A voice for the arts

Photographs by Bob Rozycki and courtesy Barbara Galazzo

Artist Barbara Galazzo might just laugh if you say you imagine her spending leisurely hours in her Cold Spring studio creating the fused-glass work that has earned her national recognition.

No, these days are a bit more harried, to say the least.

Try to meet up with her, for example, and you’ll get a glimpse into what her days are like.

A recent span found her juggling everything from working on a mosaic mural at Peekskill High School to putting the finishing touches on the preview exhibition for the Open Studios Tour of Cold Spring Arts, an organization she founded.

And that’s not to mention the First Friday opening exhibition at her own Gallery 66 NY, helping her high school-junior daughter navigate the start of her college search, her participation in the Collaborative Concepts at Saunders Farm project in nearby Garrison and oh yes, completing the pieces for her own art exhibition in the year-old gallery of hers on Cold Spring’s Main Street.

Time in the studio, clearly, isn’t a given these days.

“It’s when I can get in there,” she says with a knowing look. “I do have to make the time right now.”

Yet somehow she does – with her vibrant creations the trademark results –as this month’s exhibition at Gallery 66 NY demonstrates.

“Chromatic Visions” is a showcase of Galazzo teaming up with mixed-media artist Carol Flaitz to, as Galazzo calls it, “explore hue and shape.”

It’s a concrete way Galazzo brings her artistic voice to life, yet its collaborative nature also speaks to an approach Galazzo has taken over the years. It’s a way that finds her helping so many other artists have their own voices – and varied work – reach a wider audience.

A perfect example would be the ArtFull Living Designer Show House. Galazzo had the idea of gathering a group of Hudson Valley artists and integrating their work into a residential setting to show just how easy – and fulfilling – it is to live with art. The result was a project that ran for several months in 2012, filling a home at Glassbury Court in Cold Spring with the work of dozens of artists – including Galazzo – who collaborated with regional interior designers.

At the time, Galazzo said the concept was to “show you can actually have art in your home. It doesn’t have to be over the top. You can live with it.”

It was a success on many levels, gaining exposure and commissions for the participants, educating the showgoers in a most low-key fashion and helping raise funds through its charitable elements.

It was, Galazzo says, something she’d like to repeat.

“I have to find a builder,” she says, one who would contribute the showcase space. “I would like to keep it in Putnam, but the truth is, I would probably get more exposure if I did it in Westchester.”

That is a long-range plan. Others are more pressing. A few weeks’ before her gallery show opening, Galazzo says jokingly that the lack of studio time means the show “will be a surprise, what it’s going to be.”

But clearly, Galazzo doesn’t seem to leave things to chance. After all, she’s built quite a thriving career, one that actually happens to be her second act.

The New Orleans native spent 16 years as a professional ballet dancer before turning to glass as a new career in 1995. A founding partner of the Brooklyn Artisans Gallery, she has now made her home in the Hudson Valley for nearly two decades.

Her work – which she describes as “all about color” – continues to be sold through galleries, museums and shows around the world, though locals can find it nearby at Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon.

These days, she says, her work focuses more on decorative rather than functional pieces. It’s simply a natural growth of her style and vision.

Over the years, Galazzo has participated in “Glass Now” at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum and “Urban Glass” in New York. Her award-winning work has been featured in galleries, museums and commercial installations from New York to Oregon to Armenia. In addition, she has participated in prestigious shows and venues such as SOFA (Sculptural Objects Functional Art + Design) in Chicago and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.

Now, with her own gallery at her disposal, one might wonder if Galazzo would be tempted to use it as a showcase of her work, a vanity production if you will.

But that’s not Galazzo’s way. The first year found her only participating in one group show, choosing instead to spotlight artists including painters, sculptors, photographers and more.

In recognition of all she has contributed to the community, Galazzo received a “Cultural Achievement of the Year” award in March from the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce.

For now, the day-to-day workings of the gallery remain at the forefront. There are related programs and plans to do plenty of special events and eventually, e-commerce.

“It’s interesting how everything has changed,” Galazzo says. “Galleries can no longer survive if they’re just storefronts.”

For now, her 2014 exhibition schedule is well under way, a welcome change from those early few months of the gallery.

“I just had to come up with ideas,” she says of that first slate of exhibitions. “This year, we’ve had a lot of artists come in.”

And when they do – and she feels their work is worth a showcase – they can be assured they have a found a faithful ally in Galazzo.

“Chromatic Visions,” featuring the work of Barbara Galazzo and Carol Flaitz, runs from now to Dec. 1 at Gallery 66 NY in Cold Spring. For more, visit gallery66ny.com.

 

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