An Intersection of Rustic & Contemporary Arts in Northville

Mirror, lamps, and chandelier by Mark WoodIf you’ve never visited The William Coffey Studio & Gallery in Northville in the northern part of the town of Northampton in Fulton County, NY, you’re missing out on a chance to see the very best of north country talent, ranging from Coffey’s own contemporary rustic furniture and gallery director Mark Wood’s unique chandeliers and stained glass lamps to sculpture, paintings, basketry, photography, and more, all created by local artists.

Having a gallery of this caliber in a small Adirondack town speaks to owner Bill Coffey’s commitment to the arts and to his fellow artists. In addition to providing an elegant exhibition space, the gallery sometimes serves as a gathering place for community events such as musical programs and author talks.

Originally from Queens, NY, Bill Coffey began working at age eleven as “a floor-sweeping apprentice” in a Great Neck, Long Island woodworking shop.

From the start, Coffey’s interest in woodworking ran deep. He was always watching master cabinetmaker Larry Netti intently, studying how he did things and taking it all in. By his late teens, however — despite his natural interest, aptitude, and ability — Coffey had come to view woodworking “as work, as just a job,” and didn’t want to do it anymore.

He attended college, earned a photography degree, and held a variety of positions, including videotape librarian for HBO.

“But I always found myself being drawn back to woodworking and furniture making,” Coffey muses. “What I didn’t realize then was that it was a passion, something inside me that would keep calling out to me, something I’d find myself returning to again and again.”

Over time, Coffey worked at several Brooklyn woodworking shops and even owned his own shop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He picked up additional skills working with steel and welding and frequently worked as a construction foreman. Then, in the fall of 1999, he headed to Northville for a weekend.

“I came up to visit friends,” Coffey explains, “and I wound up buying an abandoned restaurant, the former Tree Restaurant on Route 30.”

A year later, an old glove factory in Northville came up for sale. Seeing its potential as a combination workshop/gallery, Coffey purchased the building in 2000 . . . and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, The William Coffey Studio & Gallery, located at 322 N. Third Street, proudly exhibits Coffey’s own work as well as that of gallery director Mark Wood and another six to eight artists.

The venue’s rustic elegance reflects its owner’s lifelong interest in fusing regional Adirondack materials (such as local lumber, root balls, tree burls, twigs, birch bark, repurposed barn wood, rocks, antlers, and vintage hardware and machinery) with contemporary designs.

Two large workshops house an impressive array of hand tools, machines, artifacts, and supplies as well as Coffey’s and Wood’s current works-in-progress. Every corner, nook, and cranny holds something eye-catching, arranged in a form perhaps best described as organized chaos.

William Coffey Gallery, Northville, NYHearing that description, Coffey beams approvingly. “I’m a collector of everything!” he laughs. “Everything has potential.”

In his residential and commercial work, Coffey welcomes a good challenge. For the Lakeside Tavern in Gloversville, he designed and built a 62-foot mahogany and birds-eye maple interior bar.

Utilizing his lifelong affinity for mechanical creations, he also built an outdoor channel bar with a hoist that raises two cash registers and 100+ bottles of liquor, safely storing and locking them away at day’s end.

Coffey’s residential work includes kitchen islands, vanities, mirrors, beds, cocktail tables, and dining tables. A recent commission for a client in Washington State involved building a butternut and walnut double-vanity with matching mirrors and a linen closet.

For the past three years, Mark Wood of Johnstown has been managing Coffey’s Gallery and creating his own pieces on-site as the Artist-in-Residence. With an Associate Degree in Fine Arts from Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Wood has found his woodworking niche creating stunning stained glass lamps, chandeliers, and driftwood-infused sculptures.

“When I started out,” Wood explains, “I knew I wanted to create unique regional pieces rather than the more traditional Adirondack furniture. I also knew I did not want to compete with other local woodworkers and furniture makers.”

As gallery director, Wood enjoys having the space to work on his own unique pieces while arranging stunning exhibits spotlighting the talent of other regional artists. His presence also allows Bill Coffey more time to work on commissions and pursue some of his own quirkier pet projects.

A few years back, for example, after seeing a social media post showing an abandoned VW bus parked nose-to-tree in the woods, Coffey contacted the owner to see if he could take the beat-up vehicle off his hands. Coffey’s vision?

To cut it in half and do something with its iconic front, perhaps making it the centerpiece for a new garden on his home property. Watch the dramatic ‘cut’ on Coffey’s Facebook page, along with a nice clip of the front-half rolling down the highway again.

Visitors are warmly welcomed at The William Coffey Studio & Gallery. Coffey and Wood are friendly, knowledgeable, fun hosts who enjoy getting to know their guests, showing them around the gallery and workshops, and sharing a bit of backstory on individual artists and their work.

“The gallery is distinctive in that it’s attached to a shop that does custom work,” Coffey reflects, “and every artist exhibiting here does custom work. We welcome the chance to work with clients, whether they have their own designs already in mind or need a little help figuring things out or want us to design and create something exclusively for them. We’re here to help, and we always enjoy a good challenge.”

So, the next time you’re in Northville, be sure to stop in at 322 N. Third Street and meet Bill Coffey and Mark Wood. Enjoy some hometown hospitality — and a gallery full of great art!

See William Coffey’s work at Call (518) 774-0531 for more information.

See Mark Wood’s work at Email or call (518) 332-4986 for more information.

Gallery hours vary by season. Call for info.

Photographs by Mark Wood.

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