auspicious debut: Lynne Allard in her new gallery.
was the place to be last Saturday.
That’s Thomasville as in the old furniture store on River
Street in Troy, two floors of which now house a fine-arts
gallery, Les Bohèmes Curious Art Collective. Saturday’s opening
exhibit, Just a Tease, attracted more than 600 curious
art enthusiasts, putting the retail gallery in the enviable
position of accommodating heavy foot traffic throughout its
two-floor display of 46 artists from eight states and four
countries. “It was amazing, more than I could’ve ever let
myself imagine,” says owner Lynne Allard of the unexpected
crush. “Considering no one has heard of me or my organization,
I would’ve been thrilled if 200 had shown up.”
Curated by Allard, Les Bohèmes’ artist-in-residence, the exhibit
(which runs through March 29) is dazzling in its diversity,
encompassing colored glassware by Terry Weaver, pop-art wall
hangings by Lara Nigro, dichromate photographs by Lars Adams,
parchment imprints by Jesse Matulis, art furniture by wood
sculptor Jim Lewis, and oil paintings by Tara McKiernan Kovack.
“All the artists who trusted me to present them well—I think
that’s spectacular, too,” says Allard. “It was the highest
time I’ve ever had in my life.”
An award-winning graphic designer, Allard gave up her full-time
job last year to concentrate on her art, and began her search
for a gallery space last summer. “It started out as a self-centered
notion of wanting to have my own studio and gallery, and it
evolved into ‘Well, gee, what if I had other artists in here,’”
she says. “So with a not-very-solid plan, I went out to meet
individual artists and collect information through their feedback.”
Allard utilized her background in marketing and advertising
to formulate a business plan that offers support services,
including opportunities for artists to show and sell their
work in galleries across the country. “My calling is to help
artists to earn a living full-time from their art,” she says.
Her ideas also were shaped by the four-story Thomasville building:
“The more I thought about the building, the more I tried to
make my business model fit this enormous space, which meant
a much larger vision, and aggressively hunting down more and
more artists.” The 10,000-square-foot gallery is composed
of the ground-floor showroom, a huge, open area that allows
for the display of large-scale works and installations; and
the more intimate second floor, a maze of warerooms and alcoves
that is ideal for smaller works and groupings. “What’s important
for me is for each artist to have proper representation with
a volume of work,” Allard says. “Nothing is more frustrating
for me than to go to a show and see only one piece. I can’t
tell what the artist is trying to do. When you get to see
a body of work, that’s what’s exciting.” The ambitious gallery
will focus on established and emerging talent, artists and
crafters, and classical and contemporary styles.
A native of New Mexico, Allard moved to the area in 1991.
“The first time I went to Troy I fell in love with it,” she
says. Although she was sure she wanted a downtown Troy location
for her gallery, she also made inquiries into Albany and Saratoga.
“I couldn’t find a location with the proper atmosphere,” she
reports. “I could’ve found a warehouse in Albany pretty cheap,
but I wanted to have more of an environment for what I’m trying
to do. Troy made the most sense because there’s already a
strong arts community. And you have all the antique shops—people
who collect antiques are often interested in art, also.” Encouraged
by the opening, Allard is considering taking on Thomasville’s
additional floors to sublease as studio space or for art-related
businesses. “People are coming out of the woodwork,” she enthuses.
In addition to changing exhibits, Les Bohèmes will hold weekly
events including poetry readings and acoustic music. On Saturday,
March 15, the gallery will host a book signing by Ray Materson,
a local fiber artist who is exhibited internationally. Materson
is the co-author of Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual
Mending. Les Bohèmes Curious Art Collective is
located at 174 River St., Troy. 283-8342.