BETHLEHEM — Instead of produce and plants, visitors to the greenhouse at Sun One Organic Farm in Bethlehem will now find a variety of art on display.
Farm owner Robert Maddox said he decided to create the gallery this year to boost people’s spirits in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The year 2020 has not been a pleasurable year and this holiday season almost everything has been canceled. Normally, at this time of year, families would be together, people would be doing stuff and going places,” he said. “We thought we could create a little space that people could safely come out and enjoy some things of the season.”
The Winter Discovery Art Gallery, at 50 Maddox Road, is open Wednesdays though Sundays through Jan. 3. Admission is free and donations are encouraged. While Christmas music plays in the background, guests can explore the gallery, learn about the artists, bring their own food and sit by a wood stove.
Maddox contacted his artist friends to ask if they wanted to have their work on display in the gallery, and many rose to the occasion.
“Part of it became something for us to do this time of year, part of it became for our artist friends, and then we just wanted to open something up to the community,” Maddox said.
A 9-by-6-foot wooden train was made by Bethlehem resident Matang Gonzales, a fourth-generation artist who works as a conceptual illustrator, designing toys. He was previously a design director at Marvel Comics in Manhattan.
The train has wheels and can move, and is large enough to fit a small person inside it. Gonzales created it from a drawing he made in 1989.
“The idea was that it was a giant train, as there is a little man on the street corner,” he said. “I was going for a streamlined look from the past, but in the illustration, which is actually black and white, I was showing how overwhelmingly big machines are becoming compared to people.”
Another work on display in the gallery is a 12-foot-tall clock tower, created by artist Brian Soliwoda, who lives in Sunnyside, N.Y.
The tower, named Bees and Nutmeg, is a sculptural bee home inspired by the Waterbury clock tower, according to Soliwoda.
“The function of it is to provide a home for pollinator insects,” he said.
Soliwoda is a trustee for Salt Tree Art, a nonprofit environmental arts company that looks at environmental issues and addresses them with art.
He has shown his work at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, at LaGuardia Airport, and at the New York City Parks Department.
The tower is made from bamboo and materials found at Sun One.
“All of the wood and the paint were from Sun One. The only thing I took with me were the tools to make the project,” he said. The bell in the belfry of the tower is made from an upside down flower pot.
His said his message with the clock tower sculpture is that there’s a way to bring pollinator insects onto one’s property that is aesthetically beautiful.
Another work in the gallery, called Dolphins in the Waves, is a moving piece where dolphins jump in and out of ocean waves. It’s made from found objects such as bicycle and car parts, motors from old VCRs and tape recorders.
Gonzales, who created the Dolphins piece, also made a three dimensional aquarium from mixed media, clay, wood, papier-mache, and parts from toys and motors.
With all Gonzales’ pieces, he said his message is art should be filled with joy.
“A lot of times, people get hung up with the sophistication about the whole thing. People lose themselves a little bit in the idea of what art is. It makes them back away sometimes, and say ‘I can never do that.’ I don’t want any negativity involved in the things I do. It’s purely for fun.”
To reserve a spot at the gallery, visit SunoneOneorganic.com