Tiffany Smith Gallery in Johnstown, NY

By Rebecca Denton on May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Wes Aldridge

When artist Tiffany Smith moved back to her native Fulton County four years ago, she brought a little piece of city life with her.

Her vibrant art gallery – Tiffany Smith Gallery – in Johnstown focuses primarily on modern art, featuring photography, digital art, painting, sculpture and installations by artists from New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania and other states. Shows usually focus on one artist’s work at a time, and they change each month.

Other galleries in the region tend to showcase Adirondack art, so Smith set out to make her contemporary gallery more accessible by offering a range of related programs – from free, weekly art and documentary films to open-studio hours that allow people to explore their own creativity.

“My goal of having the gallery and classes is to bring something to the community that I felt was lacking,” she says. “I’m introducing people to modern art forms, and the film series can help people in this area learn about modern artists and what’s going on in the field. It [modern art] is a component of the culture that isn’t really established here, but this can help get people’s creativity going.”

Her approach seems to be working.

Smith has offered open-studio hours by appointment to the public for about a year, and the gallery opened with its first show in summer 2007. The open-studio time allows people to study whatever they might be interested in – ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, paintings, drawing, paper making, glass work and more – with instructional help from Smith as needed. She also rents the studio out to established artists who need a place to work, and visiting artists offer weekend workshops periodically.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” Smith says. “I’ve had a lot of interest in the services I offer, and there has been a lot of support from all different parts of the community – from children and families to established artists and business people.”

Smith, 27, worked for three years in art therapy and creative arts education at Northern Westchester Center for the Arts while studying at Purchase College. After graduating in 2002, she completed a year of graduate study at the State University of New York New Paltz before returning to her roots in Fulton County.

“I wanted to come back to a rural, upstate, laid-back way of life,” she says. Smith worked on her own mixed-media art from home while searching for a gallery location, and she found the perfect spot in an 1800s-era chapel that she bought two years ago and renovated.

Ultimately, Smith sees her gallery as a place of expression, learning – and even therapy of sorts. “This gallery works to satisfy people who have an interest in modern art,” she says, “and I’m trying to make it accessible for people who might not have had art in their lives but are interested in getting into it.”

Read more on the arts in Johnstown, NY.

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