SOMETHING IS GOING ON IN LIBERTY ……..
Several days ago I received an email to “Friends & Art Lovers” that there is going to be an art show reception at the Left Bank Gallery in Liberty. Could it possibly be that this beautiful building that once housed the Sullivan County National Bank would once again be open to the public after all these years? And with an Art Show? I had to know more.
This building has been a part of my life since I was a young “Willing Worker” in 4H. We would meet regularly after school on one of the upstairs kitchens to learn how to cook. What a great thing…. it was fun.
As a teen I opened my first bank account there and even took out a car loan at $50 month! The tellers were silent & serious as they took my payment. The large vault in the rear stood open & imposing beneath a large painting of scenic Liberty.
Back in the mid-1800’s JC Young & Uriah Messiter were two local businessmen who operated a store on Liberty’s Main Street. JC (James Chandler) Young was a nephew of the owner of the beautiful Keller Building that currently houses the Town Hall. His picture still hangs in the foyer of this grand home.
Young & Messiter were advertised as “being dealers in a general assortment of merchandise” from wheelbarrows to lamps & clothing. Their business flourished so far beyond their expectations that JC Young decided a new building was needed & he had the 3-story brick structure built on the corner of School & Main in 1904. It had polished stone veneer and a central entrance flanked by large plate glass display windows at street level. The upper stories were divided into 3 sections with arched and triple windows. It became known as the best department store in the county. The business changed hands in 1917 and was sold to Otto Keller who ran it as Keller’s Department Store for 34 years. In 1952 it was sold to the Sullivan County National Bank where it operated into the 1970’s.
Sitting empty for so many years there seems to be new life coming to this great structure. Recently I’ve noticed some activity there …and even an sandwich board sign advertising their open hours! Thursday through Saturday 1-6 !
The artist exhibiting her work this Friday, August 3rd, is Nancy Lew Lee. Nancy was born in China and “grew up with the Confucian ideals of pride and respect for family & heritage. Not many words were exchanged but she and her 4 siblings knew what was expected of them”.
She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. While there she made a living as an electrician renovating lofts. Her husband Richard Kreznar was born & raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and came to NYC as a young artist after receiving his Fine Arts degree and then Master of Fine Arts degree at Brooklyn College. Together the pair lived in a loft in Tribeca. They considered leaving that area, but when a disco move in next door, the area became one where many artists located they stayed on. They eventually moved to Callicoon Center where they raised their 2 children. Besides being the artist, Nancy has served her community on the local town board, planning board, and the Callicoon Center Ladies Auxillary to the Fire Department. She views exhibiting her art as another form of community service.
Recently, Kris Neidecker, the gallery director made a visit to Nancy’s studio to see her work and that of her husband, Richard. He was impressed with the breadth & caliber of their work and offered them a viewing venue at the Left Bank which is scheduled for this Friday.
Nancy’s Left Bank Gallery show will feature work from her politically inspired series, “Wild Wonder(ful) Women with Crazy Hair”, and 2 large sculptures from 2006. Nancy creates in various media as can be seen by her sculptures, charcoal sketches and paintings.
Richard will also be exhibiting some recent work and paintings from 1966. Richard says since moving to the Catskills, the land has been the focus of his work and he imagines himself walking through the painting. Should the painting evoke a sense of a particular, special place, he sees that as good. He says if someone is going to spend time looking at his paintings, it is his obligation to give them something challenging to see.