned by the same arts impresario who now owns the old Newberry’s.

Last year, Dragon was envisioning the sculpture festival, which started much smaller four years ago, along the lines of “what the Festival of the Voice did for Phoenicia.” She was aiming for a locally-based art fair.


This year, Dragon’s working out a new approach to art curation now that her Cross Contemporary bricks-and-mortar gallery space has closed. She is making the 9000-square-foot former department store that was most recently an antiques consignment center into an arts space. At the same time, she is creating a Cross Contemporary solo show — “When There Were Birds” by Millicent Young, one of the last artists she showed on Partition Street — at the nearby new 11 Jane Street installation art and performance Space nearby. 

“Originally, Jennifer Hicks had Newberry on the market, but now she intends to keep it to use for special exhibits, mini-fairs and workspace for the artist installations that will be displayed in 11 Jane Street,” Dragon said this week. Hicks, a Boston transplant and a performance artist and dancer of some renown, bought a large old industrial building in the village center in late 2016 then held a number of pop-up installation shows before starting renovations in it two winters ago. “As if that weren’t enough, there is construction starting in the Carriage House building attached to 11 Jane Street,” said Dragon, “so we will have a cafe next door to the new Cross Contemporary Art location as well.”

Dragon said Hicks was starting to line up programming for the performance and installation art part of the gallery. Andrew Neumann, a video artist from Boston, and Dragon will have an exhibit in the front gallery in June to complement the installation in the back. “So we are working in tandem with her focus being the events, performance and installation art and Cross Contemporary Art occupying the front gallery with various exhibits like I was doing in my Partition Street location,” said Dragon.

Cross Contemporary’s last incarnation on Partition Street closed just before Christmas.

For the new sculpture show on Main Street, exhibiting artists will include many artists who’ve shown with regularity throughout the Hudson Valley and elsewhere: Colin Chase, Stuart Farmery, Heather Hutchison, Robin Glassman, Jan Harrison, Alex Kveton, Ian Laughlin, Iain Machell, Lowell Miller, Debra Priestly, David Provan, Christy Rupp, Judy Sigunick, Christopher Skura, Nadine Slowik, Kurt Steger and Joseph Zito. 

The exhibit will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 28, or by appointment.

At 11 Jane Street, “When There Were Birds’ will feature Millicent Young’s singular use of horsehair and wood “to capture the vicissitudes of light and shadow,” alternating “between a keen conscious awareness and shifting dream-like forms.” All the large works on display were made specifically for the space.

Both shows open with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 30 at 236 Main Street and 11 Jane Street in downtown Saugerties. Call 399-9751 for appointments or information.

There are 2 comments

  1. Jane

    It is too bad that the various “dollar” stores adhere to the sterile exterior and interior plans, rather than choosing to inhabit vacant “5 and 10 cent” stores. They are needed. They need not be sterile and ugly. How many individuals got their first art supplies from a Newberry’s and the like. But, at least the building isn’t being turned into condominiums.

    1. Barbara Pokras & Bob Malkin

      Jen Hicks and Jen Dragon have given a gift of immeasurable value to Saugerties residents and visitors with the openings of these two extraordinary performance and art venues. There is no going back and we should credit the demise of the old five and dime to big box companies and consumer preferences for lower cost staples.

      If you had been to the opening events, you might have overheard comments such as the one I overheard, ‘Saugerties is the new Woodstock.’ Newberry’s and 11 Jane Street are leading Saugerties into an era of expanded cultural opportunities, and for that, I am truly grateful.

      Thank you, ladies.

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