NATURAL BRIDGE — The scent of fresh carved wood will greet you at the door, the sight of vibrant turquoise dripping from cases lining the walls will dazzle your eyes, and the aura of calmness and wonder will balance your reality. The Adirondack Artworks shop, hidden in plain sight on Route 3 in Natural Bridge, is important to owner Nicole Alfredson because it provides balance for the soul.
“Artwork calms you. It’s creation, which is the opposite of what’s happening all around us — destruction. People come in and it puts a smile on their face, it’s relief to see the pretty things,” she said.
Mrs. Alfredson reminds that life is like the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang.
“A part of reality is just on the other side of that house at the firing range at Fort Drum,” she said, pointing out across from her shop. “But this is a different part of reality, and we need both to understand life. You can’t understand black if you have never known white, and you cannot understand white if you have never known black.”
Mrs. Alfredson said the key to finding balance in your reality is upkeeping the joys in life, but not ignoring the stressors. Her shop acts as that joy for her customers.
“People will come in here all uptight and just relax. Religion doesn’t work for some people anymore, so they come here and enjoy the nice things we offer,” she said.
The shop has sand paintings, sterling silver handmade jewelry, paintings, bird carvings, chainsaw carvings, stone carvings, and a plethora of traditional Iroquois artwork, among other things filling the shop from floor to ceiling. Mrs. Alfredson estimated she has more than 150,000 pieces of jewelry alone in inventory. She has been the owner and manager for more than 30 years.
“It was my late husband’s and my idea, both of us were artists and had to make a living. He had been doing retail for 15 years and knew we needed to have a variety or artwork and different mediums so people could have a selection to choose from and plenty to look at,” she said.
The two set out to collect various pieces from all over upstate New York. Now, more than 60 percent of the artwork in her shop is local, and that number would be higher if she wasn’t bringing in so much sterling silver and mineral specimens from outside the state. There is jewelry from Rochester, paintings from Ogdensburg, prints and oil paintings from Mexico, crystals and diamonds from Herkimer, goldstones and moonstones from Saranac Lake, wood carvings from Canastota, blue calcite from Harrisville and much, much more.
“People will be in here for hours, getting lost in it all,” Mrs. Alfredson said. “People will ask me how people are in here for so long and I have to say, ‘I swear I’m not giving them liquor — they’re just relaxing!’” she joked.
Mrs. Alfredson said her work is meaningful to her because, “It’s really nice to see people getting better.”
On the back of the store’s information card, it reads, “In such ugly times the only true protest is beauty,” a quote by folk singer Phil Ochs. The Adirondack Artworks store has hundreds of thousands of beautiful pieces for sale, but the relaxation customers get from visiting the store is priceless.
You can visit the store’s Instagram page to view the art and learn more @adirondack.artworks.