Tag Archives: Skaneateles New York

Day Tripping @ 54

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Terry Askey-Cole was in charge today at Gallery 54 (54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, New York 13152).  She is one of the artists represented by the gallery.  Fifteen years ago, Askey-Cole took courses in ceramics.  Now she has her own home studio complete with kiln where she creates decorative pieces, like these whimsical floral garden sculptures (below), as well as slab and wheel thrown pottery and mosaics.




According to the gallery’s website:

Opened July 2009, Gallery 54 is an artist owned and operated gallery located in the scenic Finger Lakes village of Skaneateles. Most of our artists are local to the Finger Lakes/Central NY area and offer our customers a wide variety of high-quality and unique fine art and fine craft, including paintings, mosaics, pottery, art quilts, jewelry, photography, stained glass, handbags, scarves, and more.
In addition to the artwork our owners have on display, we also represent many additional local artists, whose mediums include paintings, jewelry, metal, glass, wood boxes, sculpture, tiles, silk wearables, ceramic clocks, illustrations and more. Be sure to visit our artist’s pages for more information about our artists and to see photographs of their work.



Askey-Cole said there are eight artist owners.  Other artists may submit their work for jury – they can sell it on commission or sometimes items are purchased wholesale, so working the cash register is optional.  It is an interesting model for business – and quite successful.  Askey-Cole has played a part here for the past eleven years (since its inception)!

Traffic consists mainly of day trippers, like me.  People from outside the Skaneateles area who venture in exploration and leave with a wooden bowl, jewelry, painted glass, knitwear and/or artwork.  Gallery 54 makes use of every available space and when there are several people inside, it’s tight.  There were a bunch of excuse-mes and sorrys today as I guided my way around every nook and cranny.



My friend Nella Joseph does well here.  She hand-paints glassware.  I am in love with the cardinal pieces (below).




Richell Castellon is the featured artist.  His original paintings are cityscapes with one of the groupings done in black and white on burlap.  Castellon is also currently exhibiting (until March 30, 2020) in a solo show (From Cuba to Syracuse) at the Wilson Art Gallery in the library at LeMoyne College.




Eventually I will purchase one of these amazing ceramic slab wall hangings by Peter Valenti.  His work is so incredibly well-crafted.  I love the Arts & Crafts feel with the ginkgo leaf and dragonfly motifs and the copper finishes. They are so distinctive in style!  They are raku-fired, which is the method where the ceramics are removed from the hot kiln and placed in sawdust, salt or another smothering effect to starve the artworks of oxygen thereby affecting the glazing process.  Valenti’s pieces offer rich texture and color.



Other artists represented by Gallery 54 include Lisa Maffiore, Liz and Rich Micho, Donna Smith, Sallie Thompson, Fred Weisskopf, and Judi Witkin.  The gallery is open 10 AM – 5 PM daily.


Scientific Whimsy



Donna Atwood of Moravia, New York, is a former Science teacher turned full-time professional watercolor artist.  Intuition is her guide.




She applies the watercolors (usually one hue per piece as a starting point) onto a variety of papers. Then she plays with abstractions and visual textures, adding found and household objects – plastic bags, rags, torn window screens – and weights to hold everything down until the next morning.  When she removes the objects, she assesses what she has and begins to deliberate.  She asks her husband what he sees, like a fun Rorschach test game and they laugh at the disparity of their visions.


Ultimately, she makes her own decisions about what she sees, as though the paper truly speaks to her alone.  I delighted in her enthusiasm, positivity and passion as she spoke of this process when I met her at the First Friday event last night at Gallery 54 in Skaneateles, New York, where she is the featured artist this month.


Once Donna decides on the spirit animal, she goes to work rendering the composition focusing on the eyes.  Tiny details are emphasized, allowing for the animal to disappear into the colorations.  These are paintings that need to be seen in person.  The photographs do not do them justice.  They truly imbibe the artist’s joyful spirit.



Donna Atwood originals and prints are available for sale at Gallery 54 (54 E. Genesee Street, Skaneateles, New York 13152).  If you would like to meet her too, perhaps ask her further questions about her process, Donna will be doing a demonstration at the gallery today (1:00-3:00 pm).  <3


  • Excerpt from the gallery web-site

Even though Atwood was a science education major in college her interest in creating art, which began as a child, continued to flourish. It wasn’t until 2012 that she started practicing watercolor, she says describing her artwork as abstract impression. While she creates her share of surreal landscapes her preference, as the Gallery 54 show will demonstrate is for paintings of animals.

“I decided to create surreal animals and found many different ones lurking in patterns,” she notes. As she describes her work, the backgrounds start out as abstract colors and shapes, but “by manipulating shapes in to eyes, ears and a noses,” she can get the viewer to see” what she sees . . . “the face and body of a creature.”

