Birds of a Feather Studio Gallery, which opened on Chestertown’s Main Street last spring, has installed a new, three-woman exhibition that will be on view through September 10.
The artists – Joan Jensen, Louise Hoffman and Jackie Pardon – work in a variety of media and approach their current work from different backgrounds – textiles, cuisine, video.
Among the things they have in common is a shared history at Alfred University in the 1970s and a friendship that dates back that far. Which, of course, makes them “birds of a feather” and thus perfect tenants for Betsy Krebs’ gallery.
Krebs calls the work of the three artists – and that of the other artists and craftspeople selling their work in the gallery – “artistic medicine,” a reference to the building’s past as the town’s pharmacy.
“This business was not imposed upon us from someone outside the community, looking to make a dollar,” said Chestertown Supervisor Craig Leggett. “It emerged organically from the needs and the wishes of the community.”
Krebs, who owned the Stone Schoolhouse in Diamond Point for more than twenty years, was looking for another studio and a cooperative gallery space when the former drug store became available.
After months of cleaning, painting and renovation, the gallery opened in March. In addition to selling art, crafts and home furnishings, the gallery serves as shared studio space for local artists and a hub for classes and workshops.
Krebs said she intends to introduce juried shows to the gallery, but for the time being, she selects the artists based on her knowledge of their work and their careers.
And as a well-known local artist, though one who leaves the area for residencies and fellowship from time to time “to see how I can affect the rest of the world,” Krebs is familiar with most Adirondack and Capital District artists, the well-established and the up-and-coming.
If Krebs doesn’t happen to have shared history with local artists, more likely than not, they will quickly be incorporated into her circle of friends.
“Louise Hoffman asked if I had met Betsy Krebs and even though I live in Chestertown my response was, ‘Betsy who?’ But I walked into the gallery, said ‘Hi, I’m Joan, you must be Betsy’ and we have not stopped talking since that meeting,” said Joan Jensen.
Jensen, who received a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York after graduating from Alfred, built a successful career as a textile designer and painting restorer before returning to Chestertown, where her family began spending its summers in 1964, moving there year-round in the 1970s.
The pieces of hers on display at Birds of a Feather consist of vivid, sharply delineated illustrations of animals and people for projected books.
Jensen’s “rich background in color and design” is clearly evident in her work, said Betsy Krebs.
According to Krebs, the ceramics of Louise Hoffman also exhibit the influence of a past profession: that of a pastry chef.
“They’re all hand built, rolled out by hand and really lovely,” said Krebs.
Hoffman attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, after graduating from Alfred.
“I started cooking professionally right after leaving Alfred. It seemed to be a way to earn a living while making art,” said Hoffman. “Later, I took up teaching pastry-making.”
Jackie Pardon began shooting black and white photographs while a student at Alfred.
In the years since then, she has had a career as a curator and programmer of art and media in the Saratoga area.
“For many years, I curated a video series at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and I worked in video myself. With the advent of the iphone, I found my way back to photography,” said Pardon.
Her work at Birds of a Feather consists of digital photographs which emphasize composition and color over subject matter.
“I’ve been playing around with the iphone for the last five or six years,” said Pardon. “After not doing any photography for so long, this is just too much fun.”
Krebs looks forward to mounting solo exhibitions and exhibitions of artists reacting to the Adirondack environment or the region’s rich history.
For more information about the gallery – which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm – as well as classes and workshops, visit betsykrebs.com.