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Big Risks: Creative Discoveries Exhibit

April 23 @ 1:00 pm - June 25 @ 5:00 pm


Big Risks: Creative Discoveries Exhibit
Sculptures by Peter Strasser
at GARNER Arts Center, Building 35
Opening: April 23, 2022, 1:00 – 5:00pm
On View: Saturdays, 1:00 – 5:00pm through June 25
or by appointment

Big Risks: Creative Discoveries presents sculptures by Peter Strasser at the GARNER Arts Center located within the landmark GARNER Historic District in Garnerville, NY. The material Peter Strasser works with is big, really big. And while the endeavor to create something from a whole cut tree requires taking risks that might not turn out as anticipated, the possibilities can be endless.

One of the key traits of creative people is that they are risk takers, not afraid to put something new out into the world, into the unknown; something that might not be perfect, that might be dismissed, or seen as crazy or unusual. But creatives generate the most innovative ideas. Strasser takes the risks of exploring the possibilities in working with massive trees to create monumental sculptures while still bearing the essence of trees. The desire to search for the spirit of the trees has culminated in many of his sculptures. He hopes to show the original tree with different touches of the artist’s hand in creating a look that works with that particular shape and species of wood. Monumental trees become twisted with burls and cutouts with brightly colored geometric shapes or wood beams inside the tree trunk. The viewer is left perplexed as to how such a juxtaposition could even be created. While preserving the original, he adds another layer of thought to what was once a tree. There can often be a big gap between what the creative artist thought an artwork might look like and the actual end result. Strasser uses these twists and turns from his original idea, to allow for what wants to be born and brings out the perfection in the imperfect flaws of the wood, to reveal a beautiful perfection. With every choice an artist makes when creating, he may find himself further away from the image he had originally. He may also discover an enormous number of possibilities of what could be. Working with the imperfections and flaws in wood requires admitting that the world and you, as a creative, are flawed and imperfect. Strasser used this imperfection in a piece for the Arts Westchester Chair Show. While showing the imperfection of raw cut timbers he was at once able to show the beauty of a massive Alice in Wonderland type of chair.

ArtsWestchester awarded Peter Strasser the 2019 Arts Alive Individual Artist grant. Due to the Pandemic, it has been delayed since the summer of 2020 until the new opening date this April 23rd . This show will feature a few large new abstract sculptures created from locally sourced trees that had fallen and were salvaged specifically for this show. Strasser creates his massive sculptures using a sawmill and reimagines his work with the existing organic shape of his milled timbers, while maintaining the integrity of the beautiful living spirit of the tree. For this exhibit he will be cutting large shapes in selected timber slabs that hold up to the exterior elements. Adding old timber joinery and marrying different shapes into abstract sculptures will be pleasing to the eyes and hopefully to the soul of the tree. This newer process is engineered so that the heavy slabs can be deconstructed and transported a bit easier than a solid wood mass. Strasser took his inspiration from his “circa 1840” timber framed barn/studio. The original mortise and tenon joinery and huge hand-hewn timbers that make up the structure of the barn were created in an era before electrical machinery. The strength and simplicity of the structure contains the knowledge of previous woodworking generations of that time. There is also a direct relationship of the barn, its structure and its purpose, to the surrounding natural environment. This relationship has driven home to Strasser the understanding of working wood that is centered on its extraordinary bond to all living creatures. The barn housed the animals, supplies and tools that would sustain a family and the generations that would follow. It was a time when humanity did not exert such a heavy toll on nature but was more in tune and part of the natural world.

Strasser will also be showing pieces recently completed within the last two years. These works will complement the wonderful interior of Building 35 within the GARNER Historic District, the future permanent gallery of GARNER Arts Center. Garnerville Arts & Industrial Center a.k.a. GARNER Historic District of New York, is listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places as the “Rockland Print Works Historic District.” Starting as a Grist Mill in 1760, the complex was turned into a textile mill in 1838. The mill manufactured uniforms for the Civil War and again in World War II. In the 1980s with the textile industries moving out of the area, light industry moved into the mill. In 2001, the first Garnerville Arts Festival welcomed visitors for artist studio tours, and in 2003 the non-profit GARNER Arts Center was founded. Hurricane Irene destroyed GARNER’s Main Gallery in 2011 and the Arts Center was forced to suspend operations for a time. GARNER Arts Festival began to be held again starting in 2014 and in 2015, GARNER Arts Center resumed a full slate of programming.

Peter Strasser has a love of preserving historic buildings. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA and transitioned into a master wood restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1970’s. From 1980-2013 he was the CEO of two companies specializing in historic restoration of many landmark buildings as well as private pre-First World War townhouses throughout Manhattan. This exhibit is a wonderful dovetailing of his skills of working with wood, creating large abstract wooden sculptures and the joy of celebrating his creative discoveries in a historic building.

You are invited for an artist’s Opening Reception on April 23rd 1:00 – 5:00pm. The Gallery in Building #35 will also be open during the 2022 GARNER Arts Festival May 21 & 22, 12:00 – 6:00pm. The exhibit is on view April 23rd through June 25 open Saturdays by appointment. Big Risks: Creative Discoveries is Free to the public. GARNER Arts Center is located at 55 W. Railroad Ave., Building #35, Garnerville, NY 10923. For more information contact: info@garnerartscenter.org, 845-947-7108.

“This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature and administered by ArtsWestchester.” Special thanks to the Village of West Haverstraw.


April 23 @ 1:00 pm
June 25 @ 5:00 pm
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GARNER Arts Center


GARNER Arts Center
55 W. Railroad Avenue
Garnervilel, NY
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