By Margot Russell
You don’t have to be an art connoisseur to enjoy a day at Chautauqua County’s galleries and studios. The area’s local artists are talented in a number of artistic mediums, including sculpture, ceramics, painting and jewelry, so you’re bound to find something that interests you.
Many of the venues you’ll visit are worth the trip themselves—with galleries housed in old mills, historic houses and antique train stations. It’s a perfect way to spend a rainy day, or even a sunny one, pairing your sightseeing with a leisurely lunch or a wine tasting at one of our local vineyards.
There are two ways to approach your visit to our galleries: the many that abound in the county or those along the Lake Erie-Chautauqua Art Trail during their yearly open house event. Both options are presented below. Be sure to inquire about opening dates and gallery hours before planning your visit.
There’s a lot to see here, so if you’re looking for a place that boasts all types of art and fine crafts, this is a good bet. The gallery consists of 6 rooms and two stories, so the space is ever-changing, housing the work of 100 local and national artists. This venue is full of charm. It was once an old mill built in the late 1800’s. A second location is in the works for Bemus Point, called “The Art Loft Too.” (4994 West Lake Road., Route 394, Mayville. 716-753-5638)
Watercolors are among the most popular forms of wall art, and this gallery won’t disappoint if you’re looking for something special. Housed in an old train depot right on the lake, you can also sign up to try your hand at capturing Chautauqua’s beautiful landscapes at one of their popular watercolor classes. (16 Water St. Mayville.)
The venue of this lovely gallery is on the National Historic Register, housed in the New York Central Railroad in Westfield. The renowned and award-winning artist, Katherine Galbraith, paints here and is skilled in portraits and plein air. Among her roster of clients are George H. W. Bush, leaders of society, heads of corporations, writers, and presidents of colleges and other institutions. (11 English Street, Westfield. 770-366-1448)
Living Glass Gallery
Featuring original glass work by artist and owner Denise Williams, you’ll also find pottery, sea glass, jewelry, photography, painting and sculpture by other local artists in this one-of-a-kind gallery. (147 West Lake Road, Mayville. 716-269-8977)
Set in a historic Greek revival house, this gallery is filled with quality art created by several hundred local and national artists. You’ll find art in all types of mediums here, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, wooden work, and photography. You’ll also enjoy the works of the owner, whose clay pieces are represented in private collections throughout the world. (6439 South Portage Road, Westfield. 716-326-4478)
Sensory Art Gallery
This art gallery is also a winery featuring both contemporary art and blended cult wines. The owners meld the senses all in one location, with taste, visuals, music and video commentary. This is an interesting stop that will introduce you to two different art forms: wine and art, both of which are constantly changing. (10593 West Main Road, Ripley. 716-736-2444)
If you’re a pottery hound (and even if you’re not), you’ll have a lovely time poking around this studio. The owners have been producing one-of-a-kind porcelain dinnerware since the 1970’s, each individually made with whimsical designs—fish, crabs, dragonflies and chickens. Make sure you take a tour of their beautiful home garden. (6007 County Touring Rt. 54, Dewittville. 716-753-7551)
Built in 1908, the Patterson Library was built in the Revival style, modeled after the Erechtheum in Athens. Inside this elegant building, you’ll find the Octagon Gallery— full of perfectly preserved WWI posters and further proof that this institution has a long history of supporting art. Check their website for ongoing exhibits which proudly display their rich cultural archives. (40 South Portage Street, Westfield. 716-326-2154)
Other local galleries of interest include The Weeks Gallery at Jamestown Community College which often has interesting exhibits and the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, comprised of the Strohl and Fowler-Kellogg Art Centers as well the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden. Lastly, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute also boasts an array of changing exhibits. The renowned naturalist’s work is also on display here.
Chautauqua-Lake Erie Art Trail Open Studio Tours
Saturday, May 27- Sunday, May 28, 2017; 10am-5pm
This unique art trail encompasses several areas within Chautauqua County and each year the artists hold their Open Studio Tour. Enjoy the abundance of creative talent that Chautauqua County has to offer by visiting the professional studios of the Art Trail’s artists.
This year’s tours include 22 artists and studios featuring works in a variety of mediums. Make a day of it by stopping for lunch along the way or choosing your lodgings near a place of interest—like Chautauqua Institution or the lovely town of Mayville set along the shores of Chautauqua Lake. In addition to the studios and galleries, many businesses participate in this event, including gift and furniture shops, wineries, and many restaurants and places of lodging.
Be sure to pick up a brochure at area information centers or visit the Chautauqua -Lake Erie Art Trail’s Facebook page. You’ll find artist bios, maps and a full schedule of events. And remember, many of the artist’s studios and galleries featured on the trail are open to customers beyond this event, with artists who’d be happy to see you any time of the year. Just give them a call to confirm opening times and dates.
Crafts Alliance Festivals at Chautauqua Institution
July 7-9 & August 11-13, 2017; 11am-5:30pm
Each year, the Crafts Alliance holds two juried shows on Bestor Plaza at Chautauqua Institution. Held one weekend in July and one weekend in August, these shows feature the work of exceptional artists from Chautauqua County and across the country with works in a wide range of media and price points. Admission to Chautauqua Institution, and the festival, is free on Sundays.
Wild America Nature Festival at Panama Rocks Scenic Park
Saturday, July 29-Sunday, July 30; 11am-5:30pm
This year the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and Panama Rocks Scenic Park will host the first annual Wild America Nature Festival, celebrating nature and all things inspired by it. The inaugural event features a juried fine nature art and craft show, and competition; a local food cook-off competition and farmer’s market; music; and well-known speakers, classes, workshops, and activities. Special guests include Dr. Douglas Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants”; Michael Phillips, author of “The Apple Grower,” “The Holistic Orchard,” and “Mycorrhizal Planet”; artists Michael DiGiorgio and Thomas Paquette; and more.
For a list of attractions and events happening throughout Chautauqua County all year long, visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau or call 866-908-4569 to request a free travel guide and map.
Author Margot Russell is a journalist and freelance writer whose column “Lakewood Lens” appears in the Jamestown Post-Journal on Saturday. She is a script writer for the History Channel and an International Tour Director. She recently moved back to the area and lives in Lakewood.
*This blog post has been updated from the original, posted in 2016, by Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau staff to ensure accuracy of dates and events. For more information, please contact Megan Arnone: firstname.lastname@example.org.