Sunday, May 10, 2015

Contemporary Rustic at Giant Mountain Studio

jon-swartwout-rhea-costello-matt-gregson-mary-stewartGiant Mountain Studio is host to a fine art gallery in Schroon Lake. Recently, an opening reception was held for Springtime at the Gallery – a group exhibit showcasing over 180 original works by 28 local and regional artists.

Various media are represented including paintings, photography, pottery and rustic furniture.

Traditional rustic style emphasizes rugged, natural beauty. It embraces nature-inspired textures, simple and earthy colors, and ultimately an unpretentious, organic warmth. While rustic style in its most traditional sense might appear heavy and dark today, a contemporary rustic style has emerged over the past few years that feels both fresh and real, light and grounded. Springtime at the Gallery is an exhibit with fine examples of this new rustic style.

Rustic furniture by the legendary Barry Gregson is displayed throughout the space along with polished stone bowls by Matthew Gregson. Alongside works by familiar, local artists are newcomers, like Tyler Schrader.

falling-tyler-schraderTyler is a student at Fulton Montgomery Community College. He has been influenced by the work of Jonathan Swartwout (whose work is also on display at the gallery) of Johnstown, NY. While Swartwout’s rustic palette is woodsy, pulled from bark and stone and soil, Tyler uses only brilliant shades of blue. The painting titled “Falling” has movement and direction suggesting a waterfall in an abstract manner.

Tyler’s frames have the same subtle, nuanced colors from the natural world as Swartwout’s but the shapes look almost industrial-inspired. These frames can stand on their own as sculptures, without the need to actually frame anything. Swartwout’s works are also represented in this show and includes rustic furniture, paintings and custom frames in a more traditional style.

Rhea Costello is known throughout the Adirondacks for her oil paintings. She regularly demonstrates at the Lake Placid Lodge and the Adirondack Museum. Rhea is a landscape painter and has been steeped in tradition, until recently. She has been exploring pottery and produced a series of vessels that are truly unique. There are straps made from clay but convincingly look like leather. She uses old tools, screws and grommets to stamp texture into the clay.

Rhea said that this shift from oil painting on canvas to an entirely different medium has made her more bold. She states, “Pottery has energized the artwork.” It is clearly seen in her most recent paintings. There are palette knife marks that never appeared in her work before. It has taken on a new edge but is very controlled. The softness is still there as brushstrokes evolve into knife work in a gradual way. She spoke about the use of color to further affect the way the softness radiates out. The pink that appears deep in the forest seems luminous because of the other colors surrounding it.

Joan Burke is an abstract painter working with ink and acrylic. “Hilo I” was inspired by a recent trip in which Joan saw first hand the devastating effects that lava can have on local vegetation. Her paintings describe the way trees at the base of the volcano are over-heated and scoured by molten lava, giving them a unique look. Joan sketched the trees using permanent ink and then washed over with the drawings with orange acrylic to create a glow suggesting the cause behind the shaping of these trees.

twisted-sitter-rustic-chair-by-matthew-gregsonThere are free-form stained glass pieces by Amy S. Young. She shows several works that have been liberated from the two dimensional form. “Schroon Lake on a Cloudy Fall Day” is one example. A landscape is suggested but it’s really secondary to the playful aspect of the piece. There are understated watercolors of wildlife by J. C. Parker; assemblages by Jon Segan and batik paintings by Carol Conklin. Conklin will be showing her batik work at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek all through May.

Anthony Ruiz is an ideator, creative and founder/co-owner at Giant Mountain Studio, LLC which also does business as Samurai Virtual Tours. His marketing agency and art gallery offer creative works for business and pleasure with specialties in providing the following services: 360 degree panoramic images, digital photography, interactive virtual tours, and website design. Interactive 360 degree virtual tours of locations around the Adirondack Park can be experienced on his website and growing visual catalog of things to do in the Adirondack Park,

Anthony’s creative work ranges in size and scope from the large 3 ft x 2 ft printed digital photographs to the very small 5 inch x 5 inch panels.  Next to striking, immense, 360 degree images are hung miniature encaustic works. The encaustic paintings combine heated beeswax with pigments, pastels and photographs.  This ancient art of encaustic is taking on new popularity in recent years. Many visitors to the opening reception found the waxy images both curious and a delight to experience as they asked about the colorful, polished surfaces that look a bit like tiles on the wall

Giant Mountain Studio attracts a diverse crowd including visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The works on display are fresh and engaging and satisfy both rustic and modern sensibilities. Most of the art and furniture in the gallery is available for purchase.

Hours for the gallery are Thursday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed (or open by appointment only) Sunday through Wednesday. Hours will be extended during the summer months.

The gallery at Giant Mountain Studio is located on the corner of Leland Avenue and the main street at 1094 US Route 9 in Schroon Lake, NY.  Visit for more information.

Photos: Above, work on display by John Swartwout, Rhea Costello, Matt Gregson and Mary Stewart; middle, Tyler Schrader’s “Falling”; and below, Matthew Gregson’s “Twisted Sitter Rustic Chair”.

Related Stories

Frances Gaffney divides her time between living and working on a houseboat, on the Hudson River in New York City, and at a camp in the heart of the Adirondacks. She has been painting since 1974. After attending the Fashion Institute of Technology she worked in New York as a textile designer; both as a free-lance artist and as a full-time print designer in a commercial studio. To learn more about Frances visit

Comments are closed.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox