Local Artisans Given New Home by Bolton Gallery & Art Center
Bob and Carol Kafin left behind their lives in the city once before. In the early 1970s, they moved to Glens Falls, where Bob established one of the country’s first environmental law practices and Carol opened Crazy Quilts, a shop specializing in American folk art.
Now, twenty five years after returning to New York, they’re redirecting their focus back to the North Country. Summer residents of Bolton Landing, they’ve launched the new Bolton Gallery and Art Center on the town’s Main Street, in the building once occupied by Pam Kimak’s Lakeshore Gallery.
The gallery sells the work of accomplished artisans from Vermont and the Adirondacks, many of whom have earned international reputations.
Jewelry, ceramics, glassware, wood furniture and utensils, objects d’art and woven fabrics are currently on display.
“We both have a long-standing interest in American folk art,” said Bob Kafin, for many years a partner at Proskauer Rose, the New York law firm. “When we lived in Glens Falls, we helped start LARAC, the Lower Regional Arts Council, and in 1972, I created the LARAC Art Festival in City Park to showcase local artisans.”
There’s a civic as well as a commercial dimension to the Bolton Gallery, says Carol Kafin.
In a town full of shops, appealing to a wide variety of tastes and interests, there was no single place dedicated to the region’s crafts.
“The gallery is community-driven,” Carol said. “We wanted to be able to contribute to Bolton Landing, while, at the same time, providing an outlet for regional crafts people.”
As chairman of GrowNYC, which operates 53 farmers’ markets in New York, Bob Kafin has charted the growth of the local food movement and seen how organic farming has revitalized rural communities.
Given enough outlets and access to markets, crafts can play a similar role in the Adirondacks, he said.
“The extraction industries are gone; cottage industries allow people to live in rural areas while earning a living. A craft can be a business that sustains itself,” he said.
Just as the gallery has a civic dimension, the Kafins’ relationship with their atisans has a personal one.
“These are terriffic, independent minded people pursuing a passion,” said Bob Kafin.
Carol Kafin said she chose work that appealed to her own taste and aesthetic; in some cases, it was work she owned without knowing the artisan was based in the region.
“A woman approached me in the lobby of our apartment building in New York and said ‘I know the jeweler who made your necklace.’ That turned out to be glassblower Lucy Bergamini, an artisan with deep connections to Lake Placid who now lives and works in Vermont.
The gallery also features scarves woven on a loom on a porch in Pilot Knob, ceramics glazed with Granville slate, glassware from Vermont and the woodwork of rustic artists Mathew Gregson and Bob Gasperetti.
The only non-native work sold at the gallery is from Sticks, the distinctive line of furniture and home furnishings made from birch, poplar and driftwood and embellished with vivid colors.
Made in Iowa, the folk-art like furniture can be customized to suit the buyer.
With family connections to Lake George that pre-date World War II, Carol Kafin said she felt confident that Sticks was a line that would appeal to Lake George homeowners. She herself bought some for her family’s Bolton Landing home.
Greeting customers at the door is a life-sized sculpture of a dog, aptly named Bolton.
Bolton, and the menagerie of carved wooden wildlife in the foyer, is the work of Norton Latourelle, an upstate New York-bred woodcarver now working in Vermont.
The Kafins expect LaTourelle to be among the artisans who will come to the Bolton Gallery to speak, demonstrate the craft-making process, offer instruction and meet their customers.
“We want to be a center for arts and crafts, and not just a gallery,” said Carol. “We’ll host receptions, exhibitions and trunk shows throughout the summer.”
The Bolton Gallery will hold an opening reception on Sunday, May 29 from 4 to 6 pm.
The Bolton Gallery is located at 4985 Lakeshore Drive at the intersection of Route 9N and Sagamore Road. Call 644-9480 for more information or visit their website.