Don’t get me wrong: I love the stunning horse photography and sweeping landscape paintings that fill art galleries along Broadway in Downtown Saratoga Springs. But, as someone who’s always been fascinated by fine art, this summer I was looking for some kind of new visual stimulation, closer to home than, say, Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Enter The Laffer Gallery, a contemporary fine art gallery located in Schuylerville, about 20 minutes east of Saratoga.
If you’ve been to Schuylerville lately, you’ll know that it’s a quaint little town surrounded by farmland. So, among all the small shops and the local grocery store, The Laffer Gallery, which wouldn’t be out of place in Chelsea, certainly stands out, its modern exhibition space complementing its classic brick storefront. “Running a gallery my way was always my kind of pipe dream, not that I smoke,” jokes Erik Laffer, the man behind the gallery. Laffer credits his hometown of Bethlehem, NY, where he went to school, for his interest in art. (He’s still in contact with his high school art teachers.)
Laffer’s artistic journey began when he travelled to the arts district in New York City, setting up a space on Broadway between Prince and Houston Streets. “That’s when I met a lot of artists,” he says. “I would work at the gallery during the day, paint at night and go to the city on the weekends. The more success I had with my artwork, the more I was exposed to new shows and people.” He eventually opened The Laffer Gallery in 2012 in Schuylerville in a space he had previously used as a studio. Nowadays, he and 90 other nationally and regionally recognized artists, including Jacob Houston and Zack Lobdell, are showcased in his gallery on a rotating schedule. His clientele travels to him from up to 100 miles away. Laffer even had a booth at the REVEAL Art Fair, and when I ran into him there, he sold two pieces in the short time I was chatting with him.
The question that kept popping into my mind during my conversation with Laffer was “Why Schuylerville?” It’s an unusual spot for a contemporary art gallery. I wasn’t sold. “Schuylerville is affordable, it’s close to Saratoga, it’s full of history, it has an amazing school district, and it’s right on the river,” Laffer says. “There’s also a new younger generation moving in.” He goes on to say that he wants to show people in this region that they don’t “need to [just] have a barn or landscape on their wall.” My thoughts exactly.