Q & A: Owner of Beresford Gallery creates homey setting for art
Have you seen the driftwood in downtown Saratoga?
In the window of the Shoe Depot building, there’s a huge head of a horse made of sun-bleached, water-polished pieces of dry debris found along a river by Lindsey Molyneux, an artist who grew up in western Massachusetts.
Molyneux is just one of 39 artists represented by The Beresford Gallery, which has traveled from Pennsylvania to Saratoga Springs for 31 seasons of thoroughbred racing. This year, the gallery has moved from its traditional August home in a stately Victorian on Union Avenue to a storefront on bustling Broadway.
“This is the first year in 27 seasons that we have not rented that house,” said gallery owner Elizabeth Beer.
There are five driftwood sculptures in the new gallery space, along with fine equine and sporting art paintings and prints. The Beresford, which was founded in the early 1970s by Elizabeth’s mother, Kathleen Costello Beer, sells contemporary art and works by 10 “old greats,” such as Sir Alfred Munnings, Richard Stone Reeves and Lee Townsend.
While Broadway is the gallery’s main Saratoga art space, Beresford paintings can also still be found on Union Avenue on the walls of The Turf Club Restaurant and Lounge in the Springwater Inn, a new restaurant operated by Beverly Reedy and her son, chef Rob Cone.
Hanging over the dining tables and above the bar chairs, there’s a mini exhibit of 11 artworks, including fox hunt and racing scene paintings in oil by Juli Kirk and etchings by Lee Townsend and Jenness Cortez.
Beer has been running the gallery since 2001, the year her mother died of cancer.
The younger Beer has been fox hunting since she was 4 years old and is a former professional polo player.
Q: Your mother first brought The Beresford Gallery to Saratoga Springs in 1980. Where on Broadway was the gallery?
A: The first few years we were up on Broadway, where the Roohan Realty is now. That used to be a theater. It sat vacant for a number of years and then my mother went in and she rented it. And she ran it out of there for a few years, very successfully. And then she moved it to Union Avenue.
Q: Why is the gallery called Beresford?
A: It was my parents’ first farm in Baltimore. It meant a lot to them, so they kept that name for the gallery.
Q: The Beresford Gallery has always been known for its warm atmosphere, filled with furniture, carpeting and decorative items, like fine china. Why is that?
A: We feel that’s very important, a setting that’s similar to where you would hang the painting or put the sculpture. People can really identify with it. It’s not a stark, sterile gallery environment. We want you to relax, hang out, visit. That’s why a restaurant (The Turf Club) does well. At the Broadway place, that’s the mood I’m trying to achieve there, too.
Q: What kind of artwork are you showing at The Turf Club?
A: Unique, limited-edition Saratoga prints from artists all over the world. And all mediums: print, oil, watercolor and now driftwood.
Q: Why did you decide to add driftwood sculptures by Lindsey Molyneux to your gallery?
A: This is really neat 3-D art that you can put on your wall. There are so many spaces in our homes that it’s hard to get up there and put something. Or there’s a long wall that’s too long and flat. You need to break it up.
Q: You are also starting to make your own driftwood sculptures. What can you tell me about “The Duel,” your work at The Turf Club?
A: It’s a two-horse piece. You know, horses get into it. They get competitive in the last bit of the race. That’s what it’s showing.
Q: How has Beresford Gallery changed since you took over in 2001?
A: For my mother, Saratoga used to be her major stop. Now I’ve diversified, to different audiences, to different events during the year. We service a huge market during Saratoga. I think Broadway in Saratoga might represent a little more mainstream racing audience versus an older-fashioned audience. Where our old location was, it had more of an old-fashioned appeal, and I think we can go Broadway now. And we’ll keep that old-fashioned appeal at The Turf Club.
Q: You’ve added riding clothes to your gallery in Pennsylvania.
A: Hunt Closet, I really don’t call that part of the gallery. That’s something that we need where we are based in Unionville, Pennsylvania. It’s such a huge horse area and there’s no place to buy consignment riding clothes. People close their houses, they get old and they have these closets full of fantastic old hunt clothes. And it’s so beautifully made. You can’t buy stuff like that anymore.
Q: I see Washington County painter Harry Orlyk listed on your website. Do you represent other artists from our region?
A: I love Harry Orlyk! And there’s another really great guy, Adriano Manocchia (from Cambridge, Washington County) He does hunting, fishing landscapes. What we love him for is these portraits of a person’s life. If you were doing this for your husband, you would go and get a fishing lure and a hunt whip and a saddle kit and a hat. Things that meant something, memorabilia of a life. And you’d give all this stuff to him and he would arrange it in the most amazing way and then paint it. It’s the most poignant type of portrait. . . . It’s a still life of objects.
Q: Are young people interested in sporting and equine art?
A: Young people are a market that I’m ever trying to market and understand more. In days of old, it was a huge part of growing up that people would teach their children about art and involve art in their life and give them culture. And that isn’t really done with most people anymore. The old families and the old money families. They do it. They really bring art into their children’s lives early. And it’s so interesting what an effect it has on those people forever. People don’t take their children to museums or galleries or have them see painters painting or have their portraits done when they are kids. They go out to T.J. Maxx and buy a poster. For what you spend for a poster to get framed, you could buy an original piece of work.
Q: You are a retired professional polo player.
A: I was a professional for 10 years. I’m playing again now. Amateur polo in Florida, Virginia and Connecticut.
Q: Why is your gallery leaving Saratoga before the Travers Stakes?
A: We’re in for a shorter term this year because we’re going to be in the Hamptons, for the Hampton Classic.