Corscaden Barn Gallery celebrates 50 years

·7 min read

Jul. 8—KEENE VALLEY — Corscaden Barn Gallery's "Salon Deux" opens noon to 5 p.m. Friday in Keene Valley.

"There is no open reception because we're still worried about COVID," Martha Corscaden, gallerist, said.

"We are celebrating 50 years of fine arts in the Adirondacks. It's the 50th anniversary, 1971 to 2021. There are 12 artists and 171 pieces of art on exhibit. It's the biggest show I ever had."

Last year, COVID forced the first salon-style painting exhibition.

"We decided to do the same thing, but there are even more paintings this year," Corscaden said.

"It's a really beautiful show. I'm kind of blown away myself. I'm taken aback a little bit."

Featured artists include Sandra Hildreth, Robert Stark, Stephanie DeManuelle, Michael Gaudreau, Anne Diggory, Kate Gaudreau, Elsa Dixon, Garrett Jewett, Annoel Krider, Lynda Mussen, Eliza Twichell, Dennon Walantus, and Ed Wheeler.


Artist Elsa Dixon was forced out of the place where she was doing her art and left with an X-acto knife and a cutting board.

"I really couldn't go out to art stores and do all those things I would do to get all the supplies replenished," the Keene Valley resident said.

"I said well, what can I do with a single piece of paper? I started exploring cutouts. It's a wonderful, beautiful tradition. I think they originally came from ancient China."

Dixon learned about the art form, started doing cutouts, which is now her new medium instead of collage with printed paper, very complicated.

"The work I'm doing right now is just one single sheet of paper," she said.

Dixon had gone to Florida to take care of her 91-year-old mother when the pandemic lockdown occurred.

"We had a hurricane that hit the house," she said.

"All my collages, actually I found them all underwater in the storm surge. I had to recreate my work for this coming year. I didn't have any supplies because they all had been washed away in the storm."

For Dixon, cutouts have been a wonderful new, medium to learn, which has very different challenges and very different results than collage.

"They are Adirondack landscapes in cutout," she said.

"I use white paper to cut. I paint the paper, and then I paint the background to put the paper onto. It's a two-color piece. There's the color of the paper and the color of the background."

Dixon paints the paper with acrylics.

"Oddly, printer paper is very good for cutouts because it's very thin," she said.

"It's good for cutouts, you have a very short blade. I paint a collage board in the color that I want for the background. I put it on there and frame it."

Cutout makes her work more graphic and makes her look at subjects differently.

"It's very much being aware of positive and negative spaces," she said.

"For example, shadow can be dark, or for example if you see the one that is the old Keene barn in the middle, that shadow is actually light.

"You have to be more simplistic and more clever about the design because you can't have anything that's free floating.

"Everything has to be touching something else in order to be from one sheet of paper. So, it's been an interesting challenge."

At first, Dixon was so shattered when she lost all of her work.

"But it really forced me to try something new," she said.

"I feel something good can come out of a crisis.".

Back in the North Country, Dixon is a new member of the Guild of American Paper Cutters.

"Everybody laughs when I say that," she said.

"Everybody finds that funny. At the end of this month, they are having a weekend seminar. It's online because of the virus, but I'm going to get to be in the cabin doing that. So, I'm really looking forward to that."


Artist Stephanie DeManuelle was pretty productive in her "wonderful" New Jersey studio.

"It could have gone the other way, right?" she said.

"Sometimes, I work from photographs. We have the Ausable River by our Keene Valley home. The bank changes every year. The river gets kind of fierce. I took all of these photographs of the kind of how the roots and detritus happens during the high waters, and I found it so fascinating."

DeManuelle's meditations on these seasonal upheavals are in Salon Deux.

Her new working method is to glue canvas to wood panel.

"I really like the texture and feel," she said.

"It allows me to work with oil paint, charcoal and draw into it. The charcoal makes things a little more particular. I like the contrast of materials — the dry charcoal and viscous oil paint."

London Planetree leaves also were fodder for DeManuelle's creative lens.

"They have enormous leaves that looks like skin, right up my alley," she said.

"I worked on top of the canvas glued to panel, so I could get little bit gritty feel that I like. There are three of those also. I had a really productive year, and the truth is I can't wait to get back to Keene Valley."

DeManuelle saw the exhibition, "Cézanne Drawing," which is on through Sept. 25 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"I can't wait to sit by the riverbank and draw," she said.


Photographer Ed Wheeler divides his time between Keene Valley and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Three works from his "Fractals" series on in Salon Deux.

"They are black and white images," he said.

"They are basically images of natural things in nature that I then rework into a pattern, which is sometimes mildly like a kaleidoscope and sometimes it's just sort of interconnected."

Wheeler takes a photograph and breaks into four aspects, and recreates those pieces into a final image.

"Oftentimes, it does become or I think many times becomes a fascinating sort of pattern," he said.

"It's very abstract."

Wheeler has been a commercial photographer for 40 years.

"I always had different projects that I've worked on outside my business milieu," he said.

"This was something I came upon, I don't know, about four years ago. It's something that you created out of your mind. Let's try this idea. And it just became very successful."


For Salon Deux, Eliza Twichell did a series of dioramas.

"Most of them are in either antique frames or antique clock boxes," the New Mexico/Adirondacks resident said.

"I've been doing paintings of rocks and water. I needed more inspiration for doing the painting, so I decided to do some dioramas. I always loved dioramas like the Museum of Natural History in New York or even Advent calendars with those little Easter eggs that you look into. Small worlds, I just love."

Twichell spied two old clock boxes two years ago at Dart Brook Store in Keene.

"They had these two boxes that were roughly eight inches cubed with a glass front on them," she said.

"They were old, and I thought I could do something with these. Then, I started collecting them from different places and making these little landscapes inside. That's what I've been doing. These are all Adirondack themed."

The abstract painter, a Pratt Institute alum, entered the realistic realm four, five years ago to see if she could even do it.

"It's really fun, but it's not my my main interest," Twichell said.

"I think I'm going to swing back to abstract painting. It sure has been fun, and these dioramas have been fun. Helped me pass the COVID year."

Email Robin Caudell:



WHAT: "Salon Deux" featuring 12 artists.

WHEN: 50th Anniversary season opens Friday through to Labor Day. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday; and by appointment.

PHONE: 518-576-9850


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