Real Eyes on Adams
Former Furniture Store Now a Gallery
By: Charles Giuliano - Jun 03, 2018
The former Adams landmark, Simmons Furniture on Park Street, has been transformed into Real Eyes Gallery. There are two entrances leading into separate former showrooms that are now reconfigured as a gift shop with arts and crafts, as well as a fine arts gallery.
During our first weekend in Adams, in the fall of 2001, friends loaned us a futon. After a lumpy night we selected a pull out couch at Simmons with the stipulation that it be delivered that afternoon. Other purchases would follow.
Several years ago the business closed. Family member, Bill Riley and his wife Francine Anne Riley, took over the vast property. Over the past year they have put enormous sweat equity into a super renovation. Everyone admires the amazing faux metallic floor.
The Rileys soon became arts activists for Adams and founders of its Faerie Festival which will occur again in June. Now, while remaining connected with promoting the arts, they are focusing on Real Eyes Gallery.
They have proven to be wonderful neighbors and friends. In the cluttered upstairs, amid remnants of the furniture enterprise, they host occasional pot luck suppers. Francie Anne has collected a mix and match set of dishes and flatware. For the most recent event seating was tight.
Their arts and craft space was well stocked with affordable small works by many local artists. Framed works on paper and funky jewelry items were selling well. Bill was busy ringing up sales during the well attended opening.
Currently, Bill is retired from the scene painting shop of the Metropolitan Opera. He commutes to New York doing free lance work for theatres as well as movie and TV shoots.
A master story teller, Bill had tales to tell of many years at the Met. He is a veritable Phantom of the Opera.
The demands of professional scene painting mean that he is a master of any style and technique from Baroque to post modern.
That skill set is abundantly evident in the works that fill the spacious fine arts gallery. You have to pay attention to find all of the nuances that initially convey abstraction or the horizon line of landscapes. Look carefully and you discover elements of evocative figuration.
Just as he is a remarkable raconteur we discover in the work that, indeed, every picture tells a story.
In the past couple of years there has been a steady influx of artists into the Northern Berkshires.
They are moving in for a combination of affordable real estate, industrial scaled studios, and the camaraderie of a growing creative community and economy.
When major employers like GE in Pittsfield, Sprague Electric in North Adams, and many paper and light manufacturing mills shut down there was the dark cloud of economic depression and its related social ailments.
It’s early to say that the Berkshires are back on track. But indicators of progress are abundantly evident.
There are still empty storefronts in downtown Berkshire business districts.
In the heart of Adams, however, a furniture store is now reconfigured as a gift shop and gallery. That’s a potent magnet for other shops and restaurants. It’s a huge step in the right direction.