Atwood is particularly fond of finding animals that are endangered or under represented in artwork generally. Many people, she notes, relate to specific creatures or what she calls “spirit animals.” She likes that viewers of her paintings relate to her whimsical version of “their animal” and that the colors or faces in her paintings make them smile.

“Keeping the background of a painting as untouched as possible allows the animal to grow from it,” she says, adding, “I want to express the presence of the animal, not highlight every hair or whisker.”

Atwood’s work has received awards at the New York State Fair and well as numerous local art exhibits. A resident of Sempronius, NY she has had artwork shown at the Cortland Public Library, the Dryden Community Cafe and the Gilded Lily gallery in Connecticut. Following her show at Gallery 54 she will have an exhibit at the Cortland Guthrie Hospital, from September through November and currently has work displayed at the Tully Artworks Gallery.


Gallery 54 July Hours
Monday – Wednesday: 10-5
Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 10-8
Sunday: 10-5




Retail Queen


Back in the ’70s, my friend Leslie Noble and I would take the tail end of the cash register tape and turn it into a Miss Dey Brothers sash while working behind the candy counter at the Shoppingtown department store in DeWitt, New York.  This was the beginning of our retail careers, lol, at sixteen and seventeen years old, and the start of her creative life as an actress and mine as an artist.  We learned to make change without a calculator and to always put the customer first.  Actually, we used to include the customers in our social conversations while still sharing noteworthy sales information, providing them with a fun shopping experience to go along with their Swedish Fish gummmies and Godiva chocolate.


I have worked retail many times – I was a Co-Manager at The Limited in Florida in the ’80s.  I used to always get A+ ratings from the secret shoppers.  Used the dialect known as broken English to assist the Spanish speaking customers visiting Miami from Peru and Argentina.  (In my defense, I took French in middle school and high school).  I sold countless pairs of leggings and oversized shoulder-padded tops to them.  It was all about nodding a lot and having a positive tone.


Michelle DaRin didn’t know any of this about me when she asked me to cover for her at the Skaneateles Lavender Festival yesterday, but somehow she knew she could trust me to do it. I did not hesitate with my response.  It was like a gut instinct told me that I should be there.  I just knew it would be an amazing experience that I would never forget – and it was!  The festival was Saturday and Sunday at Lockwood Lavender Farm, 1682 West Lake Road, Skaneateles, NY, (13152).


I am a customer of Michelle’s and a huge fan.  She is like fashion royalty to me here in Syracuse.  A real-deal artist designer who lives and breathes her style.  She creates hand-casted bronze charms then joins them with individually linked beaded chains.  It is all her, start to finish, a one-woman operation, so you know her attention to detail contains the true spirit of her artistic vision.


I am particularly in love with the copper-enameled pieces.  No two bracelets are alike.  She shapes the pieces, glazes them and fires them in a small kiln then unites them with a leather cord or wristband.  The colors are exquisite – a vibrant palette that pops in combination with the rich textures of the cowhides.


It was so special to converse with her customers, many of whom, like me, were wearing her pieces and were back for more.  The bold jewelry works best when layered for that hippie-chick appeal.  It is a youthful, yet more a sophisticated than trendy look for women of all ages.


And men too.  There are cuff links and belt buckles in her collection.  I think the geometry of the looks in bracelets, necklaces, and rings make many of them work as unisex.



Yes, I wore everything in my arsenal – two necklaces, five bracelets and my red enamel ring.  I learned to use the Square credit card application to process charges.  It was really surreal, like I was dreaming the whole thing up.  I think back to last September when I spoke to Michelle for the first time at the Westcott Street Fair in Syracuse, and I remember seeing the bracelet rack and wishing my arms would look like it one day.  Now they do.


I built up my collection piece by piece.  Some were gifts, some I purchased on-line at www.michelledarinjewelry.com and some I bought at her various appearances at local arts and crafts shows.


I worked all day with only one pee break then somehow with help from the neighboring tent and my cousin Jackie, I managed to get the whole operation into my car and drive it home.  It was actually more work than I do in a typical day at my job as an art teacher.  Crazy!


It was exhausting but so fun.  Thank you, Michelle’s customers, who visited me and supported her with purchases.  It was like being a substitute teacher – praising my friend for her amazing talent and work ethic, and selling her wares while not having to make any of the merchandise (akin to not having to prepare lesson plans). It’s definitely not something I could do every day, which is why I don’t peddle my own artwork at those events.


I am so grateful for Michelle’s trust and friendship.  Naturally, I worked for jewelry.  Lol, I still have a little retail queen in me.  I will do almost anything for fashion!


Michelle DaRin and her jewelry will be at the Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival at the end of the month – Friday, July 29th through Sunday, July 31st, 2016.  It is around Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse.  She is tentatively scheduled to participate in a ladies night event at Krebbs in Skaneateles, New York on Thursday, July 21st and she will be at another event at Pottery Barn in Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse on July 23rd. <3