Honesdale’s thriving art scene

Text: Mary Greene | Photographs: Contributed

Three new galleries have come to the town of Honesdale, PA in the last several years, and with it a brand new image for the town. The galleries share a spirit of cooperation and they all have benefited from the programs of the Wayne County Arts Alliance (WCAA), which is hosting an open studio tour at the end of July.



Willow River Gallery
(118 Willow Avenue, Honesdale, PA 18431, 570/253-3013, willowrivergallery.com), owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of photographer Phil Garfield and artist Trix Render, celebrated its first-year anniversary on July 4. Reflecting on how the last year has gone, Render says, “The first year was really good—we expected much less. Now people are returning to their summer homes; its great—there is a buzz around our anniversary.”

Willow River changes shows about every month. “I have a good staple of artists,” says Render. “I look for something I like, with an eye for quality and collectible artists, as well as something that will appeal to the public. Or, I might see potential in a young artist.” Recently showing at Willow River was a retrospective of work by Margo Spoerri, who has a studio on Main Street in Narrowsburg, NY.

Render is participating, along with photographer Chip Forelli and artist Joe Kluck, in the 8th annual Wayne County Arts Alliance (WCAA) Open Studio Tour. Visitors will be able to see her at work in her studio located in the gallery, along with Forelli and Kluck. Last year, says Render, the studio tour drew 100 people a day.

Willow River has seven elegantly styled rooms on two different floors, and often hosts more than one exhibit at a time. Render and her husband plan to open it to the community on a more regular basis in the future, with food tastings, benefits, readings and performances.

Open Wednesday to Saturday 11 am to 6 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm; or by appointment.

Hanson Gallery (1037 Main Street, Honesdale, PA 18431, 570/253-2525, www.thehansongallery.com) opened in June 2009 and is a housed in a recently restored building which, owners Lars and Cynthia Hanson say, brings back the historic flavor of the past while moving forward with a modern setting for the arts. Not only does it have The Gallery, which features fine artists and artisans of the Northeast Pennsylvania region, it houses The Decorium with antique, vintage and new furniture, framed prints and collectibles, and a well-equipped art supply store.  The establishment has been nominated for a historic preservation award by the Wayne County
Historical Society.

“We have been very well received,” says Lars. “Artists are happy we’re here, as are the townsfolk and weekenders. It is exciting what is happening in
Honesdale in general.”

The gallery had its first solo show in May. In July it is showcasing all of the artists who are participating in the WCAA open studio tour, where visitors can get a sense of the artists’ work and style, and collect a map for use during the tour. In August, the gallery will continue its move toward thematic shows with a group show on surrealism and fantasy.
The Hanson Gallery, along with the Willow River and Philip Hone galleries and the WCAA, see their role as enhancing the arts scene through cooperation with each other. “We want to promote Honesdale as an arts destination,” said Cynthia, “In the future, we hope to coordinating openings, maybe create arts walk nights.”
Open Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm; selected Sundays; or by appointment.

The Philip Hone Gallery (742 Main Street, Honesdale, PA 18431, 570/253-5577, www.philiphonegallery.com) opened in 2008. Current owner and gallery director Caroline Denary volunteered there for eight months before she purchased the gallery. This mother of four was raised in Wayne County and sees her gallery as a community arts space where classes, poetry readings, jazz sessions, drumming
circles and “artists’ lounges” are as common as the art on the walls.

Philip Hone Gallery is a cooperative-style gallery with 30 participating members who share costs to keep the gallery open. In addition to the 18 painters, the gallery shows the work of jewelers, folk artists, glass blowers and other artisans. The space also has a rotating show that features the artists in Connections Magazine. Denaro herself is a portrait artist.

Her gallery shares space in the same building as the WCAA, and Denaro is a business member. Not all of her artists are from Wayne County, she says, and so the gallery in not directly participating in the open studio tour. She does collaborate with the other galleries from time to time; for example, every month she gives away a gift certificate for the Hanson Gallery art supply store.

How has the past year gone? “We have a wonderful following of people who attend classes and events, and come to the gallery. I enjoy doing things, working with the children. I am very down to earth, easy going.  Here there is always a pot of tea and some cake, some coffee.” She serves snacks and soups at her events, which are free of charge, although donations are welcomed. “We are hoping to promote the whole community,” says Denaro. “It’s been really wonderful so far.”

Open Wednesday and Thursday 10 to 3; Friday 10 to 6; Saturday 10 to 4; occasional Sundays; and by appointment. The gallery stays open later during event evenings.


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