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December 5, 2013

Artists Off Main partnering with Smithy

By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Artists Off Main is now a little closer to Main Street. 

The store will now be known as Artists Off Main at the Smithy. The local art and vintage shop, formerly located in the Cooperstown Commons, has set up a holiday market in the blacksmith shop at the Smithy Center for the Arts, on 55 Pioneer St. in downtown Cooperstown.

“It really feels like that’s where we need to be,” said Karen Katz, the store owner and wife of mayor Jeff Katz. “Instead of just being a free standing operation it’s really a part of what’s going on at the Smithy.”

The holiday market opened its doors on Nov. 29 and will run until Dec. 22. It is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Artists Off Main at the Smithy’s holiday market is selling goods and pieces made by Otsego County artists, as well as vintage clothing and items that are sourced from Otsego County and the surrounding area. Some of the items available are hand woven rugs from Elma Devinney, carved wood fish from Patrick Franck, and landscapes from Susan Jones Kenyon, whose work is being exhibited at the Fenimore Art Museum. The market also sells jewelry from Karen Katz Studio, Katz’s own line of refashioned vintage jewelry. 

Prices at the market are set by the artists, and Artists off Main at The Smithy takes a commission out of whatever is sold. Katz estimated that the holiday market features the work of a dozen local artists.

“I think that what makes us stand apart is the variety,” said Katz. “There’s a sense of fun and of not taking ourselves too seriously.”

Artists Off Main opened in its first space in the Cooperstown Commons in November of 2012. The shop operated out of this area until October of this year, when it began the transition into becoming Artists Off Main at the Smithy.

“I have a loyal local following,” said Katz, describing the reception the business has had. “I’ve always had more local customers than tourists.”

She also said that she received strong support from local artists.

“People did come in out of the woodwork,” said Katz. “Once it (the business) started it was easy to fill up the space.”

Katz said that the holiday market is the beginning of a partnership with the Smithy, and that she plans to move into a permanent space there sometime in the spring of 2014, although where in the building the shop would be located is still being discussed and negotiations are ongoing.

“I am so pleased to be collaborating with the Smithy,” said Katz, who also praised the Smithy’s executive director, Danielle Newell. “Everyone has been ... just wanting to make things happen.”

“I am so so happy to be working with Karen,” said Newell, who said that she was excited by the potential opportunity. “We’re seeing this really as a collaboration.”

Newell said that the new shop, which she expects to open in May, will be a full part of the Smithy organization.

“The shop will be the Smithy shop curated by Karen,” said Newell, who said that negotiations about the exact details of the agreement are still in progress. “It opens up the possibility of Karen’s wonderful eye.”

She also expressed a preference in having the name of the shop be The Shop at the Smithy, to emphasize that the shop was part of a not-for profit, and was fully in keeping with the Smithy’s mission and values

“The Shop at the Smithy would be perfect,” said Katz, when asked about the name.

She also said that even though such a shop would be part of the Smithy, much of what defines Artists off Main at the Smithy would be a part of the new store.

“It’s going to be the same concept of local art, local gifts, vintage finds,” said Katz.

One thing that customers of the new shop will likely have to deal with this summer is paid parking, which was not an issue for customers of the shop in the Cooperstown Commons. Katz, however, is not phased by this prospect.

“I’m not worried about it because downtown is where the people are,” said Katz.