Category Archives: Press

CANVAS article

From CANVAS, July print edition: Beacon Gallery Showcases Artist’s 3D Works, by Anna Lillian Moser:

Eva Drizhal is not the sort of artist to get pigeonholed into one medium. She likes to experiment, expressing herself by different means, whether it’s tapestries, pen and ink drawings, sculpture or painting. Most recently the Callicoon resident has taken to creating 3-D pictures. The collection of work will be displayed in a solo show at Catalyst Gallery in Beacon during the month of August.
Drizhal was born in Prague in 1951 under the communist regime. While the fact might conjure up images of the heavy Soviet hand squashing out artistic expression, Drizhal attests that growing up she never felt threatened, restricted or barred from pursuing her passion as an artist. “It’s fascinating for you, but for me it was normal,” Drizhal said. We were pretty educated kids. We had a lot of art, and there was no shortage of materials, so I actually liked it very much.”
Growing up in Prague, Drizhal said, she felt supported, if not by her friends and family then the city itself, the artistic majesty of which no political party could snuff out. “I was always surrounded by art because Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I was molded pretty well even under that communist regime, which was a very restrictive regime in many ways, but I chose to be an artist, to sneak through these kinds of problems.”
However, being an artistically gifted child under the Soviet regime and trying to make an actual career out of it proved to be two very different things. In 1967 Drizhal’s parents and her younger siblings managed to immigrate to the United States, but Drizhal, then 17, refused to go, thinking she would stay and be educated in Czechoslovakia. Because of her parents’ immigration Drizhal was suddenly seen as a threat, a political misfit. “I was basically marked from there, and I didn’t see them for 13 years,” Drizhal said.
Drizhal calls those 13 years her “suffering”. She wasn’t allowed to teach art or attend university. She was allowed to take some classes, but only so long as the works she produced were practical and utilitarian. This restricted her to weaving and fiber arts. “It was basically a crafts school which taught us how we could be practical workers so we could work in a factory, and we could work at home. I chose to be a freelance artist, which was not so easy in communism because you had to have a permanent job and they gave me all sorts of problems because of my political background.”
Finally, in 1979, Drizhal, pregnant with her first child, was allowed to immigrate to America. Like many area artists, Drizhal first settled in New York City before relocating to the Hudson Valley. “I don’t regret it for a second that moved her,” Drizhal said. “A lot of people told me, ‘Oh my God, you’re from the city and now you live in the country?’ and now they’ve followed me here. It definitely adds to my work.”
For the first 20 years of her career in the United States, Drizhal relied on her skills as a weaver, making a name for herself with her three-dimensional tapestries. “It was something unusual and people loved it, I must say, but I am the kind of artist who likes to experiment. I don’t want to stay with one kind of medium,” Drizhal said. “You start to feel like, this is itI’ve done as much as I could.”
After working mostly with fabrics, Drizhal started to branch out into painting and drawing. She says she particularly enjoys drawing because it requires a near obsessive attention to detail, which appeals to her. Still, though, her ideas kept coming back to the three dimensional. Drizhal loves texture; she loves to create works of art that convey meaning not just through sight, but touch and feel (she’s one of the artists who welcomes visitors to put their hands on her creations), and no medium seemed to lend itself better to this than fabric arts. The work, however, is time-consuming, intricate, and at times physically trying. Drizhal searched for a way to create her 3-D images that wouldn’t be as labor-intensive, and finally settled on working with paper and other organic materials. “I always had a tendency to do organic things in my tapestries; simple forms from nature, so I’ve continued to do that in this medium,” Drizhal said. “Nature is my major inspiration.”
The upcoming show at Catalyst is the first time Drizhal will be displaying her 3-D forms for the general public. “This is something major that I’m doing right now and it will be all 3-D, ” Drizhal said. “This is something that I want to show as a statement, and a result of all my knowledge of all these different mediums.”
Drizhal admits, though, that she could switch mediums again in the future. “I’m not sure if it’s [the] end of what I’m doing. Maybe in five years I’l change and I’ll do something different. I don’t like stagnation.”
Drizhal can be contacted through her website, www.evadrizhal.com.
Catalyst Gallery is located at 137 Main St in Beacon. The gallery can be contacted by visiting www.catalystgallery.com or by calling 845-204-3844.

Philipstown.info/ The Paper article

Catalyst Gallery Operates a Little Differently

July 14, 2013

Short-term rental gallery designed as alternative business model to serve and sustain artists

By Alison Rooney

The usual equation for an art gallery is akin to that of agent and client: in exchange for services provided — in this case a space to exhibit work — the provider receives a percentage of the artist’s sales profits. Catalyst Gallery, a new space that opened near the west end of Main Street in Beacon last February, uses a different formula.

Exterior of Catalyst Gallery   

Exterior of Catalyst Gallery

The gallery is available to rent, without curatorial vetting or any real restrictions, for any artist. The renter can use the space as they wish, paying simply the negotiated fee, with any sales profits retained directly by the artist, not the gallery. Catalyst’s stipulations are simple: “We provide only the space, our friendly support. You take care of installation, publicity, openings, ‘sitting’ the gallery, sales, and de-installation/basic cleaning.”

