A new movement may be well underway in Honesdale, a community proud of its rural tradition, a true Norman Rockwellesque village that can be reluctant of change yet willing to embrace it as it comes.


-one in a short series of articles about the art gallery movement into Honesdale.

A new movement may be well underway in Honesdale, a community proud of its rural tradition, a true Norman Rockwellesque village that can be reluctant of change yet willing to embrace it as it comes.
Just as one-way traffic upon Main and Church raised a few eyebrows, struck a discord of debate that continues weeks later, another unfamiliar phenomenon is cropping up, a flavor often acquainted with larger cities, the creme de la creme if you will.
Art galleries, indeed, are opening of late here with perhaps the opportunity of more to come - if word continues to spread that Honesdale and the greater community serves not only as the idyllic artist refuge but also a place where start-up costs are much lower than down-and-out Manhattan and other urban environs.
Lars and Cynthia Hanson, former and perhaps recovering New Yorkers, committed to this au courant wave last August, when they purchased the old Van Deusen’s candy shop building on Main Street.
“No galleries then and no galleries on the horizon that we knew of,” said Lars Hanson, a consummate craftsman, known in the city for designing specialty, retail-store displays. “Obviously, it’s a lot more affordable than New York to open a gallery.”
That ... and how Cynthia Hanson points out, there are already many artists -  some of whom are native to the area and others who hail as far away as Greece - residing in Honesdale and among the scattered, small villages along Wayne County that one passes in a blink of the eye.
After undergoing major-interior renovations that created a refined space for some of the best regional artists, “The Hanson Gallery & Decorium” opened its doors on June 17, 2009, merely months after the Philip Hone Gallery arrived in Honesdale. Then came the Willow River Gallery, just a speck outside of downtown, in July. (Willow River Gallery will be featured in an upcoming edition.)
“We’ve been very supportive of each other,” said Cynthia. “It’s a wonderful arts community.”
Three downtown galleries opening in less than a year could very well spark more down the road, and this also presents a golden opportunity that was perhaps unexpected, said Tamara Murray, executive director of the Wayne County Arts Alliance.
“Money follows art,” said Murray, of the economic boost that comes with becoming an arts destination. “We are in a wonderful position to attract visitors to our area because of the arts. This is very promising ... for the region.”
And with the expectation that it will thrive, it also offers Honesdale a taste of something different for its residents and tourists - an exploration of the works of many artists all within a few blocks of one another.
“We just need to begin marketing ourselves as an arts destination because we certainly have the charm,” said Murray.
Off to a great start, The Hanson Gallery is brimming with a fine collection including, among several other aesthetic treasures, the sharp-eye of a Susquehanna County watercolorist who makes a small stream meandering through snow-splashed ground look ostensibly photographic.
“As the gallery matures more artists are coming and their work to us is unparalleled,” said Cynthia, who is also an accomplished watercolorist, residing in Dyberry Township with her husband Lars.
The Hanson’s collection centers on how art can enliven a home, to heighten and enhance interior design, rather than providing their customers with pieces that are conjured more out of the self-indulgence of the artist.
“I want it to give you a good feeling in the morning,” said Cynthia.
“That’s what its all about. We’re trying to appeal to art patrons and interior decorators alike,” added Lars.
The Hanson Gallery & Decorium, which also offers an assortment of antiques and art supplies, is located at 1037 Main Street, Honesdale, Pa.
They may be reached at the gallery at (570) 253-2525, or via the web at www.thehansongallery.com.