Jonesville Store hosts art gallery


JONESVILLE - The southern Saratoga community has added an art gallery to its growing list of cultural venues.

The owners of the Jonesville Store, 989 Main Street, Jonesville, Clifton Park have turned the store's second floor display space into an art gallery called LOCAL.ART.WORKS Upstairs @ the Jonesville Store.

The first art opening for the gallery was held last Sunday. The exhibition features works in a variety of mediums from seven area artists. This is the second event for the gallery. A book signing was held Jan. 31 for local author Teri Gay.

"This is so not-a-box," said an enthusiastic co-owner Jean Travis. "It gives visual artists someplace other than the walls of local libraries and community centers to exhibit their work."

Travis and her husband John own the store with Harris and Diane Unger and their daughter Molly. The five bought the store in 2006 and celebrated their fourth year of operation last month.

The art gallery was created after the owners were told they would need a second floor emergency door, a fire escape, and a sprinkler system if they wanted to use the room for restaurant seat

ing. In addition to the cost Travis and the others did not want to change the historic character of the building.

"We want this space to be part of the (arts) community and that includes Shen," Travis said. "We're considering events like a silent auction of student art work to benefit the animal shelter. Those are the sorts of things we have in mind in addition to a regular rotating series of works by visual artists."

Travis is a recently retired Ballston Spa School District humanities teacher who has always painted. After speaking with members of the Clifton Park Arts and Culture Committee she understands the need for more gallery space for the visual arts.

"I told them I couldn't be an active member of the committee," Travis said. "I don't have the time. But they can take what I'm doing and use it. It's all about educating people as to what's here."

Last week's exhibit featured paintings from Travis and her son Ben, photography from Michelle Robens and Barb Niemen, and the functional hand thrown art of Patrick Girard. Each spoke with patrons to discuss their work. Other artists in the exhibit are Liz Howe, and Allison Pertrowski.

Girard owns and operates a gallery with his cousin Andrew Girard in Saratoga Springs. The space is above his Beekman Street basement studio. At the Jonesville opening the two men stood before a glass display case of Patrick's work and described the pottery process and what drew them to the store's gallery.

"We really wanted to put our objects in a place where they will be used," Andrew Girard said. "That's why they're here. It's good when form matches function." While he watched gallery patrons examine his plates, bowls, and cups Patrick Girard said it gave him a good feeling to sit in the restaurant section of the store and watch customers drink coffee from one of his cups.

"That's really what they're for, to be used," he said. "It's functional art."

Every once in a while, Girard said, a customer visiting the gallery asks to go down to the basement and see how the objects are made.

"I think meeting the artist and getting that one to one experience is important," he said. Michelle Robens got support for her art ambitions as a student of Travis' in Ballston Spa Middle School. Now working on a fine arts degree in photography at Russell Sage College Robens was exhibiting a series of night photographs. The deep reds and blues of the color work was captivating and the black and white images had a comforting opaque intensity.

"I like shooting at night, it's peaceful and quiet," Robens said. "But it certainly is a learning curve."

Barb Niemen worked with Travis in Ballston Spa Middle School. When she retired Travis told her to pick up her camera again and start shooting. Niemen believes the store's exhibition space gives new artists something that is needed, a chance to break into the gallery scene. It also gives an expanded group of art patrons the opportunity to see good art and meet the artists in person. She believes the gallery is something that will come to be appreciated over time by the community.

Ben Travis doubles as a cook in the store's kitchen. As a philosophy and English major at Union College he continued to paint "when I probably should have been studying". He noted that even from his role behind the store's counter he uses his philosophy degree every day.

"It's awesome to have a gallery upstairs," he said. "It's gives us another way for people to come here and get away from their day. Food can do that and so can art. Remember what Plato said, "Do something for the mind, body, and soul and the rest will take care of itself"."

The Jonesville store is open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Musical groups perform on Friday and Saturday nights. All purchases of art work are between the buyer and artist.

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