The space, formerly the second of the two spaces which were home to the VanBrunt Gallery, is approximately 400 square feet, and includes “freshly painted, well-constructed” walls, as well as wood floors, track lighting, a bathroom, some parking and large storefront windows facing Main Street. The renting artist takes care of and has control over all the rest.

Rentals are available monthly (ideally including a Second Saturday date) with some two-week and even shorter rentals available from time to time. Right now Catalyst, which is within walking distance from Dia, is booked solid through November.

The idea for this came to Catalyst co-owners and artists themselves Erica Hauser and John Reichert (he is also a cabinet maker). Hauser says she and Reichert “talked awhile about having a show — I’ve shown pretty regularly in the area. We were feeling discouraged that there aren’t more venues for art in a town known for being revitalized due to art; galleries come and go. I didn’t want to be a gallery owner and though we thought about having a collective, most of all we wanted to have a place where you can just go and see something — this town can be quiet or packed so it can be hard to plan, economically.

“Then, this space became available and it didn’t need a ton of work to get it ready. We went back and forth on the idea until it evolved into making it available for artists to rent on a short-term basis, and occasionally use it to show our own things. This gives people looking to show a professional place to exhibit and also to meet with colleagues. We’re not interested in ‘being the main brand’ — it’s not our vision.”

Hauser recently spoke of her vision for the space at the June Beacon TEDx talk:

“I want to engage the public, support artists and open a good-looking place to show art on Main Street; I need such a venture to sustain itself and to facilitate my own work. My friend and I manage Catalyst Gallery as a rental space where people can realize their creative projects, independent of a more typical gallery model. They rent it short-term to install essentially whatever they want, find new exposure, experiment with ideas and inspire dialogue. They have full control, which is something we as artists so often end up handing over to someone else, or waiting for others to make decisions about our work.

Catalyst Gallery's Erica Hauser, standing near one of her own paintings. Photo by A. Rooney.

Catalyst Gallery’s Erica Hauser, standing near one of her own paintings. Photo by A. Rooney.

“This way, artists have access to a professional gallery space in a highly-visible location to try something out. A sculptor used the gallery as a testing ground for new pieces and to meet with collectors. Another wanted to explore the local market potential with an eye towards opening a permanent shop. As for us, we have extra studio space, a venue for group exhibitions and workshops. Every time I see a new show going up, and watch people walking by, peering through the windows, I am reminded that the vitality that drives Catalyst is rooted in making our own work, providing a way to sustain and encourage the creative life, and supporting the art community we are part of.”

The gallery opened with an exhibit of Hauser and Reichert’s own work, and since then has played host to a range of art including a sculptor from Los Angeles whose works focused on dogs (and tied into the “Beacon Barks” community event; a group of MFA students from New Paltz who showed their work together, and, most recently, an installation which examined truth in advertising and agribusiness while reinterpreting product packaging and in-store signage. “There’s been so much interest, we’ve been able to pick and choose,” says Hauser, adding, “we like diversity.”

Philipstown photographer Aleta Wolfe’s show opens on Second Saturday, June 13 (see sidebar.) Hauser says Wolfe was “looking for an opportunity to explore a new project and committed to the idea early on.” Occasionally they may break with the mold, for instance a group holiday show with works from multiple artists is planned, that one possibly on a commission basis. Artists have the option to open the gallery for whatever schedule they personally wish for, i.e., weekends only, or every single day of the rental, if they are available and willing to gallery-sit.

Hauser has been in Beacon for about six years, moving there from Washington Heights, after having a “good instinct about this place.” She’s not a stranger to the Hudson Valley, however, having grown up in Brewster. Her own art, which was visible during an in-between exhibits visit to the space, has been called “American nostalgia, with a vintage aesthetic.” She describes it as “representative, but it’s not photorealism, evoking a sense of place and time — maybe a memory but also having graphic appeal.”

Sculpture  and other artwork by Ed Benavente fills the windows last April at Catalyst Gallery. 

Sculpture  and other artwork by Ed Benavente fills the windows last April at Catalyst Gallery.

She describes Reichert’s works (there is a very small area at the back of the space which serves as a mini-working area for him, as “very kinetic work: sculpture with moveable parts and also acrylic on wood paintings.” Hauser sees both of their works (prints of which are available for sale at the Clay, Wood and Cotton store next door) as sharing a “strange sense of humor.”

Hauser and Reichert chose the name Catalyst because the definition of the word coincided with their goals for the space: “The space will be continually utilized and transformed to fulfill various needs, and by doing so will create new opportunities for communication and creativity. Essentially unchanged, yet always different.”

As Hauser has stated, “It will bring something new to town each month, and we won’t be sure just what, but we know it will be interesting.” Catalyst Gallery is located at 137 Main St., Beacon. Visit catalystgallery.com or phone 845-204-3844 for more information.