A perfect location for a gallery and studio suits Hudson Beach Glass very well.
When artist John Gilvey of Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon, New York is asked how his studio business survived the ravages of the recent recession, he laughs. “Luck,” he says. And he means it. Their story closely follows the upswing of a crafts movement which began thriving a few decades ago, and has recently struggled in a tough economy.
Beacon is an old manufacturing town located in a beautiful area of Duchess County, New York, 60 miles north of Manhattan. The town suffered with empty storefronts into the 1990’s, when there was some improvement in business. But Beacon was launched into a renaissance by the acquisition of an abandoned Nabisco box factory by Dia Art Foundation which opened the Dia: Beacon Museum in 2003. Now the Main Street is a completely renovated tourist destination.
The Hudson Beach Glass studio business was founded in 1984. Fortunately, they also opened their own gallery in 2003, located in an old firehouse on Main Street which they purchased at auction. The original plan was that it would eventually be a retirement business. However, John recalls, “It turned out to be our bread and butter during a period when the world fell apart.” At that time, many of their wholesale gallery accounts closed due to the recession.
Hudson Beach Glass makes wholesale production work for their own gallery and ships to others around the country. The artists working there each create on their own work, but also collaborate.
Vessels with more organic shapes are cast from molds made of graphite, and steel and iron molds are used for more architectural designs. John also has a personal glassblowing studio. With a large product line, Hudson Beach Glass needs to keep a high inventory in the warehouse. Having a retail gallery means they can stock those items immediately. They offer classes in beadmaking and glassblowing, as well as hosting events such as gallery exhibitions and beer tastings to draw in visitors.
For Hudson Beach Glass, business is growing. They truly are lucky to be located in a town described by The New York Times as “the Hudson Valley’s most promising hot spot for contemporary art.”