One wouldn’t fault Jerome and Benedicte Leclere if they marvel at their own story. Five years ago, a gift from Jerome to Benedicte started the couple creating ceramics in a makeshift studio, with a kiln and a few shelves in their Brooklyn apartment. Today, the couple, aided by an assistant, are crafting every ceramic piece from a 3,000-square-foot studio, L’impatience, in Kingston’s Fuller Building for a local market and a network of 100 retailers across the country.
Such stories are integral to Art Walk Kingston, the seventh annual two-day citywide open gallery and studio event that features and celebrates the making and makers of art and the vibrant Kingston community. On Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, from 12-5 p.m. each day, residents and visitors can take in a wide range of art and activities, from paintings, photographs, bookbinding, and drawings to sculptures, mixed media, and special programs.
Art Walk Kingston is open to all artists. Not surprisingly, this helps make for an incredible breadth of types of art and of artists’ and gallery owners’ experiences and life stories. The artists vary from those who have practiced lifelong to newly emerging artists. One painter, Sharon Frey, says through her bio on the Art Walk website that her works represent a “burnt-out social worker’s return to her passion for visual art during a raging pandemic.” Frey, whose debut solo show was in Poughkeepsie during the summer, will present works out of her garage.
A participating gallery owner, Rich Cali of Monument, used to own a gallery in Austin, moved to the Northeast, and in October 2021, opened a gallery in Kingston. He relishes the Hasbrouck Avenue location that is “a little bit under the radar” compared with Midtown Kington’s main thoroughfare, Broadway. A photography show in the Lace Mill Galleries is the “InauguralExhibition”ofthe Women Photographers Collective of the Hudson Valley. This is, of course, only a smattering of Art Walk Kingston’s richness.
“There are so many layers to [Art Walk Kingston] and you can experience it in so many ways,” says Joe Gonzalez, a producer of Art Walk, along with Linda Marston-Reid and Barbara Scott. He and Marston-Reid conceived of the idea of an open studio and gallery event in Kingston in 2015, and the initial Art Walk Kingston occurred in 2016. Approximately 50 artists took part that year. This year, some 140 artists are participating in 50 locations, primarily in three distinct Kingston neighborhoods — Midtown, Uptown, and the Rondout – yet the sites also stretch to a few locations outside city boundaries.
Art Walk is a “very open community-based event,” as Gonzelez notes, and the abundance of opportunities to experience art show it.The varied venues include artists, studios, and galleries grouped in the Shirt Factory, the Lace Mill Galleries, the Lobby Gallery at Energy Square, the Fuller Building, and the Pajama Factory; galleries throughout the city; and individual artists’ studios.
Among the highlights: The Shirt Factory has eight artists’studios open as well as two galleries, the Hudson Valley Silverworks and the Kingston Ceramics Studio. The Kingston Midtown Arts District (MAD) and D.R.A.W. will present two exhibits, one a D.R.A.W. teaching artists’ show at the Lobby Gallery and the other a MAD pop-up group show at the Pajama Factory. Two separate exhibitions are slated at the Lace Mill Galleries. Meanwhile, the Fuller Building will have five open studios and a mixed-media exhibition, “Kingston Then and Now,” which Blauweiss Media is presenting until September 21. In Midtown, the Cornell Creative Arts Center will have the HoloCenter’s exhibition of fine art holograms by the artists who have shaped the HoloCenter.
So how best to manage all the artistic bounty, aside from, of course, mixing the art experiences with stops at Kingston’s many restaurants, cafes, and shops? A map. The essential way to plan and experience Art Walk Kingston is to pick up the paper map available at local businesses such as Rough Draft Bar and Books, Village Coffee, and Kingston Wine Co., as well as galleries and other local venues.The paper map is easy to use, matched to listings of participating artists, galleries, and events. Or you might prefer the digital map version linked from the Art Walk Kingston website (which shows parking options and bike path entrances). Moreover, be sure to check out the detailed information about participating artists, galleries, and special events, on the Art Walk Website, which summarizes artists’ offerings and approaches, and, in some cases, gives biographical background.
In Gonzalez’s judgment, Art Walk Kingston is appealing and unique because, as an open studio tour, “it’s a very intimate way to see art. A studio tour allows a look into the space where an artist creates art. You can see the process…. It’s a peek behind the curtains, and you can talk to them in their spaces. It’s unique, having the opportunity to do this.”
Certainly, the large light-filled, airy studio that Jerome and Benedicte Leclere set up will allow exactly that. As Benedicte explains, the couple plans to ensure people who visit “will see the whole process of making ceramic pieces” in the various stages, such as the preparation, “throwing” or shaping the round ceramics using the potter’s wheel, trimming, bisque firing, and glazing. Though the public gets a walkthrough in one stop, the process takes 2-3 weeks. As Benedicte observes, “You have to be so patient.” In their Brooklyn apartment, they broke too many pieces, which is how they settled on the name for this Hudson Valley studio, L’impatience.
