Diane Dwyer, owner of Imogen Holloway Gallery in Saugerties.
The village of Saugerties’ ever-evolving cultural scene has brought about several welcome attractions: more live music, unique foods, and a new approach to viewing art. Imogen Holloway Gallery owner Diane Dwyer has already found a cozy spot in the heart of it all to showcase the talent of local and international artists. A contemporary art gallery such as this might not have been as big of a hit in years past, when Saugerties was a village more often associated with horses and antiques, but she’s seen a great turnout in the months it’s been open. “I absolutely love this community, it’s really interesting and vibrant,” she says. “And people are enthusiastic about art here; we see a great mixed crowd at the gallery. There are plenty of Saugerties residents who are interested in art, but we also see a lot of weekenders up from New York City, designers of all types, and families. The ones who are interested in strong, solid paintings are the ones who keep coming back.”
Dwyer, herself an artist, was always encouraged by her mother to pursue art as a lifestyle. Her mother’s maiden name was Imogen Holloway. “I came out of the womb making art,” Dwyer jokes. “My mother was a painter by hobby and thought it would be good to get me involved, so she enrolled me in classes when I was five and I had a natural affinity for it. Through the years I did create more and eventually became involved with the scene, but years later when I decided to open the gallery I knew I wanted to name it after her. Isn’t that just a great name?”
While artists have thrived in the area—the Saugerties Artist Studio Tour wrapped up its 10th year this summer, larger than ever—there hasn’t been a showcase spot quite like the Imogen Holloway gallery. “We show mostly contemporary art that leans towards the abstract and unusual,” she explains. “Recently we featured an artist in our storefront window who created sculpture out of toothpicks. From far away you couldn’t tell that this beautiful, gorgeous, tall coral you were looking at was constructed of toothpicks. You’ll see the more quirky and experimental work in the windows.” What makes the gallery more unique is its size—“intimate” is an understatement. “People are often surprised at how small the gallery is,” Dwyer laughs. “But the work we feature is smaller, and more approachable; although it’s abstract, it’s affordable. I like showing work that you can sit up close to.”
As part of the village’s monthly First Friday community celebration, Dwyer hosts a gallery reception for a new set of artists, answering questions and mingling with guests. “We always include a local artist. So far, every show has had one local and one international artist—from New York City, San Francisco, Barcelona, and other places.” This month’s upcoming shows feature contemporary works by Matthew Magee and abstract artist Margrit Lewczuk.
“It just seems like the right time for Saugerties to have a gallery like this,” she says. “I remember there were seven empty storefronts in March—by June they were all filled. Something’s happening here and the community is very supportive.”