New spot in Beacon for artistic exploration
Aaron Loray and Skyla Schreter met in early 2019 in San Francisco. On Sept. 1 of last year, they moved cross-country to New York City.
This past October, while stopping for lunch in Beacon on a Hudson Valley road trip, they spotted a “For Rent” sign at 261 Main St. By the end of that month, they had leased the space and started building out LotusWorks Gallery and Workshop, which opened this month. (The couple married in a ceremony in the gallery space on Dec. 21.)
The path to the plunge was a bit longer than it appears, says Schreter.
“We had already started the process of dreaming in terms of what we would like to do, our futures,” she says. “The pandemic made us pivot.”
Loray adds: “Beacon feels reminiscent of some places on the West Coast: culture-oriented, progressive values and a good sense of community.” He says that with LotusWorks they hope to create “a focal point for the community, drawing on the skills and talents that are all around the area, knowing that there are so many people right there that have so much to tap into that.”
The front of their space has a Marley dance floor with ballet barres and mirrors for movement and yoga. The back is an open studio for visual arts. “People can easily look into the back to see works in progress,” says Schreter.
“Our keep-coming-back model is a model of trying to encourage an artistic practice itself, whatever the discipline,” says Loray. “I’ve learned that there can be a way, for example, to incorporate robotics into a movement practice. It’s about finding ways to synthesize what seem to be disparate elements into a cohesive whole.”
Loray’s background is in drawing and illustration. He now works largely with spray paint, saying that he loves “the immediacy: a kind of instant gratification, almost like magic. Moving my hand creates this swath of colors. Plus, its usage: fine detailed work and also big splashy drips and splatters kind of work.
“When I started in the early 2000s, there was this global street-art movement resurgence and at the same time this broader acceptance of street art as a whole, and not as graffiti or vandalism,” he says. “I realized how big it could be and I started incorporating design, then sculpture, more massive scale.”
Schreter, who is an independent choreographer, comes from a classical ballet background. She trained at The School of American Ballet in New York City and danced professionally with the Boston and San Francisco ballets. “What is central to my practice is taking the form of ballet and using it as a vehicle for the visceral human form of dance,” she says.
In opening during a pandemic, Schreter and Loray have given consideration to the challenges of social distancing. “Most classes will have six to eight people,” Loray says. “We can provide something intimate and personal.”
What they hope LotusWorks will become, Schreter says, is “a place drawing from every kind of nook and cranny of creativity. We’ll pull from everything.”
LotusWorks is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. and by appointment. Call 845-583-0400 or visit lotusworksgallery.com.