Currents

Exhibit in honor of Claire Coleman

By FRITZ MAYER
Posted 2/5/20

LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — Artist, filmmaker, designer and shopkeeper Claire Coleman passed away suddenly in January due to a complication from breast cancer. The Catskill Art Society (CAS) is …

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Currents

Exhibit in honor of Claire Coleman

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LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — Artist, filmmaker, designer and shopkeeper Claire Coleman passed away suddenly in January due to a complication from breast cancer. The Catskill Art Society (CAS) is presenting an exhibition of her work at CAS Arts Center, located at 48 Main St., now through Sunday, March 1. The exhibition will be on view Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and by appointment. 

According to her LinkedIn page, Coleman opened the funky Plunk Shop in Livingston Manor in 2008. The shop specialized in Coleman’s hand-made accessories, but also sold a range or items from musical instruments to vintage clothing. It also served as a gallery sometimes.

One of the most memorable displays had to do with the contents of a home that Coleman and her husband James Karpowicz purchased in Livingston Manor in 2013. The home had been empty for some time, and the owners walked away from a lifetime of memories. They left-behind items such as old answering machine tapes, letters, photographs, greeting cards and official documents. Coleman, family and friends sorted through the stuff and ultimately arranged it into an art exhibit at the Plunk Shop.

But the fascination with all of the stuff didn’t stop there. They recorded the process of sorting through it all and eventually came up with the story of the man who lived in the house in 1985. Coleman and company made a low-budget movie about it called Chuck Lost Object Found.

A post on the CAS website from 2018, when the movie was shown to the public, explained the film: “An abandoned house, an abandoned past: a chance discovery leads Claire Coleman, Catherine Skalda and Joanna Hartell on a quest to piece together the story of a mysterious man that lived in Livingston Manor in 1985. Using the vast amount of ephemera that was found strewn around the house, they tell the story of the poignant life of a remarkable person who struggled to find happiness in an unforgiving world.

“Through the prism of found objects, the film unravels the complex life of an artist and father to discover the depths he traveled in the journey of his life. From Brooklyn to Livingston Manor, to speech pathologist to photographer, from son/brother/husband to lover, Chuck’s story is touching and effective.”

Ultimately, the story is a sad one. Robyn Almquist was in the part-documentary/part-fiction film as herself, and also appeared as Chuck’s sister. She said of the fictional part of the movie, “I think it’s mostly accurate because of the documents they found, and the letters and all the things that were there.”

The show includes mostly portraits, which are collages. Some of the collages have hand-painted faces depicting members of Chuck’s family, which Almquist believes were based on photographs found in the house. 

A press release from CAS says, “In addition to creating fine art, Claire was a talented seamstress. Her love of fashion and design, as well as her appreciation for vintage style, inspired the floral adorned wig heads in her “Beauty Series.” A fun play on fantasy and reality, this mixed-media series creates a relationship between the natural and the unnatural, the past and the present. The items featured in the CAS Elevator Gallery were designed and handmade at The Plunk Shop by Claire. The Plunk Shop at 372 Old Rte. 17 in Livingston Manor will be reopened by her son, Max Karpowicz, in the spring of 2020."

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