A walk down Beacon’s Main Street is never the same twice. The staples remain consistent; cozy coffee shops, eclectic eateries, unique shopping, and a gorgeous spot along the Hudson River help define “Brooklyn North’s” atmosphere. But there’s always something a little experimental brewing.
LotusWorks Gallery is one of the most recent additions to Beacon’s ever-evolving art community. Led by artists Skyla Schreter and Aaron Sanders, it offers exhibitions, interactive workshops, and one-on-one instruction inside its Hudson Valley space.
Sanders comes from a street art and graffiti background and produced works on the West Coast. The spontaneous nature of his art form was a great outlet for expression that later developed into a fine art practice. Building graphic design skills, producing installations, and more unveiled Sanders’ potential even further.
“I started trying to find ways to push myself into different areas. I was really fortunate to meet Skyla in San Francisco, where we really connected and resonated with one another on a lot of levels,” Sanders explains.
Schreter, originally a Westchester native, moved out to California to perform with the San Francisco Ballet. She worked as a professional dancer out west for six years, developing her own style as a choreographer. A move back to the Hudson Valley helped her transition into creating her own work full-time.
“We’ve been able to really take advantage of each other’s creative fields and artistic practices and do a lot of collaborating, which is how this whole thing kind of formed,” she says of the partnership with Sanders.
As for how they settled upon their location, the pair landed in Beacon while on a trip to the Berkshires. They stopped in town for lunch at Max’s on Main and noticed a “for rent” sign in the window across the street. Schreter had visited the riverfront city in her youth and was blown away by its transformation. Finding where local history met a burgeoning arts and culture community was more than luck. It was meant to be.
Months of hard work and construction on the space culminated in a gorgeous ceremony, but not a typical exhibition opening. Coinciding with the winter solstice, Schreter and Sanders married inside LotusWorks on an altar they built. They produced a short film titled “The Great Conjunction” (referencing not only Jupiter and Saturn’s proximity in the night sky, but the couple’s own union), telling the story of their relationship among other themes through dance.
Shortly afterward, they launched their first exhibition at the gallery. “The Art of Dreaming” is an examination of the subconscious and the creative process, told through dance and paintings concurrently. The pandemic helped push Schreter into working with film as a medium, due to the lack of live performances.
“I was only able to work with dancers that were performing alone, or with dancers that lived and quarantined together for the duets,” Schreter notes. “So much of the planning, the execution, and even the idea itself came out of COVID-19 restrictions forcing creative solutions.”
The filming took place over the course of four sessions, each with different dancers performing in front of developing paintings. Sanders worked layer upon layer; on film, his creative process unfolds. When visitors experience the exhibit either in person or online, they can see firsthand how the paintings express movement, and how the choreography in turn finds reflection in the murals behind the dancers.
Together, the two mediums — and artists — create a powerful dynamic that transcends each form on its own.
Their studio space allows for passersby to take part in this creative process in future projects. Schreter and Sanders encourage people to watch them work and see artistic concepts take shape. Multimedia exhibits will be a part of LotusWorks’ future, and they will only expand to include other artists of a spectrum of disciplines over time.
“A big part of our concept is to facilitate local practitioners and local artists that come in and to share what they know with the community here. We’re not just sharing our expertise, but fostering an entire range of programming,” Schreter says.
Currently, Schreter offers instruction in ballet for adults, connected movement, contemporary choreography, and a “Train Like a Ballerina” fitness class.
The vision is for LotusWorks to be a hub for other creatives teaching classes, workshops, and seminars. Mirroring their own interdisciplinary practice, Schreter and Sanders are eager to collaborate with the diverse small business landscape of the Hudson Valley.
Even the timing of their arrival in the region is symbolic of their mission. Two other businesses were moving in to their side of Main Street concurrently; Matcha Thomas will bring earthy teas to Hudson Valleyites later this year, and Nourish Natural Soap Company adds artisanal body care products like vibrant bath bombs and gentle-on-the-skin aloe vera hand sanitizer.
In the end, it all turns back to the name. In regard to why they opted for LotusWorks, the pair was inspired by the lotus flower, which itself has many petals and draws its beauty from the many facets of bloom.
“There’s like a multiplier effect that happens the more people you get involved in something creative. Together, we have the potential to come together and make something beautiful,” Sanders observes.
Visit their website for updates on classes. Registration is now open online for small-group dance and movement classes for beginners and experienced adult dancers. Group classes will begin in March 2021.
261 Main Street, Beacon