Sylvia Diaz offers PR savvy along with display space at Art JuXtapose in Rosendale

Sylvia Diaz has opened Art JuXtapose Gallery at 430 Main Street in Rosendale. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Up-and-coming downtown Rosendale has added a brand-new art gallery to its attractions. Just opened on June 1, it’s called Art JuXtapose, and it offers artists more than simply a place to show and broker their work.

For one thing, curator Sylvia Diaz takes no commission on sales by the artists in her gallery: an almost unheard-of arrangement. “I really believe artists should get 100 percent of the proceeds of what they make,” she says. Instead, those who apply and whose work passes muster pay a monthly rental fee for display space: $120 for six linear feet of wall and $135 for nine feet.

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But that’s not all. Although Diaz says that she has “done my own art for many years,” working mainly in pencil and ink, she didn’t get her professional training at art school. Her work background is rooted mainly in marketing and development for not-for-profit organizations, notably Hope Chest in Warwick. She knows how to research grant funding and do promotional communications. When she was homeschooling her two children — now grown and both aspiring artists — she opened a center called Dutchess County Homeschool where she “made sure art was a strong component of the curriculum.” This evolved into an art school called Hatch, which she brought to Ulster County when she moved to New Paltz about two years ago and began organizing the New Paltz Open Studio Tour. “That’s how I met all these artists who had artwork gathering dust,” she says.

Diaz, who advertises herself as an “art venue liaison,” sees her function in serving artists as largely to connect them with other places that will also feature their work — publications as well as other galleries, museum shows and pop-up opportunities. Already, in the less-than-two-months that Art JuXtapose has been up and running, she has managed to place works by some of her current clients at Limner Gallery in Hudson, WomensWork.Art in Poughkeepsie, Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack and the Contempo Annual book. One of her current artists, multimedia painter Jill Ziccardi, will be included in a show opening in August at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, and Diaz is currently angling to get another’s work onto the cover of Chronogram. She’s also working on arranging some outdoor pop-up shows in Rosendale and beyond.

Work is already selling at the new gallery as well, she says, with Beacon-based collagist Tina Bernstein “our biggest seller last month,” and traffic from passersby was brisk on the Saturday afternoon when the New Paltz Times paid a visit. Art JuXtapose is located in the peacock-blue clapboard building that was formerly home to the herb shop the People’s Cauldron at 430 Main Street, between the Rosendale Café and Guts ‘N’ Glory Ink. The gallery space is small, only about 600 square feet, but nicely lit, with wide-plank wood floors. Diaz and an artist friend built a partition dividing the space along its long axis, greatly enhancing the amount of display space available. True to the venue’s name, artworks in wildly different styles and media hang cheek-by-jowl in an array that the curator terms “very eclectic.” There’s a fresh discovery every few feet. One corner is reserved for a monthly “JuXtaposition” in which a variety of artists contribute one work apiece with a common theme: For July, it’s “Homage,” for August it’ll be “Music.”

The quality of the work here is surprisingly high, for a new startup gallery. “We’re really particular about who we let in,” Diaz notes. “I have a committee who help me decide, so it’s not just my taste.” Artists currently represented live in the Hudson Valley and New York City, but inquiries for the next round are coming from as far away as Croatia. Beginning with the next call for entries — already in progress, with an August 10 deadline — artists selected will be asked to make a six-month minimum commitment beginning September 1. They are also expected to refresh their display with new works on a monthly basis. So there will always be a good reason to pop into Art JuXtapose anytime you’re visiting Rosendale.

Regular gallery hours are from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 1 to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Figure drawing lessons are offered on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and additional classes in oil painting, watercolor, illustration and animation are being planned for this autumn. The gallery plays host to special events as well, including music performances and open-mic sessions, for which Diaz built a small outdoor stage in the building’s lovely rear garden.

A good way to make the new gallery’s acquaintance is to attend the free Wine & Cheese Tasting workshop scheduled for Friday evening, August 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. This is no mere art-opening cliché spread of nibbles; Lisa Sterer of The Big Cheese will actually teach visitors how to pair cheeses with wines, supplied by Rosendale Wine & Spirits, with additional input from Postmark Books. Preregistration for this event is recommended by e-mailing sylvia@artjuxtapose.com or calling (845) 489-5822.

Interested in showing your art at Art JuXtapose beginning in September? Visit www.artjuxtapose.com/artist-call-for-entries.html for submission guidelines.

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