MAYVILLE, NY - Since opening The Art Loft five years ago, Bonnie and Warren Beyer have brought together an eclectic mix of fine art, glass, sculpture, watercolors, fiber art and now the iridescent beauty of raku to their gallery.
Coupled with the loft’s spatial features – including cathedral ceilings and original wooden beams preserved from the building’s previous incarnation as a lumber mill- the Art Loft has become the perfect venue for a growing number of artists to showcase their work.
Just minutes from Chautauqua Institution, the gallery now boasts the talents of 110 artists, 14 of which are new this year. As Bonnie speaks about them individually and collectively, it is with a sense of passion, purpose and commitment to make known their creative genius.
“When people walk in here, they’re so excited because it's like discovering a whole world of talented people. These are all American artists…they are all working very hard at what they love to do,” states Bonnie. “This is an opportunity and a venue for them to show off their abilities.”
A generous portion of local talent is displayed at the Art Loft, but visitors will also find artists from across the state and country. Because the Beyers split their time between Chautauqua County and a winter home in Arizona, the unmistakable influence of the Southwest is also seen in the gallery.
Among artists new to the gallery this year is Syracuse native and art teacher Peter Valanti who has been creating raku tiles, a type of glazed earthenware, for over 25 years. Valanti is known for incorporating many of nature’s textures onto raku tiles, portraying leaves and dragonflies and pressing plants into the clay, giving his work a fossil-like quality.
Valanti has recently begun a new series at the Art Loft he calls “relief tiles,” which are three dimensional, geometric and contemporary. Bonnie explains, “It’s the raku process that makes his pieces so beautiful and iridescent.”
|Wood cuts of nature by artist Jenny Pope|
Another new artist, Jenny Pope is known for her large, color-reduction woodcut prints, often featuring compelling combinations of species with odd or interesting elements from their natural histories. She is currently showing her work to several zoo museums for inclusion in their venues, says Bonnie.
Among the favorite artists featured at the Art Loft is Robert Harris, who worked as a furniture carver for the Jamestown Furniture Company from 1970-1993 and “always enjoyed the process of welding steel and creating unique sculptures most of his life.”
Bonnie says Harris has won numerous first and second place awards in gallery shows since 1960, including the Hemmingway Gallery in Jamestown, The Bestor Plaza Arts Festival, Patterson Library in Westfield and the Susquehanna River Art Show.
“His work incorporates his own very special welding technique that gives his subjects a very unique and distinctive characteristic.” In addition, Bonnie
says his pieces portray a range of many emotions and relationships of everyday life.
Michael Crouse is one of the newest artists from the Seneca Nation whose work includes creations of hand crafted and hand carved walking sticks, some inlaid with turquoise.
A native of New Mexico of Anglo, Hispanic and Native American descent is Alice Seeley. She is a painter, sculptor, writer, graphic artist and jewelry designer. Her work is currently being sold in over 300 galleries throughout the country. About Seeley, Bonnie comments, “We are so pleased to welcome her to The Art Loft this season as her jewelry offers the viewer an incredible array of native design and bold graphic appeal.”
Describing the Art Loft’s unique collection of art and wares, clothing and jewelry, Bonnie adds “It’s very hard to find things made in America and hand-made. It’s a different world. So these (works) become even better treasures.”
The Art Loft is located at 4994 West Lake Road (Route 394) in Mayville ½ mile north of Chautauqua Institution. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For off-hour appointments, call 716-753-LOFT(5638). To visit The Art Loft Gallery & Gifts on line go to www.theartloft.org.