KEESEVILLE — The Kingsland Block has witnessed foot traffic along Front Street’s mercantile shops since Keeseville’s 19th century heyday.
There’s a 21st century renaissance-in-progress restoring the brick facades accented with Italianate elements.
The newest enterprise, the 1719 Block Gallery, was established by gallerist/artist Clark Davidson in June.
Passersby may do a double take after noticing the gallery’s signage more apropos to New York City than Keeseville.
Davidson’s daring vision honors the historic legacy of his setting, the former Turner’s Drugstore, while exhibiting artists such as William Colquhoun, whose ceramics grace the gallery’s storefront.
During art school, Davidson regularly visited friends in New York City.
“I would go down there on little escapades and find myself at these little boutique galleries,” said Davidson, a 2007 AuSable Valley Central School graduate and 2011 Art Institute of Boston alum.
“They were nice. They were intimate. There were emerging artists. They were new, fun, but yet had a sense of tradition where art came from and where art is going and have that understanding. And that is kind of what I want to do with this gallery. I wanted to have a feel of sophistication, but yet young and fun.”
His main mission is to identify and exhibit contemporary artists, local and fine.
“That I feel can break out of upstate New York markets and find themselves down in Boston, find themselves down in New York City. I want to be that venue where it’s a waypoint to get there,” Davidson said.
Crossing the gallery’s threshold, one enters a fragmented time warp, where smooth Douglas-fir flooring is framed by 1850s brick walls juxtaposed with a modern faux-tin ceiling and illumination.
“There used to be this floor-to-ceiling cabinetry along the outside perimeter, but when we acquired the building, they were already cut up and displaced and sold off. (They) left this kind of interesting, kind of round mark around it. What I wanted to do was revel in that history of (where) there were things before,” he said.