Railyard Arts Studio’s holiday boutique highlights the talent of local artists

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In the heart of Croton Falls, ceramicist Elana Levy sits at a potter wheel expertly throwing her latest mug. She comfortably chats with other artists about the combination of glazes they are using on their latest creations while shaping her clay. Levy and several other artists are getting ready for Railyard Arts Studio’s Holiday Boutique on December 17 and 18.  As they spend time working together in the ceramic studio, makers of every ability level are sharing their questions, experience, and energy. In the adjacent room, hand builders are forming ceramic ornaments while the art room is bustling with artists putting the final touches on their latest acrylic paintings. Excitement fills the air in anticipation of the upcoming boutique as the kilns are loaded with completed pieces.

Photo credit: Elana Levy

Railyard Arts Studio opened in January 2019 with the mission to provide a community space for artists of all abilities to create with many different mediums. Owner and artist Jill Leary realized the amazing talent in the area and the need for a studio that “provides a platform for local artists to create, showcase, and sell their work.”

Owner Jill Leary surrounds herself with local artists at Railyard Arts Studio. Photo credit: Maria Spiess

Levy was pleased to find a studio so close to her home situated on the north side of Peach Lake. For years, she created at the Westchester County Center art studio in White Plains under teacher Harriet Ross, but it wasn’t always so convenient to get to as a working mother of two soccer-playing children. When Railyard Arts Studio opened in Croton Falls, Levy ended her 10-year hiatus from pottery. She began taking some of the first classes offered on Monday nights with an advanced wheel group, joined workshops to learn new techniques, and even taught a workshop herself.

Levy appreciates the beautiful, clean space to work in and believes that what sets the studio apart is the community of good friends she has built that is so willing to share their guidance and expertise. “It's been a real privilege to be here from the beginning and to watch it grow,” says Levy. With the success of the studio’s offerings, demand for more classes and space prompted the most recent expansion to include a new hand-building space, added wheels in the ceramic studio, and private studio offices on the second floor.

Levy is grateful for the support of her husband, Alan, and her community of friends at the studio. Photo credit: Elana Levy

Beyond the walls of the studio’s classes, Railyard Arts Studio invites local artists to showcase their work through gallery shows, selling their wares at the “Shop at the Yard” and at the studio’s holiday boutique. Along with other members and students, Levy sells her mugs, bowls, and other functional ceramic items at the shop and admits that the highest compliment is not when someone buys one of her pieces but when they comment on how well it was built. “It’s great to have a venue to show our pottery and sell it,” says Levy. North Salem art studio owner, Francesca Neri of Hello Petunia, agrees. “The reason I am doing what I am doing today is because of Railyard Arts.”

Neri’s watercolor botanicals decorate cards, journals, and prints that celebrate the beauty of the natural world. Photo credit: Francesca Neri

As an up-and-coming local artist, Neri began selling her whimsical watercolor botanicals after Leary encouraged her to join Railyard’s outdoor boutique aimed at supporting artists during the pandemic. Since then, Hello Petunia has grown to offer hand painted watercolor and gouache (an opaque watercolor technique) cards, journals, large framed pieces, and hand painted glass ornaments at several fairs in the region in addition to the studio shop and holiday boutique. “Railyard Arts is filled with incredible gatekeepers to curate the knowledge in a way that really helps you take off,” Neri said of the guidance she has received from Leary and other members at the studio.

Photo credit: Francesca Neri

This weekend, Railyard Arts Studio will host its Holiday Boutique on Saturday, December 17, and Sunday, December 18 from 11:00 - 5:00 pm. Three rooms filled with handmade artisan pieces spotlight the talent of Levy and Neri along with over 25 other local vendors and artists. Fine art items ranging from paintings, pottery, ornaments, jewelry, and hand-painted wine glasses, to candles, soaps, birdseed wreaths, cards, millinery, wood signs, and crochet/knitted pieces will be offered. “There are gift options for everyone,” says Leary who curated a collection that celebrates the artistic talent that surrounds North Salem.

Railyard Arts Studio is located at 621 Route 22 in Croton Falls, NY, and offers programming for all ages and abilities in fine art painting, ceramics, millinery, crochet, stained glass, wellness classes, and more.

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