They bought a painting in Beacon in 2014. This week, they’ll host a show by the artist.
When Scott Lerman and Susan Keiser moved to Beacon, they visited every gallery they could find. A favorite was Matteawan. “It was a good example of a small, high-quality, surprising place,” Lerman says.
In 2014, Lerman and Keiser bought a painting by Beacon resident Scott Daniel Ellison at Matteawan Gallery, which has since closed. “It was everything we look for: an artist with a long-term body of work with a lot of thought gone into it,” Lerman says. “The work changes but is consistent. We’re also always on the lookout for things that are local.”
Nearly a decade later, Lerman and Keiser will exhibit Ellison’s paintings at their Garage Gallery, which they opened in Beacon in 2021, in a show called Another Place. The exhibit, which also showcases Keiser’s photography, opens with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday (April 8).
A New Guide to Beacon Art, Food and Events
If you’ve strolled Main Street in Beacon recently, you may have noticed a familiar yet distinct figure along the way.
The logo, used by Garage Gallery, is now also the mascot of a grassroots initiative called Beacon Art Walk, an online guide at beaconartwalk.com to galleries and events, such as exhibit openings.
Lerman and Keiser say they launched the project in response to frequent questions by visitors on what else the city has to offer, e.g.: “Where else can we go?” The guide includes the locations of restaurants and municipal parking lots, although Lerman is convinced that if you are willing to walk three blocks, you’ll always find a space.
“The pandemic caused a real interruption to a lot of things in Beacon,” Lerman says. “It was hard on restaurants and businesses, and halted a lot of things we take for granted. So much seemed to break down, and certain things are just not a habit anymore.
“If you listen to the work done on the city’s Comprehensive Plan on the east/west nature of Main Street, there was an acknowledgment that so much is about getting people to walk through the community, finding a cluster of things they can see and do, which leads to finding a worthwhile journey and getting out and walking,” he says.
To spread the word, they’ve distributed posters with a QR code. “Print can get out of date so quickly,” says Lerman. “Even on the day the posters went up, we heard, ‘Oh, that gallery is no more.’ We can change that on the site within minutes. We’ll do our best to keep up with it.”
Lerman and Keiser are also hoping to help revive Second Saturday. “It won’t happen spontaneously,” he says. “The restaurants need to stay open later, and every gallery should participate. We are not competing with each other, and we all benefit from people going from place to place.
“There are two main clusters, east and west, on or near Main, which get you to almost everything,” he notes. “It’s so contained and there is so much food. Making it a part of the routine would be appreciated by all the arts organizations. And it’s free. Some will buy art, but what’s more important is to get out and meet each other.”
As with most Garage Galley shows, there is a connection between the work that is often not immediately apparent.
“There’s a subject-matter pairing: Clearly, they’re both seeing things and creating things that are provocative,” Lerman explains. “Each also has the ability to create stories beyond what’s on the canvas to spur imagination.”
According to the exhibit notes, Ellison “conjures up images of affectionately ghastly creatures, pulling them out of layers of paint with brushes, Q-tips, clothes and knives — until they emerge, seemingly whole.”
Keiser works with components, chiefly a set of 4-inch dolls produced in the 1950s that she bought on eBay, to create startling tableaux.
Garage Gallery, on North Elm Street in Beacon, a half-block off Main Street, is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Another Place continues through April 23. See garagegallery.com.