Artists' works remember New England of past

Jackie French Koller, owner of the Little Black Dog Gallery and Cassie's Caf & Bookshop, poses with one of her holiday works, "City Sidewalks," Westfield circa 1960. Several local artists this month are participating in a nostalgic show titled "Winter in New England" at the gallery. All artwork is available for sale.Jackie French Koller, owner of the Little Black Dog Gallery and Cassie's Caf & Bookshop, poses with one of her holiday works, "City Sidewalks," Westfield circa 1960. Several local artists this month are participating in a nostalgic show titled "Winter in New England" at the gallery. All artwork is available for sale. Reminder Publications photo by Lori O'Brien
By Lori O'Brien

Correspondent



WESTFIELD Jackie French Koller loves books and painting.

As the owner of the Little Black Dog Gallery and Cassie's Caf & Bookshop, she is able to showcase her two passions as well as give local artists a marketplace to display their works.

Koller is co-sponsoring a show this month titled "Winter in New England" with Pilgrim Candle Marketplace. The artists featured in the show take a nostalgic look at what many remember as kids growing up in New England. The show's artists are Koller, Joan Steinmeyer, Jean Williams and Marie Flahive, all of Westfield, and Laurie Hiers of Granville. The exhibit showcases original watercolors and prints that are all for sale.

For anyone who grew up in the Westfield area, Koller's watercolor interpretation titled "City Sidewalks" of Westfield circa 1960 will bring back memories for many. Koller explained during an interview with Reminder Publications that she spent time reviewing old photographs, postcards and talking to longtime city residents before she started work on the project.

In addition to local winter scenes, artists have also focused their attention on the New England landscape, and in particular, the Cape, Nantucket and Maine.

The word "serenity" is probably one of the best ways to describe the works on view.

"Expressing myself through the medium of watercolor is, for me, totally encompassing in my painting," said Williams. "My primary objective is to create a feeling or a mood."

Williams does just that as well as Steinmeyer.

"Art for me is very much tied to close observations of the things in nature," said Steinmeyer.

Little Black Dog Gallery artists are also available to meet with patrons by appointment, according to Koller.

The show "Winter in New England" runs through Dec. 31 in the Blue Room of the gallery.

While visiting the gallery, check out all the nooks and crannies it has to offer. The Little Black Dog Gallery is located at 16 Union Ave., in the historic century-old Bismark Hotel which is adjacent to Pilgrim Candle and Gift Shops.

The restored building takes one back in time with its ambience of wooden and glass doors, old cupboards, original hardwood floors and tin walls and ceiling. Koller explained that she wanted to achieve a warmth and character for her business that was different than anything else in the city. Koller added that her vision was to bring back the shopping experience that so many of us remember when we were kids.

"The gallery is more than shopping," said Koller. "It is a place to meet people."

The gallery features a Kids' Corner, currently showcasing a North Pole village model train display sure to entertain persons of all ages. Kids' Corner features an array of books by local and regional authors, as well as works by Koller, a children's author with more than 30 books to her credit. Just in time for Christmas, a brightly decorated mailbox also allows shoppers to drop off letters to Santa.

Are you still searching for that perfect pet gift? A special "Mother Hubbard's Cupboard" features stocking stuffers like "Tail Waggin Treats" and biscuits in a variety of flavors. All items are made fresh by local entrepreneurs. The pets also have their own tree tucked neatly within the cupboard that has a varied selection of ornaments that any pet lover would desire.

The gallery also features pottery, jewelry, quilted items, greeting cards, painted ponies, holiday ornaments and so much more with the majority of items produced locally. A selection of rare and collectible books are also available for sale. The Antiques Avenue of the gallery includes country and primitive furniture and accessories.

The gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cassie's Caf & Bookshop, tucked inside the gallery, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Menu items range from locally roasted coffees, sandwiches and salads to quiche, soup and pastries. Breakfast items are also available, as well as lighter fare for those who are counting calories. The caf seats 40 with small tables and several oversized chairs dispersed among books, artwork and artifacts.

For more information on the gallery, call (413) 562-1295 or visit www.blackdoggallery.com.

The Pilgrim Candle Co., Inc. also has a store within the restored building that features a wide assortment of scented candles and gifts for all ages. For more information, visit www.pilgrimcandle.com or call (800) 697-2135. Shop hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

 
 
Reminder Publications, Inc. 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028 • Tel: 413.525.6661 • Fax 413.525.5882

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