This year’s event is the second consecutive one in which Art Walk has returned to the fuller slate of galleries, studios, and activities the event offered prior to 2020, when the Covid pandemic hit. The pandemic’s deep impact emerged as a theme with artists, for example, with the new Women Photographers Collective of the Hudson Valley. Its “Inaugural Exhibition,” which is up at the Lace Mill’s Main and West Galleries from September 3-25, presents some 50 images by 18 member artists. The growing collective came together in early 2020 as a way for Hudson Valley women photographers to network and help generate opportunities for each other, particularly to counteract the dislocation and isolation that the pandemic engendered.
“It’s fascinating to observe the synergy of a diverse group of artists who range from street photographers to alternate process practitioners to abstract imagemakers,” explains Kay Kenny, group facilitator. Jan Nagleand curated the exhibition, a process that involved Nagle making studio visits since last July and meeting with each photographer, in person or via Zoom. Despite theartists’ different styles and types of work and the pandemic’s hindrance of connections, Nagle says she found that there were “visual, conceptual, and emotional ways [the women] are all connected.”
To coincide with Art Walk Kingston, the collective will have a reception to meet its member photographers, on Saturday, September 17, from 4-7 p.m.
Midtown Kingston’s Arts District, along Broadway and on major streets off it, possesses a strong confluence of open studios and galleries, to be sure. Simply put, however, you’ll miss out by not exploring the sitesaround Midtown’s other streets, in the Uptown and Rondout neighborhoods, and outside the city boundaries. After all, the geographic reach of Art Walk Kingston spans from the bookbinding studio of Kaitlin Patterson-Ueda and The Lockwood Gallery situated to the northwest of the city to galleries in the Rondout, in the other direction.
In the Rondout, the Reher Center Museum Gallery has on display “Sewing in Kingston,” a major exhibit that delves into a century-plus of Kingston’s garment manufacturing, particularly the immigrant communities, women, and entrepreneurs who made it possible. Down the hill toward the waterfront, the West Strand Art Gallery, which features artists of diverse backgrounds primarily from the Hudson Valley and Tristate region, has an exhibit entitled, “Nature: Introspective Visions,” with works by six artists.
In Uptown, four galleries will be open. A selection of artists’ studios will show painting, mixed media, greeting card art collaged with antique paper, or sculpture, and as with the artists in other neighborhoods, it’s well worth it to consult the artists’ summaries on the Art Walk website (or their sites or social media) to get a sense of each one’s extraordinarily unique work. Among the galleries, Uncanny Gallery displays an eclectic selection of art dolls and figurative sculpture, with the work of 16 artists on view currently.Six participating artists will have artwork upat the Art on Wall Gallery. Pinkwater Gallery’s specialized focus is abstract art by artists living and working in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, with most of the work by women. Also, Headstone Gallery, founded last spring by artists Lauren Aitken and Chase Folsom, shows strictly two-person and solo exhibitions of contemporary artwork.
Each year, Art Walk Kingston has presented special events. The 2022 offerings encompass a film screening, a program of art and nature experiences available for all ages and geared toward the ultimate establishment of a Kingston park, and a JazzArt live performance. The screening is of the documentary Can Art Stop a Bullet? It examines, through a series of conversations between artist William Kelly and dozens of international artists filmed on five continents, the relationship of art and activism. It looks at the power of images to effect substantive change in humanity’s path. The screening will be on Saturday, September 17, at 7 p.m. in Kingston Library.
Treasure Grove involves the work to transform an empty lot between Hasbrouck and Foxhall avenues into an art park that Kingston youth will design and execute. Activities connected to this endeavor during Art Walk range from tie-dying, making and taking art, designing one’s own playground, and sculpting with vines and willow to brainstorming. Treasure Grove is located at 184 Hasbrouck Avenue, behind Monument Gallery, and the activities will go on throughout Art Walk’s hours, 12-5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
For the JazzArt live performance, performance painter Nancy Ostrovsky will produce an original artwork to the sounds of bassist Michael Bisio. Ostrovsky has been painting to music in performance for more than 40 years. Bisio is an American jazz double bassist, composer, and bandleader.
Gonzalez hopes for another big year in the 2022 iteration of Art Walk Kingston. While it isn’t possible to measure the total number of event attendees, the walk’s organizers survey the artists’ community after the event. Yet when it comes down to it, the exchange between artists and the public rewards each in a multiplicity of ways that affirm what the arts mean to a city and to our daily lives.
For additional information, visit https://www.artsmidhudson.org/artwalkkingston.
Susan DeMark is a writer who explores architecture, art, history, and nature through her Mindful Walker stories, blog, and walking tours.