The Art Loft

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Bonnie and Warren Beyer stand in front of  some of the art work in The Art Loft.
Bonnie and Warren Beyer stand in front of
some of the art work in The Art Loft.

Article Contributed by
Julia Eppehimer

When a 100-year-old lumber mill goes up for sale, it’s time to buy it; even with no idea what to do with it. “We knew we could do something, but we didn’t know exactly what,” Art Loft owner Warren Beyer said. “I knew when we moved in, I thought, we could make something interesting.” And that they have.
For the past eight years, the old mill on Route 394 in Mayville has housed some of the most interesting artworks one will ever find in one place. Warren and his wife Bonnie bought the mill when they noticed it had gone up for sale. They drove past and decided to knock on the door and make an offer.
“This is the old mill that was originally the lumber mill,” Warren pointed to the rafters above his head. “We left as much of it as we could, because we think the space itself is pretty cool.”
They turned it into The Art Loft, and gathered pieces from all over the United States to show off in their unique gallery. About 30% of the more than 100 artists whose works are in the gallery are from Western New York. “Everything here has to be handmade,” Warren explained. “And the artists have to be living and working in the United States.”
One of the artists they feature is Bonnie herself, who has been crafting jewelry from old nails for more than 40 years. “I belonged to a craft guild…and I volunteered to learn how to bend nails to make jewelry,” Bonnie said. “And that started everything.”
She takes horseshoeing nails from Sweden, and bends them into something new. One-of-a-kind pendants are formed by her hands from nails, brass and copper. Her works are often inspired by the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. “We live out in Arizona during the winter,” she explained. “So we’re totally surrounded by Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, and that’s influenced my pieces quite a bit.”
The southwest inspiration can be seen in other art pieces around the loft. “We have two vehicles that we basically fill with artwork and bring up to the gallery every year,” Bonnie said. They peruse art shows to discover new artists, but the reputation of The Art Loft has grown enough that artists also seek them out to display their artwork.
With more than 100 different artists, every square inch of the loft has something to discover. Hand-blown glass lawn ornaments, sculptures built of metal spoons, and purses made of wood and aircraft cables. “We have quite a lot of recycled materials,” Bonnie observed.
They also have hammered tin plates that bear the words “Give us this day our daily bread.” Or they might say “Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada dia.” Or they might say “Usiphe namuhla isinkwa sethu semihla ngemihala.” They come in 93 different languages, and others can be made upon request.
Bonnie and Warren have many varieties of art for visitors to discover, from fine art to wearable art. Every so often they host an opening reception for several featured artists. On a recent Friday they hosted a reception for two local artist, photographer Arnold Halpern and sculptor Robert Harris. Both gentlemen are in their 80s and still create new art works.
Their art will be showcased for two weeks. On Saturday, July 18, there will be a reception for the fine art works of Tom Annear from 4 to 8 p.m. A reception for ceramicist Marvin Bjurlin will be held on Friday, July 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. A final reception for the season will be held on Friday, August 14 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Warren and Bonnie keep The Art Loft open from the third week of May until the third week of September. They then pack up their belongings and head back down to the warm, Frank Lloyd Wright surrounded area that is their home in Arizona. Bonnie makes jewelry all year long, though, and sells her wares at local art festivals. When the sun comes out and the snows melt away, they will return to Western New York to once again open The Art Loft, and provide local residents with a whimsical walk through a world of art.
The Art Loft is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 4994 West Lake Rd. on Route 394 in Mayville, New York. Call 716-753-5638 or visit www.theartloft.org for more information.