Pinkwater Gallery owner Anne Sanger’s journey will resonate with a great many Hudson Valley transplants: Midwest childhood, New York City striving, and a discovery that there were calmer, gentler surroundings just a stone’s throw away. “I discovered the Woodstock area many years ago on road trips to escape the sweltering streets of Brooklyn and eventually found my way to the Woodstock School of Art, where I rediscovered a love of painting,” she says.
“I decided to move to Hurley after finding my dream house there, complete with studio, in 2018.” It wasn’t just about the physical surroundings. “I wanted to move away from corporate life and found an open door through painting,” Anne says. “The impetus was wanting to simplify my life, which initially led me to complicate it a great deal. I literally had a dream in the spring of 2019 that propelled me to lease the space at 56 North Front Street in Kingston to show my work, which at the time was focused on climate change. I kept my day job as an IT consultant while building a new business—with no background as an entrepreneur and no training in running an enterprise— from the ground up, working purely on instinct.”
Her instincts have turned out to be very much on point: Pinkwater is beloved. “This gallery owner has an incredible eye for talent and has artfully curated collections that aren’t intimidating,” writes visitor Jodi W. in a Google review. “In addition to the physical space, she has a great site that exhibits art in physical spaces so that buyers can share her vision of how pieces will look in a room.”
“The motto at Pinkwater Gallery is ‘Art is for Everyone,’ and I truly believe that. Many times, I have sold young people their very first piece of ‘real art,’ and the thrill that those customers feel in taking home an original, unique artwork is incomparable.”
- Anne Sanger, owner, Pinkwater Gallery
That’s the plan. “The motto at Pinkwater Gallery is ‘Art is for Everyone,’ and I truly believe that,” says Anne. “Many times, I have sold young people their very first piece of ‘real art,’ and the thrill that those customers feel in taking home an original, unique artwork is incomparable. The art offered is a ‘collection’ meant to evoke the comforts of a well-appointed home; therefore, it is shown in a welcoming, home-like setting. There are plenty of ‘white cube’ galleries doing excellent shows with more avant-garde artists around the area. Pinkwater Gallery exists to fill another role in the art world: providing people with art they can live with and pass down as heirlooms, not investments.”
The gallery’s Front Street location is fulfilling the dream. “I was lucky to find the perfect space,” she says. “The natural light is copious, the creamy-white walls are perfect for displaying art in a cozy setting, and the warm wood floors, original to the building, reflect a long history of business in the space, which—prior to being a gallery—was a hair salon. Although a pandemic intervened, the area is coming back now with new restaurants and life returning to the streets.” Openings at Pinkwater, on hold during shutdown, will be returning as new installations arise.
“My goal as a curator and a gallerist is to select the most beautiful work that I can find, working primarily with area artists with whom I have a rapport, and showing their gorgeous work to the public.”
- Anne Sanger, owner, Pinkwater Gallery
Like so many transplants, Anne is deeply fond of her new surroundings. “I love Kingston—the energy here reminds me of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early ‘90s,” she says. “It feels like the kind of diverse place where an artist can make a home, find a community, and pursue a dream. So one of my objectives is to help promote this great little town in the Hudson Valley and bring art galleries back to Uptown. My goal as a curator and a gallerist is to select the most beautiful work that I can find, working primarily with area artists with whom I have a rapport, and showing their gorgeous work to the public. As a business owner, first and foremost I have a vision for offering sophisticated abstract art at accessible prices in a home-like setting that strips away the intimidation that many people feel about entering an art gallery.”
The people who enter are a varied bunch, and she’s having fun with them. “I truly love interacting with customers, which being an artist I could not have predicted—we tend to be solitary creatures,” she says. “I have learned so much about the history of Kingston and of Uptown just by talking to some of the old-timers who come in to express their joy at having a new art gallery in the area. I have had local folks buy art, from $6 cards to wonderful paintings for their homes, as well as interior decor firms who are sourcing for projects in the area as well as in the city. I also have a good amount of day-trippers from New York, plus visitors from other cities including Boston, DC, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
“As a business owner, first and foremost I have a vision for offering sophisticated abstract art at accessible prices in a home-like setting that strips away the intimidation that many people feel about entering an art gallery.”
- Anne Sanger, owner, Pinkwater Gallery
I ship nationally (in fact, the prices on the website include shipping) but most people leave the gallery directly with something they can treasure for a lifetime.” Kingston area locals can access a “loan-on-approval” program that allows them to take a piece home, hang it, and spend a couple of days deciding whether to make the purchase final or not.
A collaboration with the Barnfox Kingston co-working space will spread the beauty even farther around. “Starting this summer, I will mount exhibits of Pinkwater and other artists at Barnfox on a rotating basis so that members have exposure to the artistic talent in the region. Plus, the public will be able to view the art—and visit the Barnfox space to find out more about their offering—at openings to be held every other month starting in July.”
As an IT refugee, Anne’s happy with her decision to cut the cord. “Having worked in corporate America for my entire career, it’s wonderful to wake up and know that I have a day of art-making ahead of me,” she says. “I thrive on the creative challenges of running a small business focused on the arts and working with fellow artists to realize a creative vision...I’ve had many repeat customers and folks who turn out for openings because they love the ambience and the art. They also love the story of my leaving the corporate world for a passion project. And I do, on occasion, bring in new artists if I fall in love with something and just have to have it in the gallery! So there is newness on offer, plus a great story behind the business and its distinctly personal touch.
For instance, my mother is a fellow artist. She specializes in fiber art, a very hot trend in the art world at the moment, and I recently started featuring her work. She was my top-selling artist for May!”
Being the mistress of her own destiny is a multifaceted challenge. “I am a one-man band and do it all, from curating shows and acting as ‘shop-girl’ to building the website and managing social media. I hope to get an intern at some point, but for now I’m happy to be in the gallery as much as possible so I can learn the business. I am also a full-time artist, working in a variety of media, from painting to illustration. And I’m available to do art consulting on design projects in the area for hotels, restaurants, homes, and so on. I can be contacted directly through the gallery website. My ambition is to help people discover accessible art by upstate talent that might otherwise go unnoticed.”
The lack of staff doesn’t mean she’s entirely alone at quiet moments, whether in the gallery or at her refuge in Hurley. “I come to work every day with my best friend, a beagle named Vladimir. He is the gallery mascot, the gentlest and sweetest little dog who loves greeting customers of all ages...On my own time, I confess to being a homebody. My favorite moment is sunset on the deck with Vlad and friends, a glass of cold rosé in hand, good tunes on the outdoor speakers, a roaring fire pit and some ghost stories as the sky darkens while the forest starts to sing its evensong.”
56 North Front Street, Kingston
Autumn hours: Thurs., Fri., Sat., 12 p.m.-6 p.m.