Erik Laffer opened his commercial gallery and frame shop here six months ago, fully expecting the frame business to help keep the gallery afloat. A full-time artist for the past seven years, he knew that opening an art gallery in the midst of a recession and in a village of less than 1,400 people might be a risky proposition.
“In this economy, I expected the framing to help me out, but I’ve actually been doing much better with the artwork than I have with the framing,” says Laffer.
After several months of hard labor spent on renovations, Laffer opened the Laffer Gallery Fine Art and Framing Studio last June. He’s had a studio in the building for the last two years above the space that was previously Riverfront Studios. When they closed, Laffer decided to act on an idea he’d been thinking of for some time.
“The space is beautiful, the overhead is reasonable, my studio is upstairs — that’s why I chose the location. I wanted to bring something new and exciting that the area hasn’t seen in terms of art or artists.” It’s a good-sized space, airy and full of light.
In the beginning, he focused on bringing in artists from outside the region, but soon realized that pairing an artist from Boston or New York City with an area artist with a large following helped to generate more buzz, while exposing gallery patrons to new artists.
For a small town, the village has a sizable arts community and, particularly pleasing to Laffer, many art collectors. But still, at this point, most of the traffic comes from people who’ve heard of the space or a particular artist on view.
For the fifth and current show, “Upstate Artists,” Laffer asked Elizabeth Dubben, director of exhibitions at Saratoga Arts Center, to jury a group show of artists living within a 100-mile radius of Saratoga Springs.
In response to an open call for work, about 50 submitted work and from that, Dubben chose 22 artists.
“I was familiar with a majority of the artists that submitted work, but there were a couple of surprises. I’m thankful for the exhibit introducing me to the work of Nick Patten, with his Hopper-esque interiors,” says Dubben.
Patten, of Hudson, took best-in-show as well as first place for his painting “Place for Rest.” Later this year, Patten will have the gallery to himself when a solo exhibition of his paintings opens.
Second place went to Matthew Horner of Keene for his sculpture, “Abiogenesis,” and Troy artist John Hampshire took third for “Labyrinth MB,” a portrait emerging from a field of obsessively drawn lines.
In addition to the featured shows out front, works from past shows hang in the back room. For instance, if you missed the solo show by David Miller, professor emeritus of art at Skidmore College, it’s not too late. Several of his works are still on display.
Laffer’s future plans include a year-round exhibition schedule enhanced by lectures and demonstrations as well as finding a balance so he can get back to painting. For now, he’s committed to the business. “I’m a one-man show, doing everything in baby steps.”
By Amy Griffin for the Times Union. View the original article.