ART BEAT: ‘Function or Form: Utilitarian Art’ ends run at Erpf Gallery in Arkville on Jan. 6

Rug by Maureen DeKaser

Rug by Maureen DeKaser

Posted from the Freeman News 

“Function or Form: Utilitarian Art,” featuring work by 15 local artists, will be on display through Jan. 6 at the Catskill Center’s Erpf Gallery, 43355 state Route 28, Arkville.

Many of the products people use every day are not only useful, but beautiful. Homemade furniture, clothing, pottery, quilts — so many items people depend on for everyday use could be on display for their beauty.

In 2016, the gallery hosted the first Utilitarian show to celebrate local people that create art with both function and beautiful form. The show was such a success that the Utilitarian Art show has become an annual event around the holidays. This year’s show features some returning artists and several new artists.

Several of this year’s functional pieces were created by talented furniture and woodworkers, including Janie Greenwald, chair caning; John Byer, Dan Palm and John Virga, woodworkers; and Richard Kirgin and Franc Palaia, furniture. One of these talented woodworkers is Joe Muehl. He grew up in Oneonta before spending 20 years in the Boston area as a cabinet and furniture maker. In 1997, he returned to Oneonta to be closer to family.

Muehl retired this year and has more time to devote to his first love, woodworking. He has designed and built pieces for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Museum Store and won The Oneonta Daily Star’s 2014 Artisan of the Year award. All his work is of original design and he works primarily with woods that are native to this area.

The show also features several different fabric artists: Enid Cytryn, clothing; Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes, weaving; and Maureen DeKaser, handmade floorcoverings. The exhibit also includes Delhi artist Annie Hayes, who has been making hooked rugs for over 10 years. Many of the rugs are commissioned pieces made to reflect images that have special meaning for clients. Hayes’ work has been featured in The New York Times, Early American Life, Early Homes, and others. Her rugs are found in city apartments as well as country houses. The primitive quality gives them a great deal of freedom in color, imagery and intention. They are displayed both on the wall, table or bed, as well as the traditional place — the floor.

In addition, the show features window coverings by Jessica Baker. She is a mixed-media visual artist based in Woodstock. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally. Baker’s artwork has been featured in an interview for National Public Radio and praised by several critics. She originally created the coverings as part of an art installation project. She hadn’t considered the functionality of the coverings until a friend asked to purchase one to use as a window covering.

The gallery’s hours are Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., although it will be closed Saturday, Dec. 30.

Call (845) 586-2611 or visit for more information.